November 14 , 2004
Hello and Namaste from India.
Beth and I are now in Andheri east, staying in a flat provided by Creative Handicrafts. It is simple and comfortable. Only cold water for washing, which is fine, because it is very, very hot.
We met at Creative Handicrafts yesterday, to place an order. Wait until you see what we will bring to Traditions!!! The women producers at Creative do beautiful sewing. All the clothes are well made with beautiful fabrics.
As we walk to other buildings at Creative, like training centers, production centers, the childcare center or the office, we are greeted by curious children. They reach their hands out to us to greet “Happy Diwali” (being celebrated all week) or they say “namaste”. Creative is located in one of the slums of Bombay, and that is where we meet. Children and adults of the slum walk by Creative’s buildings which are scattered throughout, going about their daily life.
About Diwali, it is the festival of lights, prosperity, good over evil, and is a big celebration time for India. There are lights strung everywhere, over buildings, terraces, across the span of streets. Small and large star shaped paper lanterns are hung everywhere and lit up all night long. Most of all, firecrackers and m-60’s going off from early morning until 1 am or so. This is what we have known since we arrived. There is rarely a quiet moment here. It sounded like a war zone for many nights. Imagine five feet of firecrackers going off in the street outside your home or workplace day and night!!! Indians know how to celebrate!!!!
One day we had an intense bus ride to Creative. We caught a train from Dombivili where we have been staying with Deepak’s family, to Andheri east. From the train we walked through crowds and dust and heat to catch a bus. Because of Diwali, buses were fuller if that is possible. We caught a bus and even got a seat on the top deck. That provided a pleasant ride as sweat dripped down our backs and we clutched our large travel bags. When it came time to get ready to get off, we managed to stand up in the mad push towards the exit. This is no time for politeness. Survival became the main issue. Everyone pushed, and it is not an offense, it helps you get off the bus. It is like being born. We got near the steps going down from the top, and came to a stop as the bus neared our stop. The anticipation I felt was very tangible. Like strong birth contractions that come closer and closer. I am sure I felt it more than the locals. They were used to it. From behind us a thin man began to push and thread through us. Even the locals looked at him like he was crazy. There just didin’t seem to be anymore room, until the exodus. He proved us wrong, and even helped us, though we didn’t know in advance. As the bus slowed, he got through and off, but it looked like we might not. I was determined, I was getting off, especially because Deepak was off, and he was our guide!!! I pushed with determination as the bus began to take off slowly. I popped out into the air and came to an upright landing, large bag and all. Quicky, I turned around to see if Beth was off, and she was not. The bus was rolling away, and she jumped off the platform and made it!!! It was a close call. Later that night, Deepak’s father, Eugene, told us that was very dangerous and not to do it again, as many accidents happen when people jump of moving buses. We didn’t know. It seemed exciting. Now, we catch the rickshaw from the train, and we’ll save the buses for other travel.
Also interesting, I had a doctor visit. My feet and legs were swelling. I went to Deepak’s family doctor in Dombivili. Paint peeling off the walls, the noise of the street right there, the waiting area open air, no door. Take your shoes off and see the doctor. He took prescribed natural remedies. Fresh coconut milk and citris. Told me to call the next day. I did, as the swelling was still present. I went back and he said I had to eat and take some medication. I did not want to eat. He looked at me like I was crazy. “But you have to” he said. Deepak’s father was with me and said “that is the problem, she does’t eat enough” and I smiled to myself. Anyway, I was instructed to eat specifically white dahl and rice with tumeric and black pepper, which Eugene made, and take the medication. It worked and only cost me $12 for two visits, including medication. I love going to the doctor here. Even the poorest can drop into these little clinics. If they need more, they go onto a hospital or clinic. The doctor asked me how people go to the doctor in America. I said not easily, and that even with insurance, it is too expensive for me to go. He was amazed at how expensive it is in America, and I was amazed it was so cheap in India.
Right now we're waiting for Nutan – a friend of ours whom we met during the World Social Forum who works with a number of women artists. She’ll show us some of her products and pictures then hopefully we’ll meet up with the women later in the week.
I better stop writing for now. Take care. Hello to all the staff at Traditions. Namaste. love, patti