What happens when you have planted more veggies than you know what to do with, and then idle Net browsing hits you with a walloping idea ? Look at the photo above and you've found the answer.
Monsoon is the season when all of India goes into sowing-planting-growing hyperdrive. The soil is so fertile that seeds just beg to grow. The moist air means that the farmer/ gardener doesn't have to exert all that much to get a healthy crop.
In my garden in Mumbai, some of the best-growing vegetables at this time are the gourds of every edible kind. Ridge-gourd, bottle-gourd, bitter-gourd, ash-gourd ... the list goes on and on. I think it's because they are so easy to grow in this season that I usually go overboard and plant more than we can possibly eat or gift. That has to be the saddest part of growing ... having vegetables that are past their prime and you don't know what to do with it.
And so it was that I found myself stuck with some of these globe-shaped bottle-gourds (you can see one in the background of the photo) , no longer fit to eat. They were already past the tender stage when they are such a tasty filler in any dish. So they remained on the vines which had clambered up the fence, steadily dryin,g and I had chalked them up as seed material. Until I came across some internet articles about crafting with gourds.
What fun! This appealed to my interest in crafting with stuff found in the wild (or rather, in my garden ). And it was something I had not seen much here in Mumbai, at least . So I started off with just a vague idea of what had to be done and how it would turn out .
I knew that gourds are used by tribal communities across India too but I have no idea how they decorate them. My inspiration for the very first one I worked on was the Warli style of art.
The Warlis are a tribal community who live near Mumbai and I love their simple but very eloquent style of art. They normally paint the walls of their homes with these figures depicting village life, their deities, Nature, and everything connected with it. I thought it was very fitting that I use their motifs (click on the photos to get a better view. And ignore the white stuff ... that's a bit of monsoon fuzz ).
My interest in gourd-crafting grew but I had hit a big obstacle. In India or rather, in the seed shops in India, the more interesting gourds are not available. The gourds which are usually used for crafting have thick skins, but the ones available in India are grown to be eaten and are the thin-skinned type. Which not only meant that I have to be extra careful with the gourds when I work on them but also that my designs are limited.
But I've overcome other limitations before and with some luck, maybe I can think of a way to overcome this too. Some day.
Other obstacles? Trying to place these gourds in a home shared with sporty, growing children, and where rumbustious pets charge through at the slightest suspicion of a snack ! Yeah, more than a few have smashed, or at least, got a big crack running down it.
Never mind... I'll just grow some more .