I should be really busy, deadlines, Christmas et al. I find I have gone into hibernation! I have also lost two pairs of reading glasses in the last couple of days, and had to have a long loved ring cut of my finger - so that was why my fingers were feeling strangely painful!
Before the gloom set in I gave a talk to the local Embroiderers' Guild on Indian travels/textiles. Big adventure, projector and laptop, no more 20th century slide shows. The way to go.
The view of the evening sun set is no longer visible from my kitchen window, but the shortest day is soon upon us, and on the 28th December the sun will come peeping through the window again.
I have found displacement activities, instead of getting on with a couple of hangings due to be completed the first week in January. Keith has decorated the hall, red wallpaper. It's gorgeous, warm and cozy. Pictures and textiles slowly being added to the walls.
It's amazing what a good nights sleep can do, plus a word with Ganesh, the remover of all obstacles.
Tidy house - tidy mind? Not only housework done, washing and ironing as well. Paperwork done and dusted . So with a clear head I got the chance to add to my Spice Route Journal - jottings, ideas, cuttings, etc.
Found my textile paints and Indian printing blocks, made a creative mess, which is all very positive. I think I know where I am going with at least one hanging. A tiny bit of stitching to see how things will work out. That's better!
Lovely doors, hidden down an alley way in Old Delhi. Probably three hundred years old - would love to have had an invite to look inside.
The postbox is one of my favorite sign posts - I know exactly where I am. Not too sure of using it for its proper purpose - I can imagine any letters inside are now historical documents.
What a week. It's been all go - getting back to reality in the raw, an informal workshop on batik with my chums of Just 10. Oh, I'd rather be in India! So much to contend with and feeling very tired.
Onward and upwards. My friend Liz and I have been collecting wonderful textiles from India over the past year as part of a new venture. We sent out loads of handouts to friends and colleges advertising the Christmas Emporium. So many scarves and warps made by master weavers, silk from Varanasi, organic cotton and silk, wool, delicate scarves with mirror work: delicious embroidered bags by tribal artisans; silver jewellery from Rajasthan, plus loads more. Hand made books. All gorgeous stuff.
All a bit of a learning curve. Uptake on handouts 20%. Interest in items for sale 100%
So now we have to have a positive marketing campaign for 2009. We know we have amazing stock. What to do next? All a bit head scratching. Mad solutions 1. travelling VW camper, 2. a yurt, with amazing intereriors - a taste of the East, luscious hangings and candles. Think I might have to go to bed and dream.
Tomorrow a general tidy up - the house has been taken over - then to concentrate on the three hangings i have to complete by the end of December, various workshops, not to mention Journal Quilts which are lining up in a very scary manner.
We took the long walk up Chandi Chowk to find the Spice Market. I had envisaged a huge wholesale area full of spices, tea and flowers. What we did find was many small shops full to bursting with spice, dried fruit, tea and the unknown.
After investigating a couple of alleys we did find a distribution centre. The air was thick with spices - it was like breathing in cough mixture. Porters carrying sacks on their head or pulling handcarts with impossible loads.
We were directed to a building where chillies were being processed. Decided to give this one a miss. Breathing in assorted spice dust was challenging - powdered chillies really didn't bear thinking about. We heard later the workers have to cover themselves as best they can to cope with the hard working conditions.
A relaxing time in Udaipur, just lazing around, with a little bit of shopping thrown in. Keith's necessary purchase of big leaf Darjeeling tea, visits to the jewellery shop and mooching in textile emporiums.
Our friend Ranu, performing at Chandipol Ghat. Beautiful Rajasthani music.
Ranu and his wife listening to Keith's iPod. He recorded Ranu playing in February. Ranu was pretty impressed, and very happy when he was given a CD of his music.
So after a few days in Udaipur, with blue skies and the lake (which is getting very low - yet again a poor monsoon), we flew to Delhi.
A bit of a shock - fog, pollution, humid, with a pale yellow sun. Apparently a weather inversion, cold coming down from the north, sitting over the hot air. I hope so - been to Delhi many times, but never experienced such horrid conditions.
We opted for a homestay with Pervez and Lubna. A great choice - made very welcome and home cooked supper delicious, shared with our hosts, and two couples, one from America and the other from Germany. Much better than any of the hotels we have stayed in before, with the exception of The Imperial Hotel. Dating back to the days of the Raj, it's the best. We did treat ourselves a few years ago, but now it is just too expensive.
One day in Delhi was enough. We took the Metro to Chandi Chowk in Old Delhi - three cheers for the Metro. Clean, fast and cheap. Guess the auto rickshaw drivers are not too pleased. Chandi Chowk (Moon Square) is a maze of narrow streets with shops stuffed with fabrics, festive and wedding goods, fruit, veg and spice markets. A chaotic mass of people and bicycle rickshaws, men carrying impossible loads, and the ever present holy cow.
Metro to Connaught Place, the centre of New Delhi, for a special treat - lunch at The Imperial Hotel - delicious. Visit to Cottage Industries Emporium (a good place to check out the prices of almost anything from all over India, so you have an idea when haggling with street traders). Fabulous range of fabrics - at 75p a metre I had to manage to find some space in my bag.
Last sight of India Gate looming out of the 'fog' with a very strange pink sun hanging above.
As so to home. Down through thick grey cloud, guess we are back. The trees have really turned autumnal, and the colours on the trees along the motorway (viewed through torrential rain) were quite fantastic.
Our time in India fairly whizzed by. Varanasi was amazing, Kanha disappointing, made up by the very helpful people in Jalapur. Bundi a quiet delight, and a wedding anniversary not to be forgotten. Udaipur is just like going home!
Now to unpack.
(I've linked our home stay and The Imperial Hotel).
The last two posts were a bit of a nightmare - found a decent Internet Cafe.
The stay in Bundi was so relaxing, interesting and great fun. We were here in February and stayed our favourite hotel The Bundi Haveli, and it was good to be back there. Lovely people, good food, and very comfortable beds!
Visiting Bundi is like stepping back in time, a bit off the tourist trail, so no hassle, just friendly folk. The palace is amazing, said by Rudyard Kipling to have been made by goblins. Of course, the paintings are not to be missed.
We had a driver and car for our next stop, Udiapur. The roads are so much better than in February, two hours off the last journey.
Good to be back, looking forward to meeting up with old friends in town.