• Of heads, tales and an undying passion
    September 25
    • ANANT Joshi is a man of many hats. And some caps, many pagdis and a few crowns too.
    • He is a collector of headgear. Though he also collects miniature bottles and, believe it or not, soap wrappers too, its his collection of topis that he is the most proud of. And why not, the collection has earned him a place in the Limca Book of Records and he already has to his credit three exhibitions that, he tells us, have been "received well".
    • His passion for collecting headgear began when he was a kid. "I used to be the sickly kind and spent a lot of time by myself in the bed." This was when I took to watching a lot of Westerns on Videos," he remembers and adds, "the way the cowboys in the movies kept doffing their hats left an indelible mark on me and soon hats became my favourite toys". His mother, who saw him aping the cowboys with cheap hats bought at local fairs, bought him a real one while on visit to the US He was 12 then. "I practically wore it all day long and just couldn't let go of it," he says and points out that the idea of a serious collection began only after he already has over 25 hats in his collection.
    • There has been no looking back since. Sourcing headgear for his collection has led to extensive research and travelling. "I have been to remote corners of the country where i woudn't have gone otherwise just in order to collect that region's headgear," he points out and adds, "besides, as word spread about my collection people have come forward to contribute on their own."
    • Not that he is averse to paying a price for a piece he likes. "I had heard that a replica of the Nana Phadnavis' pagota made from cowdung was being sold at Chor was promptly added to my collection," he says displaying it proudly.
    • Among other mentionables in his collection are the miniature Rajasthani pagdis and safas made for Gods which capture the ethnic charm of the desert state, intricate jari work turbans worn by Mughals, replicas of pagdis worn by Shivaji, the Gaikwads of Baroda, the Holkars of Indore and the Shindes od Gwalior and a golden (read well polised brass) crown studded with coloured pieces of glass. He also has decorative Victorian caps, gold sprangled Tibetan hats and real fur caps from Russia.
    • His mother Asha Joshi points out that both she and her husband were initially dismissive of what they felt was a mere adolescent "obsession with junk." They were, however, forced to change their when they saw the seriousness with which he continued to pursue his hobby. "It is strange how even we have begun to look out for unique pieces for Anant's collections on our travel abroad," she told Express Newsline.