Monday, September 30, 2013

Tales of the hawkers of bommais

There are layers at the Navarathri sales market in Mylapore. And you will get to experience them if you happen to chat with the hawkers here.

There is an informal but pucca reservation of spaces on the mada veedhi for the hawkers of dolls. And this has happened over the years. Some have been here for over 15 years; some have taken the place of those who gave up this business.

That is why there is some order in the hawkers' spaces when Navarathri is at hand. There is no room for free-for-all though there are some scrapes now and then.

This is the reason why the hawkers' market sets in so fast and fairly well too.

But one woman is distraught this year. She used to set up shop outside the windows of the office of Sri Kapali Temple. Last week, four saplings were planted alongside the office on the mada veedhi said and lo, the woman who says she had her stall here the past 15 years could not even fight it out and has had to make do with little space on the pavement.

She says she invested over one lakh rupees on the dolls and was felled when she realised her 'old ' space was gone. "Mine was the biggest display here. I liked to set up all the big bommais I brought...shoppers want to see what we have for them. Now its all gone..."

38 families sign for Kolu Contest

38 families have signed up for the annual Mylapore Times Kolu Contest in 24 hours.
Registration is on a first come first serve basis and will close with 75 sign-ups because the host can screen only that many in the 3 days that are required to video record all of them.

Yes, since last year the organizer of the contest decided to record the kolus and then ask the judge to sit through a screening of them to short list the best 15.

So if you want to join the contest that awards great kolas, sign up now. Call 2498 2244 -10.30 am to 5.30 pm.

North Mada Street as cultural space . . .

North Mada Street now has a character of its own. It is colorful, hyperactive and chaotic.
And it has to do with the Navarathri season when hawkers display and sell an amazing variety of dolls.

So would making North Mada Street at such times of the year make great sense?
Many shoppers say 'yes'.

The street's life may then change dramatically. There will be lots of space for people to walk up and down, the fear of moving cars and bikes will be removed and the street will get a character of its own, making it a special space that lends itself to the culture of the city.

Already, a plan to pedestrianise the three mada veedhis is on the table. If it comes through, there may be only 'one way' traffic on these streets.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Narasimhar and his consort

Shopping for dolls in the now-crowded mads veedhis is a difficult task. Thew chaos of the area can be off putting. And the still-stuffy weather can drain you.
But if you are a keen shopper, you will need to walk down the road to take a close look at most hawkers.

On Friday, we spotted this man who set his shop outside the Corporation Bank on this street. He proudly held a 4 feet tall image of lord Narasimhar and his consort, made from papier macho.
Cost - Rs.4000 - Rs.6000.

Dolls of this size cost a bit nowadays.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Doordarshan shoots the festival flavours. . .

Where else but in Mylapore can you get a strong feel of the Navarathri festival?

We got a call from a producer at Doordarshan Kendra, Chennai to help locate two households where families were in the process of preparing the kolus.

DD National plans to put out a programme on the Navarathri / Puja celebrations across India and Chennai was included in the list.

So DD Chennai will be shooting at two houses - to record the traditions of a kolu and of colourful theme sets that are created alongside the main kolu.

Gift plates and Thaambulam bags . . .

Vijaya Stores at the west end of North Mada Street ( close to Indian Bank) is a big draw for shoppers. It stocks lost of colorful, attractive stuff for all seasons and festivals.

This week, we spotted stocks of thambulam bags and gift boxes / plates made from all kinds of material and colorfully designed to suit the Navarathri season.

Shop at the Sarvodaya Sangh store on R K Mutt Road

One place that you must visit if you are shopping for dolls is the Sarvodaya Sangh store for khadi goods located on R. K. Mutt Road, opposite the tank of Sri Kapali Temple and behind the row of MTC bus stops.

The store has received dolls from all parts of India - West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh . . .

The doll sets are very reasonably priced and the revenues go to artisans in the interiors of the country - so shopping here is also for a cause.

We spotted this colourful set of a Carnatic music kutcheri where all the artistes are women - for those of you who create theme sets alongside the main kolu, this set may be worth the buy!

Wedding set!

This is the time for you to take a close look at what hawkers on the streets are selling.

We spotted this set of a wedding scene ; colorful, compact and simple.

The hawker is located outside Raja Stores on North Mada Street.

Navarathri gift boxes

Now this is a smart sales promotion!
If you walk into Indra Stores, a popular shopper's destination on the mada veedhis around Sri Kapali Temple, Mylapore you will be invited to look at what the store has for you this season.
Small, compact plastic boxes which can be used to pack the thamboolam or goodies to offer guests at Navarathri time.

Some many argue that plastic is not the best option in times when there are simple, eco-friendly containers. Point.
But this store offers a quick option. The stores are on East Mada and North Mada Street.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Navarthri kolu padi in plastic

So what are these women looking at?
Yes, it is a kolu padi but it is different.

This padi is made from light plastic and is a product of the popular Giri Trading Agency, with its store in Sannidhi Street zone on the east side of Sri Kapali Temple, Mylapore.

Designed and produced last year to cater specially to NRIs, this plastic kolu stand can be dismantled and re-arranged to your needs and carried in your baggage if you are carting a piece to the USA or to Australia.

Giri says that the stand may look light but it can take the weight of large dolls. The store has lots more that is required for the Navarathri festival. As do all its branches across India.

Sale at Sankara Hall, Alwarpet

This is also the time for sales. We spotted a big one at the popular destination for sales - Sankara Hall on TTK Road, Alwarpet, close to Narada Gana Sabha.

The sale which opened last week has a huge variety of stuff to offer but one corner has been carved out for dolls. From West Bengal and Andhra and Orissa.

A small show case of the dolls has also been put up at the entrance so that it gets the eye of passersby.

What caught our attention were the set of images of goddess Kali from the artisans of West Bengal.
The sale has a nice variety of dolls on sale - it is on till the festival season.

Painter of dolls; Paramasivan in the Chitrakulam zone

There may be fewer Mylaporeans now who can boast of possessing some stunning, vintage and exquisite dolls that come out into the drawing room at Navarathri time.
Dolls made from wood or from a mud mixture.

But there are families who treasure and are proud of vintage images, which may be heirlooms of the family.

There seems to be one man in Mylapore who can give a fresh look to old dolls and do so with a professional touch. Paramasivan. His little bunk shop is on the west side of the Chitrakulam and he has been at this work for many years now after a low in his painting career.

As word spread of his capacity, Mylaporeans with old dolls brought these to him and he has given them a new lease of life!

The hawkers are out on North Mada Street

Mylaporeans, many say wake up to the spirit of Navarathri when North Mada Street takes on a different color at this time of the year.
It is a time when local hawkers - people who may be selling vegetables or flowers or knick-knacks source dolls and target the Navarathri shoppers.

This has not been the best of time for hawkers. Those who set up shop on the eve of Sri Krishna jayanthi told us that this has not been a good season, hurt as they are by power cuts and rising costs.

Last weekend, hawkers carved out space on the mada veedhi to set up shop. And slowly, the face of this street is changing. Rows and rows of dolls are now on display on the pavements.