Laila Tyabji
MEGHA MEETS VISHWAKARMA: THE STORY OF INDIAN CRAFTS by Harsha V. Dehejia Niyogi Books, New Delhi, 2014, 154 pp., 795
November 2014, volume 38, No 11

There is such a disconnect between the books and toys Indian children read and play with, and the realities of Indian life. Even the materials are alien. Instead of clay, cane, wood and papier-mache, everything is plastic or moulded polymer, and the virtual world of the ubiquitous laptop or tablet rules all. The world of Harry Potter or Superman is more familiar than an Indian village to an average urban kid.

My organization, Dastkar, had been trying to bridge this divide with craft demonstrations, learning workshops and games, where children visiting our bazaars can actually experience the feel of clay between their fingers, the fun of making and flying a kite, the little snips that make a Sanjhi papercut parrot…. The awed delight on a child’s face as he turns his very own pot on the wheel is its own reward. ‘Hey Mom, this is cool!’ exclaimed a previously reluctant 8 year-old, dragged to the bazaar by his mother will-nilly.

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