A Rural South Indian Village

Today I share some shots of Osur village, in rural South India. We went there in 2013 to witness blessings for a temple. During a stroll around the handful of streets that are the village, my eye was drawn to textures and glimpses of things. As you will see, I was probably more intrigued with capturing parts of things than the whole. Because often the whole wasn’t pretty. It was tough reality. I guess this was my attempt to make it feel pin-worthy. That is not passing any judgment on the village — it’s more a reflection of, maybe, my privileged need to make things “pin-worthy.” That’s heavier stuff than just taking photos, for sure.

Osur Village Home

Rural South India Village Home Entrance

Rural South India Textures

Osur Village Dog Resting

If this is making you feel melancholy and maybe a little lonely in this world, well, that’s the effect many scenes here had on me too. But things are looking brighter …

Painted Stairs in Rural South Indian Village

Wooden Door in Rural South India

Osur Village Colors

Colors of India

Here are some scenes of the streets:

Street in Osur Village

Palm Leaf Roof

There were very few people. No children to be seen around. Most adults might have been at the temple’s ceremony, though I spotted a few people peeking warily through windows.

Some of these women adjusted my sari. And it’s surprising how the sari can go from making you feel like a caterpillar confined uncomfortably in a shapeless cocoon that you keep picking at, to a silken goddess gliding on air effortlessly. I thank them for making me feel that way!

Women at the Temple Visit

Workers are building modern blocky concrete homes next traditional styles:

New Construction and Traditional Homes

And that is Osur village. I’ll share later my fantasies of designing an Indian courtyard country house and images collected on a Pinterest board. Big contrast from what life really is!

Traveling to a Temple in Osur

To where? Believe me, it’s not on the radar, even off the beaten track, of any traveler. Nor should it be. It’s one of myriad tiny South Indian villages where people live out their private lives far from cities and travelers. It’s a speck lost in the vast patchwork of India’s agricultural countryside, many kilometers from any major road.

Osur Village in Tamil Nadu India

Here’s the tiny village shown closer on Google Earth. It’s only a handful of streets:

Osur Village in India

To give you perspective, it’s southwest of the city of Chennai in Southern India. Here is how you would get to the village:

From Chennai to Osur Village

Why did we go there? It’s the ancestral village of my husband’s family. They have been rebuilding a Hindu temple there. I was reluctant to post anything about the location for a long time because I thought maybe the temple had valuable centuries-old stone and wood carvings that were lying around for temple raiders to take and profit. You know, like our own little Angkor Wat. Alas, there is nothing there any more. A few years ago my husband visited the old temple and captured a few photographs of the former carvings. And it was sort of like a little Angkor Wat. (Angkor Wat’s architecture is influenced by South Indian Hindu temple architecture, did you know?) We thought they would clean up and restore the old temple. But instead it was demolished and it’s being rebuilt.

This is no longer there, but this is the old stone “mandap” that my husband photographed. The mandap is like a gateway to the temple. You would pass under this into the temple:

Main Mandap Osur Temple

It’s in the tropics and the forest will reclaim its space if you don’t keep hacking it back.

Jungle Reclaiming Old Osur Temple

Here’s another shot of the main temple dome, snapped by a photographer before demolition began:

Osur Temple Main Dome

This shows the length of the temple:

Old Temple in Osur India

This would have been the scene once you passed through large carved wooden doors:

Osur Temple Doors

You will often see old large carved wood Indian doors in antique shops and they can come from temples like this.

Here’s where they built rustic scaffolding to work on restoration. If I remember right, this little building is still there:

Osur Temple Structure

This is the coolest … an old wooden elephant:

Old Wood Temple Elephant

I am afraid for the future of this elephant though. What’s interesting is that people will pay many hundreds or thousands – even sometimes tens of thousands – for relics from old temples. But this temple and all its stone carvings were demolished without a thought.  They thought it was old junk. Now it’s hard to raise the funds to pay for rebuilding the temple. If we’d known they would demolish all this to rubble, we could have salvaged old carvings and possibly sold them to raise some funds! It wasn’t even thinkable, coming from their perspective, that anyone would pay anything for the old temple carvings. So … we heard the elephant is being kept somewhere to be re-used in the new temple. But, I don’t know for sure.

More carved wood my husband photographed at the temple:

Carved Wood at South Indian Temple

We traveled to Osur and the temple in November 2013 to watch pujas (prayers) being done by Hindu priests for the temple. I went as a respectful observer. It’s not the sort of thing that non-Hindu American travelers get to see or do. They were very welcoming and showed me their plans and opened the little stone building holding the Hindu deities (the representations of their Gods) and explained their hopes and dreams for a better more beautiful home for their deities.

Here is a rendering of their dreams for the temple:

Osur Temple Renovation

Next I will post some photos taken in this temple’s village


Around the World in 60 Trendy Textile Minutes

Wow. Trends move with dizzying speed these days. Where it once took 365 days to get around the world, it’s super easy to share online instantly these days, so we must reach further and faster to find anything new. As a regular ol’ person trying to keep up with “what’s new,” my head is whipping back and forth like watching a trendy tennis game!

Just watching textiles, designs like beni ourain rugs from Morocco were super hot for awhile. That’s not the leading edge now. KimonoIkat. Suzani. Otomi. All past trends. What? You’re just discovering these? I know, I hear you, it can make you feel like you missed something, these trends move so fast.

Textile Style Trends

Sources: Kimono, LotusHaus; Ikat, PRC Foundation; Suzani, Nazmiyal Collection; Otomi, Mexican Folk Art Craft 

With the trends of the last few years, we traveled from Southeast Asia to Central Asia to Africa. Now it seems we hopped an ocean and we should be in Peru. I’ve noticed Peruvian and Andean textiles are being talked about lately. Maybe that’s a new trail on the path of the tribal trend? But wait!! One of my arms is still stuck in a pile of Hmong textiles over in Southeast Asia!

Or maybe Hmong design can live with Peruvian? Maybe Otomi can live with Moroccan? Maybe tribal influence from Africa can find design harmony with Suzani? If you’re having a hard time picturing what I’m talking about (because yeah that’s what happens when the world spins so fast!) here’s a few combos:

Peruvian rug + Hmong Cushion:

Peruvian Rug and Hmong Cushion

Moroccan Beni Ourain rug + Otomi from Mexico:

Moroccan Beni Ourain and Otomi

West African batik wall hanging + Suzani-inspired:

West African Batik and Suzani Style

On the one hand, I wish things would slow down. It seems as soon as our eyes adjust to what’s new to us, we’re asked to focus on something else. What’s coming next? I don’t know today. But we should know by next week. (And indeed, this post sat as a draft for a week – and yesterday it was announced that Navajo is the new trend! Which reminded me to finish this post …)

On the other hand, this means we are hopefully learning about and appreciating cultures from around the whole world.

The lesson here? Live with what you like. Even if it was trendy years ago. It doesn’t matter. If ikat speaks to you, live with it. For as long as you like. It’s your life and your home, and your money that bought it. And if humans actually labored by hand to make your textile, someone spent weeks or months and sometimes even years of their life creating what you own! So we shouldn’t dispose of things so quickly. Beyond being wasteful, that feels capricious and even disrespectful. Maybe that’s the thing that bothers me about the fast trend cycle. While a plain t-shirt from Target can be a “throwaway” in a year, we shouldn’t be so throwaway with these cultural treasures from around the world. Let’s live with them for a long while!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means in return for mentioning the company or product, I receive a small percentage of compensation if you make a purchase after clicking the link. This helps me pay for costs to keep this blog running for you! I post affiliate links when I’ve purchased from the company myself or used the product myself, and can confidently share the company or product. In the case of today’s post, Novica.com!

Passages from One Space to Another

One of my favorite Pinterest boards is full of staircases, doorways and hallways. Maybe that’s not what you’d expect to be a fav Pinterest board! But these aren’t your usual staircases, doorways and hallways. Check these out:

Follow India pied-à-terre’s board Rooms – Passageways on Pinterest.

How often do you get to experience a beautiful passageway? Truly? These spaces are often overlooked for architectural elements and decor. But why must it be that way? It might not seem important, I guess. But why shouldn’t our movement through spaces feel special? Why shouldn’t they give you a feeling of anticipation while you’re on your journey to where you’re going? Even if it’s in a home. Even if your journey is carrying a load of laundry from bedrooms to the washer and dryer. That’s a boring everyday task of our lives. Shouldn’t there be something to make chores like that feel better?! You can’t change the chore but you can change the surroundings.

People who create spaces that make you feel and experience know the importance of not having common passageways that feel, well, common.

You probably don’t have the space to create magnificent 10-foot-tall carved stone arches in your home’s doorways. Not many of us do! But here’s four things you can do to make the space you have feel special:

  • Spice up your stairways. Paint the stair treads with patterns, or install beautiful patterned carpet runners on staircases.
  • Create a colorful experience. Paint the walls of hallways a surprising brave color, paint the ceiling gold (!!), add some wild stencils to walls.
  • Make shadows with light. Install exotic lighting in the ceiling or as wall sconces. It doesn’t have to be expensive lighting, just something unusual and unexpected. Maybe it’s pierced metal lanterns that cast patterns on the walls. You don’t need bright clear light to read books in hallways! So think mysterious, shadowy!
  • Add an air of opulence. Interesting textiles always make things feel more expensive than they are. Install curtains on rods at entrances to hallways. The fabric could be held back with drapery tie-backs, but the swath of fabric will add color, pattern and a promise of something interesting as you go from one room to another.

What else would you do to make common doorways, staircases and hallways more interesting??

eBay Picks: Vintage & Antique Global Wares

I’m swamped under stuff. It’s time to get rid of some stuff. So I’ve been selling things from my old sewing hobby on eBay. Which means I’ve been seeing the tempting feed there of things from around the world … beckoning me … buy me, they say … Ohhhhh, temptation to spend is everywhere, isn’t it. Must stay disciplined. I’d rather build up my PayPal balance for something substantial than whittle it away so quickly.

I suppose you could ask, then, why would I be a temptress and encourage other people to look at these things? Well there is no harm in looking, right? But as we all know, it’s so easy to bid or hit the Buy it Now button! But here are some things you really should see …

This is an old Indian window. The seller purchased it for $450 from Arhaus last year (did you know Arhaus sells one-of-a-kind antique “relics” as well as new furniture?) and is asking $200 on eBay. The wooden window panels open and move:

Old Indian Window on eBay

I’ve in the past collected the “Bird’s Eye View” maps of Allain Mallet, who traveled the world in the 1600s and drew what he saw. His maps were published into books which are nowadays separated and sold as individual pages whenever collectors get ahold of a book. I own a map of what he saw in Agra way back then! And also maps from China, Indonesia and Thailand. They were all found on eBay years ago. I should photograph those and share them! Speaking of sharing, I want to be greedy and not share this eBay listing. :) But, it’s such a cool image, you really should see. It’s his view of Mozambique, Port of Sofala in the 1600s:

Mozambique Allain Mallet Map

Tip: If you buy antique drawings and maps like this, do spend to get them framed properly so they’re well-protected. They can hold their value or increase in value. They’ve already lasted hundreds of years and I think of myself as just their current caretaker during their lifetimes. I do plenty of cheap DIY framing, but not for these antique papers.

I wouldn’t recommend you chew betel nuts unless you want black teeth. But objects like this antique bronze betel nut cutter from India are really cool. Maybe it’s my penchant for wanderlust that makes me find this much more interesting than the nutcrackers you find in American stores! Even though it basically does the same job. This could be displayed in a deep frame like a shadowbox, maybe against a subtle patterned textile backdrop:

Antique Bronze Betel Nut Cutter

They estimate it’s from the 18th-19th century.

Does your purse ever get heavy with coins and you have to dump them out? Imagine walking around with currency like this:

Old Yua Currency from New Guinea

It’s old Abelam “Yua” currency from New Guinea. It’s made from shell. You will often find collections of tribal currencies displayed on custom iron stands that are made to cradle their round shape. You can put them on a shelf or mantel.

You can also make necklaces from shells, as Naga tribes did. Nagaland is in northeast India and you will also find Naga tribes in Myanmar. I have an obsession with Nagaland objects and just want them all! I like their strong graphics and boldness. They tend to be red, black, beige and yellow and I love those strong color combos. Here’s a Naga necklace on eBay:

Naga Shell Necklace on eBay

There’s so much that’s catching my eye on eBay and elsewhere, that I’ll make this a regular feature. Of course I’m afflicted with a bad case of wanderlust pretty much 24/7 so it never feels satisfying enough to me to buy something unless I’m there in India, New Guinea, Nagaland or Mozambique myself!

As a second best option — and much more affordable and realistic — when I do buy online, I at least want to hear a bit about the item and it’s history and purpose, and about the people who created it. So I appreciate when sellers share that info, or if they originally purchased the item themselves and have a travel story to share about the purchase.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means in return for mentioning the company or product, I receive a small percentage of compensation if you make a purchase after clicking the link. This helps me pay for costs to keep this blog running for you! I post affiliate links when I’ve purchased from the company myself or used the product myself, and can confidently share the company or product.


Idea for Unique Wall Hooks

I lost a closet this year. It didn’t go anywhere. It’s technically still there. It turned into a really cool Indian-Moroccan (with a dash of Turkish tulip textile thrown in) sitting nook in our guest room. And as a recent young teen guest used it, as a sleeping nook!

Stenciled Closet Nook with Silk Cushion

When you travel, do you take all your stuff out of the suitcase? I’ll hang up things that I don’t want wrinkled. But I try to pack knits and things that don’t wrinkle much. So I leave most clothes in the suitcase and pull them out as needed.

My husband though, the first time we traveled together, he put all his clothes in the hotel room’s dresser drawers! Who does that? Does anyone else do that? It never occurred to me. I guess I thought the dresser was only there to hold the TV! I’d worry about “out of sight out of mind” and check out of the hotel with my clothes still in the dresser drawers.

So my husband’s natural question, from his perspective, to the loss of the guest bedroom’s closet was: “Where are people going to hang their clothes?”

Ummmmm … I had no answer. I suppose it’s not a good answer to say I expect everyone to keep everything in their suitcases. Probably not generous host behavior, huh?

Then I thought … decorating opportunity. It’s an opportunity to do something different. Hooks would do the job. But not just any ol’ hooks.

These hooks:

Hobby Lobby Knobs and Hooks

It’s a collection of hooks and big drawer knobs from Hobby Lobby. I just pulled out different shapes, different patterns, and brown things and blue things from the bins. There’s ceramic, wood, metal, even twine! It was as easy as that.

And — a tip for saving a few dollars — download the apps from craft stores on your phone because there’s always a coupon, usually 40% off, right there in your phone! Because the day I needed hooks, Hobby Lobby unfortunately didn’t have their 50% off knobs and handles that seems to be going on every other time I go there except this one time. Of course that’s how the world works.

Here you see the knobs have different heights. Not a problem. I like the variation:

Unique Knobs and Hooks

Setting them up like that for that photo gave me an idea to scatter them on the wall, all “El Fenn Riad-like:”

El Fenn Riad Marrakech

But frankly, with only five hooks, it looked bad any way you looked at it. It looked like I tried to line the hooks up but was too lazy to line them up. Maybe with 11 hooks it could have the “controlled confetti scatter” effect. But it wasn’t 50% off time, so no more hooks.

Here’s all the patched blotches to fix the holes after the first attempt:


Yepperdoodles, that’s exactly what you want to see when guests are arriving any second from overseas for their first trip to the U.S.!! When your wall finish has five colors in it including a glaze, otherwise the fixed spots will look flat and obvious! Which leads to another tip: Always keep your left-over paint and label the cans. I painted these walls 10 years ago. I was able to quickly find a few of the colors and dab them over the patches to blend it all in. Then I dried the wall with a hairdryer because the doorbell rang 120 seconds after I finished painting!

Do you ever answer the door after doing something crazy and try your best to come across cool and calm? People have no idea I was pointing a hairdryer at the wall when they were pulling in the driveway. People have no idea what crazy person they are coming to visit! Er, um, maybe NOW they do …

Why are some hooks blue on an orangey-paprika wall? Here’s why. There’s some brave color contrast in this room:

Wall Hooks in Guest Room

It also likely wouldn’t have been obvious to anyone but me that these are supposed to be hooks. So thus the hanger and the little demonstration with the bag there.

So if you need hooks, check out things that usually aren’t used as hooks!

Trending: Carpet Bags

Call ‘em carpet bags, kilim bags, call them whatever you like — they are bags made of carpet remnants from rugs around the world. They often have a bohemian look and are a great style for those of us with wanderlust. They seem to be a trend.

How do I detect a trend? Well, it’s simple. I go by the “rule of 3′s.” If something new shows up 3 times from 3 different sources within 30 minutes, then it might be a trend. Because with all the info we’re exposed to all the time, what’s the chance of that happening if the “thing” is not a trend? This happened yesterday with these bags, on my various social media feeds. So, callin’ it.

#1. First, this boho carpet travel bag by Barbara Bui from spring 2013 collection showed up on Facebook:

Barbara Bui Carpet Bag Spring 2013

#2. Right after checking Facebook, I skipped over to email where there was a notice from Novica about this Zapotec Handbag, made by Alfredo Ruiz. It has a replication of the Ojo de Dios glyph (eye of God) motif. Novica has a tastemaker blog post all about this bohemian carpet bag:

Zapotec Carpet Bag from Novica

#3. Then, a little further down my email list was a post from Justina Blakeney’s blog about kilim bags such as these from Burberry (this one is actually designed for men!):

Burberry Rug Bag

If you’d like one of your own, Etsy is a great place to find vintage bags or new bags made from older carpet textiles.

Here’s a 1970s vintage overnight bag made from Turkish rugs. From Daisy Chain Vintage on Etsy, it’s been sold, but it’s a good look to search for with it’s timeless neutral colors and details:

Kilim Carpet Bag via Daisy Chain Vintage on etsy

From Etsy shop Bohemiennes, this is a bold graphic vintage carpet bag that would look great hanging casually off a mid century modern chair:

Carpet Bag via Etsy Shop Bohemiennes

This next style adds just a bit of color and striped pattern to an otherwise neutral bag. It’s from Istanbul, which is the source of many great rugs, at Etsy shop The Orient Bazaar:

Kilim Bag via The Orient Bazaar

Another vintage duffle weekender from Etsy shop Goodbye Heart Woman. I like the off-center placement of this kilim rug pattern:

Vintage Kilim Duffle Bag via Etsy Shop Goodbye Heart Woman

Of course this trend isn’t new. These have been a trend before. That’s why there’s so many vintage bags on the market! I have a vague memory of these from the 1970s but I was a young child then and paid more attention to Barbie dolls than bags at that time. I also remember taking macrame classes and made a pot-hanger — another trend that has returned now.