Saturday, February 11, 2012

What I learned at Surajkund today

As I looked out of the Innova window at the swanking new cavity less Faridabad Highway, I wondered how crowded the Surajkund mela would be. Since it was a Saturday and the last weekend for the Annual Fair.

For those who are not familiar, Surajkund, in Haryana, hosts an annual fair where more than 400 national and state awarded craftsmen display and sell their handicrafts. This year, India, SAARC and othere neighbouring countries had their stalls on display.

The grounds are undulating and nicely made into winding paths with artisians in their stalls lining both sides. The paths would circle around open air stages where folk dances and music would be on, captured on cameras by the audience.

The host state was Assam and I was proud to see displaysof an Assamese Namghar( house of worship),a village house with its granary, fishing baskets called jakois, weaving looms.

I admired the brass, the mirror work, the wooden hand made toys and decor pieces.

But also found myself wondering whether they were overpriced. Where would I use them at home?
And after admiring the work, I walked to the next stall, pretending not to see the slight disappointment on faces lined with hard work, breaking into a smile at the next person at the stall.

And then I was embarassed.
At myself.

Do I even think twice about walking into a mall and watch plastic smiles swiping my cards as I splash out on things I certainly can do without.

Do I look at a branded piece and ask... is it worth it?

Do I stop my daughteer from walking into fast food joints that can only add to empty calories?

Then what does it take for me to encourage such skilled and talented craftsmen and artisans who were using this occasion to find new customers ?

What they have is as valuable as anything else out there.
Maybe much more because they do not have the economies of scale brought by massive production units and masked factory workers.

Their families and future depend on their trade.
Or else , their children will be disillusioned and join the rat race most of us have fallen prey to.

And cut the umbilical cord of the skillset of a nation we should all be proud of.

So yes, we all have choices.
And we have a right to live the way we want.
Sermonisations have no place.
This piece is just a reflection.

And a realisation.

I returned home, a wiser person.
Surajkund taught me much more than I expected.

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