Friday, 13 November 2015

Pottery Classes at Tihar Jail

 Tihar Jail in its various initiatives to get its inmates' to learn new crafts called our Pottery teacher Rajesh Srivastava to teach them for six months some years back. This write up is based on his experience there, which he shared with us recently. 

As an artist he knows his craft, as a teacher he is encouraging, but as a person he is full of wisdom. A teacher should always lead by example, in terms of morality and righteousness, so that the words of wisdom do not sound hollow. He is a fine teacher in words and deeds. 

He talked about his rapport with criminals there and things he saw at Tihar. There are three levels of security, even then the Rs.2 packet of Tobacco reaches inside and sells for Rs. 100 or more. 

Usually, everybody finishes dinner by sunset. Food is freshly made at the big Tihar canteen. If somebody wants to eat late, and wants to heat their food then they follow a interesting process. They wear clothes of Markeene (thick cloth, off whitish in color) and tear a part from it. Then this piece of cloth is rolled and then shown to the bulb until it catches fire. This fire is used to do tadka of onion, tomato etc on dal/sabzi!

The criminals respected their pottery teacher, so much that they offered to buy him a car (as he travels by bus), even a TV for his studio.  He had to strictly say No, to their offers and of getting him settled at Mumbai, with their Big Brother.In return, he always treated them with respect and got respect in return. The criminals have even come to visit the studios, some he even recommended for manual jobs but they gave up. He counselled them to lead the "right" life, but virtuousness brings with it lots of hard work and less money for which they were not ready, as some of them even tried to lead a simple life, but gave up soon after.   As he says, "sharafat ki zindgi jeena asaan nahi hai, kaam karna padta hai, aur mehnat ka paisa bhi nahi milta hai"  Tihar is a hard place and it does not reform anybody, in fact inside Tihar the criminals make contacts and the business grows manifold! The Jailor often warned him that these people are hardened criminals, one should not get too friendly with them. But, they all called him, "Sir", and no harm came in all these years, except for the offers that if anybody messes or troubles him, he has very "useful friends"!

The Tihar Jail products are most superior and pure, according to him. They do not get anything inside, so they cannot mix any substance in them. Thus, the Mustard oil is the purest, and the furniture if it says, teak for wood, can be trusted on the ingredients/ things used. The craftsmanship or design may not be much, but the stuff would be good.   

(Based on narrative shared by Rajesh Srivastava, Pottery Teacher at Delhi Blue Pottery Trust) 

1 comment:

  1. Kudos to Rajesh ji. More than simple life or less pay, I think the stigma attached breaks a person & does not allow them to get settled. Rather the society never wants them to get on the right side of the track.