As I get ready for one of the biggest most dynamic adventures of my life, I look back as why India means so much to me.
Spring of 1989, My family went on a “vacation”– a vacation mingled in with rug business. At 12, the farthest I had been was to a Navajo reservation in Arizona, to visit my cousin’s. My world consisted of New York city and the mountains of North Carolina. India was foreign. I remember leaving India, saying I would never go back. First lesson of growing up– never say never.
As, I grew and learned more about life, my experiences in India in 1989 impacted my life in ways, I would have never imagined.
- I remember this huge tree surrounded by vast nothingness. Underneath, the tree was a teacher and 20-30 students. I only saw from the car, this image, and I was so jealous of what they had. School for me was confining and hard. I was (and am) severely dyslexic. I was in 3rd grade at the time our visit in 1989. To me, the idea of learning under a tree was magical, liberating. I wanted to go to that school.
- Poverty is subjective. I have learned the levels of wealth in India. A home is one room to multiple rooms. What an American might think is poverty because it is a 2 room home with a dirt floor, is actually a step up for many families. You could live in a home with a dirt floor and still have a television.
- That dirt floor I mentioned is clean as can be. At 12, I didn’t really get why a woman was sweeping the dirt. Seemed odd back then. Now I get it–might have to do with the fact that I am a mom now.
- Kids peeing in the streets or pooping. Ok that was disgusting but it was a part of life in 1989. On my last visit, I barely saw any of that.
There are many stories and memories I have of 1989 India. Surprisingly, none of them are bad. I understand where Indian society was then. I reflect on how one must acknowledge other cultures, welcome them and respect them.
The next time I was in India, the year was 2002. I spent six weeks in Mirzapur with my extended family. I traveled to new regions. I was 24. My goal was to work on a book about life with Granny Jane. Instead, I toured. I listened and I experienced life. Gone were the school kids under trees learning. Now children were in uniforms going to schools in buildings. (My 12 yr old self was saddened.) The garbage filled streets were less. The homeless on the street seemed less. But what had not changed — the color, the vibrancy, the pride of the people.
Fast forward to 2009, my whole family goes to India. This time, I saw more children in uniform, heading off to school. Less brightly painted trucks. More televisions in homes. Bigger homes. But still the colors, vibrancy and pride of the people.
In 1989, at the age of 12, I told my father, I would be back to have white Indian silk as my wedding dress. NEVER PROMISE YOUR DAUGHTER SOMETHING, unless you plan on keeping to it. Back then, he said White indian silk is hard to come by but when you get married, we will come back.
Well, in 2009, I got engaged in India, in Mirzapur, in my extended family home. It was at the end of a 3 week trip. During the entire trip, I kept saying let me shop for my wedding. We were not engaged yet but I knew it was coming. My father again spoke up– you must wait till your engaged. Then you can come back and get your silk. Well, three nights before we left, Philip asked me to marry him. Champagne appeared, and I started planning.
2010–The year of my Indian Wedding. What an incredible trip to India. We shopped. We visited textile museums and factories. I got silk and more silk. I saw more of India. Still amazed at how the regions are so different. Patterns on sari’s are regional. Colors are regional. Handicrafts are regional. A couple things that were purchased were Jaipur puppets for the children at the wedding, silk for the wedding party, table clothes and napkins. I could outfit my home in Indian Textiles.
Below are pictures from our 2009, 2010 visits and my Indian wedding. Just a little pre 2014 trip memories.