Sunday, March 30, 2008

5 Things I picked up on this trip

Conducting a wood carving workshop near Tirupati presented an opportunity to explore the city. It is interesting to note that there are absolutely no foreign tourists here. The Museum of temple arts in Tirupati is a jewel tucked away in a corner which you can easily miss. But it is a must see for anybody who is interested in traditional Indian architecture and iconography.

Along the road that leads to the Padmavati temple are a row of small souvenir shops for pilgrims coming from all over the country. There were pictures of gods and goddesses in bright kitschy colours, some mounted with lights, steel utensils, prayer utensils in brass and copper, toys and junk jewellery. These bracelets looked quite chic i thought.

I bumped into a jewellery shop that sells gold plated jewellery, they had a lot of elaborate traditional stuff. I bought these hair clips, traditionally worn by a south Indian bride or by dancers during performance . They are one for each side of the head, a star and a moon.

From Tirupati I went to Kerala with Sudhesh to celebrate my mom-in-law’s 60th birthday. On the last day of our stay there we went for a day trip to Fort Cochin. I like to keep going there, on each trip I discover something new or unusual. It takes a short ride on the jetty to reach there, sharing space with cars, lorries, bikes and other people it looks somewhat like a modern day version of Noah’s Ark.

Looking at the wholesale spice shops from the auto rickshaw I tried to visualise what kind of a place it would have been a thousand years ago when people from different parts of the world would come here to buy pepper and other spices. It wouldn’t be very different from what it is today I guess, considering the number of tourists you spot in the area except they are here for the historical significance of the place rather than the spices. I bought Vanilla pods from a gujarati trader settled there for over three decades.

Matancherry is full of big and small antique shops. Most of the wares here looked like new stuff battered to be made to look old. The most priceless curio I found here was a kashmiri speaking in malyalam, but I guess I should not be surprised as wherever you find tourists you are sure to find kashmiris! There is one shop we had bought enamel mugs from last year. What used to be considered cheap camping ware is now rare to find, I guess with better options available in plastic people don’t bother to make enamel ware anymore. I went back to see if he had some more. I picked up more mugs and some ladles as well.

At the rear of one of the antique shops is a ayurvedic cosmetic shop, this handmade soap made by a women’s cooperative in cochin stood out from the rest because of its attractive packaging made out of areca leaf.


Marjory said...

Always curious and funny things !
Thank you dear Aditi, for keeping India travel alive.

Jyothi Unniraman said...

You have a way to find beauty in ordinary things !Keep it up!