“Islam bhai called me a few days ago and asked for organic raw colours that are not available in Pakistan,” says Abdul Razak, an artist from Gujarat, who became friends with Pakistani dastakar Islam back in 2004, when Pakistani artists were invited to be part of the Dastkari Annual Mela. The two have kept in touch since. “He has become a very good friend of mine. We discuss art. Not just that, we have also exchanged biryani recipes,” says Razak.
The dastkars who participated in the Annual Dastkari Haat Craft Bazaar in 2004, have not let the brewing tensions between the two countries affect the artistic exchange, and have kept the relationships intact.
“Artists from Pakistan still call us and ask us to invite them again,” says Jaya Jaitly, founder of Dastkari Haat Samiti.She had also invited women from Wagah border for an event ‘Breaking Boundaries’. “Those women were terrified initially and denied coming, as their friends and relatives were not happy about the visit. That was the same year when an Indian soldier was beheaded at the border. But the visit became a lifetime experience for them and they still write to us asking us to invite them again. I feel so good that the tension between two countries doesn’t affect the artistic relations,” she adds.
Another artist, Arshad Kafil from Pilakhva, Ghaziabad says, “Though we met ten years ago, we still call and discuss the many aspects of block printing. We send each other our artwork, take feedbacks and give suggestions. In fact, we also tell each other, what will sell in the markets of the respective counties. Maintaining relations also help us increase our sales, earn more and improve our crafts.”