A Sublime Aesthetic Shock
Together the delegation departed for a quick visit to Calcutta. We stopped at the used book market, huge but disappointing for the discerning booklover I am. Sabya, who has flair, finds a way to find me an old illustrated book on the history of the Tollygunge Club, the most chic country club in the city created by the English. The book smells of an older India: a mixture of dust and mold. Lunch in a small historic restaurant, the king of the kebab. Greasy service, delicious sandwich, heads the hospital, tails paradise. Jump to the temple of Kali, tutelary goddess of the city and local Lourdes, then the factory. End of fun for Eva who now has to work. We leave the periphery and enter a vacant lot full of muddy holes. We go out, protected by the employees’ big umbrellas. The industrial building has several floors. Downstairs, the showroom (a temporary shop until work on the real shop finishes). Unimaginable that such a place is at the bottom of a vacant lot. This is the palace of the Salon de musique, the film of Satyajit Ray ... Huge carpets, dusty portraits, nineteenth-century furniture, on the ceiling a forest of baroque chandeliers illuminates the air saturated with perfume. A sublime aesthetic shock. Eva and I have our mouths open like a carp, discovering in mirrors with a troubled complexion the reflection of this world in trompe l'oeil. The clothes hung around are incredibly luxurious. They look like museum costumes.
The surprises are only beginning. The upper floors have different workshops, more or less obscure, more or less deep and cluttered where dozens of small hands work to make masterpieces. A single embroidery may require a month of work. Craft, the secret of true luxury in general, abounds here, as everything abounds in India. A country of 30,000 gods, some with multiple hands, can not be short of arms. They are not slaves ... It’s like they live here.
We, too, are bidding on work schedules where time is no longer measured. I have not slept for more than thirty-six hours, outside it is the storm. A torrential rain ... The night is opaque, vaporous, the mirrors become even more embroiled and Sabya, whom we have barely known for a few hours, opens a working meeting with the workshop leaders and the indestructible Christian Louboutin, whose built-up strength to resist time differences seems invincible. Eva must help choose models for the capsule collection intended for select shops in the world. Ten outfits designed to reflect the facets of Sabya’s talent but also to be worn in Los Angeles or London or Tokyo ...
It's the Bengali night and I feel like I will never sleep again. Back at ITC Sonar, dinner at one of the hotel's five restaurants in the basement. My friend Yasmine does not forget to order desserts. I drown in the sugar before going to sleep in a deep bed like a tomb.