Blog secret: while we have been traveling we have had spotty internet, so I've been scheduling blog posts from hotels with good wi-fi, then publishing them over the course of the next week. That means the blog is about a week and a half behind where we actually are. We have been in Kutch, in the city of Bhuj, for the last ten days, and just made the executive decision to cancel the rest of our trip and stay here for the rest of our time in India.
Kutch feels like what Rajasthan probably felt like thirty or forty years ago, before there were tourists everywhere and attitudes had adjusted accordingly. Kutch is in the desert, a nine-hour bus ride (including break-downs and repairs) from the big city of Ahmedabad. It feels very remote, and we have spent the past week and a half visiting villages, talking to textile experts and being welcomed into people's homes. The area is known for crafts and textiles, and some artisan families have been practicing the same craft for hundreds of years.
In Rajasthan, most of the arts have been commercialized, but here you can walk in to a village and see people making quilts and embroidering dresses just for personal use. We met a man who invited us to his house to see his family's collection of old textiles, which he is gradually selling off piece by piece to support his family.
Kutch jumped to the top of my list of favorite places as soon as we arrived, and after ten days I feel like we have barely scratched the surface.
The paintings above say "Bhuj" in Hindi (not the language of Kutch, but one that I can write) and I painted them in the style of the highly decorated trucks you see thundering dangerously down every road in India.