January 17, 2006
Beth and I have completed our traveling outside Maharashtra for this trip. Next year it will be southern India. We are already arranging that trip with the director of Creative Handicrafts.
We have been developing film as we go, and are excited to share our photos of amazing people and places.
I am passionate to share what I have learned about the fabrics our producers use, to make our products. As I mentioned before, we visited fabric designers in Gujarat, in two different villages, and saw the ancient art of handblock printing, batiking and tie dying. The cotton that they mostly use, is produced in southern India.
Today I drew a new logo for Marigold business cards and clothing labels. Beth and I wrote the text for the cards and labels, and we are excited to expand this aspect of Marigold, having all this done in India. A man came right away to Creative and began laying out the design and will have a sample for us by tomorrow morning.
The way business is conducted here in India, is not common any longer, in the U.S. I love how directly and quickly you can have certain things done in Inida. Like having a kurta (dress top) and pants made overnight. Or buying and receiving a pair of glasses in a day or two for $20, including the exam. What Indians pay for doctors and eyeglasses is more relative to their income or no income, than Americans have to pay. Of course there are always pros and cons to both worlds.
Beth and I have just learned a new way to walk from Creative Handicrafts to Takshila, where our flat is located. The new route was shown to us by a Creative supervisor, named Rosie. Instead of leaving the slum area that Creative is located in, and walking the crowded road only, we now take a way throught the orderly and colorful slum housing area, that is in totality, one big labrynth. We wound our way through to a short cut that avoids at least a quarter of the way. We got to walk past families cooking and children playing in the narrow, twisting, up and down corridor. We saw brightly painted doors and curtains hanging in windows, a parakeet in a cage, some little shops. The new way is much appreciated because the road is very busy at the end of our work day. Walking the roads here is never relaxing and not at all like walking in Olympia or any other US city, except maybe kind of like New York. Beth is from New York, and says there is some similarity.
Now, we see people we know, as we walk to and from work, and it is a nice feeling. We have met the owner of a music, CD and video shop. He is soooo sweet, and invited us to receive a gift of henna decorating at his home with his daughter, which we have accepted. His wife will take us there. He brought in some amazing Indian music for me to buy. As I stepped out of his shop last night, on a corner of our route, I apparently almost got side-swiped by a bus. Beth feels she saved me from a swiping, as she grabbed me back!!!! You can can only imagine the sight of these big buses squeezing their way through these autorickshaw, car, bicycle, cows-dogs-cats, cart and vendor lined streets!!! All simultaneously vying for space, always - thank God - honking a warning. So walking the street does not relieve any stress, and that is why if you want exercise or relaxation, you walk at 6am. Or you walk inside your gated community. That is why I LOVED Gujarat villages.
The Gujarat villages were so beautiful. So much space between, around and through them, for the most part. There was an ancient stillness there, away from the ancient business of cities. Seeing fabric dying vats set in concrete in the open desert land, and foot after foot of fabric held down by brick after brick on the desert floor was food for my soul, dessert for my eyes, love for my heart. It is true that you see beauty everywhere in India, in Bombay or in a village. But I think the feeling is widely shared, that open land or forest or beaches by the sea, convey such a feeling of peace. Such a feeling of being able to take a breath without moving out of someone or something’s path. You can stand in one place without needing to move, without feeling like a roadblock.
In Bombay, you keep moving on the street, or duck into a tiny shop that will be crowded. You can always be in someone’s way if you stand still. You learn to crowd into people and places, to buy your vegetables at a busy time of day, and shyness is completey unuseful and out of character here. If you grow up in Bombay, you will be used to crowding and moving along. Otherwise, you get used to it, and it is a worthy accomplishment to learn the way of others, and not be in judgement, but just be in appreciation of another way of living. Observing the differences, but not holding them up to one another. Anyway, that is what feels right for me, in this place that is unlike any other place I have ever been. Namaste.
Until the next time, I am happy you enjoy these stories. love, patti