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Archive for February, 2008

craftilicious

some more images from the craft fair at Bhubaneswar..

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Bhubaneshwar

I have been trying to get this post and photos up for a while now but my frustratingly slow internet connection at home is driving me mental at the moment and it seems i have to rely on hotel wi fi connections to get any kind of decent speed.

so now i find myself in an echo-y (how do you spell that?) beige hotel room in south delhi, going crazy on high speed internet – i can finally catch up my favourite podcasts (I heart Russell Brand), and really find out whats happening in the celebrity world, Oscar fashions and all.. PHEW..

SO anyway.. Bhubaneswar, a wee town (only 2 million people or something.. tiny!) on the east of India in the state of  Orissa, was my destination for a quick trip last week. i wanted to meet a fair trade group there and also check out the local crafts. while trying to find a good hotel amongst the tired old business hotels or inflated tourist chains that were there, I found the great new budget self-service franchise by Tata, called ‘Ginger’. How’s this for a clean modern set up for a hotel in small town India:

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all for the grand total of Rs.1500 and that bed is freaking comfortable. Oh AND there was a cafe attached to the lobby which means real coffee for breakfast.. wahoo!

But besides all the crafty investigations, the highlight of the trip was a weird circus performance that i was treated to at an All India handicraft exhibition.. I’d spent the past 2 hours being keenly stared at by everyone around me and the finally found someone i could stare at and be part of the audience.

The whole thing started out with these two sweeties, the younger girl must’ve been around 4 or 5, the older about 9 or 10 I think…

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and then mum and big sis came out to perform on a very dodgy and very wobbly bamboo contraption…

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the audience watched, fascinated:

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and the musicians played faster and faster:

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and for her last trick..

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spinning on a small metal pin that sticks out the top of the bamboo pole. while in the lotus position.. and she was spinning fast..

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pretty impressive..

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india travel ideas

I have been getting itchy feet in the last week or two, and have been surfing around the net trying to decide where I would like to go for my next indian holiday.. On the south east coast of India I have only been to Chennai, and that for only a day or two, so i am eager to explore more. Pondicherry is my new fixation.. as is this hotel, part of the Neemrana chain –

Hotel L’Orient

Or then there is the wilderness of Uttarakhand (previously called Uttaranchal), located kind of north east of Nepal – with Himalayan mountain views, the sources of holy rivers the Ganges and the Yamuna, forests and national parks, including the Jim Corbett National Park and Tiger Reserve, access to white water rafting and trekking trips, and the stunning Valley of Flowers:

 Which sounds like a fairytale name and looks just amazing.. something like 500 species of flowers can be found in this valley which is surrounded by snow capped Himalayn mountains and the whole area has been a protected site since the 1930s.It is only open between June to October as the rest of the year it is covered with snow. There is a lovely travel blog post here about the Valley.

Then there is the east of India and the lure of the historical hill station of Darjeeling and the tea plantations in Assam..

(view of Darjeeling, from questhimalaya.com)

or a cool hill station in the south, like Kodaikanal or Ooty.. or a deserted beach in Goa, or a palace in Rajasthan, or the Tibetan plains in Ladakh.. how do you decide where to go when you have such spectacular choices!?!

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sourcing supplies

i have been spending the last few weeks trying to identify products and sources for my online store – Rose and Sunder. I had planned to work with fair trade organisations only, but then wondered if I’d get what I was looking for – plus there are only so many fair trade groups in India, so how will i get something different?

today i came across a blog post that firmly made up my mind – it’s fair trade or nothing.

 this post on child labour in Delhi is heartbreaking.
Spend a couple of minutes and find out where some of the lovely jewelry and crafts that you may have bought in India , or even in your own country, may have been made.

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a morning jog

this morning we went for a jog along marine drive. we arrived before sunrise, when the sky was just beginning to lighten and the air still had a chill to it. as we ran the sky turned from a hazy grey to pink to blue and the back of the air india building was awash with colour. i only made it halfway before having to walk and K carried on ahead to chowpatty. the air is still fresh and cool and slightly bracing in the mornings, through our ‘winter’ is surely over now. everyone enjoyed the 3 weeks of wearing sweaters and socks in the evenings – i wore shoes and socks everyday for the first time ever in Mumbai, and quite enjoyed it. the smog is still there, the layer of dirt that hangs over mumbai and from marine drive looks like it envelopes malabar hill. the new apartment building at the end is only thing tall enough to peep through the top of the haze and the windows of its upper storeys sparkle and glitter as the sun rises.

the laughing club were there as always, warming with deep ho ho ho’s and ha ha ha’s; old men in white dhoties and starched white shirts were gathered to talk politics and grandchildren; a woman in a bright red chiffon sari, clanging gold bangles, kohl and lipstick strode past, her look only ruined by shiny white running shoes; the chaiwalla carried his steaming jug of hot tea and called out for customers ‘chai garam cha-iiii, chai garam cha-iiiii’; the street dogs stayed curled under the trees, enjoying their warm spots and ignoring the hunger in their bellies while the crows angrily searched the gutters for breakfast.

I walked back to the car and at the Hilton hotel flight attendants were boarding a bus while the Gucci store was getting it’s morning window wash. A treadmill jogger was framed in a 3rd floor window, watching the comings and going below him  and enjoying the airconditioning of the hotel gym.

And now the sun was up, the air warming quickly. K arrived back, sweaty and panting and it was time to head home and get ready for the day ahead.

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