No pink, bow-tied bears and bunnies for me, thank you. Still, I fell in love with Baby Octopussy. Sitting pretty in a pile of ducks and bunnies, even rats, this button-eyed beauty was part of the hand-knitted toy collection at Kilmora (, a shop run by Kumaon Grameen Udyog at village Kasiyalekh (near Mukteshwar). It’s a modest room — a treasure box — full of toys, kiddie books, herbs, cereals, spices and skincare products. The shop also has a colourful crop of hand-woven and hand-knitted artefacts, lovingly made by local housewives, farmers and artisans. The proceeds go to running a school and an eight-bed hospital in Sargakhet. Some even have a handwritten sticker with the maker’s name. Octopussy was Pushpa Pandey’s. And I was hers for Rs 100 — all putty in her tentacles.

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