Monday, 13 December 2010

The Santa Lady

This is a story I did four years earlier.
Visit Kamala Dutta's house if you want to meet Santa Claus. He is there in all shapes and sizes. Lovely photographs too. Will upload in some time.

Where does the Santa Claus stay?
North Pole? Not really. More than 1,200 Santa Claus’s of varied shapes and sizes jostle for space in Kamal Dutta’s house. Santas made from tooth pick, sand, rangoli, wool, wax, ceramic plates, bottles, keys, pots, mugs, tiles, egg shell, coconut, pencils…whew. You name it and she has it!
Every Santa, Dutta has bought or made, is proudly displayed in her showcase’s, while others are neatly packed away into cartons and boxes. Pulling them out for inspection and putting them away is such a difficult task that 76-year-old Dutta just showed us a ‘glimpse’ of her collection.
Ask her how many Santas she has in her collection and Dutta says, “I stopped counting after I reached the total of 1,200. It’s not a numbers game for me.”
A librarian by profession, Dutta made her first Santa Claus some 10-12 years earlier. “My daughter, Bohagee, was eight-years-old, when she insisted that I make a Santa for her. That was the first one I made, then the second followed and then the third…” Dutta says.
“Earlier, I was reluctant to buy expensive raw material. Then I started saving money I got from giving tuitions. I did not want to be a burden on anyone while nurturing my hobby,” she says.
Making Santa Claus’s gives her creative satisfaction and Dutta does not believe in selling them. She has also held only one exhibition so far.
Despite her old age, Dutta continues to be mesmerised with Santa Claus. “Every November-December I go into a trance. I don’t like to go anywhere. I am busy making Santas. Even if I am travelling, I am armed with my knitting and stitching paraphernalia. I manage to make about 100 Santas in a year,” she says.
With her daughter now grown-up, Dutta lavishes all her love on Santa Claus. “They are my kids,” she says, posing for the photographs.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Old and New

I happened to be in Sadashiv Peth yesterday.
The landscape/skyline has changed. Old crumbling wadas (there are a few left) are now sandwiched between apartments, buildings with fancy names.
I was walking home so I decided to do a random check – to spot buildings/stores which I frequented to when I was staying in the hostel.
Yup, Shabdali was there. The owner looking unhappy...(was he threatened by the new, swish, swanky, modern stores off the block?)
I went to Shabdali often to buy Teens Today, Tinkle, Outlook and India Today. On the opposite side, there used to be Calyx – a card shop. Now there's some electronic store there.
I took a turn to the Madiwale Colony. My friend's house is still there. I didn't drop in to say hello. She is in US now.
Then another left turn and I came to Swami Samarth Math. I liked being there. I used to stay as a PG in a house which had its back to the Math. Now, the house has been razed down. Another apartment has come up. At that corner, I could smell the cowdung. That means the old cowshed was still standing next to the temple. I could hear the temple bells - very soothing.
Straight down and another left...Udyan Mangal Karyalaya is still there. On the opposite side, Scouts and Guides ground throbbed with activity. Shailesh Rasvanti Gruha doing a brisk job and maybe good earning too.
A decade earlier, Tilak Road, Sadashiv Peth, Khajina Vihir Chowk were looked down up – gao, ghati and agau. After yesterday's visit, I will say 'ghati has become trendy'.
Almost all big names in the electronic market are standing tall and proud on Tilak Road – Sony, Haier, Samsung, Maharashtra Electronic Company, Whirlpool and what not.
And, there are so many shops selling 'western wear' - washed out jeans/denims and check shirts on display. What fancy names they have! One said 'Marino'. Why the hell, Marino? Wasn't there a biscuit company with the same name?
I just spotted one shop, a tailoring shop, which said – ithe punjabi suit shivun milel. Now jeans are in. If you wear a 'punjabi', then you are a 'behenji'.
Next time you are in Pune, (the ones who stayed in Sadashiv Peth), take a test. Find out how many old landmarks are still standing.