A Day in Anekal's Weavers Colony
Listen to the podcast 'Weaving a Livelihood'
As one gets off at the Chowdareddy Bus Stop and navigates towards the KHDC Weaving Unit (Karanataka Handloom Development Corporation), a sound of continuously clacking wood guides one to the obscure warehouse-like structure. A partially closed shutter opens to elaborate woodwork inside, a tangled maze of threads, about three weavers at work in a workshop meant for over 50 and light from only a few open windows compensated for by a few flourescent tubelights. Aqua green paint chips off the walls.
Frail but steady fingers of the old (and the only) weavers work through the threadwork as if magically transforming it into cloth.
The handloom which is on ground level is manned by a weaver who stands in a pit under its wooden frame. Years of working under fathers and grandfathers has made the weaver accustomed as well as tied them to the loom or the magga.
As the threads hold together from atop forming a mirage of a sari, jari/zari designs are weaved in as flowers, leaves mangas, swans and peacocks through this sari-to-be. These designs, first planned on stencils with holes and held intact with small popsicle shaped pegs seem, to the untrained eye as complicated as morse code to Gen Z. But to the weaver, the entire design already makes sense.
The thread itself makes a long journey before it's dyed and fabric-ed. To achieve its tensile strength yet delicate demeanor, many processes follow.
Outside the fair-haired world of this workshop kept alive on apprenticeship and government funding, exists the parallel world of the powerloom, fast, loud, cheap and efficient bereft of the mindless mindfulness of monotonous labour. In this locality, one stands at crossroads of contradictory philosophies, none discardable at the threshold of livelihood.