Finding your passion : A story from the heart

Pooja Munshi of BEND the system journals about how she came face to face with her passion:

Back in those days, working in the fashion industry in New York had pulled me into a very self centered life. There was no time to stop still for a moment, forget pondering about the world and its ongoings. While matching beat in this madness and heading the Sales and Marketing for an advanced contemporary womens wear collection, I received an offer to conduct a workshop with 30 of the top kantha (Indian traditional quilting embroidery) artisans in Nanur, a small village, about 5 hours away from Kolkata, India.

This initiative was driven by the ECOSOC/Division of the United Nations , IISD (Institute of International Social Development),the Ministry of Textiles India and the Minority Commission India. The objective was to train a cluster of the top Kantha artisans towards contemporary expressions of their craft, and in the process, develop samples for a global product line.

My yearning for a change and perhaps to make a small difference paved the way as I found myself zooming in a Maruti Van with blue psychedelic lights, through paddy fields with coconut trees erupting the otherwise flat landscape, cows, goats and overcrowded buses.

After the customary namaskars, I was led inside a mud hut with the artisans sitting on hay, on the floor, with shy smiles and eyes that were ready to absorb whatever was laid out in front of them.
My sole purpose was to get them back to their roots and help redefine themselves. On every one of those 15 days of the workshop, I received small gifts and tokens of love – a flower, puffed rice, coconuts and biscuits.

The class was made up of my youngest student who was 13 and the oldest who was possibly 45.  Amongst them were the Buli Bibis, Jariya Khatuns and the Ajanta dis, Shiuli dis.(di – is an informal word for sister)It was amazing to see such different religious backgrounds sharing a space where they explored their creativity together.

By the end of the 15 days , we had developed 20 various prototypes, ranging from mens ties, beach bags, bedroom slippers, laptop cases and much more. These pieces had the ability to create a bond between the thirty women and me.
This product line had been designed with a handicraft aesthetic and pertained to contemporary demands.

With the help of the Indian Govt, foreign initiatives and various private organizations the product line is moving along, slowly but surely. One day in the near future, with increased exposure and funding, these products will be selling at a holiday fair near you! A chance that will provide a better life for these talented artisans and their families.

As I had walked out of class for the last time, I had seen and felt tears that were hard to express, when compared to the self centered life I was living in New York.

No doubt I had a few issues about jumping into the muddy pond for my daily bath, but through the entire process, I had discovered a strong ground where I finally felt satisfied.
I knew that my work in the future would be geared towards bridging my professional skills to the less fortunate.


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3 Responses to “Finding your passion : A story from the heart”
  1. Minia says:

    I am so happy to read your adventure Pooja and how you got more and more in touch with your soul & self through services !! this is fantastic… thanks for sharing :))

  2. goat grub says:

    amazing. well done.

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