Pottery gave this man a new life just when he was sinking into depression
Be it knitting, gardening or fixing up your car, it can have a therapeutic effect on your health. Medical research has found that hobbies are as beneficial as a physical workout is to good health. Studies suggest people who pursued leisure activities are 34 per cent less stressed. They are not only happier and calmer but their heart rates are normal too.
My friend Mahesh Kumar found pot-making so interesting that he thought it could rescue him from mental depression. He was working with a software giant in the Silicon Valley before recession made him redundant. He couldn’t keep up with his payments on a housing mortgage and his wife suffered a miscarriage. Mahesh was fast sinking into depression. Just then he discovered pot-making.
He says, “The first thing I did after coming to Bangalore was to search for a pot-making course. It sounds strange but I always prescribe myself a new activity that is different from anything I know.” Mahesh’s search led him to Khadi & Village Industries Commission. He furnished the information from their website and enrolled himself for a pottery class.
Mahesh recounts those days, “I was residing in Kammanahalli which is far from the city centre and these classes were being held at Brigade Road. The rickety roads would almost throw me up. But within a week of joining pottery my mind was relaxed and I could feel the new energy flow.”
To make earthenware the clay must be prepared well. The work surface must be clear and dry. The clay taken from the store must be cut for appropriate use and shaped into a ball. Then the ball of clay should be properly kneaded. This process is rigorous for there should not be any air bubbles. Mahesh says, “The first month I learnt the basics of preparing clay. After the exhaustive kneading sessions, you tire easily and thus feel ravenously hungry. Every pottery course has a kitchen and a few rice balls for this reason. The second benefit was I found sleep hit me like a drug when I went home. Hardworking bulls!”
The next stage is learning to handle the Potter’s Wheel with a stick or an electric motor. If preparing clay is difficult then to learn the art of “throwing” it in the base is another important milestone. It takes a lot of skill to “throw” and “shape” the clay as it rotates around the wheel but the joy of creating something new is perceptible.
Mahesh explains, “For four months I did nothing but pottery. What started as a diversion is now a consuming passion. I quit my software career aspirations and instead have started a pottery teaching centre at my home. To support myself I now sell handicrafts – paper bags, ear rings, paintings, earthenware, candles – made by villagers to schools in Bangalore. I was working with biggies but nothing compares to the feel of clay in my hands at the rotating wheel. It was when I almost lost myself, I found a new me. That feels better.”
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