Gajendragad - Revival of a dream

Like roaring waves, rushing to the coast, crashing the boulders that lie still

We are onto something every second of our lives

We see, we speak, we hear, we think, we act-we make noise!

When do we pause? When do we absorb? When do we live?

For once I did!

On that rickety bus ride I felt-

Like the brook bickering down a valley, as painted by Lord Tennyson.


Once we managed to find the bus to Gajendragad from Ilkal bus stop, Avipsha and I immediately plunged onto the only available two-seater window which conveys the urge to share our reflections on the beautiful cluster visit we'd just had. After all, it was a rollercoaster of emotions! Besides this, the two-hour long journey was spent in appreciating the beauty of vast stretch of harvested land covered with what seemed like red soil and clear blue sky which never makes it to Delhi's scenery. A few small thatched huts with narrow muddy lanes here and there and it seemed like an image out of a children's tale. I couldn't be any less amazed to see women in Ilkal sarees throughout, even as we got closer to Gajendragad-abode to Patteda Anchus and Gomi Tenis. At the bus stop, someone from the cluster was there to receive us and after a quick auto ride, we reached our destination. The auto ride though short allowed me to capture a lot of pictures depicting daily life of people in the town; Ilkal clad women as buyers and sellers of fruits and vegetables, of clothes, of household essentials, of bindis and bangles. We crossed an entire Sunday market looking scene bustling with people from all walks of life.

After reaching the cluster, we were warmly welcomed with smiling faces, energy and vibes that know no bounds. Seeing us all worn-out and sweaty, we were served chilled sherbet in transparent cut glasses. We were made to sit in a room smelling of immense labour and perseverance. Like kids at an ice cream parlour, our eyes couldn’t stop gleaming at the many yarns and drapes of different pastel shades which surrounded us. At the same time, Rasool Bhai patiently pulled out piles of beautifully woven sarees out of what looked like their common treasure chest. Besides Patteda Anchus and Gomi Tenis, he showed us what all new designs they have been trying to work on with assistance and guidance from Dr. Hemalatha Jain of Punarjeevana Trust. Rasool bhai understands designs and colours and is always open to experimentation. He proudly showed us this particular saree he specifically wove for his wife at which she smiled away shyly. We then got up to the area where the real action takes place. The weaving unit houses 6 handlooms of which most of them were not working at that time because weavers were away for Eid preparation. We met Kavita di clad in red saree, Ramjanbi di in blue and Mehboobi in green suit, weaving and giggling at each other while we clicked their pictures. Before heading to another weaving unit, we had to bid a few difficult goodbyes here where time was our enemy otherwise sharing Eid’s biryani with this family of talent would have been a real privilege. The other weaving unit is much bigger with more looms and a huge spinning set up on which we could see women actively running their hands. We met Saileshree who does spinning and dyeing and Bhuvaneswari Amma who has been engaged in red dyeing for about 30 years now. We clicked their pictures along with a few others on the job. While waiting for our auto ride back to the bus stop, we chatted with the team over some filter coffee. We were left completely in awe of their high spirit and hard work which made rebirth of the local weaves possible, something that had gone extinct. The entire weaving unit which we see today brimming with hope and the sound of looms has been revived by Hemalatha ji. This second family of hers couldn’t stop raving about the efforts she has put in to bring their art to life. Bidding some difficult goodbyes once again we started on yet another bus ride, this time back to Bangalore.

The bus journeys were way beyond chit chatting though. They stirred my thoughts and feeling in motion. I was struck with a revelation of how we, the people in cities, are always in a hurry to be somewhere or have something or give something or be something. It's one hell of a task for us to just be, as is! We don't understand nothingness. These bus rides helped me step back for a while from all the decorations of life, introspect and be at ease with the world, with my life, with my own very self.

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