It's been a while that I have been meaning to start a blog related to the website. I thought about how it could be professional. How it should stick to what we are doing and everything related to it. I would be organized. I would mark content. And all those other perfect reasons & decisions. And I kept waiting for that moment to hit me when I would start with this killer session online. And then the coin drops. Its not going to happen. Simply because I can only write when I am bursting with things to say. That is when I write something worth reading. And that is when, what I write, might make sense to SOME people.
The idea of an e-commerce venture based on the craft sector and craft based products came to me almost 10 years back. I started out and got picked as one of those likely "social entrepreneurs" who would make a difference. And I did for a small bit. Till my children were born and I decided to let work take a back seat. Not because I wanted to be there for my children (they didn't leave me even when I wanted them to) but simply because I love babies and toddlers. The window for me is very small but very intense. So I wanted to make sure that I enjoyed my own children while they were going through this small window phase of mine. I never let go of work totally, I just kept enough to keep tasting blood, keep re-inventing and keep remembering that I started with a big dream and I have to remember to get back. Basically I didn't leave myself the choice of letting it go.
Today as I sit down to write about my second innings, I thought I should put it out there, as much for myself, as for anybody who cares to know why I am doing what I am doing. Why have I persisted. Why am I putting myself on the line yet again. One reason and one reason - I believe it needs to get done. Now more so than ever. This is sounding cryptic. But here is how I see it.
Crafts or handwork is very unique to every culture. It is related to history, traditions, lives of people, ways of living, which have been passed down several generations and in some cases over several centuries within the same family. Instead, our world today is becoming increasingly homogeneous - Almost everybody speaks English, wears similar clothes, eats similar foods, drink the same drinks, have started living in similar houses, drive the same cars though with different names - all in the name of globalization. As a result what we are doing is ignoring all that makes us unique - local languages are dying out, local architecture is almost gone (but for some revivalists), local dresses are losing the sheen, local flavours are getting lost and to my mind, therefore cultures are getting lost. Economics has become such a force that it has taken over the the very essence of human lives. And no I don't think it is evil. Everything has it's place. In fact I think it is evolutionary. Maybe we needed to come to this stage to value the abstract in our lives.
I understood it only when I lived it. As a young traveler I got lucky to witness and live with vastly different cultures from my own. And I loved it. I find it very exciting. I love immersing myself, whenever I can, however little it might be, into other cultures. Music, dance, food, clothes, patterns, hairstyles... Oh there is so much to experience. It is eye opening and humbling. When I see how quickly everybody is becoming the same, I am coming from a sense of fear (somewhat unfounded maybe) that the thrill of something new, something different will be lost. It bothered me.
It bothered me enough to keep thinking about what would make people value themselves. I asked questions and I heard "we do that which is more viable" (economically the silent noun). Or it is the" cost of development". Basically, it was all about investments (time or money) and returns. And I thought, if I could figure out the "Economics of Culture", it might become viable enough for people to save it. The idea of providing an economic incentive to a cultural activity - stitching clothes, making utensils, building homes, decorating houses - might be what it takes for people to value that which is inherently theirs.