On my last visit to India, my dear friend Bindhu had sent me a gift hamper. The journal which was part of it, was of special significance to me because of the handmade paper and I for one loved journaling. I packed it quickly into my bag and started using it straight away after my return to Auckland.
As we live in New Zealand, we are far from most of our family who are in India. I love connecting with all generations through snail mail, cards and any form of online link but sending gifts have been recently added to my list. I am always looking for online gift stores. If they showcase anything handmade in India by women, they score high! I love it if the store can add a little note from me and if they can gift wrap it beautifully too.
Over the last 2 years I have sent pretty gifts of love like handmade ear rings, coasters, kitchen towels and pot holders. For the busy mother/ grandmother in India this adds a little spark to their humdrum day. It makes them feel loved and valued. Every time they use the gift they feel a surge of joy and smile-sometimes into a mirror!
I look around our house as I type away and see the many gifts of love that I have received. Ranjeeta’s handmade coaster, Mike and Binu’s spoon stand on the table, with our names carefully carved on it, Meshu’s handpicked anniversary card for us, made with paper quilling…..The list goes on.
It had been a hot, dry day in Surendranagar, a village in Gujarat. Naraali put her baby into his cot and carefully took out her tin of colourful beads. She placed the basket near her as she quickly gulped water. She was tired and it was past midnight but this was when she had time to herself. With a determined look, she went to work!
Chottu and Monu kept her busy through the day. She had made rotis for her family with potato subji, she had brought in water from the well …it had been a long day. Shreejit was a truck driver and had a late shift on the day.
A few days back Naraali had decided to restart making bead bags. Naraali had not studied much but she loved making crafts especially bead work.When she told Shreejit, he was happy too. Banita didi (sister) who stayed next door said she could take it to the designer shop for handcrafted items. It would also give her some pocket money!
She would then be able to buy herself some new glass bangles and maybe treat her family to a box of jelabis. Her face lit up as her hands swiftly went to work. She wanted to complete atleast 10 bags by the end of the week.
In the weekend in the middle of winter, I scrolled through online gift stores and opened the link to Ahavah Crafts to choose a bag for my niece Suchitra’s birthday. I saw a colorful one made with beads. I chose one, paid for it and added a note to be attached. Niraali’s creation was now on it’s way to brighten the heart of 21 year old Suchitra in Chennai in South India.
In some strange way Niraali in Surendranagar in Gujarat, Suchitra in Chennai in South India and me in Auckland, New Zealand had made a connection. It was a connection of love and hope!
- Written by Shoba Ranjitsingh
(To know more about Shoba you may find her @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/shoba-singh-5836022a/)