Studying under the guidance of Jyotibhai as a student, I learnt so much about the craft and folk traditions of Indian art, but perhaps most significantly about Indian textiles, embroidery and floor painted decorations and the delight of tribal embellishment. These instructions were never within paradigms of classroom instructions but instead as incidental conversations that occurred in the natural course of simple conversations.
As black and white images would slowly emerge in the darkroom, or over the tiffin carrier that was sometimes shared in the canteen for lunch, I learnt from the stories and anecdotes that Jyotibhai would relate to us all about a world of experience I would otherwise have had no access to. This wealth of information has stayed with me to aid me in my own endeavours and enquiry on the subject over the years.
For example when I travelled in Turkey, it was two lengths of tatting (a form of embroidery) and a local piece of printed voile, that I love the most from the various strange things I acquired. It is normally such expressions that hold the local cultural ethos that I delight in viewing. Some of my girl friends have gifted me exquisite handmade cloth and woolen dolls that are arranged in my cupboard, and which I love to see each day.
Through these informal exchanges that were insights into the areas of another's interest, I was able to cultivate my own passions and find new territories of excitement. I love the blur between the refined and that which maybe deemed as kitsch.One of my great loves is the painted decorations on Pakistani trucks. I was telling my friend recently how much I desired the possibility of having our tiny Skoda car painted by these artists! My friend of course looked quizzically at me to first ascertain that I wasn't just taking the Mickey out of her, before wholeheartedly endorsing my fantasy like a good friend should!
I still love to wear a printed fabric tied around my waist, with a choli and an odhani as a form of dressing. The vibrant prints, the intense bright coloured dyes, the handmade tassels that fringe the edges all make me feel regal! It is this alternative world of information that our teachers gave to us which allowed us to make different choices than those more predictable. I don't know if I weave the same magic for my students, but I make certain that many stories and anecdotes get shared amongst us. Because the passion from one person will certainly spill over onto another; and it is this that ignites the chance of the beginning of new interests to take root.