Archive

Sketches

Markets are loud, stinking and striking reflections of a city. There is no better place to appreciate the spirit of a neighbourhood or the state of mind of its people.

The winding streets of the old market in Bhuj are true reflections of its evolving nature. The Shroff market in the old town, housed in an old british garrison, dates back to 1883. People inside buy and sell fruits, vegetables and spices. The building, parts of which were rebuilt after the earthquake in 2001, is quite charming and stands at the corner of two streets that are bustling with traders and tourists.

I have a long passion for markets. I could spend hours in one, walking, observing its life, its colours, the familiarity of its faces and the conversations it churns out. It is here that daily stories are born and passed on.

1-msk

Little Khari had been waiting so long for this day. Every time she thought about it, her heart skipped a beat! Trying hard to contain her excitement, Little Khari skipped over to her mother, “Mother, tell me the story! Tell me again!”
It was a beautiful sunrise and her mother was preparing for their departure along with the others of the flock. She had heard this story over and over again but would never get tired of it. It was her favorite. After all, she had been named after a river from this land.
“It is beautiful my dear, the most unique place I have ever been to. You will see for yourself soon”. said her mother.
“Prepare for a grand adventure little one” cried a neighbor, “One that you will not forget!”

Soon it was time to take off, Little Khari and her mother took the wind in their wings. It was chilly but they were full of hope for the warm days they were going to have ahead.

They flew for several days, over white mountains and blue seas, over brown fields and green canopies. They crossed great mountains, they struggled through the big cities of big countries. She kept her eyes wide open throughout the journey, but was always ahead of her pack, “Let’s go! Let’s go!”, “Hurry up everybody!” she would say.
For there was only one thing on her mind.
She was eager to arrive. To arrive in Kachchh.

And so it happened. On the 11th Monday since their departure, the landscape began to give away hints of their destination.
“It is really white!” thought Little Khari, looking down at the vast white land below. Her mother had been right, but this was more than she had imagined! Within a few kilometers, the landscape had changed so quickly. No more buildings, no more big cities, no more tiny trees and people. This was all just white.

Do you know where Khari has arrived?? Storytelling for little children. Co-authored by Sujatha Padmanabhan and Shruthi Ramakrishna; and illustrated by the talented Kalyani Ganapathy, Little Khari’s little story book is coming soon on madeinkachchh.

“How do you draw a camel?” A very valid question if one is trying to describe Kachchh in typical pictures. We are in our new second home, Ajrakhpur. Working on the poster for the upcoming exhibit. Rather than designing something on the computer, we want to print it on real cloth, fill the poster with life and real colour. So we went to design the poster together with Rauf and Khalid and especially Khalid, who would leave laughter lines on our faces.

Rauf is currently our source number one, who is accompanying us to visit many artisans across the region and helping us to connect to the Khatri community. Khalid, also a Blockprinter from Ajrakhpur, whom we met for the first time a few days back. A less worded, simple man. The kind of type I maybe would not recognize if he was walking by. Rauf told me he was the craziest man here in Ajrakhpur, I had some problems to imagine that “big boy” with the “I can not harm any fly” eyes to be the fanciest artisan around. But I was wrong. As soon as he started showing his pieces Krazy Khalid showed his face.

01-1-chhaap

His pieces are different from everything we have seen until now. He does not care about traditional pattern, rules and the design of his ancestors.  He has his own head.  When everyone would print in the day he would print at night, when everyone bets on traditional pattern he would invent his own way of drawing. His own remark to his work: “There is no meaning at all, I am only taking some Blocks and putting them together to see whats happening.”
A real teaser. Stunned, amused and excited we decided to design the poster for the exhibition together with him.
We go the following day to his workshop.

02-4-chhaap

03-0-chhaap

04-2-chhaap

08-9-chhaap

11-12-chhaap

Do we want something simple or complex? Should we layer it with colours and motifs? Should we use traditional blocks or make our own drawings?

05-20-chhaap

06-8-chhaap

09-11-chhaap

19-19-chhaap

What followed was a full day of work and play. Various ideas and laughing fits later we created several prints.

17-16-chhaap

18-14-chhaap

We used a resist dye on canvas cloth that we would later transform in colour by dyeing the cloth in indigo and red ( the traditional colours of blockprint)

07-6-chhaap

10-10-chhaap

12-7-chhaap

13-13-chhaap

16-18-chhaap

Especially proud we are of the hand drawn camel and the little newspaper silhouette buffaloes which should represent the landscape of Kachchh.

15-15-chhaap

20-21-chhaap

So graphic designing with the artisans = success!
And what does the final design look like? You will see soon here on Made in Kachcch!

21-22-chhaap


‘I am a Khatri. This is what we do.
starts the discussion about What is a community? and eventually about India’s caste system. While researching on the topic, we found a book of illustrations at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the Yale University.

The description at the library says;
This illustrated manuscript made in southern India in 1837 consists of 72 full-color hand-painted images of men and women of the various castes and religious and ethnic groups found in Madura, India at that time. Each drawing was made on mica, a transparent, flaky mineral which splits into thin, transparent sheets. As indicated on the presentation page, the album was compiled by the Indian writing master at an English school established by American missionaries in Madura, and given to the Reverend William Twining.

Here is a collection of illustrations of craftsmen in those times;

skylinepngI recently met a tourist from the Philippines who came to visit Kutch and discover the incredible landscapes and people. She was having a wonderful experience. However when it came to her visit to Bhuj city, her first reaction was : “Yes Harmirsar lake is nice, but Bhuj is so dirty!”
I did not know what to say…

Kutch is an eventful region, for the best or for the worst, and its capital, Bhuj knows it better than any other city here.

Heavily destroyed in 2001, its citizens stood up and succeeded in rebuilding the foundation of what has become a fast growing city. It is now facing the same challenges as many others of its kind in India:

How can the city grow in an harmonious manner, including all the layers of the population?
How does one answer the basic needs of the citizens in areas of energy, water, infrastructure, waste management?
How should we approach the ancestral culture, knowledge and tradition as a strong basis for innovation and development?
How do we encourage economic growth without jeopardizing the environment and the existing rich fabric of livelihood activities?

These thoughts and more led to the birth of Bhuj Bole Chhe, which literally means Bhuj Is Speaking (in Gujarathi). The Bhuj Bole Chhe team believe it is the responsibility of each and everyone of us – citizens of Bhuj, to work together and doing that can be fun too!

That is why they are starting a website, a common platform for everyone in Bhuj to share their stories, ideas, concerns, information and also take action for their city.
It can be fun and their are so many ways in which one can participate : starting with sharing old photos of the city, sharing the tales and legends from our grandparents, sharing some creative ideas we have for the city, organizing a “street cleaning” event with friends in the community… the only limit is your imagination!

This initiative was started by 5 organizations which have been working in Bhuj for a few decades already : Arid Communities and Technologies (ACT), Hunnarshala foundation, Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS), Sahjeevan, Urban Setu (Kutch Nav Nirmav Abhiyan).

The Bhuj Bole Chhe adventure will officially begin on the 7th of April in the evening, at the heart of the city : the Hamirsar lake. I invite you to join and start sharing your ideas! Until then, I will let you have a sneak peak of the logo that I worked on for this exciting step that the city is taking!
bbc

Visit the website here : http://bhujbolechhe.org/en

%d bloggers like this: