Category Archives: Art, Crafts & Labour

One fine morning, a king and a queen arrive for a tour of Dalhousie—a quaint Himalayan hill town located in the Chamba region in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The royal couple’s charioteer, locally known as the saarthi, doubles as their tour guide and takes them through the narrow winding roads of the town.

As a young child, one of Ramchandra’s favorite toys was a small wooden truck painted in sunny yellow with bright red edges. Wheeling it on the floor, Ramchandra would watch his grandfather’s hands work magic on the chiseled wood, slowly transforming it into something entirely different: a doll, an action figure, a movable toy car and more. It wasn’t long before he joined his grandfather in the craft.

On a winter morning in Saharanpur, a town in Northern India, painter Shahid Hussain is at work, hoping to change the mood of the cold, grey day. His canvas is a massive pillar that supports the town’s busiest flyover. Remaining seemingly unaffected by the curious stares of the passers-by, Hussain meticulously draws a web-like pattern that gives away the character that will soon beckon under the bridge.

On a warm summer day, as I meticulously plucked the wheat harvest; the malik (boss) yelled out my name from the outskirts of the field—asking me to see him immediately. Nervous, I wiped the sweat off my forehead and rushed to him. I knew that he was angry at me because I had forgotten to tie back the goats after feeding them. They had wandered into the field and destroyed some of the crops. As the malik rambled through his wrath, I zoned out the casteist slurs he threw at me and glimpsed at his children who were coming back from school. They hardly paid attention to me—a 13-year-old girl who worked as a daily wage labourer at their father’s farm. Their father, surprisingly, had been kind enough to not cut my wage over my carelessness. I did not bother much about him or his scolding. The goats, however, deserved to wander…

Read more

Palghar, Maharashtra Warli artist Anil Vangad’s dog Preni barks, breaking the deafening silence of Ganjad village in Maharashtra’s Palghar district, about 120 kilometres north of Mumbai. Situated on the foothills of the lush Sahyadris, Ganjad is slowly coming to be recognised as an art village; an important cultural centre where one of India’s most popular indigenous art thrives. The village with 12 padas (hamlets) is home to the Warli tribe of northern Maharashtra and Warli art, popular the world over.

Kunal Purohit is an independent journalist, researcher and podcast producer based in Mumbai, India. He pursued an MSc in Development Studies on a Felix Scholarship from SOAS in 2016-17 and worked briefly as a research assistant at the SOAS South Asia Institute.

There’s nothing that unusual about Vallabhbhai Patel Road. Located in the Dongri neighborhood, it’s the embodiment of old Mumbai: old buildings and narrow roads dotted with stores, eateries offering kebab platters and roadside stalls serving up refreshing faloodas in the heat.

“Cultural exchange is a radical act. It can create paradigms for the reverential sharing and preservation of the earth’s water, soil, forests, plants and animals. The ethereal networker aesthetic calls for guiding that dream through action. Cooperation and participation, and the celebration of art as a birthing of life, vision, and spirit are the first steps.”

Kainchi Bazaar, a 350-year-old industry which houses close to 600 units and employs approximately 70,000 craftsmen, was once the pride of Meerut. Since the profit made by businesses is negligible, the newest generation is not being encouraged to take up the profession

Dilip Pannalal retired as a pedicurist from a salon 14 years ago. It was the end of his professional life as a pedicurist, but also a new beginning. From an upscale parlour in South Mumbai he moved base to a footpath outside the Veeramata Jijabai Bhosle Udyan Zoo in Mumbai’s Byculla East. Armed with a toolbox, a stool and a vibrant sign that read ‘Corn Specialist’ in bold, Pannalal began his new career. Ever since then, the 55-year-old has treated thousands of people, who have come to him with their foot ailments, right there on the footpath.