Saturday, 18 March 2017

India 19/03/17

This blog contains nothing about textiles but is about my family history. So you have been warned.

Life has been hectic for the last two days. Yesterday we walked up to the Mall from our hotel in Shimla. In theory it is flat. In practise that is a euphemism for not so mountainous as elsewhere. A mile walk took 40 minutes rather than 20 and we actually walked 4.6 miles and up more flights of stairs in the Municipal offices. In other words Shimla suffers from a serious case of verticality. For instance, a signpost says Police Station  and points uphill but the signpost says, not miles but 160 steps!!!

The reason why we were in the Muncipal offices was that my family lived in India since the Mutiny and ended up owning a house in Shimla. My granny lived there along with her two sisters in the 1940s and we used to visit in the summer time. I knew what it looked like and that it was on Jakhu Peak. I thought that, with an owner's name, someone might be able to identify the house. I did not expect that the house would still exist since there was a lot of land round the house and there are blocks of flats everywhere in Shimla. So we set about the Council offices which consists of half a dozen blocks of four storeys and we first looked for the planning department who sent us to the Deputy Mayor's building where someone sent us the Commissioner (MC) - top floor on another block. They do not believe in lifts! At this point, our luck turned. The commissioner could not help us but he had a friend who could and rang him up. I had a long talk to him and really he could not help without a house name or number. Which we did not know. So I thanked every one and one of the assistants followed me and said that I was wrong about the house being knocked down because a conservation order had been slapped on Jakhu in the 1940s and it was not allowed to knock any building down. Why did I not go and look?

In the afternoon, we got a car and driver from the hotel and found what we think is it. See below.
So two happy bunnies! But the drive round Jakhu was horrendous. Zigzag roads which needed a three point turn at every bend.

There was a catch to the day. We had flown from Delhi to Chandigarh and that airport had closed the airport on Sunday and our flight was cancelled. Great kafuffle with Cox and Kings and we ended up with air tickets for today instead of tomorrow and now have an extra day in Delhi on Sunday. We are now back in the Leela Palace. Fortunately we had done the most important things in Shimla and can do the rest by email.

The weather was beautiful coming down from the mountains and I got a lot of photos see below.
It is the white one.

The landscape round Shimla.






Friday, 17 March 2017

India 17/03/17

Yesterday was spent getting from Delhi to Shimla which is in the mountains at 7000 ft. So  taxi toairport, plane to Chandigarh (so far so good), car to Shimla, afourhour drive . It was motorway for the first 30 minutes then a two lane road which is being upgraded to a four lane highway all while there are cars, lorries and motorbikes trying to get somewhere. A nightmare but our driver did not seem concerned. We stopped for lunch and had very good vegetable curries. It cost £8 between  the two of us! I

The hills are incredibly steep. I took a lot of photos but it was raining and there was a lot of distortion. The best are below. We are staying in the Oberon Cecil which is 150 years old though it seems very modern so I guess it has been rebuilt. Very posh. The staff are a bit snooty whereas the Leela Palace in Delhi which is just as grand had very friendly staff.   It cannot be that we arescruffily dressed because the rest of the guests are just the same as us.  Anyway they have given us a suite which consists two large rooms and several minor ones. The devastation on the bed has to be seen to be believable see below.

Today we are off to see if we can track down our family home.















Wednesday, 15 March 2017

India 15/3/17

We are now back in Delhi, having left the train at 0730 am. Back at the Leela Palace and then out with the guide Sanjay to do Old Delhi. Since there are just two of us and he took me round New Delhi a week ago, we got on like a house on fire. He suggested a wide variety of things we could do and see and we chose right! We had a fabulous morning. I will ignore everything except two items. We visited a Gundwara, a Sikh temple. This one was in Old Delhi. Firstly shoes and socks off, wash your feet and hands in running water, then into the prayer hall. Loads of people praying No tourists (except us).  They all donated a little into a large box. I contributed too and noted that most of the notes were 20 rupees. The box was removed as full three times while we were there, say ten minutes. So what happens to the money? One third goes to feeding the poor, one third to supporting orphans and one third to the hospital, doctors and nurses on site. We saw the entrance to the hospital with a continuous stream of people going in. But the biggest shock was the feeding arrangements which were right next to the prayer hall. They feed 30,000 people every day. Anyone can come. They ask only that people volunteer to do a little work like washing up, sweeping floors. We walked through the kitchens. Vats of curry on open flames, cooked rice by the ton, volunteers rolling out chapatis and naan bread, three people cooking bread over an open fire and then into the dining room. Enormous and spotlessly clean. I was more than impressed, I was bowled over. And they did not mind photography so I have loads. See below. I do not expect others to be impressed but the whole charitable side of the Sikhs was new to me. Our guide was shocked that I was so ignorant and said that Sikh teaching including charity.

After this we walked through the wedding streets. Narrow lanes with gold and silver ornaments, Sarcee said, turban material in gold and silver materials. Then to the spice market. We were taken to the guide's favourite shop and he had trouble prying me away from every shop we passed. But the one he chose was good and I spent a lot of money. They had Rose Tea which I have not seen since I was in Uzbekistan.  We spent a lot of time there and then went back to the hotel and had lunch. Delicious samosas and icecream. As Dorothy says, I could get used to this leave of care.

We are having dinner with a Doctor friend of Dorothy's.







Monday, 13 March 2017

India 13/03/17

Just after breakfast and I have tidied up. Yesterday we were at Jaisalmer where there is a large fort on top of a hill. Like everywhere else but not like because there is a whole township inside the walls including a highly decorated Jain temple. The stonework is magnificent. These houses are where the Silk Route merchants lived with houses to match their wealth. In the town below there are many more such houses called havelis.

After viewing that and the odd lake we went off for a camel ride. Dorothy and I opted for a camel cart     Which is less uncomfortable than a camel. But just as scary.

See photos below.

When in the fort, there were several stalls selling wood blocks. Many are new but the stall holder assured me that I had bought vintage ones. I do not know what he means by vintage but they looked well used. They are perfect for one of my projects and I can stop worrying about that.

The train is currently sitting in Jodhpur Station and we will go out for yet another Palace. Today is a festival day Holi, where everyone throws colours around. The staff have issued us with white clothes to put on and are very anxious that we do not get our own clothes coloured. Let us see!







Saturday, 11 March 2017

India 11/03/17

i think it is Saturday and we have done far too many palaces. Apart from that, I am having a terrible time getting photos into blogs. The last blog took me four hours which is too long. The problem is that I have two methods of writing. One can access iPhoto but shuts itself down after a very short time without saving it. The other is well behaved but cannot access iPhoto. So I was writing text in one and adding photos with the other. But it would insist on shutting down.so there may be a dearth of photos from now on.

Yesterday we went looking for tigers. One was spotted about 100 yards away and all traffic stopped and excited Indian cries were heard. He decided to leave. I am not surprised. We saw a lot of deer and wild boar and so on. Later that day we did an ancient fort and palace. Today we did Udiapur which has a lovely station all decorated inside and out. But I must. Say I am nearly all palaces out and I am taking photos of people now. The critical bit is getting full frontal without them realising what I am up to.

Apart that, Dorothy is very excited about somethings we have seen as the basis for her Art Quilts and I am exercised about a jacquard loom. I keep producing designs which are too complicated even for a 32 shaft loom. I may review the situation after I have finished weaving the yardage for Complex Weavers. I am dreading warp that up.





Friday, 10 March 2017

India 090317

First we toured the Cottage Crafts Museum. I fell in with a weaver sitting by his drawloom in the textiles gallery. I ended up by getting an escorted tour of that gallery and was taught as bout the different weaving styles from each region. I must have inspected 100 saris. It was all great fun and very informative. Then we visited the National Museum and looked at a large number of  miniature painting sorted by region and age. Lots of different styles and I liked Rajasthan 17th century. Taxiing about the city showed a lot of lorries. So here is one!


Eventually we returned to the hotel and were taxied round to the Palace on Wheels. I had not realised that I would be addressed as Maharani! Anyway it is good and this is the place to show photos of the train.











India 080317

On Tuesday, I went for a tour of New Delhi. Actually it was a tour of anything not Old Delhi. We started at Qtub Minar which is. 12th century mosque, now decommissioned. We used to have picnics here as a child. I remembered more than I suspected. There were cries of I remember that!! I had not thought of this place for. decades.

The tower. I remember the iron pillar and also seeing the madrasas in operation. These are Muslim schools where the class sat under a tree and was taught the Koran.

Then we did Lutyens New Delhi, elegant Government buildings in red sandstone and then Humayen's  Tomb. The entrance steps were long, dark and very steep. And no handrail.

And a pierced stone window

. After that it was back to the hotel whereDorothy had returned from her lunch at the High Commission.

The next day, we went to the Cottage crafts Museum andi fell in with an elderly weaver who normally operates a drawloom but waiting for his next warp. The result was that I got a personal tour of the textile section and had the differences in production among the various regions. So double weave, Ikat, drawloom, tie dye. It was great but no photos. When we had done there, we went to the National Museum and looked at hundreds of miniature painting and the game was to spot the difference in technique betweenness the various regions. 17th century Rajasthan was my favourite but no photographs.

After that it was back to the hotel, collect luggage and embark on the Palace on Wheels. A separate blog on that.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

India070317

The flight to India was uneventful. I have to report that, as I remembered, the Virgon lounge is streets ahead of the British Airways and the sleeping were infinitely better. The traffic between the airport and the hotel was horrendous. One third lorries, one third cars and one third tuktuks! See below



All in the same colour scheme of green and yellow. Yesterday afternoon we visited the Government emporia where the States sell their crafts. Bought presents for the family and me!! Dinner in the hotel very good and then a startling night. We were both tired and fell asleep about eight but woke up at midnight and had tea. Then back to sleep and slept through till after nine!! Which put paid to our plans for this morning. After breakfast we wandered round the hotel gardens.


Entrance to hotel

Hotel gardens at breakfast


More gardens

There are loads of flowers everywhere. Lots of British annuals plus bougainvillea, lilies, flame trees palm trees and kumquat trees. And flowers all over the hotel everywhere




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About Me

I am weaver and - -. I dye my yarns with acid dyes, I paint my warps, put fabric collages and stencils on my weaving. I have three looms, a 12 inch wide, 12 shaft Meyer for demos and courses, a 30 inch Louet Kombo which is nominally portable but has a stand, two extra beams and a home-made device containing a fan reed. And last a 32 shaft Louet Megado which is computer controlled, has a sectional warp and a second warp beam and I am the proud owner of an AVL warping wheel which I love to bits and started by drilling holes in. I inserted a device for putting a cross in. I have just acquired an inkle loom and had a lesson from an expert so I can watch TV and weave at the same time. I am interested in weaving with silk mostly 60/2 although I do quite a bit with 90/2 silk. I also count myself as a bookbinder with a special interest in Coptic binding.