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When doorways die

A generation or two ago, almost everything that a community used was made by local craftsmen. They used materials available locally, and their artistry was infused with both meaning and function. In that sense, the homes they built, the clothes they wove, they food they ate, were part of a people's culture. These 'things' of their daily use reflected their culture just as much as their beliefs, customs, songs and art did.

Today, villages are emptied, and dense forests stand in their place. Abandoned homes slowly crumble away.

The last artisans who worked with wood and stone are now old men. Anyway, the new forest laws forbid locals from using these materials that are available so plentifully locally. Brick, cement, iron has to be bought from the plains and hauled up. Soulless, shoddy dwellings have sprouted, divorced from the environment they are located in.

In the old houses, the 'chaukhat' - door frame - was a work of art, carved in wood. Kailash has saved a few from the old houses that were being torn down. He has used one set in his village home in Ganoli.

Another set, we plan to use in our forest cabin.

This is a man trying to conserve and pass on the best things of an age gone by. For me, his memories and knowledge are a doorway to another world.

When doorways die, the doors to other worlds close. So I seek out these doorways and spend as much time as I can in those other worlds. After some time, it will no longer be possible...

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