By Ayushi Sareen:
For a girl, dolls complete her world since the very first day. Family, friends- everyone gift her with dolls on her birthdays. Whatever their age, they will never grow out of their love for dolls. Many will keep them forever; like their personal dolls collection. It’s no less than a treasure for them.
As for me, I never was into dolls; Barbies never attracted me. I was more into HotWheels and remote control cars, flying helicopters and the likes. Blame it on my parents, who considered these dolls over-priced and a waste of money; or blame it on my tomboyish nature. But that still did not stop my family from gifting me dolls, in the hope that maybe one day I’ll grow to like them and act more like a girl. And I did try, but it did not happen.
But yesterday, was different. I had left from home thinking that it’s going to be a useless day, and I was happy at the same time as I was getting to spend it with my best friend; so that sort of compensated it. After all, a 20-year-old woman can never enjoy a trip to Dolls Museum; to the Shankar’s International Dolls Museum, at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, Delhi. That place is for kids, children aged between 3-7 years.
What led me to go there was our lack of ideas on cool places to visit in Delhi. The Dolls Museum was established by K. Shankar Pillai, a noted political cartoonist. A gifted doll from a Hungarian diplomat gave him the idea of collecting dolls from the various countries he visited. And what we see there is his entire personal dolls collection.
Dolls from every part of the world- depicting every aspect of the society and culture of a country, have been displayed- covering 85 countries of the world. There are a total of 6500 dolls on display. From America to Africa; India to Japan. Dolls depicting major festivals and rituals of various countries, their costumes, etc. were all there.
Seeing them made me realise that I missed out on a very important chapter of my life while growing up. Dolls aren’t a waste of time and money. They really do teach you something. They teach small girls how to love and take care of others, like the way they do for their dolls. Dolls teach them the essence of friendship and the importance of having a friend in your life. Dolls teach them to look beautiful. Alas, all these are the things I lacked, things I had to teach myself.
From life-size dolls to miniature ones, they were in various sizes; each with features so distinct and yet so apt. A doll from Japan was dressed in a kimono, all white in colour, with small slit-like eyes; exactly like a Japanese man or woman. Dolls dressed according to the culture during different years- the 60s dolls, the 70s dolls, the 90s dolls etc. From corsets to mini-skirts, from long coats to polo shirts, they looked amazing.
These dolls not only amused and interested children, but were in fact, educational too. A child visiting the Dolls Museum will come out learning how people in Spain dress up during their festivals; or how people in Africa live.
I had an amazing experience, and believe it or not, a girl who grew up disliking dolls for 20 years, suddenly loves them. It was a trip down the memory lane for me; seeing my younger sister playing with dolls of varied sizes, while I played with cars.
The Shankar’s International Dolls Museum is a must visit for all women still in love with dolls. And for those who are not, go fall in love with them. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.