Kite Day is a national holiday. in Gujarat. Everything is closed. The holiday is like Fourth Of July times ten.
First thing we did was take a walking tour of the old city. We saw the old walls and tried to imagine when the royalty was there, with royal processions with elephants, magnificent gardens, royal costumes and textiles, flourishing businesses. It was a grand time, the 17th century in India.
At the end of the tour, a traditional lunch for kite day. It is a day where people wish each ther sweetness, so they serve many sweets and they give to the poor.
As eveningapproached, we went up on a roof of Jalpa’s friends and watched the festivities. Kites flying from all the roofs as far as we could see. It was amazing. As it got dark everybody sent up lighted paper balloons. There was dancing and music on the roofs too. I even tried learning a traditional Indian dance. It was a sight I’m not likely to see again.
Tomorrow we will be on the road to Bhuj and stopping for one night at a hotel with no internet. No blog for a couple of days.
I was as awakened by a text from Chase bank fraud div. informing me that someone was using my credit card. Panic! I got it cancelled and the baddies were not able to charge anything. They tried though. What a way to start the day.
We hurried up to get to the Calico Museum for the tour at 10 am. This a fabulous collection of 17th century textiles, clothing, hangings, double Ikat weaving that looked like a painting it was so fine. I have never seen such a collection of textiles. The museum is set in a beautiful garden on to lunch at an Indian ” fast food” restaurant. The food was really good and seemed like more of a gourmet deli. Food was served on paper plates the big difference.
After lunch we visited a block carver. This man is one of the best in India. There used to be hundreds of artists who carved the blocks for printing. It is down to twelve now. He learned from his father and is teaching his son. I bought a few blocks to share with my students.
Gujarat is a dry state, no alcohol, unless you are a visitor. Then you can apply for a permit and buy two bottles of whatever. You need a letter from the hotel, passport, visa. After that we waited in line to get many official stamps and finally the two bottles of wine. What an ordeal.
Kite day tomorrow. The whole city is out buying kites.
I got up early to write a few emails only to be texted by Case bank fraud division that someone had tried to use my credit card in the states. Had to deal with that, calling the bank, etc.
Breakfast then on to the Calico Museum for a 10 o’clock tour. This museum is a gem. It is filled with 17th century textiles; embroideries so fine they look like paintings, appliqué, weaving, double Ikat. Every room had customers or textiles from different regions. No photography and only 20 people allowed in at a time. The museum is situated in a big garden. We loved the experience. I picked up an entire folder of all the techniques that were employed by the textile artists. I am thinking of my classes and examples for students.
Lunch at a “fast food” place. More taste treats. On to a block carvers home/ studio. He carved a block for us. I bought a few blocks to use in my teaching. This man was amazing. He is one of the renowned block carvers in India. His small town was typical, with crowded streets, friendly people, especially the kid.
back to the hotel and than out to try to buy a bottle of wine. What
We had a few errands in a.m. A travel word to the wise: make sure you get money in the airport when you arrive and bring your adapter for the devices to be charged.
We headed to the old city in Ahmedabad to get fabric for the Appliqué workshop I will be teaching. Cars are not allowed the in old city so we tuk-tucked in. What a wild ride. Crowded with people, colorful, noisy with car horns, and the air filled with carbon monoxide. We got to our destination, a fabric store run by Muslim group. Beautiful fabrics. Of every color and pattern. On shelves, on the floor. I was in heaven. If you want a meter of fabric, the man sits on the floor, measures and tears. The prices run about $2.00 a meter and up. Pretty reasonable. I got what I needed On to the next store down the street. It was up a narrow metal staircase with a handrail and a rope to pull yourself up. We did some looking and price comparing. We will be returning. Stopped bought some more bandani scarves.
Lunch outdoors at the M & G Hotel, a former textile building. So many new delicious tastes. Jalpa is wonderful at introducing new taste treats. What with the Kite Festival coming up, we went to a friend office to get a view of the festivities. Not much going on as the was no wind. The building’s elevator was broken so we left, went home and collapsed for an hour.
Dinner was fabulous, the Vishalla, a traditional Gujerati meal, low tables, seated on the ground, food served on leaves stitched together, served by waiters dressed in white and white turbans. All outside, low lighting in a garden setting. What a feast. This restaurant had a traditional puppet show going on, drumming, people dancing. What an day!
YEA! We got the luggage. It was delivered to the hotel at the last minute due to the hard work of the hotel concierge. They were so great at Intercontinental Hotel.
We got through the airport and to the plane in time. What a relief. Jalpa met us at the airport. On to the hotel. We saw kites being prepared for the “Kite Festival”. They were dyeing the string and putting glass on the strinqs. The competition with the kites involves cutting the strings on other kites. The last one left in the sky is the winner. We will be seeing the Festival day after tomorrow. More to come on this. Today we are shopping for fabrics for my workshop on Applique.