The Insider: Meghna Nayak – Outlook India

By on November 26, 2020

Giving life to old clothes is what ethical designer Meghna Nayak specialises in. A trained journalist, she gave up her job to start LataSita, a zero-waste, closed-loop supply chain, where she upcycles old clothes into bespoke fashion wear.

Being a fashion designer and an ethical one as well, where do you go shopping for your personal wardrobe? 
As not just a lover of textile and clothing, but also a sustainable designer, I often find myself at odds with the concept of shopping. For the past decade, I have immersed myself in creating clothing from old, discarded, leftover, or ‘waste’ fabric, mostly old sarees that have been lying untouched in wardrobes for decades. I love that I can make my own clothing, and I take great pride in the fact that a fashion lover such as myself has essentially purchased no new clothes for almost a decade now (without sacrificing style, of course!).

Do you have any preference for shops that support weavers and crafts people?
Absolutely. I have a lot of love and respect for Sasha Fairtrade Shop

Kolkata holds many craft fairs? Which ones are your favourites?
The only time in the year I usually buy anything at all is from four annual fairs that are always on my calendar and if I’m in town, I always make it a point to go. However, I am not sure how things will be in this pandemic situation. I have already talked about Sasha. The Sasha Fairtrade Fair (held annually at the Ice Skating Rink) is where I buy a lot of things, honey, ghee, handloom, moras, baskets, earrings, hair sticks and what have you.The designer gets clicked with one of her model friends The Hastashilpa Mela (West Bengal State Handicrafts Fair held at the Milon Mela ground near Science City) for every kind of handicraft from Bengal you can think of – from home decor, furniture, sarees, rugs to hammocks, swings, jewellery and knick knacks, this place has it all.

A firm favourite since childhood, a visit to the Nari Seva Sangha Annual Fair at their HQ in Jodhpur Park. Great for all kinds of Bengali food, from malpoa to a variety of chops, pickles, to textiles, such as kantha items, baby clothes, etc.  

Syuti Shaili, usually held once or twice a year at the Birla Academy of Art and Culture is a Calcutta-based textiles and crafts exhibition showcasing handcrafted items, be that woven, sewn, embroidered, painted, printed, moulded, dyed, carved, sculpted.

Which is your favourite cafe?
If I am looking for some calm and quiet, then My Calcutta.  I do believe that privacy is the last luxury and get immense pleasure from finding a quiet spot! The same reason applies to my two other favourite spots, Milee Droog at Gorky Sadan and Cafe Muller at the Goethe Institut (Max Muller).

For a bit of energy, I like 8th Day Cafe, Raj’s Spanish Cafe, Pancham Er Adday, Marbella’s and The Daily Cafe all of which have excellent ambience and menus.

Any favourite restaurants?
Phew! That’s a long list. Let me see. A friend recently introduced me to The Blue Poppy – Thakali at Sikkim House and the jhol momo and pakchoi is to die for. I can see this being my favourite food for the winter months. My enduring favourite is Fuji near Southern Avenue for their sushi platter and a martini or two. Whenever I want to treat myself, I head straight there.

Another fabulous place is Santa’s Fantasea off Golpark serving a variety of tribal fare amid weird and wonderful decor. The Banspora Mutton cooked and served in bamboo, with their shoru chakli ruti along with the Kerala Mutton soup is pretty much my ideal meal and I’d encourage you to order it immediately!

For momos, thukpas and north-eastern fare, which I’ll be having plenty of in the coming months, it’s always Denzong and Momo I Am, both of which offer delicious, heart-warming food. For Bengali food, it’s Kasturi.

In this pandemic situation, with distancing norms in place, where do you go for a walk?
I can’t quite describe in words how wonderful the myriad walks around the lakes [Rabindra Sarovar in south Kolkata] are.A house besides a lake in KolkataEven now, it feels like I discover new things every time I pop down there, and with the pandemic, it’s one of the few places in the city I can easily go to experience nature.

My absolute favourite is the walk from the Southern Avenue end of the lake to the Nipponzan Myohoji (Japanese) Buddhist Temple. The Temple itself holds morning and evening prayers to the beat of drum, and I often begin or end my walks with this immersive and meditative experience.Princep Ghat, Kolkata Before the pandemic, I would sometimes go on a boat ride on the Hooghly [which is to the west of the city]. Calmly floating down the river, looking up in awe at the second Hooghly Bridge and the Howrah Bridge as the boat passes beneath them, catching a 360-degree view of the city, and then finally ending the trip with a round ‘pao-bhaji’ from the vendors on the river bank,  are still just as enjoyable as they always were. Only if there was no pandemic.

The Maidan or the green lungs of the city is fabulous for a jog and socially distanced picnics during the pandemic!

What would be your suggestion for some interesting activities in the city?
One of my favourite activities is to go to the M.P. Birla Planetarium! They have renovated it and done a fabulous job at that – the new tech and refurbishment is well considered and information about their shows in English, Hindi, and Bengali is on their website. Check out the show Cosmic Collisions narrated by Robert Redford.

The museum-exhibition in the Old Currency Building – Ghaire Baire is an absolute must.

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The Insider: Meghna Nayak – Outlook India
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