We were very luck to find Gouthami for our trip to India. Before she started her own travel company – Travel Another India – she spent 20 years working in social development and had made many great connections with craft people all over India. Gouthami introduced us to so many artisans and we had the pleasure of meeting many President Award winning craft people in remote villages. Here, she shares her knowledge on crafts in India with our readers!
Craft is the second largest employer in rural India after agriculture. In most villages you will find some form of craft – the potter, the weaver, the basket maker. It is still a way of life rather than an art to be practiced for its own sake.
In this picture you see just that. I visited the village of Nuapatna in the state of Odisha in Eastern India with the Tea Collection team.
Nuapatna is famous for its intricate Ikat weaving. In the background you can see the spindles of yarn casually stuck into the pile of sand, while the woman in the picture is wearing a hand-woven ikat sari as she goes about her daily chores.
Goa is a coastal gem found in west India bordering the Arabian Sea. As the smallest state in India, over 80% of Goa is compromised of beaches with swaying palm trees, deep blue water and sandy beaches. Both locals and tourists make the trip to discover the beaches many different attractions. Check out our newest swim styles inspired by these beautiful beaches!
While exploring India’s culture, it’s a given that you will learn about the cuisine. The smells and taste of Indian spices are enchanting as are the varied number of dishes that are available. While in India, our team traveled to many different areas. Paneer was offered in almost all of the regions and enjoyed in various dishes. Paneer is a cheese similar to cottage cheese or farmer’s cheese. It takes on multiple forms – in Eastern India it is cubed and in Northern India you’ll find it’s been kneaded and beaten like fresh mozzarella, the results a bit crumblier. It’s easy to see why it is a staple to many of meals in India!
I didn’t go to India expecting to meet a hero. But that’s exactly what happened when I visited a small village in Rajasthan.
The first two days in India were eye opening. You arrive, you see shantytowns on your drive to the hotel, you go shopping in busy markets, tour the City Palace and ride painted elephants. It’s very clear that this is another life, one far different than what you know. But you don’t really understand just how different until you get outside of the Pink City and past Amer Fort. It’s not until you meet someone, you meet people – who have been working for over 25 years to make a difference here. You drive an hour outside of the city with these people, down dirt roads further than you’re comfortable with until you reach villages with no electricity, no real housing, no drinking water. You are welcomed with warm smiles and nervous laughter, because these people have never met anyone from the United States before. It’s awkward at first, and hard and emotional. But you sit and you take it in and you return these warm smiles and nervous laughs and in this moment, you realize while everything seems so foreign, we’re all the same. At the core of it all, we’re human beings — with feelings and needs and we just want to be happy and healthy.
I had no idea what to expect from this particular day in Rajasthan. That morning, I didn’t even know what kind of transportation to expect from our hotel to the GBS office — and while I’m being honest, I had no idea what GBS stood for. I did know that through The Global Fund for Children, LaDonna and I were able to visit one of their grantee partners that worked to empower young girls and women. I knew that we would be visiting a few of the villages this organization worked with and I knew we were in good hands.
The ride from the hotel to the GBS office was an anxious one for me. The prior two days were a whirlwind. I had never been so far from home and in such a foreign place. Everything was new and strange and jet lag only caused a haze. But on that third day in India, as soon as we walked inside Gram Bharati Samiti’s office and shook hands with Bhawani (the GBS founder), my anxiety disappeared and I felt at home. The chaos of India seemed to slow down around me and I was immediately certain that indeed, we were in good hands and to trust that the day would pan out just as it should.
In Hinduism, the cow is a symbol of wealth, strength and abundance. Mahatma Gandhi was once quoted on the subject, explaining that “one can measure the greatness of a nation and its moral progress by the way it treats its animals. Cow protection to me is not mere protection of the cow. It means protection of all that lives and is helpless and weak in the world. The cow means the entire subhuman world.”
Modern India takes great care and pride to retain the extraordinary refinement of its many palaces, old temples and ancient forts. We’ve fondly named our newest delivery, Paisley Palace. From the stunning marble dome of the Taj Mahal to the ornate arches of the Mysore Palace to the spectacular paintings that adorn the Amer Fort, there is no lack of inspiration in the architecture in India. Many of our designs in this collection are named after these great palaces! Take a look at the history of these great sites to better understand the story behind the design.
The Amer Fort was built by the conqueror Raja Man Singh who ruled from 1590-1614 AD. On our visit here, we rode painted elephants and admired the red curtains that framed the fort. We were inspired by the elaborate painted motifs on the walls and ceilings in the Jaipur City Palace.
See this man playing the kaimacha, a bowed string instrument used in folk music from the region of Rajasthan.
The unique and rich music of India spans many genres from fusion to classical with a varied range of instruments. The striking sounds of the sitar have influenced many musicians – even all the way into popular Western music rock & roll music. Check out our playlist to see why the Beatles and The Rolling Stones were so drawn to the mystical sounds of the sitar. Don’t forget to listen to “The Sun Won’t Set” by Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar – sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar’s daughters.