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Talking Shop

I am politically attached but I’m detached from any party,” smiles Jaya Jaitly,former President of the Samata Party.

Written by RICHA BHATIA |
June 19, 2009 1:27:40 am

I am politically attached but I’m detached from any party,” smiles Jaya Jaitly,former President of the Samata Party. For those who know Jaitly only as a politician- she is the founder President of a crafts association Dastkari Haat Samiti and was instrumental in setting up the widely popular Dilli Haat.

However,this time,Jaitly is talking shop. She’s opened her first store,Dastkari Haat next to Amrapali Jewellers in Khan Market. Dastkari Haat offers hand made products by craftsmen across India,allowing more discerning customers to pick up little wire cycles,carved wooden boxes,textile paperweights,folders made out of recycled maps and even fish wall hangings made out of organdy cloth.

“It’s not a shop with shelves bearing branded products. The décor is so that it creates a feeling of crafts. We want people to come and browse here. They can pick up things one usually misses in the jumble of Dilli Haat such as these wire cycles,found on Delhi streets that usually go unnoticed,” says Jaitly. Dastkari Haat,a 400 square feet store on the second floor is owned by Mauve and Pink owner Poonam Bahl who has provided the space on a three year contract on a no-rental basis. “Since real estate is so expensive and Khan Market has high rentals,opening a shop was too much of a risk for an NGO,” says Jaitly. “Luckily,it’s worked out wonderfully for us,” adds Bahl.

The shop is barely a week away from its official launch,but the space is already buzzing. Bang at the entrance,you’re greeted with a huge cutout of a tiger,and a book titled Visvakarma’s Children: Stories of India’s Craftspeople written by Jaitly herself. “I edit a monthly journal,The Other Side which is about social issues and currently am working on an autobiography of being and a book on the woven treasures of Varanasi,” says Jaitly. Move a little further and utilitarian bowls painted by Jammu and Kashmir artisans and trays dot the shelves. Crafts and Maps of India,a large book with a detailed introduction about crafts of each state makes for a good browse in the store; while an ancient couple sitting hard at work at a computer made in brass stares down from the top shelf. Check out the keyboard and the alphabets are in Hindi. “When I suggested the idea to this craftsman from Chhattisgarh about a computer he went to the cyber café and came up with his own version,” laughs Jaitly.

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And the products will keep on changing like at Dilli Haat,based on demand. At present the shop represents 45 artists. And once the weather cools down,Jaitly plans to have an artist coming in on weekends. “People can see how he does the work and they could also custom order,” shares Jaitly.

The prices are very reasonable and begin at Rs 17 and go up to Rs 4,000.

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