Welcome to India!!
I'm going to give you a glimpse into our whistle stop textiles tour, of Rajasthan, before it fades from my memory ;)
Well, we arrived in Delhi, bleary eyed from a red eye night flight. Our idea of dinner at Heathrow, walking around airport shops to tire us out & 8 hours sleeping on the plane, didn't happen!! A mix of excitement & seats probably a bit too near the toilets were most likely the cause. Still the minute you step off the plane, India hits you full on, in the nicest possible way & you forget about sleep!
The colour, the bustle & then there's the traffic!!!
Yes, this is a roundabout - well somewhere underneath all those vehicles! It's a bit like the start of the Wacky Racers cartoon, traffic coming from all directions, with horns tooting. Surprisingly, we only saw one or two little nudges, during our trip. But the most amazing sights, were the amount of people & items you can carry on a single motorbike or scooter - how they balance is stunning! Now back in the UK, a scooter with one person on it, just looks empty!
Once we'd got some sleep, we were off to visit temples & markets. This is one of many trim shops in Old Delhi, where the streets get so narrow & congested with motorbikes, rickshaws, tuktuks, handcarts, cows & dogs - you just have to walk! We did a little shopping here, but now wished we'd done a lot more!!
Next stop was Agra & the Taj Mahal. I last visited it, on my honeymoon in 1992, so I didn't expect to be wowed by it all over again. How wrong was I! It is such a magical place & the light was just perfect, reflecting off the marble.
You can't visit India without a trip to the carpet makers. Here you get to see how the beautiful carpets/rugs are created with individual knots. These piles of naturally dyed yarns are ready for the outworkers to collect & take home to their villages to knot with. A carpet can take from a month to a year to complete, depending on the size & complexity of the design.
We stayed in Jaipur for a few days, in this beautiful haveli, a traditional Indian townhouse, which is now a hotel, with the courtyard open to the sky! It was lovely and cool in the evening, drinking sweet lime sodas & playing frenzied games of Dobble (the most fun card game ever!!)
The Mehrangarh Fort, outside Jodhpur was stunning, with the most amazing detailing on the walls & ceilings. You just didn't know which way to look!
We asked this rug maker, if he had a pattern to follow, he laughed & said it's all in here, pointing to his head! The speed he tied knots was incredible, especially whilst sat cross legged. Suppleness is not a problem here!
It is so beautiful watching skilled craftspeople at work. The ease & accuracy with which they can produce stunning pieces, is mind blowing. I love block prints, everything from the intricate carving on the wooden blocks, to the combination of designs on a piece of fabric.
Seeing the variety & quantity of fabrics, whilst they're hanging out to dry, makes you appreciate the work involved in all the stages of production. And the balance of the people on top of the poles hanging the wet fabrics!
Screen printing is taking over from block printing in many places, as it's quicker to produce, but I don't feel is has such beautiful look & feel to it. These pieces drying in the sun weren't safe from the dogs wandering about though - I'm just saying you might want to wash that piece, before you use it ;)
Come back for the next part of our journey soon!