What a blur of a visit....and what great stuff we saw- of course a preliminary trip always opens up more questions or is it furnishing an excuse to go back and chill out at a lovely beach resort for a few days....and seek more textile treasures being produced by today"s living custodians?
We were lucky enough to visit th workshop of Dr Ismail Khatri- famous for his ajrakh work....I have many samples to show off so will write a whole blog about in in a day or 2.
Here are a few pictures- notice the boxes on shelves- all labelled with pictures of the blocks inside ...first time I have seen such a thing!
I am still in shock from our trip home...so will tell you the story....there is always so much to learn in India, layers to uncover even when you think you know the full story.
1. first thing India is a tipping culture, especially people working in tourism depend on the tip [very much like waiters in American restaurants getting paid very low wages[ note VERY] and depending or demanding their tip.
2. We hire buses and cars for various clients...pretty much you work out how many kilometres to be travelled and then negotiate a price per kilometre...allowance is added in for road tolls, state tourist taxes, parking according to itinerary and then the owner adds on a price per day to cover the drivers expences. You have a total figure you pay and presume driver is getting a decent wage and all his expences are covered.
I presumed this anyway....Praveen knew otherwise. Especially if it is foreign tourists the owner pockets the money for expences...driver has to wing it and hope for generosity at the end of the trip.
We always let our clients know about tipping, staff in hotels are far more attentive, when we have gypsy dancers at the farm tipping them is almost part of the performance and really adds to the fun and we know it makes a bif difference to drivers who do take a great deal of care of their clients on the road and finding the places they want to see.
A little aside - everyone one enjoyed Prince's [driver] excitment and child like pleasure the day we checked out Mandvi beach...his first time to see the ocean and dip in the sea.
So Praveen and I hitched a lift back- the bus had to almost go past our front door....we head up the highway and making excellent time, cross into Rajasthan and I know it is all new tollway in front of us....can almost see my house 4 or 5 hours distant when Prince says he will turn off and take a short cut... more direct. We are basically hitch hikers so what to say.....
Not 6 inches of that road were flat and smooth- NOT 6 Inches and it was a long, long road....full of trucks...like not a stretch of more than a few hundred metres without a truck, tractor, bus to leap frog along the rutted track whilst playing chicken with the next on coming truck....
9 hours later ....did you see that 9 HOURS later we arrived home. I am bruised head to foot from bumping around in that bus....if the ladies had experienced that trip they would have had a very different view of Indian roads.
As we were bumping along Prince started to chat with Praveen- to keep himself awake I guess.
He was saying how much he appreciated the ladies tip [may the Gods bless them, their appreciation had made a huge difference to him]
He has a son, who some time before fell down and ended up in emergency care..only through borrowing a huge amount of money was he able to pay for the hospital care necessary to save his life. [most hospital care in India is pay as you go type- no bills to pay later and almost no one can afford health cover]
Prince had approached his boss, asking for an advance on his wages NO....he moved companies and takes every job he can get to start and pay back the people he borrowed money from for the hospital [we did not ask but do hope it was not a private money lender as they can charge up to 10% PER MONTH]
He has been keeping his head above water but for the lst 2 months not been able to pay school fees...and it had gotten to the stage where school was saying no fees , no exams for boy and no advance up the grades.
It is March now, coming to the end of the busy tourist season, he does not have another confirmed booking when he gets back....he did ask his owner just for this months wages up front to keep things afloat -NO.
None of this story came out when clients were here or before tipping time....only later when he was talking to stay awake.
Just makes you realise how close to the edge people live, even those with a supposedly good job.
Thank goodness for visitors who care enough to show their appreciation the Indian way= tipping.
I am sure many blessings will come their way if the recipients have anything to say about it.
Once I am over the shock of the drive- it really was horrendous and if we had realised what was going on we would have offered to pay the few hundred rupees in toll fees Prince saved I have heaps of stories of where we ahve been , what we have seen...so inspiring.
As I noted before I left the warning in the newspaper 1 day off =3 days catch up seems right...when i need a break to clear my head I'll share a story.
Happy week :)