Discovering Burnished Pots in Dehra-Dun

We arrived in Dehra-Dun in time to celebrate Diwali (at home). We lit the house with the traditional earthen oil lamps and enjoyed their warm glow. Little did we know that our lazy peaceful days of drinking chai in the garden would not last. The demonetisation of the 500 and 1000 rupee notes was announced: essentially making all the cash we were carrying ash! We ran to the banks to convert our recently changed money back into something valid but were met with utter disarray. Hundreds of people stood endlessly in lines and nothing was available. The bank was only able to give us Rs. 4000 (of our 500 changed Euros) for 2 weeks and then we were sent on our way. Fortunately we were tipped off to the only queue free, cash dispensing ATM but it was up in Mussoorie at Char Dukkan. So off we went on a 1-hour motorbike ride to the top of Mussoorie to relieve our desperate situation. Only to gorge on momo’s and shapta at Doma’s: essentially eating half of the cash we withdrew! It was however, the most spectacular sunset that brought us the best kind of quiet relief: this too shall pass.

The madness in Dehra-Dun is real. A town turned capital city of a “new” state in India can only be described as a booming chaos. The trees have been cut to widen roads, the views of Mussoorie blocked by multi-storey malls, roads have become one-way lanes encircling the inner city to cope with the traffic and the noise, the noise is enough to drive one insane.

But amid the insanity we found two potters with an earthy, natural feel and a deep love for their work and their medium. It was a privilege to see them work, to discuss at length their visions and to learn their form of art. They create glaze free, burnished work, wood fired to create beautiful smoky hues of pink, purple and black on their naked wares. Though seemingly ancient and primitive in nature, they are aesthetically astounding and spirited. The couple are devoted to their clay quality and meticulously spend weeks refining the clay: a process in which we participated. After spending time with the couple at their studio we are fortunate to have earned an open invitation to return, post our Vipassana meditation course, to pot and grow limitlessly. Evolving from traditional pit firing, they now have a low-lying wood fired kiln; something we are very keen on seeing in action and learning about. Our future return and collaboration holds a lot of excitement and promise.

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