What happens when 18 women go on a driving tour of Rajasthan? I’ll tell you: shopping happens. So does learning, dancing on the dunes, loud celebrating, intimate conversations, dosing the sick, changing flat tires, drinking wine, tea, coffee…we had a great time!
I’m a member of Anamika, a women’s club that supports and encourages friendship, learning, understanding and fellowship between women of different cultures. We set off to Rajasthan to learn about block printing, dying, weaving, embroidery, and other textile crafts that flourish there.
We started our tour in Delhi and drove all the way to Jaipur with interesting and numerous side trips. We’d only been driving a few hours when the road bit our ankles.
That was the first and last bad road incident we had.
These maps show our route through Rajasthan.
You can see how close we were to Pakistan. On one of our stops, craftsmen from a village very close to the border brought all their goods to us. We met them in a big town hall-type building and had a good look at all their work. We didn’t go to their village because we had a lot of foreigners in our group. Why tempt fate!? Everyone on the trip, both Indians and foreigners, had a socially, politically, or economically important husband or was herself important in one of those categories. Best to stay well behind the border.
These points show where we had hotels. We went all over the place between points visiting small craft villages, forts, palaces and havelis.
Here’s an interesting vehicle I’d never seen before. A real Bandwagon! This funny little car carries musicians who announce weddings and other events with a tremendous racket. I wish we’d have been able to see one in action.
Here we are saree shopping. It was hard to choose just one, so we bought them all!!!
This was just one of several places we went through SAREE MADNESS.
I admit to being a fabric and textile junkie. The weaving village in Phalodi was a great chance to see expert hand weaving in person.
This man weaves on a pit loom. His legs are in a hole in the floor. The loom hangs from the ceiling.
These people we so kind and wonderful. They invited us to lunch! I had just come down with a terrible cold and was not able to eat anything except a banana. Humph! All I really wanted to do was lay down and die.
We’re eating in an open area with buildings all around. I love the bright colors on the doors and windows. This area is where the weaving work is done. The people live in houses like the ones below. They build them from mud, straw and cow dung. The walls are plastered in a mixture of water and cow dung. Sometimes, people paint beautiful designs on the inside and outside of the walls.
Here is a hotel built with the mud ‘n dung technique. The inside is just as lovely as the outside.
These ladies apply the cow-dung coating. Cow-dung plaster sounds disgusting doesn’t it? However, when dry, it keeps water and insects out. It is anti-bacterial. It doesn’t smell either. It is also quite nice to walk on in your bare feet. Smooth and warm.
See the man resting on the cot? There is another cot leaning against the side of the house. These are traditional beds called charpei. They are used in villages throughout India. People sleep on them at night or use them at nap time.
Some charpei are made cheaply, with scrap wood and straw, but others, like those in Pholodi, are good quality and beautiful. The legs look like they’ve been turned on a lathe, but they are hand carved with a chisel, then scraped smooth.
Our drivers take a well-deserved break after lunch. I love the charpeis so much, I had some made for our house. Ours are a bit longer so Tom has a good place for snoozing.
Of course, no trip to Rajasthan is complete without a wedding. One night, several of us watched a wedding taking place at the hotel. “I wish we could get closer!” said Dominique. Then Mona, veteran of scads of weddings said “We can go in. They won’t care, we aren’t going to eat their food or anything.” So in we went. Did we get noticed? You bet we did. The bride’s uncle came up to us and wanted us to join in the fun. He offered us food and drinks and sweets. Most important though was to have our picture taken with the bride and groom. This was a big honor for us. The wedding couple poses with every single guest at the wedding. It takes forever, another reason to party. Here we are, a bit embarrassed, but loving it.
Roselyn, Brigitte, Dominique, and I pose with the newlyweds. Here’s the bride:
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