Sheela Raman is a minimalist who loves high ceilings and open spaces, and the freedom to travel without too much fuss. She is a wanderer at heart, and has spent much of the last decade roving between New York, Italy, and India. She has settled in London for the moment, thanks to the domesticating efforts of her English boyfriend.
Sheela and Barbara have been friends since their earliest days at college (or, ok, university) where, as pre-adults, they were together, in turns, super-serious and fully not-serious-at-all about boys, music, and the meaning of life. Thankfully, their friendship has survived since they left the same dorm - and after many cities and separations they both find themselves in London.
Sheela’s minimalism extends to most areas of her life, except for her collection of vintage beads and bracelets picked up at New York flea markets, sun-drenched stalls in southern India, and little Florentine shops run by stylish old ladies.
Aside from her beloved Indian temple relic, she never travels without two books she read years ago which still inspire her today: Alain Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes, also known as "The Wanderer," and Nadja, the surrealist love story by André Breton.
Minimalist or Maximalist?
When you last packed to move, what was the thing or collection of things you couldn’t leave without?
An Indian temple relic of a Shiva bull
Please tell us more!
It was love at first sight when I spotted this beauty in a shop of Indian antiques off the King's Road in London. He was expensive, but after three months of self-denial and restraint, I was drawn back to him. He was still there.
Ever since, he has adorned an alcove in my living room wall. I call him "Nandi," since that is what bull statues like him are known as in India.
His presence is reassuring, regal, steady. I feel he blesses and protects my space. If I'm ever feeling out of sorts, I lie on the sofa and gaze at Nandi, especially at his benevolent, but slightly impish smile.
I admire his rich palette of charcoal gray and slate blue, flecked with bits of rust orange at the feet. That rich orange hue reminds me of the soil in Tamil Nadu, the part of southern India where he and I both claim our heritage.
Nandi mirrors back to me a part of myself. When I removed him from a British shop and placed him once again in a sacred space, where he belongs, I reclaimed an aspect of my identity that maybe I didn't know or understand that well. I think it's the mystical part, the intuitive part, the part that believes in spirituality and the ineffable.
Whatever the case may be, I know that wherever I live, Nandi will always go with me.