Saturday, November 22, 2014

Products made by hand

The unusual rains played spoil sport on the last two days of Dastkari Haat that was held in Pune this month. The reflection on the wet tiles is good from a photograph’s point of view but I could imagine the plight of the craftsmen with their wares who were not at all prepared for this onslaught. 

The display in some of the stalls are worth mentioning. 

By the absence of the middlemen, the artisans could price the items reasonably which was a delight for the customers.

We got this double bed cover (which is double layered) for just Rs 1500/- If you look closely you can see the amount of work that has gone into it which is all done by hand. 

For over three centuries, the metal working artisans have been making hand beaten copper wares. But today their numbers have dwindled considerably.  Coppre  works with a small settlement of these artisans with an effort to bring them to the mainstream. 

These bangles are made pretty by the colourful beads on it. A pair costs Rs 50/-    I was taken in by the simplicity of this elderly couple who made these bangles at home.   

Colourful chappals made of pure leather. 

Noticed many foreigners who were impressed by the wares on display. One of them said  “these same items are available in the shops at the airport and they are so costly”  
The Dastkari Haat Samiti is a nationwide association that brings together craftspeople from all parts of India on a common platform to expand the market for products made by hand using traditional skills. 

A group of musicians kept the customers  entertained with their Rajasthani folk music and some impressive puppet show.
 Wifey says that she will keep a lookout for the next Dastkari Haat exhibition. According to her “there is no point in going to big renowned stores in the city and end up paying double the price for the same items”

Have made a small video with more pictures and video clips. (click on the link below)

PS: (24.11.14) After posting this many inquired about the next Haat in Pune. When I contacted Dastkari Haat Samiti, this is what they told me: "Our Grand annual Craft Bazaar is at Dilli Haat at New Delhi from 1-15 Jan and in Chennai at Kalakshetra from 6th to 15th Feb. After the encouraging response from Pune we hope to come again next year with new people, things and entertainment"

Friday, November 14, 2014

These birds

The point of attraction in the above picture is surely not the rose. There are three of our avian friends over there (if you look closely there are four) but then if you look at the picture below you may have trouble counting them.

Every year during monsoon they flock to this balcony for the bird feed that they get. In fact this housing complex has got about 110 flats, but these birds like to visit only this balcony (probably they know where the bird feed is available in plenty) 

Its amazing how nature works. This year the rains were late but the Munias were here (at the dot on the onset of the monsoon as per the calendar)

They are extremely shy. So they don’t come directly to the balcony. Their first stop is this tree close to the balcony 

Once they know that the coast is clear, they move on to the next stop – the balcony.   

Then they take turns hoping on to the floor where the bird feed is spread.   

The slightest sound or movement from inside the house makes them scamper back to the first base. (as can be seen in the video)
I remember a pair had made a nest at my place exactly four years ago on which I had written a blog.

Incidentally this is the balcony of the house where our 93 year old friend keeps herself busy by painting and knitting.  While I was there clicking the Munia, I saw her painting a bird on a fabric. 

The video  below is the result of clicking and shooting for three consecutive days by hiding, stalking, peeping and sometimes even using camouflage.
Enjoy . . . . . (if you are watching it on YouTube, keep the setting to 720pHD for clarity)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Horse Race in Pune

The picture above was clicked about two years ago but was never used in any blog.  I keep passing through this way (the race course) on a regular basis and have seen this guy peering out most of the time. I wonder if he is thinking about the free world outside. 

I like the area around the race course. It has still maintained its old world charm with bamboo trees, bungalows and picket fence 

While enjoying the Oktoberfest, I got to see the horse race. In fact this is the first live race that I have witnessed. Frankly speaking I have no idea of how to bet, nor to calculate the probabilities of a winning horse. 

But I was mighty impressed by the way the race was conducted with everything well planned and executed. There was no time lapse between races, but at the same time there was enough time provided for people to place their bets. 

Huge screens and small TV screen were provided at strategic places to follow the race. 

After every race there were some cleaners who went through the complete track, probably making sure that it was race worthy for the next race.

It was interesting to note that everyone had a Cole race card, commonly known as the ‘Cole Book’. It is the Bible for the race goers. The blue and white cover of this book has never changed for the last 94 years and is supplied to race courses at Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangaluru, Mysore and Kolkata.  

I noticed some frantic last minute betting at these kiosks 

In the foyer there was a top view of the layout of the race course with some detailed information of the gradient of the starting point and the ending point.

It seems these gradients are also taken into consideration when preparing the Cole book to assess the performance of a horse. 

I liked the way the ambiance of the enclosure is maintained. The woodwork, the latches, and the balustrades are just the same as they were during the British era.

The famous Deccan Queen was started in 1930 as a weekend train for the British people in India to ferry race fans from Bombay (Mumbai) to Poona (Pune)
Somehow I missed those fancy hats which is synonymous with races, but still there were some interesting ones 

The Indo German Chamber of Commerce and the DieSulmtaler band was in attendance during the last race of the day. 

Observed that people from all walks of life converge on this point when it comes to betting. You can see the anxiety and the suspense written on these faces as they keenly observe the giant screen to see if “their horse” is in the lead. 

I was observing this old man, with the small chit in his hand where he had jotted down all the probabilities, but the final result did not match, as can be seen from his face. Probably an old timer, who thinks of making it big one day.

Made a small video of my experience of the day.