Soon after Navrang’s visits on two consecutive days, ex-village chief Ajmedar came with his daughter named Khutke and a little boy named Chidi, meaning “sparrow”. We don’t know what Khutke means, but after having seen Khutke, we think the sounds fit her personality. Many Phasepardhi names are chosen just for how they sound anyway. That first visit with Ajmedar was more or less for introduction. Next day, Khutke came with a teenaged boy named Sharad, who would later marry Navrang’s attractive if wilful little sister Shani.
In that small community of Phase Phardhis that made Asol Dara their home, there certainly was a wide variety of individuals, in body and mind. Navrang was fair and green-eyed, but Khutke was dark and curly-haired. Navrang was sensitive and gentle. Khutke was strong-willed, confident if abrasive. Both had their own very different but definite sense of dressing. Khutke was wearing a purple sari without any border, and a well fitting green blouse. She was younger than Navrang, and wore her sari right down to her ankles, not drawn up to the knees. The new generation is more and more influenced by the culture presented by bollywood movies. Mumbiram has no hangups about using the camera alongside his classical paper-paint-and-brush equipment.
Khutke showed amazing versatility in how she presented herself to the artist. All Phase Phardhi women are creative dressers. Khutke improvised a turban out of the pallu end of her sari. That added an exotic, regal touch to her demeanor.
She also showed remarkable understanding of using her hands to create the right mood. That inspired Mumbiram to suggest her to sit on the floor, at the classical Indian writing desk that was part of the office furniture in Mumbiram’s father’s legal offices. Mumbiram himself liked to sit on the floor at such writing desks. Mumbiram was very pleased to have given the right circumstance for the proud, determined, wise and even regal demeanor that Khutke was getting herself into. Having settled that important aspect of making a live portrait, Mumbiram stood up his plyboard sheet, pinned his handmade paper on it and made a very quick sketch with a pencil that had a medium-soft lead. Mumbiram was going to make a watercolor masterpiece out of it.
Mumbiram was very pleased to have given the right circumstance for the proud, determined, wise and even regal demeanor that Khutke was getting herself into.
He let Khutke have a break while he got ready his watercolor paints, brushes and dishes. Barely had Mumbiram begun to colour the pencil sketch, when a loud knock on the door made a rude interruption. A group of rag-picker girls from Yaravda barged in when Mumbiram opened the door.
It would have been impossible to carry on with Khutke’s portrait, as it became very quickly obvious that the ragpicker girls were too excited to see their friend Mumbiram making a portrait of some other woman from some other community and caste. So Mumbiram decided to do something else that they could all do together that would also be interesting. Mumbiram took out the fine quality music recording machine that Hans Sittenauer had left with him, along with his excellent SLR camera. They would all sing songs, he suggested.
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