The god of small things is what comes to my mind when I think about India, the hustle and bustle of the busy streets and every little thing seems to have a place. Everything is there at the same time and will be ever so present. There is no hidden poverty like we have in our western world, it is right there in front of you and it is truly an adaptation to your perception and your senses. You will not be able to switch to a different channel because you do not want to see what is going on in the world and put your 50 dollars into the United Nations donation box to boost your moral and step into your hot shower and complain about the water pressure. No India has it all, and it can be an overload, but so very rewarding once you have let go and start to surrender.
Our goal is to move up the ladder of corporate success and when we find ourselves in a job that does not match with the glossy magazines and lifestyle shows on TV we seem to get depressed if we can’t find a way out and live the life we should be living according to the media. In India people will take pride in what they do, and if you are making Chai Tea, then you make Chai tea, and you put your heart and soul into it.
While I was on my way to India I got offered a photography job in Srinagar, which is in Kashimer. I would be documenting the pashmina making process, the spinning of the yarn, the weaving, the colouring and the embroiding, all done by hand. I spend some time in Mumbai first as I had some things I needed to get done there. I can say I liked Mumbai very much when I arrived. Coming from good old little Queenstown, Mumbai is a big change, but like everything, you get used to it and adapt and after a while you can even see the beauty in things.
Srinagar seemed to be a different world, the climate and the religion but the same warmth you find everywhere else in India. Don’t think you will not get stopped every time you walk on the streets or that you get local rates. They don’t have a base income and a family to feed. After the last war and kidnap in the early ’90 the Kashmir area has suffered a lot from the absence of tourists and then an all destroying flood in 2015 has put the area under pressure. Put corruption on top and you have a good mix for a hard environment to live in.
On my arrival I met Rashid, who’s family is involved in the Pashmina business for generations and he would come along with me on my photo shoot after his trip to Delhi. He knows all the Artisans in the area and was able to give me a good insight in the amount of love and work that goes into making one of these Shawls. I was doing the photoshoot for www.mrgoat.co.uk . Tim, contacted me while I was on my way to India because he needed a photographer and I was just on my way. I was going to document the making of a stunning piece of art. There are pashminas made by machines, but not these ones. These are handmade, every little bit of it. The spinning of the wool is the only bit which is not done by hand anymore and from what I could understand is that, like most trades, these ones will fade away in a few years too as machines take over the process. Machines how ever, can never put their heart and soul into a shawl.
It was an amazing process to watch and I could not believe the amount of work that goes into making one of these shawls, the embroiders could sit on a piece for month or almost a year. They would not work full on one shawl of course, but would work on it when ever they can. They would take the shawl with them and work on it at a friends place or sit together in a group and have a good old yarn while embroiding. I think it must be very therapeutic. It was such a delight to watch these people taking pride in what they do and do it with such perfection. I think this will show in the shawls MrGoat sells as they are all pieces of art and so soft. Pashmina has a 3 times higher insulation than merino but is so much lighter.
I loved my time up in Srinagar and was lucky to meet Rashid, who showed me around and told me all about the area. I got myself measured up for some tailor made suits and from there came a new business idea but I will leave that for another story soon….
If you want to check out some of these amazing pashminas have a look on www.mrgoat.co.uk