The middle of the road
Chennai, my first official stop, is a bustling, near-tropical large city. As an American, the density of people, traffic and housing is initially a bit shocking, but it all seems normal now. I think.
The highlight of the 24 hours in Chennai was a beach carnial-meets-market. The people were responsive and kind, and quite curious. This was also a good break-in period before we hit the road. The deeply religious southern city of Kancheepuram was next.
Karthik arranged for a room in the hotel were his grandfather works. He was a wonderful man – sweet and funny. He and Jon got along particularly well. In the three days in Kancheepuram we experienced incredible crafts, especially sarees and stonecutting and carving. In fact we were able to access the grounds of a temple being built, year eight of a 13 year process. The work was amazing and the conditions they worked under made it even more impressive. The other two highlights, amongst many shoots, was the home factory work on sarees and the opportunity presented by a famous Swamiji to record (for the “first time ever” according to the Swamiji) the formal Pooja. It was impressive.
From Kanchi we returned to Chennai to catch a night train to the south western region of Kerala in the city of Kochi.
The Kerala region is lush, tropical and in the midst of the monsoon season. We didn’t get hit too hard. Aside from photographing the chinese fishing net techniques of the Fort Cochin fisherman we primarily traveled to Kerala for Karthik’s brothers (Hari) wedding. It was beautiful and we were honored to be invited. It was also wonderful to meet Karthik’s friend Giri who guided us around and laughed at our silly questions while Karthik was busy with the wedding. Following several days of festivities Jon and I split from the group and headed off on our own to Jaipur on the morning of the 12th.
When we landed at the Jaipur airport it was 107.6 degrees. Lovely. Bishaka, a former student at the NID school and specialist in textiles is joining us for our remaining stint in the north including Varanasi. She is wonderful – well travelled, smart and fierce. We’ll get along quite well. More to come as the adventure continues. Perhaps some pictures (I have about 4000 to choose from right now) if I can get this janky, slow internet connections to work. We’ll see.