Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Zuboni Humtsoe

January 28, 2014

street style dimapur nagaland

street style dimapur nagaland
Zuboni Humtsoe, 23. Superwoman. Lotha NagaLives in Dimapur.

“I wish I could be 23 forever. That way I would have all the time in the world to run after my dreams. Don’t have to worry about getting old and doing things in a hurry, no?

I grew up here in Sema Tilla in Dimapur. There was nothing here. We would fly & chase kites, go looking for frogs, climb trees, steal bugri, steal milk from the army cantonment area, steal vegetables and coconuts from Catholic priest’s garden. As a kid, I think I was different. When other kids would talk about barbies and picnics and all pretty things, I would dream about traveling to new places. My sister thinks I am a ‘dreamer’ but I am realistic too and that is when I start doubting myself.

I studied Political Science in Delhi. I loved the subject. College taught me a lot about world and life. It gave me the confidence to do what I want to do and not follow the crowd. Here, in Nagaland, everybody is obsessed with white collar jobs, security of government jobs, and comfort of a pension. Working in the government is easy. You don’t even have to work at times.

I like observing how people dress up and style themselves. Since school I was fascinated by fashion shows and elaborate photoshoots in magazines. Part of growing up in a society that’s obsessed with vintage clothing also fascinated me. My childhood is flooded with vintage shopping memories — my mother and aunts would wear high waisted denims with cotton crop tops and their favorite shade of red lipstick — a trip to the market was never complete without a visit to the ‘other’ side. We would have fun dressing up…that was happiness for us.

I like everything by Michael Buble. Sunrise & Happy Pills by Norah Jones are my favourites.”

Do you have any fashion icons?
I like Cate Blanchett and Frida Giannini.

If you could live somewhere else, where would you be? 

Photographed and interviewed in Dimapur in Jan 2013.


Tsoknyi Gyatso

January 17, 2014

street style mcleodganj india
Tsoknyi Gyatso, 38. Tibetan monk. Lives in McLeodGanj. 

How is your ordinary day like?
Usually I get up around 5 am. Always try to get up little early because I practise Tibetan yoga. I do Surya Namaskars & kapalabhati. Then have breakfast — cheese with Tsampa & milk tea. Most Tibetan people eat Tsampa with sugar cheese and butter, but I don’t like sugar much. Then I listen to news about Tibetan issues. I also try to watch and listen to BBC and CNN to improve my English. Then I do my homework around 9/9.30. Then I chant from the Dharma book and meditate. In daytime I have two French classes and since last week I started going to LHA for conversation class. When I have free time I go to the temple and meditate. During my dinner I chat with my friends in Tibet on WeChat. It was created by the Chinese. Last month Chinese arrested a Tibetan woman because she shared many pictures of His Holiness with her friends and talked about what’s happening in Tibet. So we are just talking about normal stuff: what we are eating, what did you do today, how is the weather. Our conversations on WeChat are meaningless.

Do you believe in reincarnation?
Yes. When I was 25 years old there were many Tibetan children around who remembered everything about their previous lives. They could recognize their previous parents, friends, monasteries, everything. Mind and body are different. Body is like the cloth of mind. When we stop breathing mind goes out to a place between death and birth till it is born again.

How do you define mind?
Mind is the root — the essence of you. Mind is very flexible. If we try we can mould it. Mind is you. Many people believe mind is in heart. Science says it’s here [points to his head]. We are always busy thinking about many things. This makes us sad. Busy meaningless life. We have no contentment. We have to stop thinking and try to keep it silent.

How do you make the mind silent?
[Laughs]. Best way to make mind stable is through meditation. By thinking about emptiness and why I am busy, why I am in this world.

Actually I am not good at doing meditation. I am under three poisons. I am full of ignorance, attachment, and hatred.

What are you attached to?
Beautiful things. I am wearing this[robe] but I am still trying to control my attachment to desires. So I have this attachment. If I didn’t, I could stay in the mountains and live there forever. If I am not under the three poisons I will be liberated from samsara. Like Milarepa.

Photographed and interviewed in November 2013 in Mcleodganj.

*// The color “red” had become the traditional monk robe color in Tibet mainly because it was the most common and cheapest dye at one point of time. Also, red is considered a ”poor” color in Tibet so the idea of wearing red symbolizes deflecting attention from oneself and focusing on compassion & kindness towards other beings – one of the main principles of Buddhism.  Wearing such robes also symbolizes the vow taken to lead simple lives. A monk’s robe is a symbol of his non-status that he no longer partakes in a material world. *//


January 15, 2014

dharamsala street fashion india
Samten, 31. Tibetan. Works as a photographer. Lives in McLeodGanj, Dharamsala.

How long have you been living here and what did you do before working as a photographer?
I came here in 2004. I worked at coffee shops, restaurants. In total around 7-8 places.

What kind of photography you’re interested in?
Nothing in particular. It’s free. For example I like this cup, I have some feeling, I take a photo.

Do you have any favourite books?
I like reading Chinese & Buddhist philosophy. I just started reading this book about a traveller who came to Beijing, then inner Mongolia via Xinghai then Lhasa and what he saw how everything was about 200 years ago. It’s in Chinese. I don’t know how to translate the name. // I think it’s Young Husband.

Favourite films?
Weeping camel. Amelie. YesterdayIn the Heat of the Sun.

Is there anything you find interesting about Buddhist philosophy?
The Buddha talk.  // Dhammapada

Does your name mean anything?
Samten means if I go this way I’m never coming back. If I am thinking something, I decide to do something, I will do it.

Do you believe in reincarnation?
Yes yes yes. I think it’s true. When we die we just change bodies. Yes.

Photographed and interviewed in Mcleodganj in November 2013.

Kusa Khesoh

December 5, 2013

street style kohima nagaland

street style kohima nagaland
Kusa Khesoh, 22years old. Literature student. Lives in Kohima.

“I grew up in Phek district. I was there for 19 years then I moved here.

What I like about Kohima is shopping and an independent life. Every now and then I earn by working backstage for some designers. Most times I eat out at Big Bite or Ozone cafe. Sometimes I skip dinner and sometimes I have noodles and go to bed. It’s easy for me to live alone. Kohima is different from any other city. I am planning to move to Delhi next year to do my MA. If I don’t do my MA, I’ll probably work at a call centre. Otherwise, I’m interested in working as a stylist.

Alexander McQueen inspires me. I love his collections. In terms of attitude and appearance maybe Lady Gaga. I also love Rachel Zoe, Nidhi Jacob, & Anaita Shroff.

I spend my days taking photos for my blog and my lookbook. I love collecting vintage photos and clothes from uncles and aunts and like going to the thrift shops. I have a lot of bags, all from the streets. And vintage glasses. Thrift shops are at every corner in Kohima town. Best places for shopping are Sekho complex & open market at BOC junction.

I love Bon Iver, Morissey, Mumford & Sons, Laleh, The head and the heart. My favourite songs are Flume by Bon Iver & Some Die Young by Laleh.

The only thing I don’t like about Kohima is that it’s too cold.”

Photographed and interviewed in Kohima in December 2012

Neil Dantas and other stories

November 14, 2010

As a kid, Neil Dantas would paint his 220 square feet home with crayons. Ten years later he moved on to painting RIP crosses for a Christian cemetery, and making religious idols for festivals. Growing up in Mumbai, connecting with the city’s character in every way, now he reflects his relationship with the city in his designs.

Photograph by: ?

How old are you and what do you do for a living? I am 32. Currently, I freelance as a furniture desinger, which also funds my experiments with bags and shoes that I design.

What did your childhood look like? I grew up in a 220 square feet home in a chawl(where I still live) in Mumbai. I always travelled on foot and saw the city’s landscape, heritage, and social issues closely. I was exposed to the city’s varied cultures and ever-changing life. My work reflects the impressions that I formed through these expeditions in Mumbai. The colours and elements I use in my work are inspired by the old art deco buildings, local taxis and buses.

What was your first job? My first job was to paint the RIP wooden crosses for a Christian cemetery along with designing stones for the graves. This was in 1999, just after my father’s death, and I would get paid Rs 20 for painting a cross. I would wait for five people to die to make a hundred. We were always short on money at home. Though later, I started making paintings of Gods [Ganesha / Krishna] which were framed and sold for just about enough money.

Describe your experience at National Institute of Design. NID gave me a lot of exposure. I had taken up product design, but I would spend most of my time gallivanting from one department to another, like textile, accessory design, and graphic design to ceramic work. There was no end to learning at NID and I thought it was not fair to be confined to just one class. Even my assignments were generally incomplete, as I believed I was there to learn through my own understanding of design. I wish I could go back and be there forever, without having to pay the fees of course!

What has inspired your ‘I love Mumbai’ and houndstooth bags? I was inspired by ‘I Love NY’ graphic (created by Milton Glaser) which I saw a lot of people wearing in Mumbai. Because of my love for the city I changed NY to Mumbai. The houndstooth bag has the word ‘Mumbai’ camouflaged in it. I just wanted to merge two versatile subjects together.

What is the importance and significance of Mumbai in your designs? I was born and raised in this city, then called Bombay. For me, the real Bombay is the one with its Gothic and Art Deco buildings. Old cinema halls like Eros, Regal and Metro; they exude character and almost narrate a saga of cross-cultural influences. Thus, through my graphics, I’m trying to recreate that essence. By incorporating the old BEST 786 Double-decker bus in my designs, I’m trying to rebuild and remind people of what we have lost out there.

I feel the new Mumbai is being forced upon us. I don’t like the fact that it is changing and that we are losing its real essence. The addition of skyscrapers, shopping malls, fancy cinema halls has led to a loss of identity but then that’s what modernization is all about. I still love everything about the city.  It’s my mood board.

Kuch bhi About two years ago Neil posted a photo in a Facebook album – a red heart on a yellow background captioned as “kuch bhi” which means “anything.”  The caption further read, “Would you like to download this image and do ‘anything’ to it? It started as a direction to involve people, to put their heads together in making something(read: anything) for the love of creating something, that would take form as it grew. And it did.

Two years down, and it’s still on. About hundreds of artists and designers have contributed to the project. And now, there are about five hundred “kuch bhi” designs.

See rest of the top voted designs here.

What happens to all these designs? At present – nothing. The kuch bhi graphics could go on – caps /saris /wallets/ tee shirts/ ties. A company could buy these designs from us. Maybe I will call “us” the “Kuch bhi group.” The company could pay and credit that particular designer. If no one buys it, I want to turn top 300 designs in to a book – in a tearable postcard format. And each page would be the size of a postcard – it would have the design, a stamp area, and would carry the name of the designer. It could also be a collector’s item or a coffee table book.

Problems you face as a struggling designer? There should be many more platforms for designers like me to display work – similar to how upcoming fashion designers have options in fashion weeks. Other mediums cost money which is why people who are talented, but have empty pockets, can’t use them. Even a stall at the Kala Ghoda festival costs Rs 20,000(?) or more. I started marketing myself on Facebook first, gaining attention from my audience in the easiest and least costly way. It is not great but that’s the only option I have.

I get work through word-of-mouth references. I have been freelancing for sometime and I never made any paper contracts with anyone because I just didn’t know how to do it. I am really bad at all that.  It’s sad that people in the industry take advantage of you because you lack business skills. I used to think it’s simple. If someone likes my work, they hire me to do me..give me credit. But it wasn’t like that. I did some design work for a stationery brand. I got paid well but no credits. I don’t understand why they won’t give any credits. All international companies do that. They even give a percentage from the sales to the designer. If these Indian companies are only going to exploit and use the designer for a one time job that they make profit out of for eternity… how is a designer going to grow or even be motivated to make new innovations?

Then, what would be your definition of an ideal situation for you? Considering, I suck at business/marketing part of designing. The ideal situation would be funding companies and sponsors telling me – “Hey we like this product. Let’s make it. We’ll buy the idea from you and give you credit.” Till now I’ve only heard “we like it.”

Your aversion to media. All they want is either your photo or put you on TV and make you talk. At different times two major channels have asked me “we found your work interesting..we are making videos..can you come on board?” Now I can’t look in the camera. I am not comfortable with 10 people standing around me, video camera stuck in my face, with the lights shining. I get embarrassed. I am not even a good talker.” If I say, “I don’t want many people around. I will do this shoot this my own convenience, if I put my terms and conditions, they’d say, “Who is this guy? A nobody acting all pricey.” I don’t want that so I just refuse.

How does the future look? I am optimistic about it. One needs effort and luck, and I’m waiting for the latter to strike soon. Perhaps with good media coverage and better sales, I could take my dreams to the next level. And once I reach there I intend to promote and sell other young designers, create a platform to market them and ensure that their talent represents India as a brand to the rest of the world.
Contact –
His work on Facebook – here.
Edited by an old school girl. —————————————
I had photographed Karan & Sacha carrying Neil’s bags- here and here. Neil contacted me later in April and gave me some of his bags so I could blog about them. I managed to put a story together..which, I think, formed as I gradually discovered people of different kind. I found a barber running an eighty year old salon..a painter taking break from his work..a house maid on the road. Later, I tried to create a comparison between them and people who belong to a completely different section of the society.
—————————————- Kantilal Klimbachia, 60. Barber. Runs a salon in Versova called Goldstar. It’s in the middle of modern establishments and is easy to miss.

“The salon was my father’s and before that his father’s. It has been there for more than 80 years now I think.
I have been living and working here for 35 years. Before cutting hair I used to do small time costume designing/ironing. I ironed clothes for Bollywood films like “Hum dil de chuke sanam” and Shyam Benegal’s tv serial –  Yatra. At the salon I have about 15-20 customers everyday.  7-11 in the morning is the time for regular clients. I go to their places to cut hair. I charge 35 Rs. for a haircut. My most famous client was this Bollywood actor Mehmood’s son – Lucky Ali. I cut his hair in 1984. Cost of a haircut at that time was 1 rupee.”

Mary, 35. Housemaid and a part-time rag picker Is wearing hand me downs. Speaks conversational English. Has a problem with numbers. “I studied till 5th standard in Goa.I came to Bombay 30 years ago. My husband left me long ago. I have been staying in a one room apartment for 25 years. I own the place now and have a ration card, but for a week there is no electricity as I couldn’t pay the bill. I don’t remember buying clothes ever. All my clothes are hand me downs from people I worked for. As a house maid, I earn Rs. 1200 a month. These days I have no work so I mostly do rag-picking.” —————————————-

Bharat Maruti Joshi, 55. Wall painter. Has been painting walls for 30 years. Works as a day laborer.
“I earn 200Rs a day for a 15 day long project. Sometimes there is no work for a month…then I just sit at home and wait. I have been in bombay for all my life. My shirt and shorts are 4 years old. I have 5 shirts, 2 pants, and a pair of slippers. I live alone. I don’t stay with my wife because we both realized we were not compatible. We are not divorced as that would have required money and putting all that on paper was not important. I visit my wife and kids once in two months.”
Karan Berry,28. Footwear designer. Waist coat and pants are self designed. Tee is from H&M.
Karan has about 30 trousers. 100+ shirts, 150+ tees. about 600 clothes.
“I shop when I feel the need for retail therapy which depends on how much money I have during that month. My last expensive shopping was from Zara where I ended up spending about 12k. Post that I didn’t shop for 2 months and only bought stuff from the streets as that’s what I could afford. Usually I don’t shop for more than 2k a month. The cheapest haircut I got was for 7Rs., 6 years ago, at a local barber shop in I spend about 500 on a haircut. I go to Costa Coffee cafe almost everyday to eat a blueberry muffin.”
Krishna Mukhi, 27. Fashion Stylist(during the time of the interview)…now studying at LCF.
Owns about 31 pairs of shoes. 18 handbags and about 800 clothes. Spends about 25k a month on food and travel. “Over the past 6 months I bought only 2 Mango jeans for 500 Rs. each and 3 tops from fashion street – 150 Rs each. Many of my clothes are gifts from people, and most of the clothes I bought in bulk from Hong Kong…which was last October. I haven’t done any substantial shopping this season. And now, everything that I have looks like Autumn Winter nine.
And it is important for you that the clothes you buy are AW ten?
No. But I look at trends everyday. I source 3 times a week. I look at the best stuff from all over the world.It leaves me sick and tired of fashion where I want to look like a tramp and not even comb my hair. Many times I find it difficult to like regular stuff because I have ODed on some great stuff. Also, I don’t think I can ever get enough of bags/shoes/clothes.
Why not?
It is like this unending lust. The more I see the more I want. I think it is natural. If you were doing what I am would’ve been like me. Though, in my case, I was always like this, so I decided to do what I do. Contradiction.

Tailored biomechanics

October 18, 2010
An interview with Ruchika Sachdeva.
Shoes – Vivienne Westwood. Trousers – own design. Bag – Vintage, Porto Bello, London. Tee – Zara
Making a living out of dressing up
I always wanted to dress well, but never thought I’d take fashion up as a profession until I got out of school. At school, I studied Commerce & Business. I took up fashion because I could connect to it on a very personal level. I wanted to be able to design my own clothes and earn a living.
Studying and being free
I graduated from London College of Fashion after a year of studying at Pearl Academy of Fashion. My stay in London taught me a lot because it was my first time living alone. The freedom and independence added to the experience and made it brilliant.
On the streets
For many years people in London used fashion as a tool to revolt in regard to sub-cultures such as punk and mod. Street style there touches another level altogether. Street fashion in India is all mixed up because of the various influences I guess. I specially admire the way people from the north-east carry themselves. I feel, now, people are experimenting and taking fashion more seriously than before.
Generation next
Lakme Fashion Week was a step forward. I sent in my graduating collection for the ‘Gen-next’ category and got selected. I am glad I got through as it gave me a bigger platform and a lot of exposure.
The collection is called Biomechanics.
I explored the relationship shared between human beings and machines and incorporated the findings in my designs. The collection is futuristic and androgynous, emphasizing on – structure, tailoring and ornamentation. I also took inspiration from the strong, machine like, warrior subjects in H.R.Giger‘s paintings.
Post fashion week
I am now working on the orders. The creative part of having a design label comes naturally, but the business part of it – which is all numbers, taxation, and costing – takes a lot more effort.
Edited & re-edited by Megha Ramesh.

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