The VTI at Mount Road
On Saturday, I had to go to Mount Road for some shopping. The first stop was Victoria Technical Institute or VTI as it is popularly known. I have been going to this craft mecca for as long as I can remember. Every time my relatives would come from Calcutta, they would head to this place to shop for presents, craft items, statues, mirrors etc. On Saturday, I went to get a gift for a friend who was leaving town. And I found just the right things: a bamboo box and a lipstick holder in leather made in the Shantinikentan style. I also found a red basket bag for a throwaway price! I couldn’t resist it. And to think that I had actually gone in for a gift and a pair of napkins!
On the ground floor, the array of items was mind-boggling! From marble elephants, to Ganesha statues, to bronze Natrajas, wooden boxes with inlay work, flutes of all shapes and sizes, decorative stuff, leather bags in bright colours and this is just on the left side of the ground floor. On the right, you can dig into linen, tablecloths, stoles, jute bags, cushion covers, crocheted items, lovely embroidered handkerchiefs, and colourful durries… I could go on. Anything that was Indian and handmade, you can find that here.
Though I didn’t make it to the second floor that day I knew that it contains beautiful furniture of all shapes and sizes. Every time I go there, I swear to myself, one day I will decorate my home like this. VTI is like the government version of Fab India minus the hefty prices. To me the only problem remains going up and down crowded Mount Road. the other craft place that comes to my mind that I don’t mind losing myself in is the Craft Council of India at Nandanam. But VTI stationed right at the heart of Mount Road after the British Council has a very old world charm about it.
Just as I had picked up a beautiful wooden box and was contemplating buying it, a man intervened, “Madam, closing time!” Closing time? It was 2 0’clock in the afternoon! Then he went on to elaborate that on Saturdays, they only work for half a day. With a heavy heart, I had to leave since I couldn’t see any other customers around and I felt a bit guilty for making the staff wait. As I approached the billing counter, I saw a few Spanish-looking people walk in. This place, I must mention, is very popular with tourists. I think they were told the same thing, which they found to be very incredible. That this shop closed on a bright Saturday afternoon and also remained effectively closed all through the weekend.
All in all, I really like VTI for all its shortcomings. If you ever do drop in there, please do with lots of time in your hand and plenty of moolah. You will need it, trust me!