Thursday, 13 April 2017

K is for Khamir #AtoZChallenge

What's the first thing you do when you start planning your holiday?

The first thing after you've decided your destination.

We are an airline family. No, we don't own an aircraft (sadly). The husband works for one which means that we are blessed with discounted air travel as long as there are seats available on the plane. There lies the catch 22 of every airline family. The most popular destinations, therefore, are almost always out of reach on staff discounted tickets.

But, this quirk has worked out quite favorably for us as we end up travelling to 'off the beaten path' kinda places and love it.

One has to be ready to fly out at half a day's notice (as long as the boss okays your leave) and pack efficiently for hot and cold places at once. A couple of years ago, we were all set to spend a weekend in February in cool Kathmandu but the flight filled up. Luckily, we found out before we left for the airport. The only other option was a flight to Kerala, a few hours later. Out came the woolly jumpers and in went the bathing suits. We've done this sort of last minute travelling long enough for it to feel normal now.

The first thing I do when I know that there's a 75% chance we'll get on is to google: local artisans or artists and a place to stay -- yes, in that order. The artisans' details with phone numbers etc. are jotted down on pieces of paper lying around the house. These pieces travel with me in my handbag/backpack. I've manged to meet, visit, see and talk to quite a few people on my lists. Visiting local artists/artisans tops the 'to-do-list' for me when I'm travelling. Luckily, others in the family enjoy it too:)

So when in February this year, while travelling through Kutchch, my travel guru and buddy, Apu, mentioned that a friend of hers knew the director of  Khamir (the one on my list) and that we'd be given a tour of the place, I was ecstatic.

"Khamir in Kutcchi means pride." stated the director, Juhi Pandey.

"I read that it stands for yeast (like in Hindi...khameer) to show that this centre is like a catalyst..." I interjected unnecessarily.

"Yes." She carried on. "It is that too." She smiled and offered an explanation.

Note to self: stop blurting out googled facts to the people who know what they're talking about. Actually, just stop blabbing. Full Stop.

Notes I can take, follow their instructions....not so sure.

I didn't squeak a syllable after that. The sun was beating down on us and I could sense that the rest of the group wanted to listen to her, not me!

"After the earthquake," Juhi continued, "a group of weavers from near here came to us and asked for a loan to build their loom sheds. They said the only way they could get back on their feet was if they started working again. They said that although charities had re-built their homes, without work, they wouldn't be able to sustain themselves."

Juhi's silver earrings kept distracting me. They were gorgeous.

"The people of Kutchh are very proud of their heritage and when they insisted that they didn't want a hand out but a loan which they'd pay back, an idea was born and Khamir is the result."

Check out their story and other details here: KHAMIR and have a look at some of the photos I took:
 Under Indigo

 She laughs when we go the fact that cow dung is used to make the natural dyes used at Khamir vibrant and long lasting.
The yarn is boiled with it!

 To witness a process as ancient as the Indus Valley Civilization pumps me up with so much joy.
 Colourful human history
Some of the dyeing techniques are dying.
Here at Khamir, those techniques are being revived by giving the artisans the support they need to create and sell.

 Pit looms --where the weaver sits in a pit, so his feet dangle below the loom.
 Even the ugly plastic gets a useful makeover here

"Where did you get those earring from?" One of us asked Juhi.

The name of the jeweller was added to my list immediately.

No visit to a place like Khamir is complete without visiting their shop. So off we went, our group of women, to do what we (most of us at least) enjoy a lot -- yes, shopping; at least looking and oohing and aahing if not buying.

I bought this beautiful saree. The fabric wasn't woven here (it's a Chanderi) but the colours and the batik motifs were adorned to it in the village of Mundra in Kutchch.
Looking forward to seeing you here tomorrow.
Live lightly:)


  1. I love your pictures!

    One the first things I do when preparing a vacation is to consult the postal services site (if hte place have one) :D
    Eva - Mail Adventures

    1. I can see why Eva. Your postcards are so delightful:)

  2. When you figure out how to stop blabbing, please tell me your secret!

    1. I think I will have to learn that lesson in my next life! aaaH!Big mouth syndrome runs deep:)

  3. What a delightful story - so rich with details and images!


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