India Blog: Jaipur Part 1

Today we drove from Delhi to Jaipur. Horribly car sick. Also experienced the horror of Indian toilets without toilet paper. I will not go into detail.

On the road, I saw so many animals. Goats, pigs, chickens, cows, oxen, monkeys, ELEPHANTS, etc. I also saw a lot of the Indian condition: dilapidated buildings in close proximity to high-rises that are currently undergoing construction; women in bright saris carrying children, laundry, and harvest; and dusty plains across the street from grassy plains.

elephant

A lot of people stared at me, even in the car. When I’m with my mother they assume we’re not related, and when my mother says we’re together or that I’m her daughter I can see their confusion. We get the same thing in America, but it’s more pronounced here, where I’m the minority.

In Jaipur, we got a tour of a textile facility where they make things from scratch. In the first part, they showed us a big kiln where they fire up the ceramics and then sand them down, paint designs, and glaze them.

In the second part, they showed us a fabric press room where they do all the designs by hand via blocks. They make natural pigments (for example, using curry powder) and paint them on the etched blocks, then line them all up by hand to add color to the fabric. I got to try it on my own square of cotton and was very happy.

fabricelephant print

The third part was the paper-making plant. The process starts with cut-up bits of cotton, which gets churned and then put into dyed water. Men scoop out the fibers and spread them across a board, put a sheet of cotton over it, and flip it over to drain the water. When it dries, it becomes rough paper that gets pressed into smoother sheets. They had all different colors, designs, and textures. It was so cool to see the behind-the-scenes process, and even see how they folded them into bags for retail use.

ceramic paper

Hindi music was blaring as we walked around. Holi is coming on March 6, which means we’re missing it by a few days, which makes me SO sad. I’ve always wanted to experience Holi in India.

On our way back to the hotel, a group of men crossed the street and everyone stopped for them to go by. One man was carrying a small, white-shrouded bundle, and I knew immediately that it was a child. They were performing a funeral, which we were told is common for someone so young. As fascinating as India is, it knows how to sober you in a heartbeat.

Tomorrow we’re doing elephant rides and looking around the city.

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