Hindi was a compulsory language to be learned at school. And language is usually taught through written material \u2013 stories about this and that from every day life.\nSometime in my early secondary school \u2013 we had a chapter in our Hindi book called \u2018Chhodi waale baba \u2013 literally meaning the old uncle who sold bangles.\nIt talked about the conversations between the bangle seller and the women buying from him as he went from street to street selling his wares. That was my first introduction to choodis or glass bangles as I had not yet awoken to the idea of \u2018adornment\u2019 or shringaar.\nBangles are one of the 16 \u2018shringaars\u2019 or 16 adornments a woman indulges in to make herself alluring for her man. Women of the old world \u2013 like my grandma \u2013 lived that life in totality without any confusion second directions suchs as \u2018career\u2019 and were perfectly happy to live only\u00a0 for their man and their family. And to them shringaar was an important part of presenting themselves in the evening when the man returned home from work.\nI discovered glass bangles only a decade ago and have loved them ever since for their colors, for their tinkling and their simplicity. And these became part of my dress code for a long time. There is a funny story about the time when I asked if I was a madam (or a bai) on account of my dress code, reminding me that it is usually my beautiful helper maids or the elderly who wear these (and other dress code elements that I had adopted)\nIn most small towns the choodi waale baaba \u2013 the seller goes from street to street to sell his wares as do most sellers \u2013 including vegetable vendors, milkmen, sellers of plastic buckets and wares, metal pots, mattresses and every other imaginable thing! Retail therapy happens at home.\nSince communities are close knit, when a bangle seller is stopped by one woman, others also gather around and the group sits down for a happy chat. There is bonding, the seller is offered water and if he is known to them for years, even a cup of tea.\nThe women surround him and he attends to the first customer \u2026. he checks the size of her wrist and then selects the right ones from his wares in the desired colors.\nHis stock is predominantly red and green \u2013 preferred colors symbolising marriage. But he also carries a range of other colors. There are other types \u2013 those with meena work or gold embossing and those without, those with a \u2018disco\u2019 shine and those without, those with \u2018paasa\u2019 or angular cuts\n\nPaasa / angular cuts\n\nacross the circumference of the bangle \u2026. and many other types.\nThe selection process continues with each woman holding out her wrist to him and him finding the right one for her.\nA very pretty process.\nHere are some pictures taken in a slum area of Bombay.\n\nThe rack of bangles is carried by the baaba on his shoulder and most bangles in this man\u2019s mobile store are with \u2018meena\u2019 or gold work on the glass\n\n\nNote the babies and children in the gathering behind me.\nThis is possibly one of the few domains of a woman\u2019s life that an unknown man may enter with sanction.\nI\u2019ve met one bangle seller who took it upon himself to educate a younger & clueless version of me on the significance of bangles. He reminded me that these are not just empty symbols of marriage \u2013 they need to be cared for and looked after \u2013 they symbolise the fragility of the beautiful bondage \u2013 that once broken these cannot be repaired again. The sincerity in his sermon was endearing \u2013 after all he would have made less than 2 dollars revenue from me. And though I may write it off as a strategy for customer-retention I cannot deny his sincerity.\n\nThe innocence and beauty of these symbols and the world in which all this holds true is so attractive \u2013 and when we hear about this it is hard not to chase such an ideal world. But do these worlds really exist? Do they look as pretty from the inside as they do from the outside? Seeing the lives of my close cousins and the people I meet in my travels it certainly looks like a model that IS really pretty!\njm\nJune 2013\n\nThe post Choodi Waale Baaba \u2013 the Bangle Seller appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.