I stepped outside wearing a thick silk nine yard saree, braving the cold January morning, to prove that life in California for a South Indian woman could be the same as that she experienced in India. I was determined to draw a kolam on Pongal day in 2013 only because that was one of the few elements I wanted to retain among the many other symbols of our culture. Yes, we are at the point of being able to choose the symbols that represent us…..but I was so wrong then.
I did not draw my kolam in the frontyard as the typical Indian household does, this one was in my patio, surrounded by tall wooden fences that did not invite any neighbor in. I did not draw with kolam powder that is ubiquitous in every household in India, but in chalk.
I have a picture of that day’s kolam, because I wanted to send one to amma, and I remember her telling me to draw a pulli kolam (dot grid kolam.) I look back at that picture and it gives me a sad message. The kolam does not look good at all.
I have done better, I definitely know better, so here I am, many years later, making dotted kolam drawings of many elements that represent our current times. My kolams are here, in this page. This is my front yard. This space is the one outside my threshold, the place I meet my neighbors and keep in touch with family.