A Knife Story
My family loves knives. I am not sure why this is. Everyone has a knife collection, and we are always looking to add new cool knives to it. My brother and I have few similar interests but the one thing that brings us together is building forts in the forest with the help of our arsenal of knives. It is my understanding that collecting knives is not totally uncommon, but when I bought two massive 1.5 kg knives back to the United Theological College there were still questions.
I’ll set the scene for you. My team went on an overnight trip to document tribal and rural life near a city called Honnavar on the west coast of India. After we finished our three days of work, Savita, our organization leader, took us to the beach to watch the sunset. But before we left for the beach, I told Savita that I really wanted a to buy a traditional knife from Karnataka. These knives can be seen everywhere; they are used for opening coconuts, harvesting fruits and grains, gardening work, cutting vines, reeds, and fibers for crafts, and much more.
Savita took us to a small commercial area where locals were buying tools and equipment for their work. There was a store selling tires, a store selling electrical equipment, and a few other handyman shops. We walked to the back of the small cul de sac shaped area and reached what struck me as a big hardware store. Reflecting on this now, I am realizing that it was only big enough to hold about four checkout stands of a Home Depot, but in India this is a lot of space for a storefront. The shop had a familiar and pleasant scent. I would describe it as 'heady tones of hardware store with expressive hints of India'.
Tipu told the man at the front something in Kannada. The man nodded and rummaged through a green plastic bucket of knives in the front corner of the store. He presented me a few knives. Some of the blades where chipped and some of the handles were worn. It was clear that these knives were handmade and well used. This was exactly what I wanted. I was incredibly satisfied with what I had found, and for a mere 3.50 USD the knife could be mine. I exercised extreme restraint and only bought two.
I paid for the knives and they were placed in a bag. Nothing around me had changed throughout this experience; people went about their jobs as normal. I got to witness a small snippet of their hardworking lives. My presence did not skew the beautiful scene of the busy productive men and women. As I walked back to the truck where Savita was waiting for us, I felt glorious, like a powerful warrior double wielding my massive knives ready to chop up some black berry vines with my brother when I get back home.