Where do you come from? What is your native place? Which place do you belong to? These are a few questions I’m frequently encountered with. And my answer to this is ‘Solapur’. Quite a times a response to this answer is very annoying, sometimes satisfactory and just once was funny.
“Oh! Ya! Solapur, the place famous for chappals. Right?”
“No. That’s Kolhapur. And it is Kolhapuri chappals”, I answer back, “Jar Kolhapur Maharashtra-la chappal ghalta, tar Solapur akkhya Maharashtra-war panghrun ghalta.”
“Solapur and Kolhapur is very close by na?”
“No. It’s quite far away”, plainly I answer.
I accept that my geographical knowledge is not awesome, but I would never ask stupid questions like: “Is Ahmedabad close to Ahmednagar?” or “Are Jamshedpur and Jabalpur twin cities?” I’m almost sure that people who ask such questions do not know that Hyderabad and Secundrabad are twin cities.
Once I also got a witty reply saying, “Toh Satrapur kahan aata hai?”
I never had thought ‘Solapur’ (16 pur) in Hindi! :)
“I know, Solapur. It comes on the way to Chennai by rail! You get amazing pav-bhaji at the station.”
Wow! That’s something I didn’t know. I never had a chance to eat at the station. Yes, being an important junction, people traveling by train atleast know that there is this place called Solapur on the way and that one must try the yummy pav-bhaji there. Well, it is not so famous as the ‘Agre (Agra) ka petha’, ‘Lonavala chi chikki’ or ‘Shegaon chi kachori’.
“Solapur, it is famous for chaddars, right?”
“Yes”, I reply blissfully and thankfully.
Either people are not aware or either that ‘striking something’ is missing in Solapur. Yes, there is something and needs to be made striking enough. Here, I do not wish to write a boring document on Solapur, but to add a few things I cherish about my native place…
Solapur proudly houses one of the oldest temples in the Deccan, the beautiful Siddheshwar Temple. The temple is situated at the center of a lake with a fort lined at its backdrop. It is a pleasant ambiance especially in the evenings. I did not miss to capture a few scenes from in and around the temple as my treasured landscape paintings.
Solapur is located in south Maharashtra and thus many of its attributes have influences from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Three states, three cultures and three languages all at one place i.e. Solapur. An anthropologist will surely love this place.
Last but not the least is the weaving industry in Solapur. “A great opportunity under estimated by the textile people themselves”, is all what I can as of now. I wish to change this statement of mine in to a very affirmative one soon and am striving towards it. As I have decided, I won’t go into passive things and wonder about how things happen. I just know that it is an opportunity which I cannot afford missing and I also believe in what Winston Churchill says: “Who dares wins.”
A Jacquard fabric woven in Solapur
Anu writs a short and beautiful paragraph about her experience of Solapur fabrics on her blog here. I'm glad I found this post based on a personal experience. It outstands the rest of stereotypic data found on the net (atleast for me).
When I choose textiles as my career, many people pointed at me saying, “Why textiles?”, “Mills have closed down. What are you going to do?”, “Textile is going to take you nowhere.” Foolish people have forgotten that fabric/cloth is one of the basic necessities of man. Yes, mills were closed down in Solapur and even in Mumbai. Those were composite mills and had its own set of difficulties. But fabric manufacturing did not stop. Solapur did not have any other means of survival and thus it fell back. Mumbai being a metro city had a lot other threads to live on. On the same mill land today, people in Mumbai spend bundles of cash and most of the time it is for clothes and fabrics, isn’t it? High Street Phoenix, familiar as Phoenix Mill. It is called the ‘Mill to Mall’ culture in Mumbai. But I am glad that I’m into textiles. It has taken me back to my roots.