Kolktata is known as a center for music and arts in India, with many musicians including Ravi Shankar coming from the city. As a music fan, one of my goals while in India was to find a sitar maker. On our final day in Kolkata, we took a cab from our hotel across the city to a street suggested by someone the day before. Walking for blocks, passing many of the typical clothing, food and home goods shops that line almost every street, we finally found one small storefront with three men sitting on the floor working on instruments.
It happened to be Valentine's Day, and I had a small set of flowers strapped to the side of my backpack (from the Kolkata flower market, which I'll share photos of tomorrow). The flowers quickly broke the ice, as I asked permission to step into the shop and watch for a little while.
The older man in the front of the shop continued to work on the repair of a harmonium, while I spoke with the owner of the workshop, Suman Karmaker. While carefully filing a small piece of bone for the a repair, he explained how the business has been in the space for 70 years crafting sitars, and he himself had been crafting them for 20 years. Each new sitar, Suman explained, takes 2-4 months to finish. I love seeing the conversion of fine-art and craft into a functional piece of art, and wish I could have spent more time watching and learning about the process of crafting a sitar.