Age is just a number, is a timeless phrase which debunks the myth that only the youth have the ability to chase a dream or achieve a milestone. In fact, for those passionately driven by ambitions, age has certainly been the least of their worries.
We have many living examples of older folks in India who have made great accomplishments during the ‘twilight’ years of their lives, and their efficiency and dedication would give most of us ‘youngsters’ a run for our money. You can read stories of many such achievers here.
89-year-old Latika Chakrabarty is one such amazing individual, who despite her age, is an enterprising woman who has an online venture where she sells potlis, or decorated drawstring pouches, all made by herself!
Her website, Latika’s Bags, was recently launched by her grandson Joy, who was blown away by his grandmother’s exceptional handiwork and felt that her potlis deserved a greater reach and better appreciation than just being circulated amongst friends and family members.
Every potli that you see on the website has been designed and painstakingly handcrafted by Latika alone, and the most amazing aspect is that like every product you come across various online ventures these days, each potli has a name and story behind it!
Born during the dawn of the last century in the town of Dhubri in Assam, sewing was Latika’s favourite pastime. Her husband, the late Krishna Lal Chakrabarty, was an officer-surveyor from the Survey Of India, which meant that he was regularly posted to different locations. Thanks to the constant travelling, Latika got to live in a number of locations across India, and also ended up collecting unique sarees and fabrics from across the country.
Latika made ample use of her sewing talents by stitching clothes for her three children when they were young. As time passed by, they grew up, and Latika took to making dolls out of old fabrics that would otherwise have to be discarded.
Many of us were first introduced to the concept of repurposing by our grandparents, and Latika is no different—her trusty ‘USHA’ stitching machine has been a constant companion or the last 64 years!
“A few years ago, she started making potlis using old sarees and kurtas. She had always been creative that way, even when she used to make clothes for us when we were babies. In fact, unlike the most of us who would figure out a design only after we had all the essentials with us, she would look at a piece of fabric and would instantly form a design in her head,” says Capt (retd.) Raj Chakrabarty, Latika’s son to The Better India.
Putting old sarees and fabrics to better use, Latika’s potlis made their entry as fancy accompaniments to ethnic wear during festive occasions, four years ago, and became extremely popular among friends and relatives.
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Raj adds that it is only acquiring embellishments and other add-ons to the potlis that often delays the process; Latika usually takes only 2-3 days to make one bag. It is amazing how the octogenarian, who has probably made over 300 bags by now, continues to engage in the venture.
“Although the website was recently launched by Joy as an online venture, what we need to iterate is that this is not a business that is aimed at money making. She had agreed to her grandson’s proposal because she loves what she does and through this venture, we hope that more people would be inspired and not let their age to take away what they can and are able to do,” he adds.
However, no one, least of all Latika, ever imagined that there would be a demand for her potlis from countries like Germany, New Zealand and Oman and that she’d have her bags up on the Internet!
Thanks to her grandson’s enthusiasm and family’s support, Latika’s Bags is quite a rage today, and with her remarkable handiwork, we aren’t even surprised why!
You can look up Latika’s Bags here, and the beautiful potlis are priced between ₹500-1500. While you take your time and browse through the site, do remember that unlike other online ventures, it might take them some time to get back to you but we would like to assure you that your patience will totally be worth the wait.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)