Rann of Kutch, White desert, Kutch handicrafts

Rann of Kutch

When you step into the Rann, the first thing that strikes you is the expanse. The white desert that extends in each direction as far as the eye can see. Mirages, white sand, crystal salt and a little water on the surface is all that’s visible. No human, no animal, no life at all. It is a sort of catharsis, purging all the crowded thoughts. Suddenly, the mind’s lens refocuses into the most important thing in your life. In a short span of time, your mind is all cleared out and formatted.

Kutch, Rann of Kutch

Clothes worn by Kutch people

This land of whiteness is a backdrop to a million colours. The brightly dressed women gleam with their little mirrors all over. Kutch is a melting pot of various cultures. The blend of the local Gujarati culture with the adjacent land of Sindh is vivid in every aspect- food, language, cultural practices. I had a whirlwind tour of Kutch a couple of months ago. In an effort to cover the whole of the region in 4 days, we relentlessly travelled across the largest district in the country. Bhuj has a local airport with flights from Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Or you could take a night train/bus to Bhuj from Ahmedabad (about 7 hours away)

 Day 1: We landed in Bhuj at 7 am. Bhuj is a quiet little town that shoulders it’s responsibility of being the gateway to one of the best tourist attractions very well. A motley of new budget friendly hotels have sprung up all over the place to accommodate tourists with all kinds of pockets.

Bhujodi, durrie, woolen kutch shawls

Bhujodi durrie weaving

After breakfast, we headed out to the local Bhujodi, a local market with a host of shawl weavers. Make sure you pick up a warm shawl for the cold winter nights here. On the way to this place, make sure you check out Shrujan. This beautifully done up craft centre is the place of work for women embroiders from various communities of Kutch. These women interact with designers here creating masterpieces. Prices are certainly on the higher side, but owning such an impeccably crafted piece is definitely worth it. The plan was to head to Ajrakhpur next. But we had spent too much oogling at the beauty of these fabrics.

Hunnarshala, Vernacular architecture, craft based architecture

Hunnarshala, vernacular architecture

We headed to Hunnarshala, the mecca of eco-friendly and vernacular architecture research. Hunnarshala is a heavily guarded secret. One look at the place and you will desist coming back to your steel and glass home. You will crave for the practicality and earthiness of the vernacular architecture in your home. They are now training the local craftspeople/youth in carpentry and masonry techniques. So next time, you are looking to redo/built your home, please look them up.

The evening was spent strolling along the local market. We tasted some roadside samosas (hot pockets filled with potato/lentils and deep-fried), khakra and various pedas (milk-sweets). The market is also home to a variety of silver jewellers. But we were too exhausted to explore any further.

Stay tuned for more and do check out my co-traveller’s blog for an indepth exploration on Gujarati food all over the state.

 

 

A steaming cup of chai that warms the hand, the welcoming sunshine in the balcony, hot showers and soft comforters. I love the winters! It is sad that it is coming to an end. On the other hand, I think it’s time to gear up for the next season. However much I dread the heat (it hits 45 degrees here), I still can’t wait to put that first piece of mango in my mouth. A few things are good about the summer too! So I decided to beat the heat this year, make some summer friendly changes (more on that soon) and also introduce some light summery curtains.

Think of summers and it’s cotton for me. White clothes with a splash of colour is what I envisage my summer preferences to be. Just white is boring for me. It needs a whiff of colour to perk it up. Same goes with the walls. Most of us live in homes with off white walls. It is a good idea, considering it gives us a canvas to work around with other things. So with that as a base, I decided on curtains that would add that sparkle.

When I had to think of summer, I instinctively thought of lemonade. A glass of lemon juice topped with some fresh mint is my summer dream. Childhood summer tans were removed with a mix of turmeric and curd. Summer vacations spent in the ultra-green Kerala has etched the color in my memory. Food served on banana leaves. I based my first set on these combinations.

Second I have a particular fondness for blue. A blue that merges with the never ending sky, a blue that flows in the limitless ocean, the blue that dusk is made of. Indigo has been part of our traditional printing processes for a long time. Add some red to it and you have the perfect combination of earth and the sky.

Both combinations are perfect for white/off whitish walls. With this in mind, I have zeroed in on Ajrakh, that one fabric that I am in love with. The curtains will be out in a month’s time. That’s how long the 16 step Ajrakh process takes. More on that when the curtains arrive. I really hope you’ll love them! :)

P.S: I put together my color palette with some inspiration online. Some are photographs from my travel, others are from the various blogs, facebook pages and other stuff that I stumble upon. My usual destinations for all inspiration are Etsy, Apartment Therapy, Rang Decor, Artnlight and  a few others that I don’t recollect. For sometime now, Brass Tacks has caught my attention. However much I love the saree, the thought of doing my hundred tasks during the day while wearing it kills me. I like my pair of trousers, I like my shirt (rolled up sleeves and ‘I like to get my hands dirty’ look) and I want to feel comfortable during that important client meeting. And I still want to stay true to my roots. Brass Tacks solves that problem. They use traditional fabrics in making ultra stylish clothes. Their attention to detail is exceptional.