On the road: remote India.
Inside the 4X4 everyone grows quiet as we emerge from the energetic city, into the countryside, journeying to one of our craft villages. The scenery, with its fields and mountains, sparse and empty, has lulled us into tranquillity. The lilting sound of Hindi music playing quietly on the car stereo is our soundtrack as we pass through remote lands where women in brightly coloured saris stand out against a dry landscape.
Families from all over India often migrate to far-away places where their skills, passed down from generation to generation, are still appreciated. Workshops provide accommodation for them and they raise their families around the looms, weaving to the sound of children’s laughter.
Many of the workshops where textiles are woven, block-printed and dyed by hand, are in villages far away from the markets and city warehouses where their works are sold. Life out here has an honest simplicity, and a sense of community that extends between neighbours and livestock. We smile as we watch pigs roam the streets in the same way cats do our own.
Some of the villages are quiet, their inhabitants at work in the fields or the workshops, others are bustling with activity. We pass through one where the main road is heaving with people who’ve come out to vote in a local election. In another, men and buffalo gather together for the weekly buffalo market, leading their powerful beasts through thick crowds, inspecting the livestock of their fellow farmers as they go.
It’s a side of Indian life that we’re privileged to be able to see, a world the tourists often ignore. But there is much to be learned about the culture of India in its countryside, where centuries old traditions survive as the world modernises around them.