Sunday, October 31, 2010

Annual Blind Relief Association Diwali Mela

The Annual Blind Relief Association Diwali Mela is the most talked about Diwali mela and once I reached there, I realised why. This year it is on from the 26th of October to the 31st of October. (2436 1376)

This mela is a blend of Dastkar Nature Bazaar and the Akshay Pratishtan Mela

Some stalls by charitable organisations, others purely commercial. Also a lot of stalls by people/companies that do not have shops and showrooms in this country, who mainly export their wares or sell to other companies who then sell these items with a markup for adding their own brandname.

The Blind School itself has a stall which sells candles, diyas and paper products made by their students. This stall has the largest throng of people around it. The second longest line was at the free foot massages being provided by the students (contributions voluntary).

The food available here is all vegetarian, a Rajasthani, South Indian, Dilli and chaat stall sums up most of whats on offer. There are a few kulfiwalas, sweet corn, cotton candy kind of stalls too.

Prices range from extremely reasonable to extremely expensive. But there is something for every kind of shopper. Overheard around the reasonably priced clothes area "Let's get out of this junta area, there are just too many people here and I'm not going to buy anything in this price range!"

My favorite stalls included Antarkranti - a collaboration of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan with the inmates of Tihar Jail with wonderful dhoop sticks (incense cones) and face packs. The Aarohi natural soaps with some unusual fragrances like Saffron, the wonderful diyas by the Blind School, a Rajasthani stall that was selling sari borders, Kumar Industries neem wood combs which they promise will stop dandruff and hari fall (an eternal quest) and Baby's Pride which had pre stitched saris for kids of all ages.

There are Gardening stores, Wonderful terracotta products to decorate your home and garden, some stalls selling unique kitchen gadgets among others.

Entry is free. There is also a free shuttle service from Aman hotel where you can park your car.

Annual Dastkar Nature Bazaar

The Dastkar Nature Bazaar is an annual bazaar held around diwali at the IGNCA (Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts) grounds. This year it is being held from the 26th of October to 1st November.
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Dastkar has over 28 years of experience in the crafts sector (they have their regular outlet at Shahpurjat) and that reflects in this bazaar. Almost 200 stalls selling traditional Indian arts and crafts. Handlooms, textiles, home made food products, organic cosmetics, furniture, bamboo work, terracotta cutlery and decorative pieces are all on offer.
This has been my favorite of all the diwali bazaars I attended this year. The range of food stalls, is also the best at this particular bazaar.

You can buy bead jewelry starting from 30Rs to Parsi Ghara hand embroidered saris for 50,000/-Rs at this bazaar. A lot of the stalls sell products by NGO's that work with the underprivileged in society. There are plenty of good causes with excellent quality products.

The best part of this bazaar is that you don't need to worry about carrying cash. If you want to make a big ticket purchase. Get a bill at the stall of your choice and visit the central located counter operated by Dastkaar and pay by credit card. Go back with your proof of payment and collect your purchases from the stall. As simple as that.

This year, the Kingdom of Bhutan is a special guest and is operating a few stalls.

Entry to the bazaar is free.

There are a few folk art performances that happen sporadically at the venue. There are some live demos by craftsmen of their particular brand of workmanship.

If you visit the IGNCA, also step in and check out the Wild Tigers Photography Exhibition (on till 3rd November) and the Exhibition of masks and puppets (on till 20th November)

Here's a glimpse at some of the stalls:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shopping at the Meharchand Market

I had recently read 2 articles, I think it was in the Hindustan Times and Time Out, Delhi extolling the virtues of Meharchand market. I was all prepared for something like Khan Market or GK1 N Block market especially given the big names of some of the shops here and its location on Lodhi Road, behind IHC.

However, once I reached, the market itself did not inspire a lot of confidence. Its difficult to find a "clean" market in Delhi, but this was worse than most. A lot of run down shops scattered in between a few new ones. This was less Hauz Khas Village and more Hauz Khas Market.

There are a few gems in this street though, if you can be patient or know exactly where to head. The big shops are to the left of the Cafe Coffee Day. If you head to the right, you will land up in the MCD Market which doesn't have much on offer at all.

CMYK is my favourite of the shops here. A bookshop started by Roli Books, it stocks all their inhouse publications - an excellent selection of Photobooks and Coffee Table books - and a few other books that aren't very easy to find in other bookshops in Delhi, that mostly cater to bestsellers. They supposedly have a terrace upstairs which I did not know when I visited, I will definitely check it out the next time I am there. The store itself is starkly furnished in black, with chairs from Pantone that are on display, lending some bright colors to the decor.

Picture from Live Mint

Crazy Daisy (2464 5087) is a fun quirky store with a lot of hand crafted gifting options. From hand painted ceramics to make up bags and wine stoppers. Its a lovely place to pick up some gifts for the slightly offbeat in your friends circle.

Appna by Nafisa Ali (2465 4441) is located on the first floor, so you will need to look a little harder for its entrance. She designs most of the clothes herself and has some trinkets designed by her friends. Sizes range from XS to XXXL. It is a small boutique, so don't expect to find a lot to choose from. Because there are a few select designs in the standard sizes. But the qulaity of embroidery is very good and the designs are very wearable

Soma (2462 7046) is well known for its hand block printed clothes and furnishings. This is their only other outlet in Delhi, if you don't want to head all the way to CP.

Karigari is a furniture shop with a mix of modern and antique looking furniture. Some items were reasonably priced while some were more expensive, depending on the wood.

I did not step into Ochre or Tantra (t-shirts) as I was a little pressed for time, but I think I will stop here again the next time I head to Jor Bagh market for meat and explore just a little more.

To grab a bite, there is the Cafe Coffee Day and I think I also spied a Slice of Italy Outlet. I did not however check out if there was a sit-down option or it was only for takeaway and deliveries.

Akshay Pratishtan Mela

The Annual Akshay Pratishtan Diwali Mela was held on the 23rd of October this year. Its normally held on the Tennis Lawns at "The Grand", Vasant Kunj. (near the DLF malls)

Since it was held by an NGO, I was hoping to discover quite a few more NGO's whose products were created by the less privileged. While there were a few such stalls, I could count them on my fingers. The remaining 90% of the stalls were of self styled designers selling clothes and shoes for the most part and some knick knacks for around the house. There were some nice clutches and handbags too

Most of the crowd around, was what the newspapers these days refer to as the "page 3 party set" of the Mini skirted, high heeled, air kissing variety.

I picked up some diyas made by the inmates of Tihar Jail and some home made spice powders by a womens self help group.

There were 2-3 food counters organised by "The Grand" Hotel serving pastas, pastries and sandwiches and one stall selling a variety of churan and mukhwas. That was it for the food.

I hope I have better luck at the Dastkar and the Blind Relief Association melas. It may be a lazy option of being charitable, but it does feel good to buy quality products from people who are trying to better their lives by honest means.

This is not a bazaar that I would return to next year, but if you are looking for clothes with a few new concepts and are willing to hunt around a bit, you could be quite happy with some of the options.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Master Creation 2010 @ Dilli Haat, (INA Market)

Dilli Haat is a must visit for anybody who wants to pick up handicrafts directly from the artisans who create them.

An innovative concept that keeps changing and reinventin itself, so each visit feels new. This gated market (for want of a better descriptor) is built to resemble a traditional village market place (or Haat) with little individula stalls that are rented to artisans for a week or so at a time. Artisans from across the country come here to sell their wares.

As part of the CWG experience, Delhi Tourism has organised Master Creation 2010 at Dilli Haat. Plenty of artisans who have won National Awards for their intricate work have set up stalls and are selling exquisite wares. While textiles dominate (saris, shawls, stoles, salwar kameez, bedsheets) there are rugs, stone and metal carving and other crafts on display too.

They were also showcasing a different state each day, but I think this is now over. The day I visited, Arunachal Pradesh was in focus.

The Entryway:
The whole place is festive with beautiful colours

A Rajasthani Stall
Puppets from Andhra Pradesh
An exhibition of some of the National Award Winning pieces
White metal work and an intrciate Madhubani painting on the right.
Soft wood carving of Ma Durgaji from West Bengal

You can also try out a variety of food from across the country at this venue.This time I ate at the Assamese Stall.

Do visit if you are looking for exclusive items of clothing. The master craftsmen have some beautiful and unique handworked items on offer.

Folk Performances on BKS Marg

As part of the Incredible India festival on Baba Kharak Singh Marg organised by Delhi Tourism as part of the CWG events, they have invited folk performers from across the country to perform here and showcase their arts.

The day I was here, the program started with a Veerabhadra Folk Dance from Karnataka

Followed by some Rajasthani Dancers

Then some Koli Dancers from Maharashtra

The next to perform were dancers from Sikkim who put up a semi-comedic routine, but unfortunately my camera battery died before I could take their pictures. I have some on my phone that I will try to upload here sometime soon. Until then, here are some pictures of their costumes.

 The troupes that perform each day are different. But you can catch them almost all evening along this stretch.

The Jute Rope Procession on BKS Marg, Delhi

As part of the CWG in Delhi, Delhi Tourism officials have created a sampling of "Incredible India" on Baba Kharak Singh Marg near CP in Delhi. There are a number of temporary food and handicraft stalls from across the country that have come up for these 15 days.

The star attraction for me was the entire wedding/royal procession that has been created out of Jute ropes and is on display.

Here are some pictures:

The Princess in her palanquin

The Drummers and Band baaja

This is India, so we have to have an elephant :)
To give you a size perspective
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