When the last time Catherine Hoon visited India, which was about 10 years ago, she managed to get herself a handbook of Telugu to decipher the meanings of Carnatic ‘krithis.' But during her visit this year, music is not her only draw.
The 50-year-old English woman has set her eyes on the art of pottery, which she is determined to master before the end of her 15-day trip. “DakshinaChitra conducts everyday workshops on pottery. But since I am not making a long stay, it is going to be difficult shuttle between music sabhas and pottery classes.”
Nonetheless, she has booked an early morning slot in a craft class closer to her place of stay in Nungambakkam, leaving her ample time to “shop, tour and then unwind at kutcheris.”
For many eager foreign tourists like her, who flow in to catch the best of Carnatic performances, learning arts and crafts features prominently on their itinerary. At DakshinaChitra, for instance, the number of registrations for pottery classes swells during December and January, with a majority being foreign students. “Last year, we had 750-odd foreign visitors during December and 1,000 in January this year. We, on an average, record 200 visitors in other months,” said a person in-charge of DakshinaChitra.
The art and craft centre on East Coast Road has planned a string of events during this season. If the four-day Orissa festival takes the lead, it is followed by a couple of international workshops on craft and Pongal festival.
Cholamandal Artists' Village, another appealing destination for foreigners, will be eventful throughout this month. The Movie Club, Contemporary Art Museum, International Sculpture Garden and craft shops would be teeming with curious foreign crowd during this part of the year, says its secretary S.Nandagopal.
“We have nearly 30 international artists' work displayed in our museum. Many foreign artists are stay here to learn more about art or just to relax in the idyllic ambience. December is unarguably the busiest season for us,” Mr.Nandagopal adds.
If one part of the foreign tourist population is keen on learning arts and crafts through these workshops, a sizeable number of them derive enough satisfaction by shopping for handcrafted rugs and hand-woven kurtas at good bargain.
Exhibitions conducted recently such as Dastkari Haat Samiti's Akshara at Kalakshetra and the Department of Handloom and Textiles's Silk and Cotton Expo saw a steady stream of foreign visitors. A couple of private handicraft exhibitions have also sprung up in the city to cash in on the foreign shoppers.