India, the land of vast spaces, incredible art and culture, and enormous social problems. I’m so happy I got to see its riches and the polar opposite.
While writing my last post, in which I got a little carried away with fantasizing about a perfect suite of rooms such as one might hope to find in heaven, I was reminded of this room I had in a luxury hotel in India last February. This room may look like a fantasy, but it is very real. And extremely beautiful!
Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take pictures of my room until I had already mussed it up, but I think you can still get the marvelous effect. Indian design rocks!
And here was the modest little bathroom attached to my tiny bedroom. Of course you know I am being facetious about the size of the rooms.
The photo doesn’t show it well, but this tub was the size of an average jacuzzi designed to hold 4 people.
A modest little mirror in my hallway; just perfect for a selfie.
But, how about that wall design! I was more than a little obsessed with it!
It is good to travel well. It is almost as wonderful as heaven. And India is certainly as fine a place as any I have ever had the good fortune to visit.
In Mumbai, the Dhobi Ghat is known as the world’s largest outdoor laundry. It is a hive of activity and color. This is where Mumbai’s traditional laundrymen work in the open to wash clothes from different parts of the city.
A dhobi is a laundryman and at any given time there are between 8,000 to 10,000 dhobis at work in these stone basins that date back to British rule.
There are rows and rows of stone washing pens, each with its own flogging stone.
For the Dhobis, working here is generally a hereditary profession, with most of the washermen’s families doing this labor for the last 2 or maybe 3 generations and their technique has remained virtually the same. The soiled clothes are first soaked in boiling water with caustic soda and then “flogged” on a slab to get rid of dirt and stains.
After drying in the open, clothes are ironed with old charcoal presses with heavy wooden handles.
Most of the local people find it rather amusing that an activity as mundane as washing clothes arouses such curiosity in the tourists.
If you’d like to read more about it, see this site:
To watch the work, see this video:
And, of course, there is an English language Bollywood movie based upon the Dhobi Ghat:
But, before you feel too sorry for yourself, before you put all your piles of laundry in your automatic washing machine, check out how laundry is done in India.
You get stone-washed finish by slapping denim against the stone basins.
This sweet child knows how to entertain himself with no toys.
And while most of the work is done with human elbow grease, some electricity is still needed. Here’s where it comes from:
And despite everything, this man can still smile for a tourist.
Feeling better? All our problems are first world. :-))
Of the thousands of pictures I took in India, this is the best. It was a completely random moment: I was looking over the edge of a balcony off some major monument down towards a river. My eye was caught by the reflection of the clouds in the water and I snapped a picture. This young kid saw what I was doing and struck a gangsta pose faster than you can say Mumbai! It was just one of those moments you can’t understand, you can only be grateful it happened! I’ve got my favorite picture. I love the moody clouds, the water reflection, the amazing child, the trash, all of it. Thank you, India!
When I landed at the Delhi airport last January, I was instantly ready to love with India!
My feeling was based simply upon this stunning first impression of contemporary art which represents timeless Indian culture in a simple, modern fashion.
First impressions ARE everything!
Nameste! See more after the jump.
I knew I had come to the right place! I was jet-lagged into next week, but I noticed this artwork! When a work of art can speak to me through the fog of severe jet-lag, I know I’ve hit the motherlode. India did not disappoint!
Arriving at the Indira Gandhi International Airport’s brand-new Terminal 3, filled me with a sense of awe. The incredible visual experience of this series of giant gesticulating hands, jutting from a wall of what look like copper discs, made me stop in my tracks in wonder. I like anything that has that power. It’s why I travel. It’s why I read. It’s why I study art and culture. It’s why I live.
Jaipur-based artist, Ayush Kasliwal, was commissioned to produce these giant, expressive hands. The builders of the new concourse of the truly modern airport were keen to give the terminal an Indian context, to infuse it with Indian values. The idea of the hands emerged as the winning concept, for all forms of Indian classical dance use hand gestures called mudras. Thus, mudras are a both a distinctly Indian and common vocabulary. The writer of this blog heartily adds her compliments to the designers. It really works!
If you’d like to know more about this stunning installation, please go to
After arriving in Delhi on the heels of a 25 hour transit from the US, including a 14 hour flight over the NORTH POLE people!! from Seattle to Dubai, I snuck off to my hotel room for a few hours of sleep. Later I joined friends for a tour of Old Delhi on the back of a bicycle rickshaw through the Chandni Chowk market.. It was the most uncomfortable ride of my life and, of course, it was raining, and I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep, or the fact that I had entered a very different world, but I felt like I was on an acid trip. The pink turban of the man in front of me was my bicycle rider/driver. I was in his rickshaw.
Some of my pictures are blurry because he kept us moving. Some are a little bit more clear, but only because he paused for a moment to let the masses of humanity and animals pass us. He never gave passage on purpose, but only because he was driven to it by a lack of chance. I got my first lesson in what it takes to survive in India. Reticence and fine manners are really low on that list.
Yeah, so it was a blur and it was chaotic all around me. And then you notice the electrical wiring and you just wonder how India can operate at all.
And, I gotta say, I never stopped puzzling that last statement for the whole month I was there. I still don’t know any answers.