Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Old dolls

When my sister and I were kids, my father brought Ginny Dolls for us from the US. I took the one in Red and my sister Peevee, the one in blue. We named them Rita and Tina respectively. I don't remember why. We didn't play doll as such, rather set them around and admired them. Sometimes, I would comb out their hair with the tiny brush and comb that came with them. Once, my sis came to me with Tina and a pair of scissors in her hand, and asked me to cut Tina's hair. Very big-sister-like, I told her to think twice, warned her that Tina's hair wouldn't grow back, and what if I messed up. She was adamant, and I actually gave Tina a mini step cut. Sometimes I would remove Rita's red coat and feel that she looked prettier in the white frock inside. That was as far as we went playing with dolls.

A few years later, my father brought a bigger doll from Russia. I had outgrown dolls and Peevee was outgrowing them, so this doll was just another addition around the house, though we liked her very much. I have no idea if we named her. I have a feeling that if we did, it started with M. Most likely a very Russian name like Marsha. I will call her Marsha for the purpose of this post.
[Update: PeeVee has written in to say that Marsha was from Germany, not Russia.]

When we grew up, and we had a little girl cousin, we gave the dolls to her, and honestly, I had totally forgotten about them. Recently, my aunt called me to ask if I would like the dolls back for Puttachi to play with, or could she give them away? I said I would like to have them back. Firstly, for the sake of childhood memories, and secondly, because I suddenly realized that Puttachi didn't have a single doll.

I got the dolls back a couple of weeks ago, and my smile of pleasure at beholding them froze, as I took in their state. All three of them looked like they had blackened their faces. Their hair was a mass of tangles, and their clothes looked like they had been dragged through a coal mine. One of Rita's eyes was totally shut, and Tina had wax in her ears and snot in her nose. Marsha was better off, but her hair was terrible. I saw Puttachi's eyes light up and she reached out to touch the dolls as I was examining them. Horrified, I hid them away, and told her that I would clean them and give it to her to play.

The next couple of days saw me very busy. I first stripped all three dolls, and scrubbed their faces and limbs with an old toothbrush. I washed their hair and smoothed out the tangles. I brought them out of the bathroom, smelling of Lifebuoy Nature hand wash, and I set them out to dry. Then I soaked all their clothes together in soap water, and changed the water every hour. Each soaking produced dark brown water which grew progressively lighter with each soak.

I then washed the clothes with soap, and hung them out to dry. While they were drying, I brushed out their hair with my hairbrush. S~, if you find a light coloured hair in my brush, it is not a grey, it is a strand of Tina's blonde hair. While I set the poor dolls, devoid of clothes, aside, Puttachi found them and delightedly started gnawing at their limbs. I had to rescue them and put them away in a safe place.

Once the clothes were done, I called Puttachi and tried to explain that I was dressing the dolls up. See, socks, I said, see, frock. Puttachi wasn't interested in the dressing up process. She wanted to taste Rita's hair. Resignedly, I finished the dressing up process quickly, and surveyed my handiwork. Not bad, not bad at all. Poor Marsha's hair was beyond redemption, and so I tied it back with a band, and I was done.

I then hit upon a brainwave and scoured the worldwide web for snaps of what my Ginnys originally looked like, and what their names were. I found loads of Ginnys from all eras, but not mine. I have a hunch that my Ginnys belong to a themed set, perhaps Fairy Tale Theme or something like that, but I cannot be sure.

But I learnt loads of things. I had no idea that there are serious doll collectors out there. Some antique dolls are sold for thousands of dollars. Mine are not that old, nor are in mint condition, but perhaps I could get a tidy sum for them if they are rare, who knows! Not that I plan to sell them, no way!

In all these days of owning these dolls, I hadn't spent this much time and effort on them ever. I kept telling myself that I was just readying them for Puttachi, but frankly, I must say I enjoyed it.

But does Puttachi enjoy them? She breaks into a smile when she sees the dolls, and says, "Paapa" (Baby), but she has no idea what to do with them. Truth be told, as of now, she has no interest in them. :)

Here are the dolls, as they were brought to me, and after I finished with them. Looking at the snaps now, side by side, I realize that I took the Before set with the dolls lying on the table, and the After set with them standing up - it almost looks like I have brought them back from the dead :D

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Usha said...

good job restoring them thuthy - great job actually!
I knew it - you must have done all that cleaning just to get a chance to play with them! :P Did you use shampoo and conditioner for their hair too?
Can I come and play with them sometime?

I love Lucy said...

How cute!
I remember as a kid I had just this one doll and I had named her "Pemmi paapa".I never played with her as such but she was just there in my toy basket as an adornment.When I was a little older,she became my Fall Guy.I was the teacher,she was the bad student who got spanked by get the picture!!

snippetsnscribbles said...

So sweet!! Loved this post.

Like Usha, I also had the same hunch. You must have become a kid yourself during the entire process :-)

The dolls are totally adorable! Specially Marsha! Oh..shes sooo cute!

Dhanya said...

That was a sweet post. Really enjoyed reading it as much as u enjoyed giving life to those "dead" dolls :)
Just remembered the doll that I owned when I was a kid. Should revive it next time I go home :)

PeeVee said...

hahahahah.. that was great. hey did you forget that i cried a lot after tina's hair cut. it wasn't just a step cut - there was a front cut too! and i hadn't liked it :D

oh also, the other doll's from germany. not from russia. the one from russia was the tall one with a sky blue satin dress. the poor one got destroyed really soon!

shruthi's mom said...

Hi peevee, I will confuse you and Shruthi further.....

The Russian doll with blue satin dress you are talking about, was the one which my Russian language teacher had sent to me from Moscow ....about 36 years back and she was called `Masha'.

This `Marsha' might be a German girl, I am not sure.

Wunderyearz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wunderyearz said...

Hey Shruthi,
This post just reminds me that I need to go and search for my one and only Sporty Barbie......She must be waiting for me in some dark corner of the store area....

Shyam said...

Oh WOW, Shruthi - you HAVE brought them back from the dead!!! :) They look glorious!

Manasa said...

This post remind me of my dolls when I was a kid. My mom used them during the Dasara festival to showcase. If I find my dolls in the state your dolls are, will follow the same steps as you did :)

LAK said...

Hats off! Really great transformation of the dolls! And smart of you to remember to photograph them in the "before" stage!I remember, I had a small doll (ordinary Indian)and a visiting "friend" chopped off all its hair, as in the doll became bald!I was in 1st std and she was in 8th, so I couldn't protest, I suppose! Years later, when my sister and I were teens, my sis painstakingly gave that doll a full head of hair, by taking off the head, and pushing a needle threaded with brown embroidery thread from the inside of the head to the outside. So the originally blonde doll became a brunette, without any dyeing!

Pradeep said...

Enjoyed reading this. I still have some of my toys along with my son's. Dolls have the property of being a stress buster if you have realised.

Swati said...

Wow ..they look new. Sweet :)

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