My wife had suddenly become “health” conscious, and she was asking me to buy some earthernware for cooking! The realization that earthern vessels were good for health has come upon her recently, and she was asking me to get some earthern vessels, including an earthen Kadai.
Earthern Kadai? I was very curious. I located the one and only roadside shop at Mogappair (a suburb of Chennai) and went about fulfilling the earthy wishes of my wife.
Mudpot: Rs.160. Mud vessels to store cooked rice and other items: Rs.40 to 60 a piece. Mud pot lid : Rs.20. The one that interested me much was the earthern Kadai. It was costing Rs.65. The lid again was Rs.20.
I started talking with the man selling these pots. I asked whether he made these pots himself. His wife, who was manning a small fruit shop nearby, came rushing in and said that he doesn’t know this art and that he gets it in bulk from his village and sells it here.
I was surprised. I asked how come he did not learn this wonderful art of pottery. With a downcast look, the man said that he never was interested in pottery when he was young, as his father and mother were making the pots till a few years back before they passed away, and now, that he is old, he is simply doing this as a means for survival. I asked him whether their children were interested. One of his sons was an auto driver, and the other wants to enter films.
No land? I asked, and was told that once, they used to do farming! Why have you left farming? I asked, and they said that they came to the city for better earning. They thought that city life had a few charms like cinema and beach, that the village life did not have.
The man said, “Sir, you please come back and buy atleast one vessel from me every now and then. We can’t compete with metal vessels ever, you know”
I silently agreed, and left the shop, wondering how much ordinary life in our country has changed over the years.
Computers and Cellphones have changed the way we live life. Many vocations are going out of business. Who wants to become a farmer these days? Who wants to become a tailor? Who wants to become a potter? Over the years, all of us would have noticed the reduction in the number of saloons, tailoring shops, pottery shops and “ordinary” bunk shops and grocery stores – In tune with the times, what we are getting to see more are malls and supermarkets which operate with MNC power. These small entrepreneurs are struggling for help, and what we can do to help them, is to encourage them whenever possible – that is the greatest help that we can do.
Farmers committing suicide is just one symptom of the killing of the small entrepreneur, the small farmer, the small trader, and the small potter, who are unable to withstand the harsh glare of technology and ruthless business demands in the changed scenario, where only computers, laptops and cell phones rule..