Back in the….Back in the USA!!

Posted by Sermarr

They say there's no place like home and that's true...but there's also no place like the places that become temporary homes.  The transit back from India made me miss it more in some ways and in some ways be so glad to be back on familiar ground.  First,yes indeed my suitcases got onto the plane..one in side 23 kilos for free and one at 31.9 kilos just under the maximum of 32 allowed!  I was so glad to pay that overage charge and let those much worried about bags go.

And then I found the glories of the Transit Hotel that the Delhi airport has...a sleep while you wait (minimum stay 5 hours) and spa....So I went into this fully modernized massage place and had a 60 minute massage at 1 am!  yes!! I really needed it after all that sitting.  And then a 14 hour flight...full of 1 sleeping pill for 8 hrs, two movies and a book for the rest.  And then the welcoming Fluttering Curtains art on the walls of the JFK airport and into the city at 8am to my best friend's house on Washington Square in Greenwich Village.  Then walking walking walking around the city after having BAGELS and CREAM CHEESE and NYC COFFEE for breakfast with my daughter.  I was trying to keep myself up after I left her and so I walked uptown and saw some old favorites>>>Grand Central Stateion, Rockefeller Center with Easter Egg decorations, Saks Fifth Avenue, the NYC Public LIbrary with the lions, the Flatiron Building, The Empire State Building, and fell in love again with NYC my adopted hometown.  A place where the heart soars as the feet move.  Come along with me from very beautiful agrarian fields to  very beautiful big city within 24 hours.  And right in the middle of my stroll just to prove that it's all connected and on the same globe,there was the Royal Sari House with block printed clothes...but not as beautiful as the ones I just left.

For those of you who have stayed with me and read all these many many words about my adventure in India, I thank you for staying tuned, for your comments and encouragement on this, one of the greatest journeys of my life.

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On the Road Again…Off to Delhi Airport

Posted by Sermarr

The car came at 2 and we travelled through the wheat harvesting that is ongoing in India now.  The process of harvest requires many hands and probably travels at the pace that it has been learned to travel at over many years.  The wheat is tall and yellow now; the women are in the fields cutting the bunches of wheat which they stack up for the thresher to come.  The thresher comes and (hooray for automated process) shoots the wheat out one side and the stalks out the other.  Then the wheat and the straw go somewhere for storage mostly in individual homes here.  The villages don't look much different than the ones I saw in China many years ago and probably not that different from any agrarian society where the small homes and villages full of cows and goats and people are next to huge fields of ripening grain.  And from the paintings of Millet,Van Gogh and Monet with the field workers and haystacks.

We didn't make good time because the super highway that is being constructed is still underway and so in almost every small town, where the superhighway is being built right up main street, the detour around the construction is slow and full of pedestrians and potholes.  I wonder how these towns will adapt when their main street is full of rapidly rushing by cars.  In the US they built the highways on the outside of most small towns not right down the middle.  The other thing that is omnipresent aside from grain, the superhighway being built, is trucks, trucks, trucks.  all along the side of the road...in huge lines full of all these different cargos.   It is so interesting to whiz by these towns with so many questions unanswered.  Like, why is it that the women in their full sarees are out in the field and a lot of men seem to be clustered together in groups playing cards or talking intently in the roadside refreshment stands?  This reminded me of Cairo where the same thing seemed to be true...lots and lots of men sitting in coffee shops talking and smoking shisha.  Someone said to me when I had mentioned this before "In India, men do nothing, the women work"  I can't say that holds true for me....I saw almost everyone and every wheel and every animal working very hard.  .  Also as we got to Delhi these enormous apartment towers were everywhere.  Like LeFrak city was here in the Bronx.  It was staggering and I wondered do they have all the workers here to fill these up already or is this for future growth.  And it was right next to these same fields that the village workers were harvesting in.  In the US the population moved from being 90% agrarian in 1900 to 10% agrarian in 2000 as workers moved to cities where they could find better paying jobs.  I wondered how long will it take India to move this way, if it does.

All of these questions flying around in my head as we fly by (sometimes) on the road to Delhi.

Road to delhi 4 Road to delhi 7 Road to delhi 13 Road to delhi 15 Road to delhi 18 Road to delhi 12

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Last Piece Made and Last Day In India….Sorry to be Leaving!

Posted by Sermarr

DSCN5312 Devena 2 The last few days have seemed a jumble as I have tried to figure out how I'm going to get all this into the suitcase.  In fact, it didn't fit!!  Too many blocks, too many pieces, and too many presents for friends.  So Jaykirti organized a rescue box and we packed blocks and pieces into it.  Now there is a need for another one. So bye bye money straight to FedEx but I am so glad to be able to get these things home.  I have two huge 50 lb suitcases to go with me to Delhi today.  And let me say that clothes are not a very big piece of it...most of my clothes are worn out and are being left behind.

So I had a very nice meal in a restaurant with Jaykirti...it is restaurant that is over the block printing workshop and I have been wanting to see what restaurant food is like!! And last night Devena had my favorite dish, okra!!!

Yesterday I had my last fun in the workshop.  They were madly printing things for friends that hadn't gotten done before and finishing off hems etc.  And I hadn't helped because I forgot about some things that I wanted to take...like a scarf for my mother in law!  And then I got to work with Gopalji, one of the master printers, on my final piece. A huge tablecloth for my round table at home.  I had dreamed of having it made of hands running all over it.  The hand blocks had not been shipped and so I went to work.  Jaykirti picked the border of leaves and so here we are making it.  Another thing to be shipped!! I will so miss this workshop of creativity and the great freedom that I have been given to create things that seemed strange compared to the other things being made there, but which created great synthesis as some of my forms flowed over into their work and some of their forms flowed over into mine. And the great generosity of the workmen there who fixed the paint boxes that I didn't know I was leaving messed up till the end, who washed and reshelved the blocks, who pinned things for me, who consulted with me on how to print things right.  And to Jaykirti for the great generosity of letting me have free rein of her blocks and her dyes and for our collaboration which taught me a great deal and brought me great joy.  It is a heart sunk memory and I feel very blessed by life to have had it.

Today is final packing.  My plane is taking off later than scheduled originally  So I leave the ArtInn at 1pm for a five hour trip to catch a plane in Delhi at 1:45am (that means five hours of sitting in a car and then 8 hours of sitting in a airport before a 14 hour flight to nyc.!! Enough sitting to let my legs atrophy!!

And I will be leaving the ArtInn where Devena arranged for me to see many of the artisans of India that I was interested in, introduced me to Jaykirti's workshop, and let me be part of her family and see India as few tourists do.  Another very hard goodbye.  And also I will miss the taste the mangos fresh from the ArtInn tree as they are only pea sized!!

And now on to NYC and the next phase of my ever surprising, ever consistently inconsistent journey through life.  Last printing in Jaykirti's block shop 81DSCN5617 DSCN5634



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Holi Water Party…..Or Why I Have Purple Hair, Pink Face and Yellow Feet

Posted by Sermarr

We went to Devena's cousin's for Holi day two festivities.  We knew to wear our clothes that could get color on them.  Because Holi is about throwing bright pigments on your friends and family. So what we didn't know was that this family believes in using their fountain as a dunking place and source of water to throw on everyone.  So we all went into the water fight and everyone ended up thoroughly colored and thoroughly wet.  And all about ten years old.  It was great....join us!  Let's import this festival to the US

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American Cinderella…Off to the Palace for Holi Celebration!!

Posted by Sermarr

It is Holi here for two days.  Holi is a Hindu spring festival which requires the wearing of red and white....and on the second day requires that you dump pigment on your friends and family and be generally silly.  However, on the first night we were beyond dignified and went in our red and white dress up to the City Palace to a party given by the Princess of Jaipur who had graciously invited us artists to attend.  It was a wonderful night with the almost full moon and with dancing and music and great food.  Many of the people there knew each other/ or were related.  It was fun to get to meet so many people and see this gathering.  The food was great too.  I had a red top with silver edging and a red and white scarf thanks to Jaykirti and I added white leggings.On the way home we saw some of the bonfires that accompany Holi.  Here are some of the festivities. Put on your red and white. Enjoy!!

DSCN5383 DSCN5388 Holi Party at the City Palace 17 Holi Party at the City Palace 8 Holi Party at the City Palace 11 Holi Party at the City Palace 23

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Hither and Thither…Paper Making, Block Making, and Sugar Cane Juice Machine!!

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Today we did a lot of hopping around with everyone wanting different things at different places. We went to the paper making factory in Sanganer near the block maker. This is the same one that I saw in the beginning of my stay. And then to the block maker who is going to make the blocks for the other artists and I will pick them up when I go tomorrow. While we were there, the sugar cane machine came by. This is a green cart which uses the motor to crush the sugar cane that is strapped to it and turn it into sugar cane juice. (It also then can attach the motor from the crusher to the wheels and drive along.) Also Devena and I went to the framing shop to get the work framed so it can be hung on Saturday. And then I went back to Jaykirti's shop to try to work, but didn't. I got Gopal to give me a lesson on the layers of cloth and how much paint you need for each type of impression for each amount of detail. DSCN5231


Block Maker's shop 3

Block Maker's shop 5

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Visit to Bagru Indigo and Resist Printing

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Bagru is a town on the outskirts of Jaipur that is renowned for its indigo dyeing and its resist printing.  We all got in the cab and went there the other day.  The printer we went to is a father and son family affair. There we saw the three deep indigo dyeing wells where they put the fabric in and dye it, they then lay it out on the ground in the sun to dry (where it changes color from green to deep blue), the block printing shop where they do resist printing...(they print a design with a block dipped in  a compound that is made of gum arabic and some other elements that stick to the fabric and resist taking the dye when the fabric is dyed...then it has to be washed off and behold the design underneath is the color of the fabric before it was dyed.  They do very large quantities of fabric and also very small ones depending on who is ordering them. Here are pictures of their blocks and block printing place. Then we went to their shop and  looked at the results.  Then down the street, past the piggies in the street, to stop at a block maker where we counted the rings on one of their cross sectioned tree part for a block had over 100 rings


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It is the Incomparable Taj!!

Posted by Sermarr

A few days ago I left at 5am to see the Taj Mahal, a site without which no trip to India would seem complete.  I must tell you that equally important was the scenery as wheat and potatoes are being harvested along the side of the road.  I will send a separate blog after this one about it.  Five hours later we arrive at the Taj....the builders were, of course, brilliant.  There is a courtyard with lots of little doors where the workers who worked on the Taj were housed/or worked.  Not all 20,000 of course, just the higher level ones probably...and then rising over the wall and through a perfect doorway was the Taj Mahal.  My impression of it is similar to my impression of Mount Rushmore....that is, when you've seen a thing all your life on a photo that is usually very small you have no idea of relative scale.  Mount Rushmore is the WHOLE TOP OF A MOUNTAIN, not just a little statue like thing.  The Taj Mahal is SPECTACULARLY FLOATING AND HUGE....and unlike the way I've seen the pictures which is of a perfect white dome, is made of pieces of marble (huge pieces) that you can see fit together (like bricks in mortar) and somehow it makes it more real.  The brilliance of the architect was for me seen in two things that so set the structure apart and make it seem so special.....one is that the whole building is not set down on the ground...it is on a huge marble platform that is about 20 feet up...so you are looking up at it and it seems to levitate on a cloud of white, separated from all around it.  the second is that the corners are not square, they have been cut off into a mitered corner and it makes its presence like a jewel box rather than an imposing building.  You enter through the portal and then you walk a long way towards it which really makes it burn into your brain how set apart it is, and as you walk, of course it rises higher and higher above you till you're looking straight up at it.  The calligraphy around the doors is the morning prayer from the Koran...and they made them larger at the top so that it looks uniform to the viewer from below...and it is black onyx inlaid into the marble....by the way, India must be the marble capital of the world.  Floors here are marble because it is relatively cheap.   The foreign tourists get a higher fee and separate quicker way to go in, and booties rather than having to leave their shoes outside like the Indians do.  This was put in place a few years ago my guide said because the line was so long and the tour busses had a schedule of where they had to go and it was a mess.  The inside of the tomb is not all that interesting... and the two outer mosques are just architecturally balancing the Taj.  Walking on the marble platform surrounding the Taj is wonderful because the marble shines and gleams like you're walking on an ice surface.  Also you can see the river it is built by and you can see way in the distance the fort where the shah who built it was imprisoned by his son who took over.  So every day for 14 years he could see the Taj from his prison window.  The family politics of royalty here was yucky, just like English and other royalty politics.  The after an hour of burning its image into my brain, I got into the car and drove home for five hours looking at the ancient harvesting process going on out my window and was home in time for tea....and a nap.

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Indian Comic Books…Recognize The Hero?

Posted by Sermarr

I read a bunch of Indian comics yesterday.  They were great, just like Classic  Comics used to be when I was little.  So I read all about Lord Krishna and the founding of the Ganges, etc.  Great stories.  And then I came across this one.  can you tell who this might be in our mythology?DSCN4525 DSCN4522 DSCN4523 Indian King Solomon Comic 3

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Indian News about why International Women’s Day is Needed…Beware!!

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Here are some very sad news items that indicate that the women of the world are still quite defenseless in many parts of the world.  These are from one day in the Hindustan Times (a newspaper in English) and are only heartening because they never even used to print these stories at all, and the police rarely would even file a report about a crime being committed and often couldn't "apprehend" the suspect even though the suspect(s) lived right in town.

India rape news 1 India rape news 2 India rape news 3 India rape news 4

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