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The workshop has suddenly come alive! As soon as the announcement is made, Ayesha rushes off to the chest. The wooden drawers hold all the precious paraphernalia that add magic to NOMAD. The silken threads, the colorful beads, gota patti, ghungroo…. She wants to get started right away and get an edge. It’s a “Raakhi Making Contest” after all!
As the one ensuring the smooth functioning of affairs at NOMAD, she too has learnt the art of creating beauty out of nothing. Not to be left behind, the shy and reticent Hasan too quickly walks to his table and drowns behind it; the only visible sign of his presence now is the tuft of his hair bobbing up and down. As the giggling participants take their positions behind their workstations, each one determined to produce a masterpiece and take home the much-coveted cash-reward, I bask in the eustress produced by the competitive vibe. The adrenaline rush triggered by the rivalry has transported all of us back to our classrooms where a competition brought out the best in us. The meditation-like focus; pure and undiluted, which takes the hermits years of practice to achieve, was usually achieved in a matter of seconds.
As the work begins on creating the prettiest raakhi, my attention is drawn to the hands. As they tackle the moves and twists of design, their fingers curl and join into “mudras”; the tool of expression in classical dance. The only difference being the purpose; Expression and Creation. But then, even our creations are an expression, aren’t they? Of our imagination as well as our reality.
Izzy and Polo, the new entrants to the NOMAD world, grace the occasion with their presence and, unable to escape the frenzy, fall willing victims to Meera’s indulgent plans. Polo, the excited puppy, is adorned with a flower neckband but wants to take a bite of the luscious looking flower. Eventually giving up the useless pursuit, he flops on the floor. Izzy, the gentle giant looking silly in a bow and pretending indifference, is watching the conundrum with the corner of his eyes.
As the contest closes, the raakhis are laid in a neat row for me to inspect. Overwhelmed by the beauty in each one of them, I decide to abandon ‘judgment’ and have a lucky draw instead. As I dip my hand in the pile of slips, time stops momentarily; so do some heartbeats. Destiny communicating through a piece of paper whom she favors the most? Aslam walks forward with a grin, having won the grand prize. As a consolation prize, the rest are treated to chai and samosas. The “Chai-wala”, an indispensable presence in NOMAD workshop for years, walks in as if on cue. As the workshop resonates with banter and laughter, the happy faces reflect glimpses of a day well spent.