Opening more Openings…for art

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Journey to Jaisalmer was a memorable ride.

Fantastic broad roads, bright sun, deep blue clear sky and sandy soil occasionally dotted with mustered farms.

Many a time Jey had to stop on road abruptly. No …there were no traffic lights but large herds of sheep, families of Neel Gai, pair of camels or peacocks were crossing the highway.

They walked  on those lands as it belonged to them. We cherished these rare sights and controlled the urge to click a picture.

When we reached our host family, we were overpowered by the peace and vastness of desert.

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The next morning we saw a peacock perched on Kesariya. By the time Jey grabbed his camera, it was gone.

On all mornings that we spend in Lodrawa, we were greeted with several peacocks enjoying the winter morning sun within a few metres of distance.

Cows, dogs, children and peacocks played about everywhere every hour of the day.

The village was a small quiet settlement. Men were only seen during the early hours of the day and after dusk. Women took care of the home, animals and us as well.

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However they shied away as soon as Jey came out. We were looked at curiously and secretly. We could hear them talk but hardly saw any young woman around.

All elderly women were clad in ghaghra, choli and large square odhni that ran covering their faces to their back till their heels.

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Homes had closed windows that opened only enough to let a pair of eyes peep out.

The next morning of our arrival we asked our host if he have briefed the children about us and Artologue. He innocently replied that he need not talk about painting, colors would be sufficient to invite the children.

It indeed was so.

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Just as Jey unpacked the color bag, a huge crowd gathered around him consisting of young children, grown-up girls, elderly women as well as a few men.

Jey and Sumer took charge of camera and Meenakshi of painting. The community wall was our canvas and Meenakshi decided to paint tiny windows on the huge yellow stone wall.

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“What are you painting?”, asked a young girl to us.

“You are going to paint several windows on this rock wall, not us”, replied Meenakshi.

All the girls gathered around us, looked at us and exclaimed that they know nothing about painting.

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Jey was quick to reply that he too paints although he never learnt how to paint.

Soon Jey along with all other girls were painting windows on the yellow rock wall, while Meenakshi was drawing designs.

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It was an enchanting scene where over 50 people were painting on one big wall: young girls, married women, children, boys and elder women all were painting aside Jey.

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From a distance it looked like some festive occasion.

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The symbolic meaning of several beautiful windows on a rock wall is very significant for a place where girls who attained puberty were engaged to be married later.

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Also like all other places, having a son was a necessity for respect in family and society and education for girls was not mandatory.

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Very few of the girls continued their education after 7th standard as the local school offered eduction only to 7th grade.

For secondary and senior secondary they would have to travel 8km to another village, thus many families made their girls quit school after 7th class.

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Here we were; a man and a woman, traveling on bike and painting on their walls. We were a complete contrast to this society. But we tried to open more openings for these young girls by drawing many many windows on the rock wall of their society opening into the beautiful world.

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