Yesterday I took some guests staying at Lakeside on our village tour to see a little bit of real life in rural southern India. This is our most popular excursion, and for this couple the highlight was a visit to see a potter at work.
This is not ‘tourist’ pottery, but a 76 year old man who has been making village cooking pots for over 60 years. He is now bent from his hard work but is eager to show off his skills to the Europeans who come to see him. His wheel is a very finely balanced old bullock cart wheel which it is not motorised like the more sophisticated western wheels, instead he spins it with the use of a long stick. His old gnarled hands are still remarkably dexterous and he creates a variety of cooking pots, pots for temple offerings and small clay lamps with apparent ease.
Not so many years ago there were 20 potters working in the sheds with him but now, sadly, he is the only one. Plastic and stainless steel have taken the place of many of the clay pots, and the children no longer want to do this work preferring instead to get involved in sales or computers which pay a better salary. No one can blame the youngsters for trying to better themselves, and one can see from the picture that our potter has led a hard life, but it is sad to think that one day soon he will no longer be able to work and this glimpse of life as it has been for centuries in India will disappear from our tour, and from India, possibly forever.