After finding no place to stay at Kalo Dungar, we were evaluating our options. This has been a disappointing trip so far – the Black Hill has been crowded and littered, and the drive up to the hill has reminded us of Bangalore traffic. We were hoping to stay overnight at the top to be able to see the sun set after the day’s tourists have left. But that was not to be. The dharamshala was full, and the forest department officials were non-cooperating.
I really wanted to talk to some one there about the ecology, the 10-km camel ride to the FalmingoCity and of course the legendary jackals that come here to feed at the prasad. But no one really had the time during the rush and we had to leave unsatisfied.
But we still haven’t given up on this trip and decided to head over to Nirona, the village of many artisans, famous especially for housing the only family in the world that practice Rogan art. Rogan is an oil-based (castor) painting on fabric using natural and lasting dyes. The designs are not printed but are painted free-hand using a thin flat-ended iron rod. An intricate piece of about a square foot can take around a month to get ready.
Mr. Abdul Gafur Khatri, or Gafur bhai as we call him, was kind enough to open his house for us and let us stay there for the night. His family has been doing Rogan for generations and have two national awards to their credit.
The whole family treated us as if they meet us everyday and we slept in the room where they keep their painstakingly painted fabric. This trust was overwhelming and something we were not used to in the urban India. We strolled round the village to visit lacquer work, metal bells and leather work which was fascinating. This was my first serious introduction to the origins of handicrafts and their trajectory so far. I have some serious mulling over to do. Stay tuned!