Saturday, February 26, 2011
Monday, January 3, 2011
|If you would like to see a 23 second movie of some pottery workers in Delhi, click on this image. You will have to click again, and then once more.|
It took me an hour on the metro, including two transfers, to get to Uttam Nagar East, the stop nearest to Kumbhar Colony, home to pottery production in Delhi. I had to run a few times making my connections and I am afraid it was necessary to push at times. When I got off, I did not want to look lost so I started walking purposefully, hoping to find someone to give me directions.
I found myself walking down the narrowest residential lane I have ever seen. There were women sitting and knitting - those ubiquitous sparkly vests so popular on the men in Delhi! And children playing. Everyone smiled and seemed friendly, but I was pretty sure no one would be able to give me directions in English. A group of older men were staring at me, so I decided to ask them. They gave me elaborate directions in Hindi, of which I understood nothing except the first part: "sida" (go straight) and then something-something-something. I thought maybe I heard "Mother Dairy" somewhere in there, which made me briefly hopeful. Maybe it would be a useful landmark, or at least I could eat some ice cream. But instead I decided to head back towards the metro before I got totally lost and disoriented. Then I headed down a busier road and I decided to ask a boy in a school uniform. He enlisted a man's help who not only gave me more verbal instructions in Hindi but also wrote something in Hindi on a piece of paper the boy supplied from his school notebook. I decided to keep trying to find the place by wandering in the general direction suggested, and I also decided that if I did not find it in one hour I would give up. It was coming up on 45 minutes of wandering. I was walking down a lane that had some businesses but was still rather narrow and windy, and I came to an especially wet and muddy and garbage-strewn stretch of the road. I thought this might be a good time to give up or ask for directions again. My policy had become that I would ask directions from anyone who I felt was staring rather rudely at me. And they had all kept directing me down this particular lane. Then at the mud-garbage junction I got worried anyway, and so I asked a man who pointed me to the right turn coming up ahead. He was very nice and apologized for not speaking English. I wanted to apologize for not even being able to pronounce "Kumbhar" properly. "B" followed by an aspirated "h", yeah right. The Hindi instruction book suggests English speakers find that same combination in the words "club house". I can't pronounce "Bhogal" properly either. Anyway, lacking a bread crumb trail, I thought that I might try to remember it on my way back as the T-intersection with a pink apartment building. I turned the corner, and there it was, the 3 or 4 block stretch of pottery production I was looking for. Hurray! Now I don't have to tell my daughter I gave up never having found it!
I decided to walk the length of it and then take pictures on my way back out. So I found at the other end there was a small courtyard full of pottery with some older men sitting out in front. I asked if I might enter and take pictures, and they gestured yes, so I did. But then an older woman appeared and wanted money from me, and I said no. The men laughed "no money no money" and so I worked my way back from the direction I had come.
|Is that a kiln back there?|
On the street I saw many stacks of finished pots as well as trays of drying pieces. And lots of heaps of mud/clay as well as broken piles of pottery.
I peeked in another room with women applying the gold decoration to some finished pots. And another with men making flower pots on the wheel. My movie caught a man trimming the bottom of some pots as a woman inscribes a design. Everyone was so photo-friendly! I even had a few children request a photo, which they never even viewed, and then some one on the street directed my gaze to a balcony with 4 people all wanting to pose for a photo as well.
I thought the people were especially good-looking in this neighborhood, Kumbhar Colony.