Antiques and Me

I’m not an antique – at least not yet. But then you go into schools and the kids do think you are one because your birth year has a 19 in front and not a 20.

I discovered the value of antiques only after coming to the UK. I realised how I complained to my mother after watching Flog It and Bargain Hunt that she gave away some of my grandfather’s antique homeopathy medical equipment.

When I was 11 or 12, I pulled out an illustrated dictionary of natural science from my grandfather’s old trunk – it was beautiful with full-colour illustrations, in glossy paper with lots of fruits, plants and animals illustrated. I used to walk around with it all the time. I carried it everywhere and it was published at least in the early 20th century. The mistake I made – I took it into school and looked at it during the break. Two days later it was stolen. It was gone. I have the habit of still looking for a similar one on the Internet or in antique bookshops – I felt so silly having flaunted it and lost it to some greedy child  but someone who must have liked illustrated dictionaries just like me.

antiquesI love going to antique shops and I still have this one wish that hasn’t come true yet- go to a live auction and bid for something.

christie_s_1813102cThe old man who makes the photo frames near my house says I should go to Christies – they do auctions of watercolours for everyone – and things sell from 50 to 100. My mum loves to watch these auctions on TV and one of these days I would go to an auction.

When I recently went to India, I went to a memorabilia shop and it was run by the government. When I went inside, it had lots of antique stuff. But nothing was authenticated. So I think these are antiques – but quite possibly are not.

The men who flogged these didn’t know much more than the material. Some were from old houses that were pulled down before these apartment blocks are being built (which is the current trend in India).

I found three pieces and I have no idea the value of these items.

IMG_0811One is a Chinese mandarin which has the feel of a really old material. If Flog It comes to London, I would take this piece with me, I think.

falgu_bronzeThe other is a bronze sculpture of a bullock cart and a farmer which was perfect because my books are based around a farmer called Farmer Falgu who rides a bullock cart.image description

The third one is Tara the Buddhist goddess also called Jetsun Dolma in Tibet. She is the female embodiment of Avalokiteśvara – the Buddha quite famous in Tibet, Sri Lanka and many other places. What a coincidence because when I went to Sri Lanka I bought a wooden statue of Avalokiteśvara. It is believed that a teardrop from Avalokiteśvara fell on the plains in Lhasa and became Tara.IMG_0810

I’m not too interested in silver jewellery, cutlery and stuff. I love furniture, little boxes, binoculars, globes and compasses – because there are stories behind these pieces. I love imagining these stories – even I don’t know them. It is strange that I am not a big fan of historical fiction – I do read them but I am very selective. But I love objects that signify a past, a story, a history that could be fascinating and wonderful.

That’s one of the reasons I love folktales and stories from Indian epics – these are stories set in a period, a recording of the culture and minds of people who lived a long time ago and portrays our ancestors and their fears, likes and dislikes.

I live in a modern flat now – not really a place for antiques as such – but I have these little pieces I collect – a pair of red Chinese carved shoes, small silver carvings and a bookcase that perhaps held stories from long time ago.IMG_0812 IMG_0813

Old things have potential for stories –  unlike factory-made stuff produced in an assembly line. The old bookcase might have the ghost of the librarian whereas the bookcase that I assemble from a flatpack set would only have the assembly instructions and recycling packaging.