Vidisha’s store would remind you of the ‘Shop Around The Corner’ run by the affable Meg Ryan in the movie You have got mail !. And the comparison does not end here, it is quite literally a shop around the corner on the stretch of road commonly referred to as ‘Kwality Bus Stop’ in common Salt Lake parlance. For any one from Salt Lake, this location needs no explanation or introduction. For others, it is a common landmark on Salt Lake’s busiest thoroughfare – The First Avenue !
My wife and I had chanced upon this store by sheer luck. Had it not been for their ‘Diwali Spread’ as Bidisha likes to call it, I might have missed it completely. Diwali being the ‘Festival Of Lights’ that it is, this store am sure is lighting up more than a few homes. I visited it on a Sunday evening and they were quite busy.
I saw a charming woman elegantly dressed in a white sari talking to the customers in the store, and answering all their questions without a crease on her forehead. It took no genius to figure out, that the lady was Bidisha the store owner.
I went around the store and reviewed what it had to offer. Especially attracted to the different types of floor lamps and hanging lamps on display. The lighting created the perfect ambience. You needed to be here to see, how appropriate lighting can set up the mood.
All the lamp shades in this store are hand-made with organic materials like hand-made paper and/or threads. They are both ethnic and chic at the same time. I had personally been looking around a floor lamp to light up my den (my study/workplace/SoHo) . It seemed this was the closest I was to get something I wanted. After all writing is all about appropriate lighting :)
This was an interesting hanging lamp-shade, with cave-paintings on hand-made paper. These shades are lined with heat-proof fabric. They have on display a number of other ‘Diwali’ knick-knacks on display other than an interesting array of lifestyle products. Some pictures are included below.
After spending more than few minutes to see what was on offer. It was time to buy something, to justify my presence in the store. Taking the opportunity, I enlisted Bidisha’s help. I walked up to her and asked her suggestion about which lamp would best suit my needs. After several ifs and buts, below is the picture of the one that I decided to go in for. Sorry, Bidisha for being such a tough customer :) I always prefer dimly lit environs, rather than in-your-face lighting and this-baby has livened up my study ! Feel free to blame my cheap camera phone for a grossly under-lit photo.
While I was at it, I also picked up some decorative candles, ‘diyas’, floaters and tea-lights. Bidisha’s a fixed price store, so don’t go haggling over prices. But in keeping with the festive spirit, she is offering a gift on purchases over a certain amount, I would think. I got my gift a nice terracotta table-top portrait of ‘Ganesha’.
Finally, I thought it might be a good idea to chat-up with Bidisha. I told her about AllThingsCoolKata and what I do for a living. I asked her how she got started ? She obliged gleefully by taking a few minutes out of a busy Sunday evening, while her phone rang incessantly. Bidisha went to Loreto Bowbazar and got started with candle making while she was in middle school. She cultivated her flair for this art, with support from her mother. Once she was out of school and later college, she undertook a professional course in candle making. There has been no looking back from there. At some point her mother suggested that with some effort she could make this her profession and so she has – from candle making to really beautiful lamp shades to cane furniture to other lifestyle products.
In this picture you see Bidisha and Ratna di(Left to right). Bidisha runs her enterprise with unrelenting support from Ratna di - her cohort. Whom she proudly introduced to me as some one without whose help this was not possible. Ratna di has stood by her through thick and thin !
During my conversation with Bidisha, I kept on switching to ‘বাংলা’ occasionally. No Bengali can ever resist the urge to ask another fellow Bengali, if he/she was one too. Now given my cherubic looks, I often get mistaken as ‘অবাঙালী’ :) . However my chaste accent almost always does the trick ! But to be truthful, I tell people what I always do that - I am ‘বাঙালি’ by ‘Karma’ as I am married to a card-carrying one.
Bidisha was very gracious all through and all my attempt at slapstick humor and tongue-in-cheek remarks, kept falling flat on it’s face. I stopped short for the fear of committing a ‘Bushism’ :)
She asked me to bring my wife to her store. I promised, I would.