Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Bagru block day.

Sorting mountains of stitched panels- lovely colours when you sort through them again, I feel a bit like Midas running the gold through his fingers. These along with handloom and block print from the basis of our new kits [look on etsy]

 At the workshop...first there was me and a bunch of men. When we first started our own workshop, everyone was impressed that Praveen and I would sit and eat lunch with all the staff  [ never entered our mind we would not...but pecking order in India is not often like that] We also like it for everyone to be comfortable together...so one of the enquiries when looking at a new staff memeber is will they eat lunch with everyone? [ I have seen a guy in  another workshop from Brahmin caste who would not even drink a glass of water with everyone else...being lower caste they might have contaminated him?]  We understand some people have different dietary requirments, some full vegetarian, our Muslim gentlemen whilst they eat meat: when we have our occasional staff party night prefer vegetarian if we can't get halal meet....
Each day Maya cooks a vegetable dish and chapati for our lunch and we all eat together, sharing our contribution and what each man's wife has packed....I am sure we get to same some of the tastiest food in India....this is a lovely and friendly time for us all as well.
When the women joined the workshop, I invited them to do the same, join us for lunch but that does not happen...always a mystery for me as to what will happen between people.
The women whilst comfortable and friendly with everyone, will crack a joke etc won't share a meal with us and the men.
At the moment it is very cold inside, so sitting out in the sun is rather pleasant....I have been trying to entice the women out for days and finally succeded - yeh! I don't want any one to over step the lines of propriety but do wonder at all this separation...

and it leads onto a quandary for us.
We would like to be able to train and employ women on the machines as well....how to go about it? All the machines are in one room, what will people think?
Praveen and I  were talking about it over lunch yesterday- wondering how to go about starting it off? A Ladies Training Centre...having Sanju and Mumtah join the workshop caused a few hiccups in pecking order and much anguish working it all out.
I want slightly different conditions for the women than the men...whilst they need to be relaible and of course there is no discussion over quality of work I did want to build in a little flexibility over hours and we totally supply their lunch each day [ I figure it is just a little help but it is some small relief from all the work they still have to do at home]
Papu-ji our workshop manager is a great guy but I found out a little stuffy in his thinking perhaps?? Not quite sure though,  because our Sanju is a bit of a mischief maker or at least fiesty as well, there was a little little game going on at one stage and I think Sanju was being a stirrer...some is also my fault...when something new happens it takes a little bumping to sort out ground rules and pecking order.
If I look at some new work my eye is on the overall 'look'...takes me a minute or two to settle down and see the details....Papu's job is to check details and finish...just because something gets through first round of looking OK does not mean it will get through second round of quality ...so now we have a system going...show Madam for yes or no  -going in right direction? then show Papu-ji for detail checking....and OK to work on this togther to get to that point of oh wow! this is ALL great...whew!
 Later it also goes through Ranjit's hands to double check finish, clean things up, label and assemble orders....by that stage we are pretty sure all is ggggggoooooddddd.
 This is Maya on the left- our tea star and cook, sitting with Mumtah [middle] and Sanju [right].
Well the quandary...we have now sorted out the intergartion and pecking order of having stitching women at the workshop...they have marked their territory and have even expanded it a little into the sun [yeh] and now we want to rock the boat again by having women here on the machines...which are located in men's teritory....what to do?
How to take the first step...like running the idea by Papu-ji...where to put people, do we move some machines into the store room [ that is where the ladies usually sit to stitch], how do we fit everything in place.
Well the God's smiled on us yesterday... Papu-ji has asked for work hand stitching for a lady from his village- she is in desperate need of work...we have said we don't have enough work to put a new lady on at the moment and there is already a long, long line in front of her.
He asked again yesterday, Praveen gently repeated the postion we are in and then said "but wait a minute...we could train her on the machine- what do you think? You would have to train her and if she went well we could do you and her this favour and give her work...." 
now it is almost Papu's idea to have women in the machine room....
Ruefully Papu said to Praveen "Bhai-ji [means big brother] we are going to be full ladies here one day what about us men?"...it is a strange world here, a bit like the 60's in australia, most women don't work or are not obvious in the work place. Papu has a good heart and thinks bringing work to women is great but the reality of him having to deal with them all the time and in his work room is a challenge.
I do laugh when I am not screaming :)
 Our favoiurite snack shop, Nandu was going to vist her family so she came with us and little Radhi is just so gorgeous
 Winter treat- hot carrot pudding. Grate up some carrots, cook down some milk until it is thick and clotted, add heaps of sugar and ghee...delicious and will really warm you up on a cold morning.
 Our Radhi
 beautiful carving
 Ranu is taking over his father's business, his Dad Salim is retiring and staying home, ranu is very carful and does beautiful carving...yeh another generation is keeping going...
 Indigo dyed mats on the road to dry
Some of our new blocks....I've got a new idea- yeh!!
Merry Christmas to you :)

1 comment:

Kevin Murray said...

Thanks for sharing your bright and colourful life Fiona. Glad tidings to you and Parveen.