Show your feet!
Ha! Ha! Ha!
Brisk walking my way through the many labyrinthine streets and alleys of Central Delhi in the month of January, with the morning sun beating down my neck, I decided to take a break and slowed down to a stroll. Central Delhi – the most tranquil and scenic locale in the entire city, with its bountiful trees, now stark naked in the middle of the cold season, on the bare branches of which, birds of different varieties sat twittering, basking in the glory of the bright sunlight.
This particular day, I decided to deviate from my oft taken path and reached the hustle and bustle section, with its intersecting roadways and a few towering buildings.
Bang in the middle of this office/commercial district, I suddenly found myself in front of Shankar’s International Dolls Museum. Nestled among more than a dozen or so offices, is this little bundle of joy with its vast array of dolls from all over the world.
“Seized by a whim, she decided to undertake this beautiful journey once again, the last time being – she didn’t remember when – though she did recall that she came here with her parents then.
Purchasing a ticket (which was relatively cheap by today’s standards, just 18 bucks / 28 cents), she eagerly proceeded through the winding staircase, up to the foyer, where the museum was housed.
The tour had just started, with a teaser of what was to come, in the form of 8 large posters of various dolls occupying a sizeable space on the walls of the foyer. A flicker of recognition ran through her as she recognized one of the posters as being of her favorite doll, dressed up in the traditional attire of Slovak Republic, of which she had preserved a cut-out from the children’s magazine ‘Magic Pot’ when it had featured this museum in its issue ages back.”
The “she” above – being the child in me – suddenly seemed to have overpowering control over my consciousness. Going forward, I came upon the sliding doors where a life-size doll in complete Indian attire (a sari draped beautifully with bangles, necklace, nose stud and a bindi completing the look) welcomes you with folded hands (i.e. namaskar / Hello).
And now, let the journey unfold…
Let me take you forward
In a journey so profound
The train is on stand by
To take you through the town
The town of the dolls
From all over the world
I want to chug along
And enter the dream world
The Spanish flamenco dancers
Are as gorgeous as can be
Riveting are the French dresses
That will surely captivate thee
Anne of Green Gables
Of Canada is also there
So are the Maypole dancers
Of Hungary with much fanfare
The New Zealand Maori doll’s tattoos
Are a sight to behold
While the Yurt* of Turkmenistan
Portray the nomadic household
The Sakura¥ dolls of Japan
Are enjoying their festivities
The Kampuchea^ dolls being
Busy with their activities.
Be it the Dan Tranh† of Vietnam
Or the South Korean Kayagum‡
These miniature stringed instruments
Are akin to the Santoor§ back home
Home is where the Heart is
Or so they say
From where do I even begin?
To describe India’s play
With so many different cultures
Traditions similar yet distinct
Each state has its own pieces
And yet they all are linked
Though there were many dolls from numerous nations as well as almost all of the states of India, I recalled those most which somehow left an indelible impression on me. I completely lost track of time and didn’t realize how the hours flew by as when I exited the museum, I registered the fact that I had spent nearly 3 hours in there. I was absolutely in its thrall.
It was definitely a fulfilling journey as I got to relive my childhood.