Categories
Featured

An Antique Bonding – My Association With YK Antiques

I am Bala Gopal, a UI designer by profession and an artist by passion. It’s no wonder that I am a big fan of the place and the person who is moulding and resurrecting the antique world – YK sir, as I fondly call him. I am not fluent and knowledgeable about the antique world, but I am a big fan of art and design. So, this blog post isn’t about the technicalities of antiques but my connection and feel with the place I so cherish. Read on…

From left to right: Ganga, Yamuna, YK sir, Bala

A House Full of Surprises – First Impressions!!

A chance meeting with my friend Vinay landed me at the gates of YK Antiques. The moment I entered the place I knew things were waiting to meet me – so many antiques at one place!! It looked like a one-stop place for antique hunters and lovers. I formally met the place and my dearest YK sir. At our first meeting, the beauty of the place overtook the pleasantries we both exchanged. I could hardly keep up with formalities. My eyes were racing through each object that was displayed. I was already mentally creating background colors for the walls on which they were displayed.

As if YK sir was telepathizing with me, he asked my two cents on the colour palette to make the place a little sunny-side-up. Incidentally, the place was going through renovation. I jump-started and put forward all my cents (as if I was waiting for YK sir to ask me) on what colours to use to make the place look contemporary yet preserving the antiqueness. I suggested deep yellow as the background color and white for the shelves. I was able to convince them.

YK sir toured us around the house. Every antique has a story woven around it. More than YK sir’s collection, it’s his stories of each antique that made them more interesting. It’s a collection of a man dedicated to collecting antiques that reflect our culture and tradition over the period of 30+ years for future generations. The uniqueness of the place is the freedom to interact with each antique. There’s no ‘Do Not Touch’ board and there are no do’s and don’ts. You can simply go around the house and feel the ancient beat in each antique.

While we were simply absorbing the quaint beauty of the place, the great finds of YK sir, his stories, YK sir offered us steaming filter coffee in a brass filter. To our astonishment, the dining table on which we were served coffee happens to be a huge gangalam with a glass top. It really is the place that deserves all eyes because it’s not everyday that you come across such home-antiques to share with future generations that reaffirms and strengthens that the future of our ancient culture is indeed in safe hands. This visit had a profound impact on me and took me down the memory lane when I used to play with wooden toys and brass vessels. 

Second Visit and My Maiden Project with YK Antiques

Antique collection can take many forms and they speak volumes about the collector if displayed properly. I am grateful to YK sir that he incorporated my suggestion on the wall and shelf colours. On our second visit, the place only looked more beautiful, brighter, and warmer. 

Besides being aesthetically stunning, the place needed some rearrangement of big plates on the walls, which were otherwise lying scattered on the floor. We took it as our first project. I did a couple of sketches on how we can hang those plates on the walls and showed it to YK sir. He liked the idea and we started working on it. I used curtain rods and knob edges to rest the plates on either side. With all the tools handy, ideas brimming, freedom to try out what I want to, and YK sir’s exuberant smile, my first project with YK Antiques was very successful. Here’s a look at our work:

Rearranged Plates Mounted on the Wall
« 1 of 3 »

Our Consequent Visits and The Wall Art

Our regular visits to YK Antiques created a deep sense of attachment with the place and YK sir. We were so grateful that YK sir let us be ourselves and literally made us feel at home. One day, I took Ganga and Yamuna to have a first-hand experience with the place and they too were thrilled to see the place. Ganga is my wife and Yamuna is Ganga’s twin sister. Sir toured us around the house, and we all shared stories on antiques with each other. At the end of the visit, all three of us were left inspired and attached to the place wanting to contribute to the place. By the way, while Ganga is an artist, Yamuna is a writer. With this combination of art, design, and writing, we satisfied our creative sides through YK Antiques.  

The Wall Art

YK sir suggested we paint the wall in the lawn area. We were so excited and started off with brainstorming, followed by sketches and exploration of color palette. The sheer beauty of our brush strokes and the subtle emotions in our color choices were at full display. We wanted the wall to breathe Indian-ness, so we chose to paint the kathakali face with elephant and peacock as accompaniments. It added a dash of warmth, subtlety, and exclusivity to an otherwise plain wall. This project is close to our hearts for many reasons. Here are some pics:

Wall Art
« 1 of 8 »

To read more about our Wall Art Project, click here.

Memories of Moments at YK Antiques

All our work at YK Antiques is a natural extension of the spirit of family we began to feel for YK sir. We didn’t count on time spent or the heat of travelling very often. Personally, I have been enriched with experiences, stories, and expertise of YK sir. One such experience was redoing the lawn area with stones and grass. We were very new to the kind of hard work that goes into the picture-perfect green lawns we sometimes see in pictures. My great experience was spending time with YK sir, driving through the lanes of old Alwal on a two-wheeler to buy stuff required for the green lawn, listening to the stories of old buildings from YK sir and the list goes on.

From buying shabad stones and garden soil to buying lawn grass, each moment was a treasure. As we were all new to this and the gardener we hired refused to lay the grass on the lawn, we decided to dirty our hands. While Vinay and I cut the grass to the size we need, sir helped us do it. The lawn was ready – beautiful and green. We thoroughly enjoyed the entire process. Some pictures of our work:

The Lawn
« 4 of 4 »

Hum-Sab-ki-Wali – Diwali 

We celebrated some special moments at YK Antiques. We celebrated Diwali with bright diyas, colourful Rangoli by Ganga and Yamuna, flower decorations, lights, and the beautiful antiques cheering up the spirit of festivity and our happiness. Some pictures for you:

Diwali
« 1 of 5 »

The Go-to Place on Weekends

Be it for work, listening to the stories of antiques, staying overnight, or just to meet and have conversations, YK sir and this place were always welcoming. It soon became our go-to place on weekends. Some of our work on display at YK Antiques and work in progress pictures:

Work Snaps
« 1 of 5 »

YK Logo Design and Some Design Surprises

YK sir once mentioned  that he would like to have a logo designed for YK Antiques that reflects his passion for antiques. We took this as an opportunity to give back to the place that has been a second home for us. Ganga and I designed a logo with intricate patterns which is now used for YKA’s online and print presence. Here’s the logo we designed:

Logo Sketch – YK Antiques
Lined Logo – YK Antiques

We also made tiny foldable visiting cards for YK sir as he travels a lot and these cards would be handy to introduce YK Antiques as the go-to place for antique lovers. Here’s how they look:

Visiting Card – YK Antiques

Now, bookmarks & pocket calendar! As a return gift for people who visit YK Antiques, we created some bookmarks with notes penned by Yamuna and a calendar behind. This has been a popular pick and we always go out of stock. Have a look:

Bookmarks & Calendar 2020 for YK Antiques

The Name Plate – Indeed a Surprise for YK Sir

We decided to surprise YK sir by making a nameplate for YK Antiques. As we have been branding the place as a home museum, we needed to have a nameplate. We pooled in all the contacts, got it carved with the logo we made, painted suitable colors to reflect antiques and home museum. We fixed brass knobs on either sides and that’s how things created out of pure love look like:

The Name Plate
« 1 of 4 »

Most of our work at YK Antiques was never planned. We always jumped into doing something and then fine-tuned our ideas. YK sir has always been generous and encouraged us.

A Day to Remember

We were thrilled when YK sir asked us to assist and host a group of visitors from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS Mumbai), organized by Hyderabad Urban Lab (HUL). We were nervous but at the same time full of energy and enthu to go for it.

We spent days and nights making posters on YK Antiques – its past and present. While Yamuna handled researching and writing about YK Antiques, I was handling creating layouts, printing and framing. On the big day, we arrived early and looked after arrangements for poster display, snacks and chai, and a surprise calendar as a takeaway for the visitors. When the students arrived, we welcomed them and introduced ourselves. The awe of the students was evident as soon as they entered through the main door. If you have ever been to YK Antiques, you would by now realise that the main entrance door is an antique in itself.

YK sir walked them through each of his collectables so gently preserved over the years, narrated beautiful stories about them and left everyone spellbound. Though we heard the stories a lot of times by then, we were as amazed as we had been in our first meeting with YK Antiques. That’s the beauty of the place. The students were delighted that they could touch those antiques. 

Overall, it was a great experience for us. The student-visitors liked the place very much. As a token of appreciation, TISS wrote a cheque for YK Antiques. It was the first-ever honor for YK Antiques and YK sir still treasures it as the most memorable visit.

A Day to Remember
« 6 of 6 »

The Dream Team

Now about the team that loves YK Antiques as much as they love their own homes.

The Captain of the ship, YK sir: A man in his 80s with a spirit of 20s. I bet you wouldn’t know he is an 80-year young guy if you are a first timer to YK Antiques. That’s how well he keeps his spirits high and shows us that age is just a number. He has a genuine affection and respect for everyone. More than anything, he is a fantastic listener.

Me: You have had enough introduction by now and you will get to know me better at the end of my blog.

Vinay: A great friend with an impeccable sense of humor. He is the one who introduced us to YK sir. He has been a key role player in shaping YK’s online presence and making it a home museum.

Satya: The Video Man! He is the one responsible for all the videos of YK Antiques. A guy with infinite patience.

Karthik: The go-to person for all things tech. He’s extremely resourceful with his knowledge on blog-posting, hosting of the website and all other tech aspects. He also happens to be our common friend.

Ganga and Yamuna: The ‘twin’ artists. While Ganga is a practising artist, Yamuna is a passionate writer and photographer. The wall art by Ganga and team continues to draw appreciation from every visitor even now. Yamuna has taken some of the best photographs that are displayed in social media posts on YK Antiques. She continues to contribute to YK Antiques.

There are many more friends like us who contributed to YK Antiques for what it is today.

From left to right: Yamuna, Ganga, YK sir, Vinay, Bala, Satya

My Ranting Never Ends about YK

When I started writing this blog, I was overwhelmed by too many stories I have in my memory on YK Antiques. I couldn’t pick up one and leave out others. But I shared the most important ones in this blog to let you feel the beauty of the place. 

While I continue to keep in touch with YK sir and YK Antiques, I always reflect on how wonderfully the place has transformed me into the person I am. I met some great people, had great conversations on art and design, and contributed to the place in my capacity as an artist and a designer. It made me realise that I can do things beyond my capabilities. This is my ongoing story with YK Antiques, and I am sure whoever has visited YK Antiques will have a story to share. If you are willing to share, I would love to read them.

I also feel we have the responsibility to access and make places like these accessible to everyone. I encourage you to visit this place to explore our rich culture and heritage reflected in the craft and use of each antique. I strongly feel this place should be made as one of the must-visit places in Hyderabad for the kind of cultural renaissance it’s bringing about. Let’s all make it a cultural hub!

Look at what I do in my daily life… 

I love the world of art and design, it allows me to learn, solve, share and appreciate every day. I engage with people/activities that allow me to explore possibilities, provide solutions to keep the design geek in me alive. I enjoy trying my hands at crafting things in everyday life. 

Behance: https://www.behance.net/balagopal

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/balagopal_bg/

Thank you Sandhya for patiently editing my article and helping me put this together.

Categories
Featured Video

Vintage Measuring Cups

Before the introduction of Metric System, Indian states had their own indigenous measuring systems in place. When I was a child, we used measuring cups in our house. I distinctly remember my mother using them. With time, they were replaced with modern ones in my house and that’s the last I saw them.

After many years, I saw two of these vintage measuring cups in an antique shop. This was the time when I just started collecting antiques. I instantly decided to acquire them. As the years went by, I started collecting more of these during my travels and hunt for traditional antiques. As of today, there is no trace of these measuring cups in any urban household. I’m not sure if any of these are still used in the villages. My elder sister who is about eighty one years old still uses the tavva measuring cup (made out of bamboo) in her house in Kakinada. I’ve also had friends tell me that some Tamil households still use the padi.  

So here’s a short video on vintage measuring cups that I have in my collection. If you have any stories or memories about measuring cups, do share. It would be wonderful and worthwhile to have some concrete information about these humble measuring cups that could be passed on to those (the future generations) who would want to know about them.

Categories
Featured

The Cultural Voyage of a Corporate Executive – Zishta

 

I got to know about Zishta by chance. And I should thank Facebook for that. Social media has worked wonders for me. I have met interesting people online and have had engaging and interesting conversations with them regarding antiques. Some inspired me, some told me that I inspired them, some were full of questions and some were eager to share their thoughts. So here’s a story of how I met a team of passionate people doing something very different. 

About a year and a half back, I was checking my Facebook posts and noticed one by Zishta which had something about kalchatti (a stone cooking pot) in it. I had blogged about kalchattis earlier and have some in my collection too. I knew that they were long gone from the market and people hardly manufactured them anymore as there was hardly any demand.  I knew nothing about Zishta and never heard the name. But they had to do something with kalchattis and I had to dig deeper. I checked their page and they had a number. I decided to call and visit them once I was in Bangalore.

Artisan at work. Photo Courtesy – Zishta.

A Car Garage Minus the Car

Once in Bangalore, I called up on the number and spoke to Varishta. I enquired if I could visit their office that very day and she happily obliged. I noted down the address and was off to see them. When I reached the address, I wasn’t looking at any regular office building. What I found was a house. I walked in and saw a small path leading to what seemed like a car garage. Now I was curious than ever. I stepped in and saw two people busy packing items and readying them for dispatch. This was something! One of the persons was Archish (founder of Zishta) and then there was Varishta (who I had spoken to on the phone). We sat down and got talking. While I was engaging in conversation with them, I couldn’t help but notice all these traditional items neatly stacked, packed and ready for dispatch. All of this in what was originally a car garage. Interesting!

Zishta For You

Before founding Zishta, Archish was a seasoned marketing professional in one of the top MNCs in Bangalore. He is also an avid trekker and cyclist. Though the job was well paying and things were going pretty good in his career, it wasn’t what he wanted to continue doing. He had some ideas in mind but the corporate life doesn’t leave one with much time now, does it?

Archish on one of his bicycling adventure trips

During one of his cycling trips in the Himalayas, he says that he felt really humbled by the mountains and nature. He always thought about living a sustainable life in sync with nature and he had some ideas about it. Those ideas and feelings felt stronger than ever and he was clear about what had to be done next. And that’s how Zishta started.

The Co-Founders

Meera Ramakrishnan

After 22 years of holding senior leadership positions in some of the best Indian and MNC organizations, she felt an urge to understand ‘purpose’ in life.

This urge and restlessness over the last four years made her explore various aspects that had a better meaning to what she does everyday.

This journey led her to understand deeper passion for our traditions that were meaningful for our living. She decided to join hands with the team at Zishta.

 

Varishta MS 

A fresher out of college whose only passion had been playing volleyball for the state team. She was adamant to be her own boss and when Archish mooted the idea of starting an own venture, she joined in as a partner.

Passionate about preserving our traditions, she tirelessly works towards building a strong network of artisans and works with them in improving their capabilities.

A dynamic entrepreneur who energizes Zishta with her drive and enthusiasm. She manages the entire operations to make sure the best products are delivered to the patrons.

The Vision

Zishta was started with a vision to revive traditional knowledge and in the process revive and restore the rich artisan clusters who have lost out their traditional art forms to more industrial solutions for homes. The turning point was when Archish and his team started introspecting what they wanted to do with their lives. They realized that there is so much one could learn from parents and grandparents to lead a healthy holistic life. They also saw that there is a significant movement among the young people who are increasingly interested in organic produce. They realized that there is a good possibility that they can educate and inform the younger generation about traditional cooking techniques. Zishta team not only documents the different types of products like vessels and utilities used but also shares info about scientific reasons to back the use of such products.

Artisan at work. Photo Courtesy – Zishta.

After travel to different parts of Tamil Nadu, meeting interesting artisans and people passionate about traditional lifestyles, the Zishta team streamlined their efforts around three key result areas:

  • Sustainability of traditional knowledge
  • Sustainable livelihood for rural artisans and their traditional space
  • Sustainable solutions for an urban household

These guiding key result areas have helped Zishta to narrow down their focus on kitchen cookware and storage as first category of entry. A pilot proof of concept at the Organic Exhibition helped them to have conversations with many customers and they got an encouraging response. 

The Goal & Starting Point

Archish is absolutely clear about the goal and that is to make any urban household sustainable and holistic. That is the reason they’ve expanded their range to include products which have a lot of utility value and help in better living.

Archish at Zishta’s old office

Once the vision was clear and the goal set, Zishta team started on their exploratory journey. They did a lot of research to identify different aspects of traditional knowledge and learn from authentic sources as to where they should focus on. As part of their research, they visited our website and it is heartening to note that the material in the website gave them further impetus to take the journey forward. To put it in Archish’s own words, “Our visit to YK Antiques website gave us immense knowledge on various traditional aspects of our forefathers and the kind of products used by them. This gave us confidence to explore the kitchen in detail and identify artisans whom we could work with.”

Artisans & Adventure

The most difficult aspect of  Zishta’s venture was to find the artisans still making the traditional products, dealing with them, boosting their depleting morale and motivating them. They had to travel extensively, speak to many people and connect with number of artisan groups. This helped them in identifying the right group of people whom they need to work with. After identifying the artisan group, it meant double the effort to enable them to understand current urban consumer mindset and encouraging them to make products with the right requirements while maintaining the authenticity of our traditions. This is one of the key areas of Zishta’s   work and they put in a lot of effort to engage and motivate the artisan group.

Artisans at work. Photo Courtesy – Zishta

It is interesting to know the reactions of the artisans when Zishta team travel all the way from Bangalore to meet them and talk about their products. Archish says that their first reaction is of suspicion and inquisitiveness. As the artisans have started working with Zishta team over time, they have realized that the group is not there to exploit them but to enable them to get more for the effort they put in. Archish says that one of their principle policies is that they do not negotiate with their artisans to reduce cost. Zishta pays them what they ask for the effort they put in which adds to their credibility.

Patrons

Though the initial customer-base was modest, now they have a lot of patrons across the country. Zishta addresses the customers as ‘patrons’ since they patronize their products and continue to have relationship with them.

Archish says that he is very proud of their customers. Zishta has got amazing feedback from their customers who have listen to their journey and want to be part of it. The Zishta team consider themselves not as suppliers but as enablers for the customers to kick-start this journey to a sustained tradition way of healthy living. They help the customers as much as possible to make this transition smooth.

Most of their customers love the products they have launched. They associate with these products as they have seen them being used in the family.  Zishta has a rating of 4.2/5 on Amazon with more than 80% of the reviews being extremely positive.

What Next?

Archish feels that there is a comeback of these traditional products and there is an emerging trend of using them. Zishta team does see that happening. They feel there is a huge movement building up where people are slowly becoming aware of what they are losing and want to reclaim it.

An eye for detail. Photo courtesy – Zishta

On being asked what plans after 5 or 10 years, Archish says that he envisions Zishta to be the knowledge repository of all traditional wisdom across the country and work with different artisan groups and enable them to reach more customers. Zishta group want to focus on only utility value products that has strong connection with traditions and they would continue to focus on this area.

Why Write About Zishta?

To me, the message that comes out of Zishta’s journey is clear and thought provoking – lead a sustainable life! There is so much we can adapt and adopt from traditional wisdom; all that we have to do is to keep an open mind.

This article is an outcome of my admiration of Archish for kicking out a cool corporate life with money and glamour associated with such a job, and to take up a path many people dare to walk. He took to roads to identify the artisans of yore who are at the brim of losing their traditional livelihood and determined to change their fate to provide a continuous and sustainable life at their own native villages. I appreciate his passion to revive the traditional wisdom and present it to the present society in a way that helps them to lead a sustainable life. My interactions with him  further confirmed my conviction that here is an inspiring story that is  good to be available to those aspirants who wish to live up to their dream and touch the lives of people around. I took his permission to write this article and I am happy I did a wise thing.      

You can read more about Zishta through their Facebook page here or website here or get in touch with them via WhatsApp on +91 9742717707.

You can also find Zishta on Amazon here and Jaypore.com

 

Categories
Featured

Antique Brass Milk Feeding Cup – Paladai

It is amazing to know that a simple cup with an elongated snout has played a crucial role in feeding the babies milk and medicines over centuries. There is no doubt about the fact that breastfeeding is the best form of feeding the babies. Sometimes, due to various factors, breastfeeding is not always possible for mothers. Babies who are deprived of the mother’s breast milk, for whatever reason, are then given milk from other devices that have been created by humans. Though it is not a natural way, these man-made devices play a crucial role in the feeding process to ensure that the babies get their dose of nutrition and grow up to be healthy. One of such man-made devices is called paladai or sangadai in Tamil. In Telugu, it is called uggu ginne. Jhinuk is another name given to it in West Bengal and people in the northern states call it bondla.

 

Paladai is made of various metals like gold, silver, copper, bronze and brass. Which one is used in a household depends on the financial status of the family. The paladai is considered as a sacred and auspicious item and it is given a reverential treatment. After use, it is cleaned thoroughly and placed in a secluded place where nobody can touch it. Only the designated elders of the family handle the feeding cup. If there’s a paladai in the house, it means that there are children in the house and there is progeny and continuation of life in the family.

Apart from it being used for milk feeding, paladai is also used to administer homemade concoctions of medicines for increasing the immunity of the child. It is also used for administering other ingredients like castor oil and other liquid medications.

 

The Design of Paladai

This antique paladai has a beautiful unique shape. It is basically a cup with a long groove-like spout on one side and a handle on the other end of the cup. The cup is fairly deep so that the milk is held in the cup even when the cup is tilted to feed the baby. The long open spout has thick edges since sharp edges can be rough on the baby’s mouth. The paladai has a round tubular base on which the cup rests.

The elevated base also helps in preventing ants and other pests from reaching the milk. The open cup also helps in cooling the milk in case it is hot and not fit for consumption. The handle can be held firmly with the thumb, pointing finger and the middle finger. It is heavy and sturdy and doesn’t break if dropped by mistake. The sturdy circular base sits firmly on the ground and has good stability.

My Memories of Paladai Feeding

The images are still fresh in my memory. My mother used to feed milk to the children of our family members with paladai sometimes. She used to sit on the floor, stretch her legs, draw her sari to the knee length, place the baby on her lap, and gently tuck the legs of the baby in between her legs. This was to ensure that the baby would not kick the legs destabilizing the milk in the paladai. She would then hold the two hands of the baby with her left hand and take the paladai in her right hand and place the tip of the spout in the baby’s right side of the mouth. If for any reason the baby would not open the mouth, she would gently tap the left side of the mouth with her pointing finger. This gentle tapping motion would make the baby open the mouth and she would dexterously slip the spout into the baby’s mouth.

The baby would normally gulp the milk and in case the baby held the milk in the mouth without gulping it for some reason, she would again gently tap the left side of the mouth with her finger. This gentle tapping movement sets in motion the gulping rhythm of the baby.

My mother also used to administer castor oil and sometimes medicines as well to the baby with the paladai. It was a common practice during my younger days to feed the babies with castor oil once in a week. This was done to ensure smooth and regular bowel movement for the babies.

Paladai and the Opium Connect

Back in the day, when the baby used to cry without any obvious reason, my mother used to diagnose that the baby must be having some stomach problem and then used to administer a mild dose of opium. Now, before some of you get shocked, let me clarify that this was a common practise. The dosage was crucial and mothers would be very careful and mindful of that.

We used to always have opium stored in a small silver container at home. I came to know from my grandfather that opium was supplied in Taluk offices to the ration holders during British rule in India. As strange as it may sound in today’s world, this was how it was back in the day.

To administer the opium to the child, my mother would take a needle and dip it into the opium and pick up what is held by the needle head. Then the opium was heated on a fire and dipped into the milk in the paladai and mixed well. You kind of get a sense of how tiny the quantity would be. The opium milk would then be administered to the baby, and surprisingly the baby would stop crying and sleep well.

My Experiences of Gulping Castor Oil from Paladai

I remember my mother feeding me and my sisters with castor oil once in a month till I was about 10 years old. Castor oil has a rancid smell and it is very repulsive to gulp too. When we used to see the sight of the paladai we used to run away to escape from the agony. The very sight of paladai would send shivers down our spines because we knew what was coming. My mother and other elders would catch hold of us and then we used to be coaxed and persuaded to take the castor oil. If we resisted, we would be bribed with biscuits and sweets. Once we realized that we couldn’t escape the inevitable, we would very reluctantly gulp the oil by closing the nose with our fingers to mitigate the odor of the oil. This oil gulping ceremony was generally conducted early in the morning so that the bowel movement would free up. Then sometime around 11 a.m. is when we would be given rice mixed with dry ginger powder and ghee followed by rasam. There would be strictly no yogurt, dal or vegetables for us on that day.

Whenever I see the paladai in my collection when I take it out for dusting or cleaning, I fondly remember my childhood adventures with it. I touch and feel these cute paladais that once were an integral part of my childhood and I grew in the paladai culture.

Feeding the Babies in Today’s Age

Nowadays, one can’t find a paladai in any modern household. It has slowly become obsolete and forgotten. People who have some idea or memory of it now consider it to be old fashioned and something that is barbaric. It is convenient to use plastic feeding bottles with plastic nipples, but how safe are they? Use of plastic itself is dangerous, be it food grade or whatever and it is best avoided when children are involved. But to think of it, there’s no escape from plastic for us now. It is everywhere! In our homes, in our offices, out on the streets, deep in the soil and also in the water bodies.

Plastic bottles carry harmful bacteria and unless they are regularly sterilized, they can be very hazardous for the health of the infant. Paladai made in brass, bronze or silver is relatively safe. The design of the paladai is so simple that it is easy and effective to clean. A paladai doesn’t have to go through the cumbersome process of sterilization like the plastic bottles.

Paladai has stood the test of time and it has been passed on from one generation to the other as a heirloom till we saw the emergence of the plastic feeding bottle. In our present materialistic world, we miss the greatness in small things and beauty in simple inventions by our ancestors. Since the last few years, there is a slow revival of the brass paladai and people are realizing its value. We now also see paediatricians advising parents to avoid the feeding bottle and introduce the cup feeding (read paladai feeding). There’s also something called “Ban the Bottle” movement that has been gaining traction. Something worth pondering on.

Traditions Associated with Paladai

I have already mentioned that paladai is known as uggu ginne in Telugu. I am from Andhra and have grown in the uggu ginne culture. “Uggu” in Telugu means milk or any liquid food and  “ginne” means a cup. Words like uggu ginne, uggu paalu, uggu pattadam were regularly used in day-to-day life a few decades ago.

A newborn baby born in a family is a joyous occasion meant to be celebrated. Andhra people celebrate every small thing associated with the growing up process of a baby. The celebrations are very meaningful and colourful. The first word, first laugh, first crawl, first step, first of everything that the baby does are all occasions to celebrate.

The joy of celebration is not just restricted to family alone but also to the neighbors,  friends and relatives as well. Sweets and special delicacy items are prepared and distributed. Each event is dedicated to a particular variety of special treats.

In those days, when there were no cell phones or digital cameras, the memories associated with the occasion were not stored in any digital form but ingrained in sweet memories. Here, I list down some of the traditional celebrations associated with the growing stages of the baby.

1. Ookalaku Uggu Ginne: Ookalu is the first oral sound(s) the baby makes. Think of baby gibberish. When the baby makes the first oral sounds when she/he sees the mother or a family member or a visitor, the event is celebrated by distributing uggu ginne to the relatives, friends and neighbors. This is a great event in the family since it is the first  achievement of the baby trying to socialize with the family.

2. Navvulaku Nuvvu Undalu: When the baby flashes the first smile, sweet balls  prepared with nuvvulu (til or sesame seeds) and jaggery are shared with near and dear ones.

3. Palukulaku Chilakalu: When the baby utters her/his first word, this event is celebrated by sharing a sweet in the shape of a parrot  made out of sugar .These sugar parrots can be preserved for a long time.

4. Muddalaku Mudda Kudumulu: When the baby starts making the movements of closing and opening fists similar to the motion of making a rice morsel, a dish called mudda kudumulu is made and distributed to near and dear ones. Mudda kudumulu are also known as undrallu which is the traditional dish made as an offering to Lord Ganesha. Kudumulu are made with broken rice, first boiled along with pulses like  Alasandulu (black eyed peas) or chana dal, then shaped  into small  round balls which are then steamed in a steamer. Making kudumulu with alasandulu is a traditional way of preparing this item.

5. Borla Padithe Bobbatlu: When the baby masters the feat of turning from the back-lying-posture to lying-on-the-stomach posture, which is called borla padadam, bobbatlu (a special sweet dish) are made. Pappu polilu, puran poli, bhakshalu are other names for bobbatlu.

6. Paakithe Pakam Chalividi: When the child starts crawling and starts moving around on his/her own, this is a great event and is celebrated with another special dish prepared only in Andhra called chalividi. Chalividi is prepared with rice flour and jaggery or sugar and flavored with  cardamom along with fried pieces of coconut.

7. Gadapa Daatithe Garelu: Gadapa is the bottom part of the door frame that rests on the floor. In English, it is called the threshold. In traditional houses, all the door frames used to have gadapas. If one has to pass through the door of a house, the person has to cross the gadapa and then enter the room. When the baby crosses the gadapa for the first time while crawling, it is a great feat and such a rare occasion is celebrated by preparing and sharing garelu with neighbours, friends and relatives. Garelu are also called vadas.

8. Adugulaku Ariselu: Finally, the first walking steps of the baby (adugulu) are welcomed by distributing ariselu to the neighbours and loved ones. This sweet dish is specific to Andhra region.

 

Traditional vs Modern

The plastic feeding bottle which is considered as a miracle solution to soothe a crying baby is now progressively seen as an enemy. Some pediatricians are advising the modern young mothers to go back to the tradition and follow the wisdom of their grandmothers and mothers in adopting spoon feeding, cup feeding or the good old paladai feeding.

Annal Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital, Trichy, recently gave away a paladai each to mothers as a takeaway gift. I’m sure this initiative must have other hospitals and mothers to encourage the use of good old paladai. You can read more about it here

As with everything, there can be mixed reaction and opinions. I would love to hear what you have to say/share. Any memories of the paladai?

Categories
Featured

Vintage Musical Decanter Set

“Amidst the shining brass
And a few ceramic & glass
There it was…
With a missing shot glass
And a loosened cork top
Steady and calm
In all of its charm

Wind the knob
And pick the bottle to gaze
A sweet little surprise
For you it plays

A glance & a stare…
For an admirer’s care
Rightfully placed
To make people amazed

Yet for a wanderlust soul
For the lens that roll
It seemed to be its best
Alive in the open
Wheels striking a silent emotion” 🙂

A Vintage Decanter Set, that came all the way from Baghdad in the year 1980 to find a new home! A thoughtfully designed piece…a creator’s talent… something to behold… A lovely piece of antique that leaves you with a feeling just as sweet as the memories of music played and glasses shared!

Categories
Featured Video

Welco 280 De Luxe Portable Vintage Typewriter

 

A laptop of its era, this Welco 280 De Luxe typewriter was owned by my brother-in-law. It is now part of collection of antiques. Here’s a short video that will tell you more about it and the era of typewrites.

Categories
Featured Video

Antique Brass Gangalam – An Interesting Story!

 

Whenever guests or visitors come home, they always end up asking me about this antique brass gangalam that proudly sits in my living room. It is a beautiful artifact and I just had to acquire it when I first laid eyes on it. The story of how I got to know about this gangalam is an interesting one. It was during a visit to Vijayawada that my nephew told me about this family in the neighborhood that wanted to dispose the old items in their house. My nephew knew about my interest in collecting antiques and immediately asked me to take a look at the items the family was selling. And then started the drama. More on it in the video. 

The gangalam has some beautiful artwork on it and some very interesting details. Hope you like the video. If you have any queries or suggestions, do write to me.  

Categories
Featured Video

Antique Brass Spice Box

 

Love spices? This time, we’ve got something unique and interesting lined up for you antique lovers – the antique brass spice box.

No meal in India is complete without spices. We’ve been exporting spices to the world since ages and Indian food is synonymous with spices. Agree or disagree? When I was a kid, I used to help my mother in the kitchen when she prepared food. We had this round-shaped box made out of brass in which the spices were stored. And every kitchen in my village had one. Whenever my mother used to cook, I took out the box and picked the spices from the mini containers within the spice box and excitedly watched as she added them to the hot oil. Ahh, memories!

With time, the materials used to make the spice box changed and so did the contents. But the essence is the same. Here’s a lovely antique brass spice box that I acquired form a family in Kerala. The minute I saw it, it brought back childhood memories for me. I want to share the same with you through this video. Does it bring back some memories for you too? Let me know.

Categories
Featured Video

Antique Brass Idli Steamer (Idli Patra)

 

Idlis are a preferred choice of breakfast in South India and they’ve has also gained popularity in the rest of India too. A good source of carbs and protein, idlis are light, tasty and a healthy choice. While the modern stainless steel idli steamers do the job well, back in the day most households had brass idli patras. As with time, the brass idli patras were slowly phased out and replaced with modern ones.

Here’s an antique brass idli patra that I have in my collection which is still very much functional. Take a look at the video to know how I acquired it and what sets this one apart from the rest. We’ve also added info on how idlis are made from the start. Hope you like it. For any questions or comments regarding this particular antique piece, do write to me and I would be happy to answer. 

Categories
Featured Video

Antique Gajalakshmi Panchaloha Oil Lamp

 

As some of you might already know, I’ve made some interesting friends via the blog who keep writing to me about antiques and share their views about my collection and also about antiques that they own. One such friend that I’m regularly in touch with is Mr. Rajappan. In case you are wondering who he is, I’ve previously written an article “Bonding Over Antiques – An Interesting Association.”  You can take a quick look at it.

Sometime in early July 2016, Mr. Rajappan called me up and mentioned about a friend of his from Cochin who had a collection of antiques and family heirlooms which he was willing to part with. This particular person’s family traces its roots to the nobles from the region. I immediately asked for some photos of the gentleman’s collection and promptly received some. After seeing the photos, I immediately decided to take a trip to Cochin and acquire some antiques.

The minute I saw this beautiful Gajalakshmi Oil Lamp, I decided to acquire it right away along with a few more antiques that I particularly found interesting. Here’s a video on the Antique Gajalakshmi Panchaloha Oil Lamp. Do take a look at it. I’m sure you will also fall in love with this beautiful antique that’s now a part of my collection.