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Art for a song... a brush with taste

Want to gift someone you love? Never mind if the Valentine's Day is over and the gift shop in your colony does not have what it takes to inspire you. Drive down with RANA A. SIDDIQUI to Janakpuri's CraftArcade where beautiful handicr aft items beckon you... .

FOUR SCHOOLS of paintings, Pithoragarh, Madhubani, Kalamkari and Worli, silk paintings boasting of royalties, rasa leela, Omar Khayyam and his poetic life, Krishna in Kangri style with no peacock feather adorning his forehead, mogul lives, Ragini, flower, animal and bird series - no we are not talking about any painting exhibition. Mufflers, scarf, shawls, dupattas, ties, tablemats, runners, durries from Kashmir and Rajasthan - we don't intend to guide you to a fabric corner either. Maharana Pratap's helmet turned to a lamp - no, it is not an antique shop you are visiting. It is just a mansion house of all the above and much more. Stored in just 500 sq feet with 10 windows for you to window shop every possible item and finally land inside mesmerised by them and buy a couple of items. This is what CraftArcade at District Centre Janakpuri does.

Opened four months ago, the CraftArcade is the brainchild of Anil Browne who worked for 20 years for Export Promotion Council of India and is well versed with handicraft items from India and abroad. Hence, CraftArcade has all handicrafts items and home accessories that one can think of at one go. It is based on "mix-match collection because you don't think of same items to decorate your home," as he puts it. The place smells of ethnic India in religious colours and innovative creations.

You have birds for hooks, lizards for hangers, all in wrought iron, carved wooden candle stand turned to a table, and bracelets made into candle. That's not all. You can mistake a carved stand as ivory made, heavy, and importable. But it is not. It is light, made of wood, use it as you like - as candle, pillar, table stand or anything. The showroom has used it as pillars, as shelf-support.

Interestingly, one witnesses superb innovations - paintings made of crushed semiprecious stones, paintings of kundan and enamel work on marble that boast of turban, instrument, jewellery and Ragini series, beaded portraits and flowers that last forever.

Must be expensive, is what comes to mind when you see such glittering articles. No, they begin with Rs. 10 and go up to 10,000. "Every item is sourced directly from where it is made, hence we have a price edge," reasons Browne. Das cites the example, "You get the mosaic lampshades for Rs. 2400 and above at Khan Market and other places but here it is priced at Rs.1000."

Why Janakpuri for a location? "People have to go all the way to Connaught Place or Dilli Haat for the same. This side of Delhi has no such shops," reasons Das.

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