I'm back online. I was in a few cities that did not have broadband access so was cut off for a little bit. :)
I was at the Jodhpur airport and I started chatting with a woman who was reading the same Lonely Planet book of India. ( Great resource by the way but it's the size of a freakin' bible ).
Her name was Robin and she lives in New York. She is traveling India for about a month. Right away, we hit it off well. We had a lot in common. She was single, similar in age, traveling alone and is quite a seasoned traveler. We talked about places in the world that we have traveled and the joys and challenges of dating among other things. We were both going to Jodhpur so we ended up getting together and did some of the sites together for the 1.5 days that I was there. We also went to this restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet, and ranked #2 on Trip Advisor. This restaurant is called Mid Town.
It was delicious and so inexpensive. It was around $10 for both of for palak kofta (stuffed potato rolls in fresh spinach gravy), garlic naan, kabuli (vegetables, baked with rice, milk, pieces of bread and fruit-Jodphur specialty), french fries, King Fisher beer and an orange Fanta.
She was pretty cool and very laid back and I come to find out that she has a passion for textiles and Indian fabric as I do.
We went to several different vendors in the Clock Tower area of Jodphur. This is where you can find a ton of local merchants and with the right amount of haggling, you can get a very good price.
One of the first shops that we came across was J. G. Art & Crafts.
Clock Tower, Sardar, Market, Jodhpur (Rajasthan)
This was a family business and we had a nice chat with a charming young man named Abhay Sancheti. He was an M.B.A. graduate who was quite articulate and knowledgeable. He gave us a quick crash course on the different gods and their significance. He seemed a lot more up front and honest than other vendors so Robin and I felt very good about buying some textile wall pieces from him.
The next day we went to this amazing textile wholesaler! I was in textile heaven. Anyone who truly knows me will know that I LOVE INDIAN FASHION, FABRIC, TEXTILES, ART AND ARCHITECTURE. Maharani Art Exporters is a lovely place that everyone must visit if they travel to Jodphur. This place had everything. Things don't happen by accident. There's always a reason why people meet or I end up wherever I go. This place ignited my passion for fashion once again.
Coming here and meeting these very nice, humble and knowledgeable owners has made me seriously think about possibly opening up my own export, textile business. We will see what happens.
I was introduced to two of the owners, Lokesh and Khush Jain. This is a family business that is run so well and efficiently. Many movie stars, designers and department stores come to this very shop to pick out gifts or they come with their own designs. Maharani uses their textile and workers to create the beautiful pieces often sold abroad or in places like Neiman Marcus or for Donna Karan (my old vendor that I used to work for. Obviously with a clientele like theirs, this family is very successful and prosperous but they were so simple, humble and welcoming. They explained to me the Jain religion and what they believed in. Coming to India, I have learned so much more about the different types of religions, castes and way of life. I was so fascinated hearing about their religion, their specific and restricted diet and the different textile techniques and types of fabrications that 4 hours just came and went.
A couple of things that stood out about their religion:
All living beings require food for their survival. Jains practice strict vegetarianism. The practice of vegetarianism is instrumental for the practice of non-violence and peaceful co-operative co-existence. They do not consume root vegetables such as potatoes, garlic, onions,carrots, radishes, cassava, sweet potatoes, turnips, etc., as the plant needed to be killed in the process of accessing these prior to their end of life cycle. In addition, the root vegetables interact with soil and therefore contain far more micro-organisms than other vegetables. However, they consume rhizomes such as dried turmeric and dried ginger. Brinjals are also not consumed by some Jains owing to the large number of seeds in the vegetable, as a seed is a form of life. Strict Jains do not consume food which has been left overnight, such as yogurt because it contains large amounts of bacteria. Most Jain recipes substitute potato with Plantain.
Non-violence (Ahimsa) – to cause no harm to living beings. This is the fundamental vow from which all other vows stem. It involves minimizing intentional and unintentional harm to any other living creature. "Non-violence", is sometimes interpreted as not killing, but the concept goes far beyond that. It includes not harming or insulting other living beings, either directly, or indirectly through others. There can be even no room for thought to injure others, and no speech that influences others to inflict harm. It also includes respecting the views of others (non-absolutism and acceptance of multiple views).
It was such an enjoyable experience visiting the Maharani Art Exporters. Thank you for making us feel so welcome.
Last but not least, another great find in the clock tower area is Via Bishnoi Village Craft.
I was able to find amazing, unique scarves at an extremely reasonable price. They are also manufacture beautiful and colorful textiles made for table cloths, bed covers, bags and cushion covers. They bring these hand stitched, hand loomed creations from the nearby villagers and their warehouse.
Thank you for the masala tea, your hospitality and your lovely scarves. Their prices were the lowest that I have seen thus far. This vendor makes you feel comfortable, and at home without feeling that high pressure to buy. This is a great little shop if you want a quality piece at a reasonable price.