I moved out of my home for higher studies and job at the age of 19, soon after my graduation. Living in Delhi, away from family was tough, especially when you literally lived off canteen/hotel food. Being a journalist, by default most days I ended up in a Five star hotel to attend a press meet over lunch or dinner, some days both meals. So I was used to eating the best of cuisines, made by some of the best chefs in the industry, but despite the lavish spreads what I ended up craving was a home cooked meal, ‘maa ke haath ka khana’ which of course was a rare event, considering travels back to hometown were far and few. The other best option available and highly sought after was an invite from Delhi based friends, their mums treating the away from home bachha to some ghar ka khana, these invites were my literal peeks into heaven and the faint lifelines that helped me survive the time spent away from home and my parents.
In 2005, I lost my mom, she succumbed to cancer. While, with the passage of time I have learnt to live with her physical absence, the fact is not lost on me, that “maa ke haath ka khana” is never going to be available again.
You must be wondering, where I am heading with my life story.
We all live by this ghar ka khana, “maa ke haath ka khana” syndrome. I think it’s genetic or maybe that is how we bond with our roots and stay grounded. Ever given it a thought, why even a simple dal chawal made at home tastes better than the food served at the most exquisite restaurants? They might be fun once in a while, but can never be the way of life.
The answer is simple, home cooked food and especially when it is by our mothers, helps us bond with our roots, it is in a sense, who we are, what defines us, what nurtures us.
If you ask me, I equate handmade products, be it artefacts, handlooms, or homegrown organics with my ‘maa ke haath ka khana’. These are rooted in our country’s history, traditions and are the gist of all that has been handed down to us. There is inspiration, there is dedication, there is a need to not malign it in the name of progress. No machine made good can compete with the warmth a handmade product exudes. And still we see day in and day out people disrespecting these artisans and their art.
We don’t think twice before, shelling out whatever is demanded for a branded product in a plush mall, but we will bargain and bargain with a handicraft vendor for hours if we can.
If we don’t cherish these arts and their creators, and encourage them today, we will lose them, eventually. It is going to die, that is certain, they too have mouths to feed, they will have no option but to move to alternate or more lucrative options. It is unfortunate but it is happening, the many people migrating to cities as labourers is living proof of this phenomenon.
Next time when you bargain with a handicraft seller, think twice, the product you pick may not look as finished as it’s machine made counterpart, but it comes with a story, it has been shaped out of the maker’s imagination, chiseled by the warmth of his hands and brought to you with the hope, that you will appreciate it for what it is worth….
Show handmade some love, before you wake up to realise, it is never going to be available again…
Pic courtesy – www.siliconeer.com
Post By Merlin Francis