TARA projects were the next WFTO producer that I went to see, they are just out to the south of central New Delhi, I could have taken the metro or a taxi but for me, the essence of being in India is being in the thick of it so a rickshaw it was. Cue the filming and recording the manic sounds of Delhi in the rush hour, it a crazy mix of fumes, dust, honking horns, shouting, buses driving where ever they like, make that anyone driving wherever they like!! There are a few occasions in every tourist’s rickshaw rides where you fear for your life but the skill of the driver always delivers you to your destination!
We’ve got a few samples being made by TARA that I think may be best sellers, we’ll have to wait and see! TARA also make a lot of our wooden items as well as our popular ceramic drawer sets, in fact, our best seller from TARA last year was the 3 drawer set, sold more of those than all the rest of the drawers put together!
The next morning was a bit more relaxing, it gave me the opportunity to get over the last bit of jet lag that had been hanging on and to visit the local market to buy a few bits for our summer festival season.
I arrived in Udaipur that evening, after the late afternoon flight on what I call the Toy Plane, it’s a small propeller plane that holds around 60 people, I’m not the best flyer in the world and the noises are all a bit different to a jet plane. As always the flight was fine.
After dinner at my favourite restaurant washed down with a few bottles of the lovely kingfisher beer I settled down to plan my last 3 days in India.
Our main producer is in Udaipur, they supply us with all of our handmade paper sari and leather journals and photo albums, and we’ve been working with them for almost 13 years now. We first met when Claire and I were traveling across the world, looking a bit like Robinson Crusoe and his wife, they had a small shop front where they made books with only a couple of family staff. Now they have a workshop that employs around 30 people as well as many more that work in their homes. They have also just build a papermaking workshop in a nearby village and have employed around 20 of the local women who didn’t have an income.
Paper High is hoping to make a donation to their small Temple and finish building the roof. It’s been unfinished for a few years as they haven’t had the money to add the roof, now we hope to be able to give something back to this village. Again, my camera was in overdrive, in Udaipur they have the famous Lake Palace Hotel made famous by James Bond in the film Octopussy.
That’s not the only thing to photograph there though! An early morning rise treats you to beautiful calm lake scenes with fishermen out doing their thing locals bathing and washing clothes on the Ghats.
Sunset isn’t bad either and if you want to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest just click on their respective links to see loads of images of the trip plus other bits and bobs that we do as well.
My last sunset was spent at the beautiful Monsoon Palace, built in 1884 upon the top of a nearby hill and used to be the summer palace Maharana Sajjan Singh. A short motorbike ride through Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary brings you to the Palace, where you’re not short of amazing Mewar Dynasty architecture and monkeys, yep monkeys, they are everywhere. It’s amazing that they always find the touristy area!
We waited an hour or so for the sun to go down, took loads of photos and film (that I can hopefully use!) before getting back for my farewells to the family.
It’s always a pleasure to visit Udaipur and I just can’t help taking loads of photos, even though I’ve probably got 100’s of the same thing!
Visiting our producers is something that we feel is very important to us and to them, it lets us spend time together, get to know who we both are, understand each other’s needs and we also get to meet the producers themselves, the hard working people who make our products. We can discuss new lines, talk about existing ones, discuss production and quality issues and discuss Fair Trade and see where we all are and how we can move forward.