Surajit Sarkar, Centre for Community Knowledge, Ambedkar University Delhi wrote The blue belt for the session on Day 2: Reading/Writing/Re-writing/Telling/Re-telling using prompts, 20 December 2019.
Reading ‘Recipes for Re-enchantment’ allowed a reinterpretation of my ‘Blue Canvas Belt’, which I bought last month after waiting for something like it since 2015.
Wanting to move away from the leather belts that I had been wearing for years, I got a cotton / canvas belt around 2010. Three years later, the metal clasp at the end fell off, and since then I was looking to buy something similar, its texture, width and colour appealing to an ‘aesthetic of the natural’ which cotton/canvas provided.
Despite looking for such a belt for years in street-side markets and weekly bazaars, I ended up purchasing both the previous and current belts in supermarket chain stores. However, what took me by surprise that at both times, the tag mentioned ‘Made in China’. Having spent four years looking at many belts, and rejecting them for one or other reason of the three, I hesitated before the purchase. Not because of ‘buying Indian’, but wondering if any part of the belt was in fact natural at all.
Looking at it again, keeping in mind its cost, the colour was clearly too bright to be natural. While the metal clasp was produced by a factory die-press, what remains unknown is whether the neat folds in the metal were joined together by hand in a sweat shop or in a factory assembly line. However, on reading ‘Recipes’, I was confused whether the canvas was all cotton, or a mix. The texture seemed to indicate the first, but then isn’t the object of consumer satisfaction to fulfil the purchasers desires. Maybe even ‘texture’ is no longer natural anymore.
Pedagogical tools: Narrativising a personal object and re-imagining a text/article in context of work or way of thinking
Credits / copyrights
The article mentioned in the story is
Kawlra, Aarti. 2016. “Recipes for Re-enchantment: Natural dyes and dyeing”. Marg, Vol 67 No. 4, pp. 78 – 87.