One Word Project
Yesterday, while visiting Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram, an idea struck me; why not do a short and impromptu survey amongst the visitors there.
The survey had only one question:
What is the first word that comes to your mind when I say "Mahatma Gandhi"?
I went to the museum shop (incidentally some of our Gandhi themed souvenirs sell here) and picked up a notepad and pen. I thought of roping in a few college students but the paucity of time compelled me to go it alone. It felt a little odd first but then I lost all inhibitions and started talking to people around.
The sample group comprised of 31 people. I tried a diverse set comprising tourists(old, young and from across the country), cleaning staff, security guard, school and college students, families, brick layer, gardener, autorickshaw driver, artist, architect, management student, pavement seller, taxi driver and young children. I remember one person couldn’t come up with a word, I think his mind went blank. Another asked his child and the child said accha. Amongst a family of four, everyone tried to give me a different word. A Gujrati lady couldn’t understand Hindi or English so I had to find a translator; I was not going to give up. An old cleaning lady was a personality in herself, she had four gold-capped teeth and her jewellery was awesome. I later went looking for her to click a snap. An old taxi driver was quite vitriolic. A cheeky architectural student with his shades over his nose told me that he was only there because of Charles Correa, I patiently heard him and told him that I only wanted a word from him; he had to oblige. Most of the people reacted with a lot of respect and nostalgia. The autorickshaw driver wasn’t happy because the ashram was under renovation and it looked too modern for him to relate it to Gandhi. The policeman with his moustaches touching the sky was quite polite. The brick layer said he liked the ashram and always asked the contractor to send him there.
The first word that came to my mind was “Humble”
Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most powerful symbols for eternal peace. At Sabarmati ashram today.
It’s been more than 15 years that I have been looking at India for inspiration and one of them has been Mahatma Gandhi as I believe in many of his thoughts and teachings. To this day he inspires millions and a gift commemorating him is exchanged by people of all faiths and cultures across the world.It started from a simple bookmark in the silhouette of Gandhiji , then the round spectacles, handspun Khadi-bound journals a little later, gifts for the Indo-African summit commissioned by a private organisation which included salt from Dandi and soil from Porbandar neatly packaged in recycled wood boxes and finally this; Charkha prototypes in wood and metal. My charkha’s have functional parts that rotate. These are the first prototypes and I am now awaiting final improvised pieces.
In the last few months, Sabarmati Ashram has started retailing our Mahatma Gandhi souvenirs and in the coming months we will be working closely to develop more.
I am working on a 99 pieces signature limited-edition boxes that will contain a charkha, pocket watch, salt from Dandi and Khadi handspun on a wooden charkha, I may also include his three monkeys and wooden clog. Like always, there is no timeline, it may be this season, next year or sometime in the future. It is one of the many ideas that my team is currently working on.
Khadi is an exclusive Indian textile, purely hand-spun and hand-woven from natural cotton using the traditional and manually operated spinning wheel called the ‘CHARKHA’. This process gives Khadi an extra ordinary texture and finish that cannot be found in any artificially made fibers. The small weaving errors give it the particular Khadi charm.
In India, Khadi is not just a cloth, it is a whole movement started by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The hand-spun cotton, known as Khadi is of special significance to Indians. Gandhi elevated the fragile thread of cotton to a symbol of strength and self-sufficiency and to provide employment for millions during India’s freedom struggle and that symbolism of cloth made by human hands has continued till this day.
Khadi is an alternative lifestyle in tune with the rhythm of nature. The Khadi industry is totally non-polluting and does not recklessly destroy natural resources both in terms of raw material and energy. It gives employment to millions of men and women of today’s rural India.
The cover of this journal is made with hand-spun Khadi fabric and the pages are made from recycled cotton rags and jute fiber. Each journal comes with an intricate Gandhi bookmark.
(Source: world wide web)
On the eve of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday here is something to honor him; a Gandhiji Bookmark.
I leave you with one of his famous quotes:
"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will."
~ Mahatma Gandhi