Sunday, February 03, 2008
Food for arthropods, protective shields that ward off the evil eye, welcome mats or road side art?
They are often the first sounds of the day. Under the jamun coloured sky a gate opens, groaning and creaking, protesting at being woken up so early in the morning, Water is splashed from a chipped plastic bucket, not poured, not sprinkled but splashed. Handfuls scooped out and flung against the dusty earth before one’s home. And then a silence, punctuated by the shuffle of feet and the occasional jin-chuk of anklet bells. The length of this silence varies. It depends on the mood of anklet wearer, what day of the week it is, what month it is, auspiciousness levels and whether kaavi is to be added or not. During certain months, a subtle, unspoken rivalry comes in to play. Designs become more elaborate. Arabesques, curlicued flowers and chariots spill out on to the street. Adept hands turn bland rice powder in to menageries bursting with peacocks, butterflies, elephants and leaping fish. Without measuring aids pullis are spaced with military precision and then looped and joined together in an elaborate version of connect the dots. Like imperious rulers ordering about their court artisans, some women stand guard urging the hand that creates to go further, try harder and be more imaginative as though their glory is somehow reflected in these creations. But unlike monuments dedicated to lovers, portraits and poetry that are preserved for posterity, these works of art are ephemeral and will not live to see the next day.