You walk into the rust coloured house and see that the table is already set. Hand-painted ceramic plates from Pondicherry are laid out on sunny yellow mats with blue flowers, a giant vase holds fresh lilies and serving bowls are filled with candied amla. The unmistakable smell of orange blossom incense from Auroville is in the air.
It’s only when you notice the price tags on each of those items do you realise that you’re here to browse, not to brunch. Housed in an ancient bungalow at Bandra’s Pali area, The Shop is a Delhi-based lifestyle store that focuses on traditional Indian arts which opened in Mumbai a week ago, and in partner Sandhya Gorthi’s words is still “a work in progress”. But bpb found enough (reasonably priced) curios, clichés and kathas to keep itself occupied.
Interestingly, The Shop has a whole roster of cool vendors and NGOs that form the supply chain here. Take for instance the abovementioned crockery by Golden Bridge, where every type of cup, beer mug, saucer, sauce dish and ladle has a different name. “It’s taken us months and we still don’t know all our dishes by first name,” says Sandhya with a straight face. Nice to meet you, Nini cup.
Opposite the hall lies a delightful children’s den, which has the effect of an instant time machine. From the window hang fabric fish mobiles made by a master kite maker from Uttar Pradesh. On the floor, old wooden cots, pathshala-style study desks and wooden chests prop up games made from elephant poo paper, silk stuffed animals crafted by NGOS and an uber-artsy collection of non-kiddie kid books (see I Like Cats, a silkscreen printed book of felines crafted with varied tribal art traditions).
The bedroom has a few random pieces of furniture, but is mostly stocked with linen - embroidered cushion covers and seen-before screen printed floral quilts and bed covers. From a pile of these bpb excavated fun ornate wooden combs, printed oven mitts, delicate rolls of wrapping paper and giant blocks used for printing. Well-packaged khus loofahs, goat milk soaps and bath oils are also available.
You can tell the movers and packers haven’t hit the dressing rooms yet, which besides being skimpy on stock were also our least favourite part of the house. Boys can browse typical block printed shirts (like the kind you see at Anokhi) and super comfy paisley print boxers. For women there is a set of unremarkable kurtas, breezy mal kimonos and kalamkari rag bags. bpb loved the gudri silk hand-stitched dupattas whose price increases depending on the patterns; concentric circles are the most expensive because the embroidery literally makes the weavers dizzy (Rs 500 to Rs 4,000).
While we were there, the last of the Victoria station clocks got sold, and wooden wine racks were about to move in. The Shop may need more time, but now at least they have wine.
Getting there: The Shop, 57/116, ground floor Drego House, Ambedkar Road, opposite Pali Village Cafe, Bandra (W), view Facebook group here, Rs 250 for a blockprint block, Rs 500 for a shirt, Rs 6,000 for a wooden chest.
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