Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday in Jaipur

Another wonderful day...we spent the morning at the Anokhi Farm which is where all the production of Anokhi clothing takes place (as well as where the vegetables are organically grown, and the bread and cakes are baked for their cafe). We were shown around by a very affable and knowledgeable manager who entertained all our questions...for example we learned that while tailors are traditionally male in India, Anokhi is making an effort to train women. Cutting is computer controlled--a state of the art machine that marks with a laser and cuts through multiple layers. Block or screen printed cotton is the most common fabric--Anokhi has been responsible for encouraging and supporting traditional block printing in some of the surrounding villages. I won't go into all the details of the process here, but we were sure impressed. We had lunch with the founders, John and Faith Singh, in their lovely home, and then it was off to the Anokhi Museum of Hand printing which is in a restored haveli near the Amber Fort. I spent a blissful hour or so reading all the texts and labels, and inspecting all the fabric, before finally trying my hand at block printing. And of course no visit to a museum is complete without a visit to the shop where I bought 4 lovely small books on block printing--essentially catalogues of previous exhibitions. Back in Jaipur we dropped into yet another textile wholesaler but I must admit to feeling supersaturated and didn't want to look at anything more, and certainly didn't have the energy to bargain. There was a skirt I was interested in, however his starting price was Rs 1500 (I thought he said 1000), and so I said 500. "No, madam, that is less than my cost! 1500 is a firm price!" I pointed out how none of the seams were finished and showed him that I like to finish my seams (I had on a pair of pants that I've made), saying that if I were to buy it I'd spend a lot of time finishing the seams. "Yes, he said, that's why the price is what it is--there are many panels and 10 metres of fabric!" I didn't feel like arguing, and said I understand this would take a long time to make, but no thank you and walked away. He didn't come after me so I wonder if he was insulted. I was so tired I didn't care!
We tried South Indian food tonight--just a snack of doasa which are like crepes made from rice served with a variety of sauces--one was a sweet and salty, another coconut, and the third hot and spicy. It was okay but very oily. I enjoyed the beverage I'd ordered along with it--a refreshing "salty" lassi (meaning not sweet).
Returned to the hotel (Diggi Palace) where Wendy and I enjoyed a 375 ml bottle of Indian red wine (they've sold out of the white) while we browsed through all the printing books I bought today. Tomorrow I'm going to mail a couple of parcels home--one of books and the other of fabrics. No point in carrying all this stuff because I'm going to be stopping off in Britain on the way home. I don't relish the trek through the London underground fully loaded. I will be much happier carrying as little as possible.
We're also planning to visit a paper making workshop where Anokhi send their scraps of fabric to be turned into sturdy paper for shopping bags.
After almost three weeks here, I find myself somewhat insulated against the stuff I found difficult at first--the noise, the beggars, the dust and grime... I'm now more able to see the beauty, and am thankful for the privilege of being here in this magical place. This morning we awakened with the birds and the morning calls to prayer at about 6 AM--I don't know where the mosques are in relation to us, but there are at least two if not three close by. It's interesting that they don't all start at the same time, nor are they on the same notes! None-the-less, Wendy and I really enjoy this dawn chorus. There has been little need for an alarm clock!
Thanks for reading, and I enjoy your comments!


  1. Hi Janet - I hope that once you have settled back into Vernon that you will do a show and tell of the treasures you have purchased. I have enjoyed following your adventures over there; all your research seems to have paid off well and maybe you will develop some personalized tours the way you did for Japan.

  2. Shall I send some of today's flurries your way?