Vishal Nagar is a small village in Koppal district. With strong influences from neighbouring Dharwad, the women here wear the checked Ilkals.

My friend Veena and her colleagues have worked for the last decade in the villages of Koppal district to impart education and awareness on female mortality during childbirth. Their efforts have brought down the mortality rate and brought in a degree of empathy toward women’s health.

When Veena would visit the field she would come back with stories of hope from the villages. She would also describe the daily lives of the people there. Kids were being sent to school by parents. Women were stepping out to earn a living and learning to take care of their nutrition.

While the subject of female mortality is hard hitting, I have admired my friend and her colleagues for the tireless work they do. They always, always have a positive outlook. A big salute to the people who work in the social sector with all the challenges that they must overcome.

In Vishal Nagar is a weaver’s cluster. While earlier they hand wove the Ilkal and sent the sarees to Dharwad to sell through a middleman, they have now become astute about their business and have got together and set up their weaving units and retail shops themselves. The weaving unit is housed in the back – a semi mechanical loom that needs constant supervision, and the front is the shop.

She bought this saree for me from an old weaver in that cluster – a superfine cotton that is muslin soft but drapes like silk.

It is not uncommon to hear of weavers that suffer due to the exploitation by “well meaning” do gooders or the ubiquitous middleman. I like that the weavers here have got together and helped themselves.

They have figured out the supply chain and cater to the steady demand for their fine work.

I wore this saree today with pride. It is a simple saree, but it bears testimony to hand memory and skills that have passed down through generations.

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