Reshma and I drove from Delhi to Moradabad early in the morning. Moradabad is famous for its brassware and we were told by the Head of the Brassmakers Association (we named him Mr White as he had on a pristine white kurta-pyjama, white sandals and yes a white phone!) that over 400,000 artisans work in the industry. We got to meet a national award winner and see the product he got his award for.
It was fantastic but very sad as well. The sons have focused on making products for the mass market and do not have the skills their father has, so his craft will die with him. He learnt it from his father who learnt it from his father – a skill that dates back to the Mughals, and now on the verge of extinction. He knows it and you could see the profound sadness in him.
Saw batashas (best described as sugar and water cooked into little drops) being made and had them hot off the stove – divine but after three we felt the sugar hit us! All very nostalgic of Christmas holidays at my grandparents’ farm outside Lucknow where we would buy kheel and batasha on market day. I went back to the farm just before Diwali and while lots has changed, the market hasn’t. I was glad – a bit of my childhood preserved as it is in my memory!