24 December 2013

India Love . . . 3, 2, 1: A Very Merry Jaipur!

I want everyone to know how difficult it is for me to post these India Love/3, 2, 1 posts. It's not emotional or anything, I just take a billion pictures a day. Anyone who has ever gone anywhere with me knows this (and I do mean anywhere: the grocery store, out to eat, etc.). So being able to choose only 3 images to post is an absolute nightmare! Today's post is camel-heavy. It's Christmas Eve for goodness sake! It kind of goes with the season, you know? The camel images that I have posted are not of the camel that I had the absolute pleasure of riding, this was a camel that was just hanging out by the side of the road eating some grain while his owner ate some lunch. And when I walked up to him, he started making the most hilarious faces at me. I couldn't quite contain myself. Camels are such humorous creatures! Anyhow . . . My day started with an elephant ride up to the Amber Fort. This fort is outside of Jaipur about 20 minutes, and up a hill. It was beautiful at the top and sort of reminded of St. Mark's Square in Venice--the arrangement of the buildings and how people gathered. Located in the same town is a very small museum called Anokhi. It is a hand printing museum. A friend in Singapore told me that I must go to it, so I did. When I walked in, no one was there. Pigeons were flying around inside everywhere. But I paid my entrance fee and began to poke around. And I have to say: aside from the camels, it was my most favorite place that I have been to! Perhaps even during my whole India experience thus far. It is a gorgeous little museum! On the first floor was the history of block printing and how it relates to the town, and the gift shop. On the second floor was a contemporary printing show with work by Rebecca Layton. It was really wonderful to see the contemporary next to the historical, and how they relate. And as I wound myself up the little staircase to the third floor, I found myself in a tiny gallery with arches and mirrors and 5 glass boxes encasing dress forms wearing layers of beautifully printed sarees and wraps and shirts and headscarves. (The room made me feel like I was in JT's Mirrors video, you know towards the end.) Just off of that gallery was a small space showing the process of dying and printing on a vest. They had a different vest displayed for each stage of the process, so there were 11 vests: each a little different than the one before. On the 4th floor of the museum--the roof--there was a man sitting in a corner carving wooden printing blocks. I sat there and watched him for probably 30 minutes. I made a series of videos, of which one is posted above. After watching him, I walked into the teaching lab where another man was printing. It looked like a typical printing studio: ink stains, some things covered in plastic, newspaper everywhere. He let me print with him for a little while. He was doing some tests prints on muslin, so that's what I got to help out with. I ended up buying some of the books they had for sale in the gift shop because I was just so fascinated by the whole museum. You can't tell from their website, but it's actually behind the town and down an alley. I'm so glad we found it! As we drove away and down the hill, I noticed some camels hanging out by the side of the road. So we turned the car around so I could get out and take some pictures. As I was taking pictures, my driver was talking to the camel's owners. And one of them offered to give me a ride. So that's how I came to find Raya. Raya's owner walked me down to the water and then back again to the street. It was maybe a 10 minute ride, but totally worth it. He even trotted me at one point, which made giggle. After my camel ride, I went over to the City Palace. But it was really just another fort-like thing. So I wasn't really that invested in looking at it. I was more interested in the traffic--cows, elephants, oxen, cars, bikes, scooters, tour buses--that was happening outside. But my driver wasn't interested in parking and letting me walk around. So I went back to my beautiful little inn and rested for a bit. I found a dinner spot just around the corner where I could watch traditional Indian dance and see a Rajasthanian puppet show. The dancing was funny and a bit awkward because I think the daughter (in the video above) was just learning the ropes. She seemed really shy and unsure of what was happening. But when her mother started dancing, it was absolutely tantalizing! She was amazing! And she danced with a stack of large clay pots on her head. Spinning and spinning and spinning! I had a fabulous Christmas Eve . . . Let's see what Christmas Day brings! Happy holidays!