Arrival in Jaipur

December 31,2013
New Year’s Eve
The train was an experience for which I was not prepared. I will be more prepared on my next train trip, back from Bohdgaya to Delhi. Between the horrifying squats and the cockroaches, I couldn’t wait to get to Jaipur! At least it was on time and three of my bunk mates were great, two girls from Sikkim and young sound engineer from Delhi.
Jaipur, the “Pink City” is as crowded and noisy as every city I have encountered and riding through traffic in a rickshaw reminds me of riding the bumper cars at Playland at the Beach.
Ever on the tourist track, I saw the Hawa Mahal, a palace inside the old city built by a poet-king, whose harem was only allowed to look out of all those windows to see the outside world. This area really is all pink from the sandstone they used for materials. It’s incredible! I missed the music last night here at the hotel as I crashed early.
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Farewell to Buhj

imageimageimageDecember 30, 2013
My train leaves today for Jaipur at 4.15 in the afternoon, an overnight trip of 16 hours. I packed and said good byes to Punkaj and Meena at their office.
The Qasab office is a busy place, full of bell makers, lacquer artists and appliqué designers. Two village girls sit in the corner in their native costumes with bracelets all the way up their arms and they are embroidering and finishing quilts. Everybody is eating the See’s candy I brought and drinking chai tea.
I had a Gujerati lunch at the hotel. My rickshaw driver picked me up and loaded me on the train. As I watch the countryside slip by through the train window at sunset, I think of all that I have seen and done so far and the hospitality of the Indian people I have encountered ( I think that I am the only foreigner on the train). What a trip.

Out to the desert

imageimageimageSunday Dec 29, 2013
Wednesday,Dec. 29
Today is a trip to a couple of more villages and a visit to the White Desert. Punkaj arranged a guide and a car for me. Actually an old Rover type vehicle that shook, rattled and rolled. I had to fill out papers, pay and give a passport copy to the police to get there. It’s in another state called Kutch, another language and another world. I looked at lots of quilts and quilt tops, embroidery, and even met some bell makers in several villages on the way. It was a long drive on a straight road. Much better road than yesterday, out in th e country. I am going to have some trouble packing up all my purchases. They are examples for my classes. Really.

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Visiting artist workshops

imageimageimageThe day started at 9 with the rickshaw driver picking me up. We were off to the Muslim block printers, dyeing the cloth with natural dyes and Indigo. All in the family for 450 years. I have heard many stories about how the 2001 earthquake caused havoc. This family had to move operations because their village was flattened. This was also the fate of the Sari weaver I visited day before yesterday. I went to an exhibition of batik and block prints. These places were not easy to get to. Long dirt roads that lead from the highway, if you call that. Dust, pollution, incessant horn blowing, dead dogs in the road, if a cow decides to walk across the road, everybody goes around or stops. The rickshaw rides are memorable. Next was the weaving village of Bujodi. One family gave me lunch, showed me the looms (and the shop). Hand spun warps and wefts, natural dyes in about half the weaving of the dupattas (a large stole that is worn by women). Back to Buhj to a tie dye studio. Wow! What a great day. The colorful fabrics. I just love looking at what the women are wearing on the streets too.

On to Buhj

The day was a travel day. Delhi to Mumbai to Buhj In the Western desert. I arrived at the Hotel Prince  in a power blackout.  Sacred cows are everywhere. They have the right of way here.  I was picked up on a motorcycle at the hotel and whisked to see quilts.image
You will have to just imagine me on the motorcycle. I did not get a pic.

Around Buhj

imageimage I went to Qasab office to see how they finish and distribute the craftsmen’s work in order to sell it. After getting the work from the villages they make into useable things like bags, wall hangings, pillow covers and quilts. I visited an amazing silk weaver of Ikat saris and scarves. He grows the dye plants, dyes the silk and weaves. The whole family works at this. His father reminded me of Ghandi sitting on the floor and winding skeins. Back to the Hotel for a Gujerati lunch. Also saw the Buhj Museum with lots of old textiles and the Main Shopping Bazaar. I’m exhausted.
I am going on a textillian gauntlet tomorrow all by rickshaw. Sometimes I feel like Judy Dench in Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Visiting the villages

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I was taken on an incredible journey to visit the tribal villages 50k outside of Buhj. These women create mirrored pieces, quilts, dolls and embroidery by hand. They work through a collective run by Meena and Punkaj called Qasab. Working this way gives the women income and power in the village. I had to promise not to take photos of the women, which was difficult, as they were so colorful and beautiful.
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