Indian Culture & Art in USA, a RedPatang.com Blog

Fun & modern Indian boutique for the entire family

My little pakora – Clothing for Kids

with one comment

We’ve been a proud retailer of the mylittlepakora line for almost a year now and wanted to give our readers a deeper insight into the brand, its Indian design roots and organic goals.

Mylittlepakora was founded by Sonia Gupta when she was searching for Asian-Inspired clothes for her daughter.  (Pakora is a delicious little deep fried snack and also a term of endearment for a little one)!

Sonia Gupta - Founder My Litte Pakora

Sonia Gupta - Founder My Litte Pakora

We spoke with Sonia about her inspiration behind the line and the importance of being organic

  1) What is your inspiration for the colors and designs behind the mylittepakora line?

 India of course, and Rangoli patterns! We just love the richness and depth of color that India has per region and I would say that Jaipur and Rajastan were also the inspiration behind the current collection.

2) Which is your favorite item from this season’s collection?

Since spring is fast approaching and Summer is one of my favorite seasons in New England…I would say the Poplin Dresses we created in Blue and White. The colors and graphics really pop, we love the hint of the nehru collar, and the fit is fantastic on any little girl. The best part is the organic poplin is so breathable that this dress is a favorite in my house during those warm winter months into the cooler months. My oldest pakora Anika, extended this dress by layering in leggings, bootleg pants, and layering tees when the weather started getting cooler.

3) What does “organic” mean as it relates to clothing and why is it important?

As it related to cotton, organic means the cotton has been grown and farmed without the use of harsh chemicals and pesticides. Essentially, no chemicals in the cotton means- no chemicals in the ground, no chemicals streaming into water sources, no chemicals polluting the air. The all-around effect is a product that is created without harming the natural environment and our eco-system.

My little pakora clothes under production

My little pakora clothes under production


4) What has been the most memorable event/thing/milestone while starting or running mylittlepakora

There have been quite a few, but most recently it has been my interactions with our customers. I have received beautiful photos of kids in clothing, emails related to how much people love the products, and most recently a customer told me how much he appreciates my manufacturing processes and what My Little Pakora stands for-this email really made my day! At the end of the day running and trying to grow a company on your own as a mom of 2 is not easy…but I can say that I am making a difference in the world…albeit a small difference-this is what keeps me going and doing what I love!

Written by Redpatang

March 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Got Milk? International travel with a toddler (III)

leave a comment »

This post is relevant for toddlers who are past the formula/breastfeeding stage.  We traveled internationally with our little one with the confidence (or should I say over-confidence?) that she would adapt to milk differences if needed.  After all, she had tried goats milk with success and we grew up drinking buffaloes milk so why would we anticipate any problems?   Her grandparents even knew where to get cows milk if needed so it should be fine …right? WRONG!

Our hungry little toddler who usually does not fuss about milk (touchwood) took a few sips of the milk offered to her and refused any more.  I put the first cup refusal down to jet lag.

The second cup was no better.  Ok, lets try skimming the entire cream off before pouring her a cup …aah that was better.  At least she drank a few sips.  But now I’m worrying about inadequate caloric intake.

After another day of frustrating attempts, we have now resorted to feeding her yogurt instead of milk.  She seems ok with the home-made yogurt.  Numerous discussions later we realize that one of the main differences in milk that she is used to vs what is available is “Homogenization”.  Milk in the US is usually homogenized whereas milk delivered to households in India is usually not.  What is homogenization you ask? Wikipedia defines homogenization as a process that “breaks the fat into smaller sizes so it no longer separates at any fat specification”.  Uuhhh…the completely skimmed milk should have given me a clue right ?

The good thing is we had a solution.  There were local tetra packs available by the famous Indian Amul brand that had homogenized and pasteurized milk.  The tetra packs were not commonly stocked so we hoarded them like gold.

Amul tetra packs

So after a lot of trial and error we had a solution.  Our little toddler was enjoying milk again.  Whew!

Now your toddler might not have this preference for homogenized milk but in case he/she refuses the milk abroad, you might want to check if non-homogenized milk is the problem.  Hopefully our experience made it easier for someone out there.  Happy travels!

 

Written by Redpatang

February 17, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Keeping your toddler healthy -international travel (II)

leave a comment »

If you are like most parents, you probably have some anxiety around the health and welfare of your little one while traveling.  Here are some tips that helped us keep our little one relatively healthy during our recent trip abroad (a special thanks to all our family and friend circle who shared their words of wisdom):

Water sources:  The  most important thing you can do is to ensure a clean source of drinking water.  Tap water should not be blindly trusted and water should be either from a trusted bottled brand or boiled and filtered.  This is especially true in Indian metro cities where the water pipe system is relatively old (and can have bacterial seepage issues).   Of course there are some parents who believe that children should be exposed to all types of germs to build lifelong immunity but I’m guessing if you believe that to an extreme … you aren’t reading this post 🙂

Hot is better:  We made our toddler avoid cold salads, juices and uncooked raw food.  When the weather was especially warm, packaged (and pasteurized) cold juices or home-made cold drinks were selected.

Immunizations:  Talk to your pediatrician before your big trip (ideally 6 months before).  S/he might recommend some additional vaccines in addition to ensuring your child is up to date on all regular vaccines.  Getting your child vaccinated for Hep A (jaundice) is a good idea -this contagious disease can cause some serious havoc.  The CDC recommends a Hep A vaccine for children over a year-see document here

And don’t forget some travel sized hand  sanitizers for use while in transit and away from easily accessible hand washing.

All these tips might help keep your little one safe from serious illness but with airplane travel and changes in climate there is always the potential for a little common cold.  Arm yourself with these awesome moist saline wipes…if your toddler does end up with a cold – these wipes are great for keeping little noses from becoming sore.

Safe travels!

Written by Redpatang

February 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm

International travel with a toddler

leave a comment »

We recently got back from a month long (almost) vacation to India with our two year old toddler in tow.  Our travels included the expected – some jet lag, some shopping, good food, a lot of quality time with grandparents and family … generally a good but tiring trip.

I must admit, I was a little nervous before the trip.  My two primary concerns were how our little girl would do on a long journey (and adjustment for time differences) and  how her little body would handle a totally different environment with completely different strains of viruses etc that she was not really exposed to.  So, I’m happy to say that she did really well on both the travel and the health front.

Now, a lot of parents have asked how we did and what lessons and advice we had to share, so I thought this might be a good topic to post.  Lets first start with travel:

1) Stroller stroller -where art thou: If you do not have a direct flight to your destination, find out if your preferred airline is willing to gatecheck your stroller.  This way you will have it at the layover airport and don’t have to carry your toddler across the airport or look for those elusive stroller rentals.  Don’t assume that they always will gatecheck and double check that the stroller is tagged correctly otherwise it will end up going through immigration at your layover airport while you continue on to your final destination!

2) Dim the lights: If you want your toddler to sleep, dim all the lights you can, shut off your personal TV (and theirs of course) and wait for them to nod off.  If you are lucky and your child tends to sleep in a carseat, she/he is most likely to sleep with the motion of the flight as well.  You can switch on your TV or turn on your lights for a book after they are off to dreamland!

3) Its PJ time:  Try to dress your toddler in comfortable PJ style clothing.  The last thing you want is a child who cannot get comfortable in their seat because of their outfit.  We dressed our little one in these super cute jumpers from mylittlepakora – they were really soft and comfy with no obtrusive buttons or clasps…so they kind of felt like PJ’s but looked adorable

Monkey Jumper

Monkey Jumper

4) Carry entertainment:  If your toddler is not asleep, she/he is going to get bored soon.  Carry entertainment that is somewhat travel proof.  Eg. a small portable DVD player, some lightweight story books, a small soft toy for comfort.  We loved these twistable crayons from crayola -they were sturdy and the plastic shell protected them from breaking when dropped!

5) Stock up on milk: This point is for toddlers who have been transitioned to regular milk. The airline will allow you to carry some milk on board of course but you will need to restock it before you get to your final destination.  Flight attendants may not be easily available to get you milk as your child needs…so try to stock up with a small bottle at the layover airport.  They are usually available in the refrigerated section of the convenience stores.  More on milk and travel in the next post

6) Airport lounges: For those of you who have a long layover do some research on paid airport lounges.  They are comfortable, keep you plied with fruit, water and beverages and give your toddler the opportunity to run around in a relaxed setting.

Above all, try to enjoy traveling with your toddler.  Use this time as an opportunity to teach your toddler about the destination, the concept of flying, planes and anything else you can think about.  When we got back, our little girl pointed at a plane in the sky and asked me “Going to India?”…now thats precious!

Written by Redpatang

January 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Amul craze

leave a comment »

Take a drive down any road in a major metro in India and you will come across large billboards with bright colorful cartoons featuring a wide -eyed little girl and witty tag line or pun sure to bring a chuckle or smile.  These are the famous Amul ads – meant to sell plain ol butter (under the brand name Amul)….but the ads themselves have become a cultural phenomenon that is now more than 30 years old!

Take a look at this one for starters – its a comment on the skyrocketing fuel prices :

Or this funny take on the cartoon Kung Fu Panda:

For all of you feeling pangs of nostalgia for these timeless cartoons, check out the ‘best of’ collection of amul ads on their website

There’s even a facebook page dedicated to the amul ads and at the time this post was published, it was at 68K fans!  Check it out at  here.

Utterly butterly delicious – Amul!

Written by Redpatang

September 16, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Almost grounded – Comic strip by Manjiri McCoy

leave a comment »

This weeks feature is on a new and upcoming comic strip called Almost Grounded.  The newly launched comic strip Almost Grounded is the brainchild of Manjiri McCoy, a software engineer who has teamed up with Brian Martin, a cartoonist from Richmond, Virginia.

The comic tells the story of a group of alien engineers with questionable credentials who are grounded on Earth, and have to make a new life for themselves while adapting to different cultures.   Manjiri says that she had been thinking about the strip for a few years now and started working on the script since last year in her spare time.   “Many of the storylines in the strip are inspired by true events. They probably are the more unbelievable ones! “  The daily strip often has writers notes at the bottom of the strip and I’ve caught myself chuckling at the way she captures humor in situations that people might not have given a second thought to.

And why aliens you may ask?  Well, although she is now a citizen, the writer was once a US visa holder (non-resident alien…under US immigration definitions) and then a green card holder (resident alien). “Being labeled an ‘alien’ made me think – what if actual aliens came to Earth, didn’t really have any superpowers (well, maybe one – just to keep things interesting) and had to live here for an unknown period of time because they were grounded? They’d have to get jobs and deal with the same stuff that we have to deal with. Being is the US, India or China wouldn’t make any difference to them because all places would be strange. I can’t imagine they’d all speak English. They wouldn’t all live in Roswell. They wouldn’t want to take over the planet. People would notice that our aliens were somehow ‘different’, though in varying degrees. Some people would freak out, and some wouldn’t notice anything odd about them at all. There would be plenty of opportunities for misunderstandings leading to comic situations, and the idea for the strip grew out of that.”

Here are some of her favorite characters – alien twins Wikk and Zikk. “They are very clever, well-meaning and good hearted, but they don’t have much common sense or tact. They cause a lot of trouble, but always get away with it. As a writer, I can do so much with these characters – I can put them anywhere on Earth and they’ll end up having some incredible adventures.”

Wikk and Zikk

Of course, this is a comic strip and so its meant to add a sprinkling of humor to your day, but Manjiri hopes that by basing her characters in different international cities like Mumbai and Shanghai…her strip not only creates a sense of empathy but also informs, educates and raises interest in these places.  A noble cause indeed!

The aliens will ‘land’ in India at the end of August 2011 and here is a sneak peek into a character who has not been featured yet (Audibaba the palmist and entrepreneur)

Audibaba

 

You can follow the adventures and misgivings of these delightful aliens in the daily strip and and follow them on facebook:

Daily comic strip at: www.almostgrounded.com  | Facebook page: www.facebook.com/almostgrounded

Peacock passions

leave a comment »

Peacocks seem to be the rage this year.  Everywhere I look, it seems like fashion catalogues and collections have at least one or two items focused on peacocks or peacock feathers.

This beautiful national bird of India is famous for its long and colorful train and its unique feathers can be a coveted possession.  I remember when I was in school in India, a classmate brought in a feather that she was planning to use as a bookmark.  It was amazing how quickly a crowd gathered around her to admire that perfect feather …and this was in India where the peacock is relatively ahem ‘common’.  

Here are some peacock inspired fashion statements and accessories in the market today

Betsy Johnson "Asian Jungle" collection at Nordstroms. Price = "various"

Peacock clutch by Judith Lieber  for $5,295

Peacock clutch by Judith Lieber for $5,295

Wedding dress at a whopping $1.5 million

Wedding dress at a whopping $1.5 million

Yes that wedding dress was for $1.5 million!  Made with brocade and real peacock feathers it took close to 8 months to create.

And finally for the little ones… a peacock hand puppet.  “Peek” says my not yet 2 year old – this one’s for you 🙂

Peacock puppet at Amazon for $35

 

 

Written by Redpatang

August 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Its not just a “Phad”

with 5 comments

The Phad painting style originates almost a hundred years ago in Rajasthan India, before the era of television and movies.  This live theatre variation used painted narratives on large pieces of cloth (the cloth itself was called a phad) and songs by bard priests (called Bhopas) to enthrall and captivate audiences.  The narratives were usually based on deities or the life history of heroes.

This art form was traditionally passed on from fathers to sons and done on khadi cloth but today artists have moved to paper versions too.  Colors are used in a fixed order….for eg, yellow for ornaments, orange for limbs and torsos, red for dresses etc.

Pabuji ki phad (Image courtesy Wikipedia)

This vibrant Phad painting called Pabuji ki Phad has been carefully preserved for future generations. Yes the Phad painting style, although obscure, has stood the test of time. Its said that even Amitabh Bachan, the bid B, has had a phad painting created on his life history!

You can teach yourself (and your kids) this ancient art form with the Phad painting kits now available at www.redpatang.com

Phad Painting Kit

Written by Redpatang

August 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Raksha Bandhan

leave a comment »

The festival of Raksha Bandhan is meant to symbolize the strong bond between brother and sister.  Raksha literally means protection and  Bandhan …bond.  The sister ties a Rakhi on the brother’s wrist with a prayer for his health and prosperity and in return he showers her with gifts or money.

The origins of this tradition are not very clear but some popular tales say that when Lord Indra was at war with some demons, his wife tied a thread of protection on his wrist to keep him from harm and Indra went on to defeat the demons.  Another legend indicates that when the Queen of Mewar was threatened by Bahadur Shah, she sent a sacred thread to Emperor Humayun and he came to her protection.

So when is Rakhi?  It usually falls on the full moon day in the month of Shravan (July-August) and in 2011 it will fall on August 13th.  And since nothing says love more than “Handmade”, here are two Rakhi’s that you can make or turn into an art and craft project with the kids.  I’ve tried to use everyday materials to make this easy

You will need:

Ribbon (half inch to one inch thick).  The Ribbon can be plain or decorative.  Length of the ribbon should be enough to wrap around the wrist of the wearer with enough allowance to tie it. Trim the two cut edges into a V to give it a finished look

Ribbon with V trim

 Design one – Beaded Rakhi:

You will need small beads. Simply glue or sew the beads onto the ribbon selected.

Beadwork Rakhi

Design two – Traditional Rakhi:

Click here for a free template. Print this template and cut out the Rakhi shape of your choice.  Paste this on cardstock and decorate in anyway you want before attaching it to the ribbon.  Here are some ideas: You can

  • cut and paste your childs abstract artwork on this shape
  • cover it with fabric before attaching it to the ribbon
  • draw the outline of “Om” or “Ganesha” or
  • even get creative with glitter glue.

Written by Redpatang

July 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm

A stirring rendition of the Indian National Anthem

with one comment

One might say every rendition of the Indian National Anthem is stirring but this particular one really pulls at the heartstrings.  Conducted by AR Rahman, this version features Indian classical greats like Pundit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Pundit Shivkumar Sharma.  The sound of each instrument seamlessly flows into the next …weaving together a beautiful tapestry of sound.

Jana-Gana-Mana was originally composed in Bengali by Noble Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and adopted by the Constituent Assembly as the National Anthem of India in 1950. As we approach the celebration of the Indian Independence day (August 15th) -its only fitting that I share this with you today.

Enjoy this if you haven’t heard it before and join in the re-discovery if you have.

%d bloggers like this: