Tunisian tennis star who knitted a new passion into her life

Fadoua Dimassi with her products at Sargaalaya International Art and Craft Festival in Kozhikode.

It was a childhood dream that led tennis player Fadoua Dimassi to pick up the racket at the age of 10. Now at 50, she is pursuing another dream, with a needle though.

Fadoua is the star among the international exhibitors at the Sargaalaya International Art and Craft Festival that began at Iringal on Friday. A tennis player who represented Tunisia in many international platforms, Fadoua is in Sargaalaya to showcase the traditional garments of her country.

“I studied garment designing and wanted to pursue it as an alternative career. Tennis is in my blood and I am still passionate about it,” she told The Hindu on Sunday.

Fadoua was ranked third among African players during her peak year. Now she is part of the International Tennis Federation for senior players. She is also an accomplished coach. “I have an Indian student, Shreyas Mishra,” she said.

Fadoua focuses on using sustainable fabric in her designs. Most of them are lightweight and made of linen and cotton. Chechia, the traditional Tunisian cap, and a key chain that resembles it are her most popular exhibits at Sargaalaya.

Fadoua has been to India many times as a tourist, but never before as an artisan. Knit-work products and different types of bags are the other products featured in the Tunisian stall.

Wood products

Sri Lanka is the partner country for the craft festival this season. The Sri Lankan stall features a variety of wood products such as masks, jigsaw puzzles, keychains and unique sculptures. There are also resin, polymer clay and crochet jewellery besides the famous cotton lace fabrics of the country.

The Russian stall features bright, hand-painted wooden dishes besides colourful chiffon scarves while snakeskin leather bags are the biggest attraction of the Egypt pavilion.

Artisans from Uganda, who have become a regular presence at Sargaalaya for several seasons, have introduced some intricately carved wooden masks and beadwork jewellery. Leather products and tapestry from Syria, ceramic products and bags from Uzbekistan are the other attractions in the foreign pavilion this year.

Prabhat Nepal ringing the gong at the Nepal stall set up at Sargaalaya International Art and Craft Festival in Kozhikode.

Prabhat Nepal ringing the gong at the Nepal stall set up at Sargaalaya International Art and Craft Festival in Kozhikode.

The Nepal stall at the end of the row, however, stands out with the spiritual air there. The stall features Buddhist tapestries, singing bowls, clothes made of hemp fabric, sheep wool products, rudraksha beads, incense and quartz crystals. The stall has been decked up in Buddhist flags and a large gong placed on one end is popular among the visitors for its soothing vibrations. “Kerala is known for Ayurvedic healing. We are introducing sound healing,” said Prabhat Nepal who manages the stall.

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