The Bangler

Two days ago I wrote about the Central Market Souk and it’s exquisite blend of new, old, and it’s marvelous lights. What you didn’t read about was the man that makes the market unique. He may not give light to it, but he gives this Souk spirit and a lot of flare. His name is… The Bangler.

Ok, well, I gave him that name. His real name is Ali. But for the sake of this story he will be furthermore called… The Bangler.

The Bangler is a quiet man. A man of focus and repose. His creations delight the hearts of women and children all over the world, while also allowing men the satisfaction of saying, “Yeah, honey. I picked that out for you.” And his creations are made with love… and weird wooden tools that have some of the most uncreative names on the planet. But alas, sitting criss-cross applesauce he weaves and hammers away on his carpet of enlightenment while shoppers pass by to casually say, “Where you from? Pakeestan, sir?”

Oh, if only they knew. The Bangler is no Pakistani folks. His home is very far from such a place. In a distant land you willIMG_0837 find The Bangler’s home. It is called… India. Wait, just looked on a map, definitely right next to Pakistan. Well, he’s not Pakistani, he’s Indian. I don’t call you Canadians Americans do I? Haha. Ignorant.

Anyway, I sat with The Bangler for a whole 10 minutes while he sculpted, what he calls, a bangle. Weird that his jewelry and the nickname I gave him are so similar. Again, anyway, as I sat there and watched him take ordinary colorful soft tree wax and turn it into a colorful hardened tree wax I was like, “WOW!” No really, it’s harder than it looks.

First off, he’s got hot coals just chilling there in a metal tray, designed to heat the tree wax that he will soon mold and form to create his fine jewelry. He takes a block of wax, strips off a small sliver, then plops it on the heated tray. He then bangler toolsstraightens and flattens it over the tray using something called a “frame”. Once the wax is long and flat he then wraps it around an object called the “wooden rounder”. Stick with me. I know these names are a bit foreign. After rounding the flat waxy bangle, he drops it smoothly onto the hot tray once again and stamps it on the side with something called, wait for it… the “wood handle”. Ooooooooh. A few more rubs with a clothe that looks as old as the bangle maker himself and he was done. The Bangler had made his bangle.

One of the beautiful things about The Bangler, however lovely his creations, was that he was not the first. The Bangler, a.k.a. Ali, a.k.a. Central Market Magic Maker, is actually The Bangler Junior. This man from India, the same land as his father – specifically Rajasthan, India – was taught all of these skills of the trade by his father before him. He calls it his caste work. He wakes up every day at 4 am and heads to the Central Market to make his tchotchkes and doodads, and every day at 7 pm he heads home to his warm bed. He has done this for 2 years now. And although I cannot know his heart, and will not comment on any issues of social justice, he looks and sounds at peace with his work and he takes pride in the skills his father has taught him.

So if you happen to be walking through the Central Market Souk one of these days and see a lovely man sitting cross-legged making bangles, stop by and pick one up, because they are made with intricate care, and involve a good bit of history.