Since I was 14 years old, I got involved in Ajrakh craft with my grandfather and father. My grandfather Mohmed Siddiq Khatri played a very important role in shaping my thinking and approach towards life and craft. He would never accept a no from me. Also, he imbibed in me the attitude that I should have the sufficient skills to solve any day-to-day problems arising in my environment. By the time I was a teenager, I had the basic skills in gardening, plumbing, cooking, mechanical repairs of my bicycle, construction, cleaning my space, attending to the guests etc.
I learnt how to carve my own blocks for printing because my grand-father felt it’s necessary I know the process that goes behind the making of the block, even though I felt it was not necessary at that time. He wanted me to learn and enjoy the process of anything I am doing and to place importance in engagement with the craft and the person/designer rather than mere end result and transnational value. And from him I used to hear lots of stories about our craft and the traditions of craft. All this not only shaped my interest in the craft but also how I approached the requirements of the designers I started meeting later in my life.
I started getting involved hands-on and learning all aspects of the craft: carving the blocks, to printing, making my own natural dyes and resist pastes required for printing, washing and laying the fabrics in sun, setting up the tables and fabric for printing etc..By the time I reached 17 years old, I started apprenticing with my father in managing the orders and working on the designs for the buyers my father was working on.
Most of my day goes in thinking of various designs and how can it be developed into a design that can be transferred onto the fabric and what blocks need to be developed to achieve the desired output. And almost everyday I will be interacting with designers to understand their design concept; and meeting students and visitors who want to learn about the craft and it’s process.
I also sometimes get involved with community work at my village involving myself in projects like water conservation, plantation, cleaning of the village and helping other artisans in getting block-print work.