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Journey Through India
Part Two of Joanna’s Sourcing Adventure
Jaipur has become a regular stop on my trips to India, and each time I visit I feel as if I’m peeling back the layers of an incredibly fascinating city. I’ve cultivated friendships there that I’ve come to cherish deeply, making it that much more special and magnetic. I have found some of my most treasured textiles in Jaipur, as there are many dealers who have acquired collections from nearly every region of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and countries that were a part of the Silk Road. On this particular visit, I picked up some vintage swat pillow covers with silk embroidered geometric motifs; I purchased an all over embroidered vintage coat from Uzbekistan; and I fell in love with a variety of floral block prints that were around sixty years old. Along with my textile sourcing, I did a morning heritage walk and explored the flower market (always exploring every flower market in India!) which never ceases to amaze me with its sheer, bright beauty. I also took part in the Laughing Club, which meets every morning at 7:30 am to just LAUGH! It was the best way to start the day. And I finally had the change to visit Samode Palace, a 300 plus-year-old former palace (now a luxury hotel) that is filled with maze like rooms heavily adorned in original Mughal paintings as well as mirrored walls and ceilings with real rubies. A true work of exquisite craftsmanship.
Textile Sourcing: A good friend in Jaipur took me to a dealer who specialized in vintage and antique textiles as well as antique decorative objects, paintings, and the most unbelievable collection of old photographs from India. The collection of block prints he had were collector’s pieces, and were some of the most remarkable I had seen. His shop was like a museum and I’m looking forward to spending more time in there on my next trip. I also went to one of my favorite textile dealers where I bought a collection of vintage swat embroideries from Pakistan. Swat embroideries are a favorite of mine, especially the pillow coverings that are trimmed in crochet. The technique is similar to that of soof embroideries from Kutch: very fine embroidery and impeccable attention to detail. And of course, I brought back some woven stripes in the most heavenly color ways.
Phool Mhadi: The first time I visited an Indian flower market was on my first trip to Jaipur. I was in awe, watching all the farmers show off their vibrant marigolds and roses overflowing in colorful silk and cotton bags. I’ve been to the flower market on every trip to Jaipur, waking up at dawn to take it all in.
Samode Palace: This epically gorgeous hotel is situated just outside of Jaipur proper, about a 40-minute drive from the city. There’s something very romantic about it sitting off on its own, apart from the hustle and bustle. I could spend hours marveling at the frescoes in the private rooms that are adorned in traditional Mughal paintings, most of it the original designs from when the palace was built over 400 years ago for the royal family. The way each room leads you into another one that is even more spectacular than the next feels mystical and luxurious, as if the walls hold all the secrets of the world.
Chai and Samosas: The absolute best chai I’ve had in all of India is in Jaipur. It’s run by two brothers and it is the oldest tea stand in Jaipur. The tea and milk are boiled at a very high temperature over a bed of coals, which is part of the reason their perfectly sweet tea is so delicious. The other reason is a secret, that I’ve tried to find out to no avail! Every morning, locals line up to wait for their cup, and sometimes partake in a samosa not too far down the street – a spot that’s also known to have the best street samosas in Jaipur. I always make this a part of one of my Jaipur mornings.
Sunsets and Kites: One of my most favorite things to do whenever I’m in India is watch the sunrise and the sunset. I always make sure to watch both at least once while I’m on my trip. On my last day in Jaipur, the sunset was particularly magnificent from the rooftop of my hotel, beaming its rays across the city as children flew kites and the call to prayer rang through a speaker. Those are the moments I live for.