Crossing boundaries

Two days ago, I went for the ongoing Dastkar Mela-Crossing Boundaries, which is being held from 17th-28th Sept’15 at Andheria More, Mehrauli, New Delhi. Over there, were artisans showcasing their merchandise from neighboring countries like Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethopia, Vietnam and few Indian states – U.P., Rajasthan, Bihar, Karnataka, Gujarat and Manipur; though complacent with the knowledge of their craft.

It was an interesting day as I began with chatting up Shruti (+91 99336025) the owner of Chatori Gali, as she offered me delicious Nimbu Paani, to quench my thirst And being inquisitive, she got me engrossed with her passionate tales of her first love – interior designing, and the second, this successful food venture with Bong husband. It’s story began with their vast knowledge of Delhi’s local cuisines, along with Bihari and Bengali fare; as they reside in Central Delhi – the capital’s nerve center for food enthusiasts.

After that, I sauntered off to our culturally friendly neighbours’ stalls to check out Pakistani colourful khussa juttis and slippers inspired by their Truck Art.  And since I enjoy a kitschy look,  I merrily placed orders for a pair of both, as they had plans to revisit, in the coming winter.

Later, did manage some retail therapy by picking up Samoolam‘s crochet sautoir for myself and colourful tic-tac clips for my niece. Also bought a woven colourful plastic basket to be used as a magazine stand for my room, and cane baskets for the bathroom and granny’s knitting projects, from Dastkar‘s permanent Manipur stall.

From the same stall, learnt about Manipur’s Black Stone Pottery or Longpi Ham which have an earthy, yet contemporary appeal and is apparently made by Thankul Naga tribesmen in Longi village, during special occasions and festivals.

Was able to gauge their level of dexterity, on learning that they evenly shape every item by hand, with the help of molds. Once hardened enough, the shaped clay was heated for 5 to 7 hours in a bonfire. In the end of the entire process, when still hot, the pottery was scrubbed with a local leaf known as pasania pachiphylla  or ‘Chiro Na’ in their local lingo,  to give a smooth finish and a nice sheen.

The artisan selling, did suggest that I try those eco-friendly utensils and serveware as they can be used on both an open flame and a microwave, and were also safe to be washed in a dishwasher. Infact, it was most fascinating for me to hear that the tribe specially cooked in them, to prevent morning sickness in pregnant women!

By the end of my jaunt, got busy visualizing various permutations and combinations of different rugs with certain pieces of furniture from Uttar Pradesh. Also, doing justice to the picture in my head, were the silk carpets from Uzbekistan, juxtaposed with the 18th Century British Raj furniture designs; which when recoated in a distressed bright color, could well add some glamour to any space.

Mentally always on an overdrive, with crafting filling my life…my kitchen, closet, bedroom, living room ….

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