The K-word is the coolest thing at the 14-day 2010 India International Trade Fair that began in Pragati Maidan this Sunday. With more than 7,000 exhibitors from 24 countries having put up stalls — many of them worth a visit — it’s the homegrown khadi that is the first among equals.
The fair’s theme — Clean & Energy Efficient Technologies, Products & Services — doesn’t sound wildly exciting but it gels well with the hand-spun fabric that Mahatma Gandhi popularised as a mode of independent sustenance. Entering into the Khadi exhibition hall (Hall number 15), even a committed non-Gandhian will walk out with hands full of shopping bags.
There are more than 50 stalls from different khadi garment manufacturers in the hall, which is the largest ever pavillion organised by Khadi and Village Industries Commission.
We suggest you head straight to Ushreera Industries’s stall from Karnataka. It has an amazing eclectic collection of khadi products: from Ganeshas, baseball caps, pen stands to chappals. Check out khadi body scrubbers. Priced at Rs 30 each, they are the best spur-of-the-moment purchase this season.
In the adjacent Laxmi Fine Arts, we fell in love with their hand-painted kalamkari saris (prices range around Rs 10,000). The chic dupattas, shirts and ladies tops at the Magan Smriti Sangrahalaya from Wardha, Maharasthra, had mantras in Devnagri script printed on them. “We only use organic khadi with natural dyes,” the stall assistant told us. At the Bharat Khadi Ashram from Srinagar, the woollen khadi suits — with their flamboyant colours and floral embroidery — were unmistakably Kashmiri in character.
Though it is unfair to point out some stalls and leave out others, we suggest you keep a good three to four hours at hand to check out just the khadi pavilion. Besides clothes, there are cane and bamboo products, pottery, jewellery, herbal products, and honey, too. At the entrance, there are khadi-clad women from Andhra Pradesh spinning the charkha, à la Gandhi.
What we found at the trade fair
Not to miss
The decorative lights at the Thai pavillion are colourful and dainty.
The Delhi pavillion did not live up to the standards of this world class city. There were the usual stalls: such as the one on DTC (we also spotted a stall on tuberculosis); a Jantar Mantar model is installed on the basement floor; and nearby, a kiosk selling Delhi keepsakes (Tees etc).
What bored us
The continuous shehnai vaadan that, we think, was coming out from the Orissa stall was not going with the mood. Of course, shehnai makes a beautiful sound and is perfect for weddings but why in a trade fair?
The day’s steal
Reebok has a big counter in which the company’s sports footwear is on sale. Sneakers worth Rs 4,000 and above are being sold at half the price.
You must know
Open to general visitors from November 19.
Time: 9.30 am to 7.30 pm.
Nearest Metro stop: Pragati Maidan.
Ticket price: on working days is Rs 40, and on weekends, it is Rs 60.
Ticket counters: gate no. 1, 2 at Bhairon Road and gate no. 10, and all other metro stations.
On the sidelines
During the 14 days of Trade Fair, Pragati Maidan will see a host of cultural events. Our picks.
Play — A production by Ishwar Pal Art Society, Monday 22 November, 4.30 pm, Itihasik Chowk Theatre
Dance — Chhau dance by Mayurbhanj’s Sangeet Natak Academy, Monday 22 November 5.45 pm, Pragati Aangan Theatre
Film — Pather Panchali, Tuesday 23 November, 2 pm, Shakuntalam Theatre
Music — Flute by Pt.Prasanna, Friday 26 November, 5 pm, Pragati Aangan Theatre
Song — Qawali by Rampur’s Mohammed Ahmed, Saturday 27 November, 6 pm, Falaknuma Theatre