Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Jewellery Galleries and Schools in Delhi

Most exhibitions are private affairs. Huge trade shows have not been successful despite great effort. In the private shows it is the designers like Poonam Soni, Aparna Gujral, Asha Kamal Modi, Art Karat who thrive. MMTC (Mines & Minerals Trading Corporation), a large Public Sector Enterprise organizes its consumer / retail exhibition, a real treat during Diwali (the Indian festival of Lights when the Goddess of Wealth – Lakshmi is worshipped, occurs in October - November depending on the Hindu calender). The best selling period is the Wedding and Diwali. The tradition of Diwali has Dhanteras when jewelry is bought. One of the stories surrounding Dhanteras is that it is on this day that the proverbial nectar was churned from the ocean and Dhanwantri (the physician of Gods) emerged carrying nectar. Hence this day is dedicated to worshipping Goddess Lakshmi. It is customary to buy new utensils or precious metals. Thus most shops are choc a block during this period.   Otherwise most jewelry manufacturers organize in-house exhibition for their clientele in the showrooms itself. Other places for exhibitions are usually five star hotels where it is possible to install high security gadgets for surveillance. Dedicated exhibition halls are yet to take off in a big way. The Export Promotion Parks in neighboring Noida has some well known Export Oriented Units. The Crafts Museum, Delhi also affords for craftsmen from across the country to come and sell their wares in Delhi. Most come and demonstrate their crafts as well. These include Thewa, craftsmen specializing in tribal jewelry in gold and silver from Jharkhand and Chattisgarh.

Formalised courses for studying jewelry design and making are just taking off. However, many of the various techniques like Kundan, mina, granulation or filigree are best learnt at the feet of a master craftsman or through the Handicraft training courses sponsored by the Government. Many of the hereditary craftsmen after picking up the craft from their father or grandfathers proceed to formal schools for more skills. The Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council at Jhandewalan runs two training institutes. Indian Institute of Gems & Jewellery where designing is taught and Indian Gemology Institute where training is taught on gems. There are six private institutes in Delhi which teach courses in Jewelry designing and Gemology. The National Institute of Fashion Technology run by the Government teaches it in another part of the country. The curriculum revolves around designing and common jewelry making techniques of drawing sheets, wires, soldering……

Other Jewellery Centres near Delhi

Near Delhi, Jaipur is a jewelry makers and collector’s paradise. Some of the finest of craftsmen can be found there. It is also well known for its stone work – cutting, polishing, jade engraving and more. Other well known centres include: Meerut  is a well known centre. It has a concentration of more than 50,000 craftsmen. Amritsar (447 kms), Ambala (192 kms from Delhi) are other areas. Benares or Varanasi (780 kms from Delhi) the holy city is known for its silversmithing and silver jewelry.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Reparing Electronic Gadgets – the saga of repairing a Record Player

Super Electronics - Ravi Kant Sharma and his electronic repair shop

The era of LP records was magical. The beautiful sounds of music charms the mind and soul. It is not a patch to the current digitized versions. Recorded live using musicians and artists, there was no room for error. It was magical, perfect and in tune nay missing a beat. I had the privilege of listening to these records at a very young age for a few years before they became obsolete and cassettes took over. Our old record player introduced me to the wonderful dog listening to the gram

ophone – yes the logo of HMV – His Master’s Voice.

The old HMV was replaced by HMV’s 1010 stereo, the romance continued but alas the stereo stopped working. The speed wheel fell out of favour. With the company not manufacturing record players, spare parts were not available. Well, the stereo and the wonderful collection of records remained carefully kept. The search for a repairer unearthed plenty but one was loathe to part with the system for fear that it might be ruined for ever.  
                                                               


Then Ravi Kant Sharma happened. The repair of the record player seemed fated as I discovered his shop pretty close by. Ravi Kant, runs this shop in Alaknanda’s mini market. The shop is a small cub hole with a small basement and an attic. What though stands out is his absolute love for electronic products – the older the better. And an absolute obstinacy to let go of any electronic item unrepaired. As he says, “jo dukhan mein atti hai woh yahan se teekh hoke jaati hai.” There is this maniacal fixation to hunt spare parts. His repertoire extends to tape recorders, TVs, Smart TVs, VCRs, VCPs, music system…. The shop is crammed with LCDs, VCRs, stereos, music systems, CD players.. His midas touch in repairing two of my walkmans and a 2in1 prompted me to query about his repairing the 1010 stereo. He readily agreed.

The set was transported to his shop and it lay there. Over a year, I would faithfully visit, see the stereo be happy that it was safe and come back. He was unable to get the Edler’s wheel. A search on the net then revealed spare part dealers in Chandni Chowk and Jama Masjid. I gave the numbers. What materialized after literally months of chasing was well, M S Subbulakshmi singing redolently early in the morning. Our collection records have suddenly been revitalized and some wonderful wafts in the morning. It does take time to get used to records, their varying speeds, the means of playing it on either sides. There is no automatic streaming. It is manual and of a slow laid back era.

The repair has been well worth its wait. The speakers were galvanized and lo we were back in action. He can even add USB ports to older systems. He can offer connections by which yes I am able to play music from my smartphone on to the old speakers of our 1010 stereo! Strange!!

Shop timings – Super Electronic – Ravi Kant Sharma, Shop No. J-6, Main Market, Alaknanda. Evening after 5 pm. At Mini market Alaknanda Market, Alaknanda, New Delhi – 19 (Near Citizen Gas enterprises)

Insider Tip – the man is a gem not greedy but very reasonable. He has an insatiable appetite to repair the piece. He scouts and ultimately succeeds. My next task in an old Sanyo tape recorder and an even older Murphy Radio of my parentsJ


The man is old fashioned, believes in quality work and does not hurry. Go to him with some time, sit and chat. He believes in building relationships. Yes, even for taking money due to him. It is an old fashioned place, still untouched by greed, chalu kaam and shoddy workmanship. The work is well worth the time.