The Road Trip: Part 1

Hi,

So, a while back I went on a three day road trip. I had five main stops, so I’ll be writing about each of their significance for me.

Kondapalli

A tiny place called kondapalli was our first stop. There are these certain dolls that are made there, named after the town. The town wasn’t exactly a tourist attraction, though the toys were fairly famous, the town they were made in wasn’t, so we didn’t really know what to expect. Anyway, we found only about four shops that were selling the dolls, but what we were looking for was someone who made the dolls in their own home, someone who wasn’t doing it for the sake of retailing but because of talent and interest and art.

And that someone we found. Next to one of the shops was this house, acknowledged by a door wide open in a cramped space, which had some toys set on table out front. Finally finding someone genuine, we went inside inquiring if we could ask a few questions and take some photos. The man creating these toys was a fifth generation craftsman, learning all from his father, and he also told us that he was, sadly, his family’s last generation craftsman. My dad did most of the talking and here are a few facts that we learned: The toys are chiselled out of locally available special light softwood and hand made with basic tools. They’re painted with organic vegetable dyes. The most popular toys are Dasavatarams (ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, the main Hindu god).

The toys are crafted in Kondapalli, and given to retailers to sell for an exceptionally higher price than the crafters get paid, or when they sell them directly. It’s a struggle for those townspeople, trying to keep alive the art, which they so carefully and precisely create with respect, so seeing this man opening up about his profession and its difficulties was really something different.

Kuchipudi

The next day we set off to another small town called Kuchipudi, where the classical Indian dance form Kuchipudi originated from. My mum, being a professional Kuchipudi dancer herself, was quite excited to see the great things that the town would behold. We found the dance school there and went inside to have a look. From the outside it looked large but possibly neglected, but we dismissed the idea, not judging till we had a more knowledge about the school. Once inside, we realised that our assumptions may be correct, seeing its emptiness. There were only two custodians and us in the building. Each room had photos of those who mastered the dance to such an extent that they deserved to be honoured. We asked one of the custodians why there was no one here and he told us that since the government had changed, the teachers weren’t getting paid; therefore no classes had taken place in a while. It was saddening to think that those, whose passion for this dance reined high, couldn’t get to be educated further in it because of the government’s problems. And coming to the town itself, the thing was, despite the immense name for the dance form, its birth town was overlooked. To say the least, we were disappointed and somewhat pitiful.

I don’t want to dump too much and confuse so I’m posting these in parts. So the continuation of this post shall be in part 2!

-AJ xo

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