Blocks and Monsoons in Jaipur

After 7 months of living and working in Ahmedabad, India, I had finished running the Last Mile 2014 accelerator and it was time to head home. Of course, I decided to take “the scenic route” and spent 5.5 weeks traveling before I made it back to San Francisco. The first destination was Rajasthan – Pushkar and Jaipur (having already been to Udaipur and Jodhpur). Unfortunately, no photos were taken on my camera at Pushkar, even though it’s an amazingly photogenic place (thanks stomach flu), but I managed to get a few shots in Jaipur.

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting Bagru Textiles, which is a social enterprise in Bagru, a town outside of Jaipur that specializes in the traditional art of block printing.  Bagru Textiles basically commissions designs from abroad, charging more than market rate, so that they can pay higher wages and support community projects (30% of their revenue goes into a fund directly for the Bagru community). One of the better known companies that commission their own scarf designs through Bagru Textiles is Block Shop, which has a great rundown of the process on their website. Of course, they sell them for about 8 times what they buy them for, but nothing new there. Back to Bagru, Vijendra Chhipa is the Director and his family has been hand block printing for five generations. He was sharp and professional yet incredibly generous, as we were lucky to spend about 5 hours with him. We were brought around the compound (where around 150 families live) to watch and learn the entire process: from making the wood blocks, dyeing the fabric, hand stamping, washing, etc (all seen in the photos above). After, we were able to design and create our own scarfs, which was a fun touch. They are a great company and after spending so much time working with twelve other social enterprises, it was nice to visit one in the field as a guest! 

The last of the photos are from when I was stuck in monsoon traffic in Jaipur. I was in an auto, driving around trying to get around the construction and thought it might be fun to show off what kind of weather I’d been living in for the last couple months. What I love about when it rains in India though, is that life doesn’t stop. People don’t stay inside all day bundled up. When it starts to pour, tarps come up, umbrellas are out, and if people don’t have either, they might simply step under and awning for a few minutes and wait for the heavy rains to slow. Due to this, it makes for great photo opportunities  – if only you can capture them whizzing past in your auto while trying to keep your camera dry!

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