India is the love of my life. I believe that, in this grand universe, we have a few great loves if we’re lucky. How I came to understand what India meant to me was through a process of emotions that I had never felt before on my first trip nearly four years ago. A sense of belonging, a heightened perspective, a forceful grabbing of the heart and soul, and the knowledge that my life had been forever altered. I felt like I was home. Those emotions haven’t left, always rising to the surface while I’m there, reminding me of how fortunate I am to feel. I sob each time I have to leave, even on my most recent (fourth) trip. Over the years I’ve developed numerous friendships throughout my travels to India, which has allowed me to have some truly remarkable experiences that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Each visit becomes more magical and meaningful, and I learn so much about myself and the world. A great privilege. I’ve just returned from two weeks in Bombay, Jaipur, and Kutch where I met a master batik printer who has been in the business for four generations; visited the Pathan community for the second time where I experienced a culture who, despite having very little, are completely joyful and full of life; watched the sunset on the salt marshes in The Great Rann of Kutch; and so much more. The colors, the smells, the sounds, the flowers! The most intoxicating, mind-expanding, sensory overload experience that has been burned into my brain forever.
Dadar Flower Market in Bombay: Waking up at dawn to take a trip to the flower market never gets old. In Bombay, my favorite flower market I have experienced thus far, I saw the most heavenly lotus blossoms that took my breath away. I saw flower garlands with the sweetest bees buzzing about the jasmine, fragrant rose petals seducing passersby, and I was even lucky enough to capture a shot from above of the bustling, beautiful, chaotic market.
Master Weavers in Kutch: On one of the first stops in Kutch with my dear friend and textile expert, Salim Wazir, I not only learned more about the process of indigo dyeing but I also learned about what is required for the functioning of an indigo pit and how many times it take to dye yarns to get that perfect shade of yellow or red or pink. A fascinating, centuries old tradition (in India) that is still going strong.
Master Batik Printer in Kutch: This was my first time visiting a master batik printer, and I was astonished at the level of preciseness in the print I saw being made. I was inspired by the color combinations and patterns that were being used, and I’m currently in the process of exploring ways of working with this master printer.
Pathan Community in Kutch: My second experience in this remote village felt like going home. The women and children who I have to come to adore made a delicious home cooked meal, and then showed me their collection of embroideries. Dresses, masks, quilts, crochet pieces, and so much more made their way home with me. Supporting this community and being able to own what they carefully make with their hands and hearts means the world to me.
The Great Rann of Kutch: I was so happy to finally visit the salt marshes of The Great Rann of Kutch, and watch the sunset with dear friends. It’s vast and glorious and surreal all at the same time, especially watching the heavily adorned camels and horses trot along the horizon.
Mud Huts in Kutch: There is one area in Kutch known as Ludiya that is filled with decorative mud huts, painted inside and out. They are truly some of the most beautiful homes I have ever seen. Small, simple, but oh so exceptional.