Let us thrive under the blond Sun

Rusticating in the makeshift stalls on the pavements of  Dum Dum Road close to Nagerbazare in the vicinity of Kolkata airport, travel artisans try to eke out a living under the lashes of the pandemic.

When lockdown forced the closure of fairs and exhibitions across the world shutting the source of income of artists who would put up stalls in various fairs across small and big cities, around 40 odd artisans from all across Bengal put up makeshift stalls alongside a busy stretch of Dum Dum Road close to Nagerbazar, a couple of kilometres afar from Calcutta airport.

Inhabitants of a small village called Pingla in East Midnapore, mostly Patachitra folk artists are storytellers who used to narrate the tales of Radha-Krishna, of how the fish wed, of Ma Manasa and Devi Durga — fables they illustrated on colourfully painted scrolls of cloth-backed paper.

At present, they paint various bespoke articles like — saris, dupattas, t-shirts, kurtas, trays, bottles, lanterns, cups, and kettles. They were bound to come out of village and tramp as the tourist footfall came to none during the severe pandemic. In pre-pandemic times, the village would have a steady influx of tourists.

Apart from patachitra artists, there were jewellery-makers (meenakari), woodworkers, a buffalo horn artists, people with clothes they designed or embroidered, women with hats, bags and coasters they had woven out of jute, potters and ceramic-makers. With Durga Puja around the corner, they were hoping that fellow Bengali mates would shell out greenbacks in the spirit of celebrations.

There are artisans from historic Kolaghat in Howrah are selling dainty assortments like birds, animals, salt cellars, ashtrays, and fine-toothed combs made of buffalo horn. They buy horns from Uluberia, then cuts and carves them meticulously.

Buying directly from artisans has a strange elevating experience as one gets the chance to strike up a conversation, explain what he or she is exactly looking for and what is the purpose behind it.

Cover image by The Telegraph

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