My hair smells smoky and sweet at the end of the night. Not like cigarettes or industrial excretion, it's crisp, dense, mysterious; like the madras cotton garments Ralph Lauren would order from Delhi factories. After it was confirmed that I was going to India but I hadn’t told anyone yet- it was my little secret. Every time I opened those packages, that smell, I would imagine this country so far away, India. What will life be like there? (amazing, the best) Is it really as colourful as everyone says? (yes, even more so) Is the culture actually engulfed in spirituality as common lore would have us believe? (yes, and it’s beautiful, it’s mind-blowing). Are the people kind, will they take well to a random foreigner? (yes, the people are immensely loving and giving)
Neighbourhood ladies who volunteered to help me get a rickshaw from my home in Gheekanta to the studio in Ranip. Not an easy route to tell drivers in English.
India has defied and surpassed every expectation I might have had. Of course, there are spikes of frustrations, homesickness, crying on the street a little and then never telling anyone. I get lost and pine for familiarity, I miss my family, I want grilled asparagus- all things large and small that I’ve left behind and feel gravely nostalgic towards. I’ll see them again, but I’m not sure when.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself designing a womenswear collection in India- right at the source. I work with the most talented, skilled and kind tailor. I’m learning about vegetable dyes from the artisan block printer. Fabric manufacturers/weavers/organic cotton farms are all over. And I’ve met the most amazing people. The dedicated Indian locals working for this ecosystem of social good and volunteers from all over who left whatever they were doing in their countries to come here and make a difference in the world are some of the most fascinating and beautifully soulful individuals I have ever met.
Everything that happens feels significant somehow. Congested traffic collectively ensuring they avoid a crossing cow, night time conversations about what we would all ask God if we had a chance. Every camel, elephant and other large animals that I see. Fruit being sold on the street. The way people smile with such warmth, and talk to you as though they'e known you forever.. Home made Gujarati food, chai from the cart down the street, people at Manav Sadhna teaching kids disco in the Ghandi Ashram while we finish our day's work on the couches nearby.
I'm high on the energy here. Not coming down anytime soon.