Saturday, November 29, 2008

On the Road....

The Drive.. from Jaipur to Ranthambore

Yesterday we traveled through the countryside of India, and I was able to sit up in the front of the bus with the driver and his assistant. In case you wonder, it indeed takes two, if not three people to drive a large vehicle through the roads and streets of India. Part of this is due to the craziness of the traffic, part of this is due to the condition of the roads at times, and part of this is due to the wild assortment of comrades and vehicles who share the road. As India was once ruled by Britain, cars operate with a right-hand side steering. This in itself takes a little getting used to.

It was an amazing experience to see the countryside from the view up front. Yes, there were a few scary moments, as traffic moves quickly, and there are many diversions to deal with when driving. These include camels, motorbikes, bicycles, tractors, jeeps, sheep, goats, cows, people, pigs, and many other things. It was an adventure.

I must say that my experience as an observer and photographer was very moving, yet it is difficult to explain why. I am so taken with the friendliness of the people who greet you by waving, even as you lift the camera to steal a shot of their everyday motions. The animals have no fear, and there were many times, that I thought we might run over a pig or two. My overall impression is that life just flows here, with little worry of time and schedule. There seems to be an air of contentment; no one seems to be in a panic about getting from point A to B.

As I watch the scenes that pass me by, I note that color is everywhere. It is mostly witnessed in the clothing worn by women. Vibrant and cheerful saris abound; we have been challenged by our group leader to find two women wearing the same fabric.

Below, you will see a collection of photos, taken from my up-front perch in the bus. I have not edited them, nor cropped. This is exactly what you get, going anywhere from 20 to 50 miles per hour. There are truly some thirty-second shots…. As I either hung out the window, or shot through the front or side from inside the bus cab. You will witness ann assortment of the following;

* Children herding goats
* People loaded on top of buses, in carts, or whatever else might carry them
* Camels plodding along with a rhythmical lope.
* Young boys on motorcycles, sometimes three per bike.
* Women wearing saris, riding side-saddle on motorcycles
* Women carrying a load of goods on their heads
* Men, squatting in their resting position, socializing and observing those around
* Cows wandering the streets, feeding upon whatever comes their way
* Highly decorated transport trucks and buses.
* Women carrying goods on their head
* People working in the fields or on the road
* A wide assortment of transport modes, far greater than you would ever see at home.

This is not Interstate 5.

I will place these images separately, for a closer view, for those who want to scroll.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


A turban is a standard headdress worn in India. Fabric lengths up to twenty feet are wound and engineered on a man’s head to protect him from the sun and heat. The thickness of the turban serves to insulate the head and prevent the hot sun from penetrating through the thickness of cloth.

The specific fabrication, and the style in which the turban is wrapped serve to identify the region, and often the village a man is from.

Today, we visited the City Palace Museum in Jaipur (India), and one of the guards was gracious enough to demonstrate the wrapping of his turban. He unwound his finished headdress to show us the length of cloth which was close to twenty feet. He commenced the wrapping process by holding the tail of one end of cloth in his mouth (in reserve for later). Then, he proceeded to wrap… and wrap… and wrap, using up the length of cloth. As you can see below, he finished the process and tucked the held end in place, and allowed an extension of approximately 5 feet to dangle down his center back.

The entire wrapping process took less than a minute. You could tell that he had done this before!

All is Fine... We are in the North

For friends and family following this blog... no need to worry. Carol and I are in the north of India, nowhere near Bombay.

Here is our itinerary. We just finished Day 7. Today was a block printing factory, and weaving establishment. I am behind on writing, but will try to get a few more entries up, as long as I have email access.

Thank you all, for your concern (I just finished emails). It is nice to know family and friends are there.



* 1 Fly to London and continue to Delhi
* 2 Fly to London and continue to Delhi
* 3-4 Delhi : Jaypee Hotel or similar

* 5-7 Jaipur

* 8-9 Ranthambhore

* 10 Geejgarh Village

* 11-12 Agra/Taj Mahal

* 13 Khajuraho

* 14-15 Varanasi

* 16 Fly to Delhi

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Indian Cuisine...

Indian cuisine is an absolute treat. If I had to find one word to describe it, I would say spices or marsala in Hindi. In traditional Indian cooking, the mixing of the spice blend is probably the most important part of food preparation. It is an art, to mix just the right blend of ingredients to suit the particular food you are cooking. Yesterday, a trip to the grocery store allowed me to pick up a few spice mixes that I can take home. Dinner last night at a local woman’s home allowed our group to taste food as it is home-prepared for guests.

Above, you can see the spices at the store, bread being baked at a street vendor's stall, and an amazing yogurt served with dinner last night.

The Faces of India

I am always intrigued by the faces of people, especially when I am traveling. I like to sit and people watch, and wonder what is the story that lies beneath. I imagine the families, the history, the joy and the sadness behind the gaze, or the smile.

Here, in India, I have been fortunate to photograph numerous people, as they do not mind and are receptive when I ask permission. Sometimes, wanting to take one person’s photo results in taking three other people first, just so you can get the one you want to allow you to do so, as their comfort level increases.

Below are a few images I have taken of various people.... Enjoy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Travels in India

My last big trip for sabbatical research this semester is India. I am here now, in Delhi. I am on a tour with Overseas Adventure Travel. I have traveled with this company before, and enjoy their approach to exploring the world. I am here with my friend Carol and thirteen other people from around the United States. We arrived yesterday in the early morning. After nearly 20 hours of flying, it felt good to get off the plane.

After a brief rest, we tok off to explore the old part of Delhi. We visited the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. I was thrilled to find that people do not mind having their picture taken. In fact, the minute you start to take a photo of one child, more arrive, and soon, you have the entire family. I love it! After viewing the mosque, we took a short ride by rickshaw through the crowded lanes of the Chandni Chowk bazaar. Then, we went to visit Raj Ghat, a serene monument on the bank of the Yamuna River. This is where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated and an eternal flame burns in his memory.

As my purpose here is to study Indian costume and textiles, you can imagine that I am thrilled with the color and variety of cloth that I see on the streets.

The best surprise of the day occurred in the evening, on our way home. We drove by a wedding, and our leader, Girish, suggested we crash it. So, we did. Here you can see the groom on his horse, waiting to be taken to his bride. You can also see the sunset we viewed on our first night in Delhi.

Two UFOs Complete

A few entries back, I mentioned that I am working on completing some of the unfinished objects in my life. Not all of these are fiber projects.

I am pleased to say, that I managed to complete two major projects, and both on the same day, believe it or not.

Photoshop for Fashion Design
The first of these is a project that has been in the work for several years. This is a book on Photoshop for Fashion Design. I have been writing exercises for my students at Mesa College for years, and at one point decided to officially write a book on the topic. Of course, the project grew in scope, and the original 150 pages I thought I would write expanded to nearly 500 pages. Although the writing has been complete since Jun, a rigorous editing process followed. On Thursday of last week, I managed to finally be done with all parts of the final edits on the book.

The book contains step-by-step instructions on how to use Photoshop to create fashion composites (collage), how to draw fashion illustrations and flats, build textile prints and colorways and various presentation techniques. It is similar in approach to the Illustrator book I have written (released January 2008).

So, now, it is up to the publisher, Pearson, Prentice-Hall to do the final steps. The book is expected to ship in January.

Yard Mosaic
The second long-term project has been a mosaic in my back yard. This was started over 2-1/2 years ago, and on Thursday, I laid the last stone. Grouting still needs to happen, but by comparison, that is a small task.

I’ve had a lot of help along the way… starting with sister Chris, from the Yukon. Chris is a mosaic artist, and she has made two trips down to San Diego, to move the progress along. You can see our creative efforts in setting up the initial layer of cement,. We had to add to add height to what the yard contractor had poured, so that it would save time later in laying the stones. As you can see kitchen tools, etc., became part of the creative process.

I had decided to use pre-meshed stones this time (as this is the second yard I have done mosaic in). Yet, I still had to have some creative process to the overall. Thus, I decided to lift some of the standard stones out and replace them with more interesting stones. Chris designed and glazed some special tiles for me, as you can see.

In the image below, you can see my friend Jerry, who helped me out at the end. Jerry teaches jewelry making at GIA so he has a knack for detail work.

At last.. laying the last stone in place….. and another Susan Shadow Shot..