We piled into jeeps this morning for a visit to some of the different ethnicities that ply their trade around Jodphur. First of all, the Bishnoi tribe. They are strict vegans, and believe themselves to be caretakers of their environment. We were told a rather horrid tale of how, back in the sixteenth century, villagers gave their lives to prevent a grove of trees being felled. Some 350 of them were slaughtered before the maharajah, who'd wanted the wood for his palace, called the massacre off.
We were treated to an opium ceremony. Indians drink their opium like tea rather than smoke it, and after watching the brew prepared and filtered, we were all offered a taste. I imagine 'tourist samples' contain 0.0000001 actual opioids, but at least I can now claim to have been an opium user with all the deliciously decadent connotations the phrase implies.
Next to another tribe who specialised in pottery. It was fascinating to watch the potter spin his wheel - the simplest of all constructs, solely consisting of a 150 KG stone, balanced precariously on a wooden spindle. Using a stick as a lever, the potter got this thing spinning at an amazing pace, before putting the lever down and using both hands to centre and work his clay on the wheel as it spun.
Finally to a weaving village, where we watched Dhurrie rugs being made. I remember having these around our home in Karachi, and can testify to their long term durability. One still graced my room when we first arrived in New Zealand, although I don't remember what happened to it subsequently.
Our hotel in Jodphur has been rather below average, so it was nice to go to lunch at a rather pleasant restaurant, before being taken to another textile warehouse. This one specialised in producing products for high end international designers - Versace, Hermes, Burberry and so on. Beautiful embroidery, scarves, pashmina and bed linen was on display. Their contract with the fashion houses allows this factory to make 5% more product than ordered, and sell it for a profit as long as no logo or label is attached. They managed a brisk trade with our group.
We did a quick trip to a local palace, built in the early years of the twentieth century in art deco style. Frankly it was disappointing. It had looked fabulous from a distance, but close up it lacked the exotic magic the older places have in abundance.
Finally, a rickshaw trip followed by a walk through the local market. The noise, crowding and general bustle of people and traffic in the narrow lanes is colossal, although we were assured this was the quiet season, and everything was at a lull until the next wedding season starts up in about a month.
It was a full day, and we were glad to get back to the hotel and have a shower. Later we found a couple of musicians in the roof top bar playing drums and sitar. A lovely way to end the day.
Potter spinning his wheel by hand
At the Dhurrie factory
Colours for Holi
The spice market
Spices on display
An elephant in the market
Entertainers at the hotel