Nova Scotia Artist, Joy Laking, posts ramblings while she's travelling and painting in South America.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 22, 2014, Udaipur, India

Udaipur is on a lake and is known as the city of love. I just love it!
The palace above and some inside palace shots below.

Today, we were done visiting museums and palaces and we explored the narrow streets and winding alleys on urdaipur.  It was a great day.

Friday, March 21, 2014

March 21, 2914, Ranakpur, India

Before departing Jodhpur, yesterday I stood in the street and did this little sketch.

After arriving back at our hotel, before leaving, this elephant was collecting money from tourists and then passing it up to his rider. 

On the way to Ranakpur from Jodhpur, I saw three older men on a motorcycle. They were all dressed in white and were wearing huge red turbons. I wasn't fast enough to get a photo, but I love the image, and so I have tried recreate it for you.

After we arrived in Ranakpur and had a cooling Kingfisher beer, we set off on a walk in the country side.  In these extremely dry hills, bordering a leopard reserve, we came across a lake made by a dam and so of course I had to do another little sketch.

We also found a cobra hole but no snake around.

This morning, I worked on my two word pictures, "the Stink of Shit" and "Simplicity" while trying to catch photos of parrots and monkeys.

Then we were off to the famous Jain temple of Ranakpur built in the 1400's. 

March 19, 2014, Jodhpur, India

The Spice Girls of India

We have made three visits to M V Spices, in Jodhpur.  This is a shop recommended in Lonely Planet. We were welcomed in by Neelam. In perfect English, she invited us to sit, brought us delicious masala tea, (which we will be serving at this October's Open House), and gave us a fascinating introduction to spices.  Luckily we hadn't purchased any spices and so we were able to stock up.  After we selected our spices, (and at my age how could I resist the brain boosting mixture), I asked Neelam about their inclusion in Lonely Planet.

Neelam in her M V Spice Shop.

the Spice Girls of India Is quite a story!   Neelam's Dad, M V, had wanted to be a doctor. When lack of money and financial responsibilities made this impossible, he decided to be the first person to market spices to tourists in Jodhpur.  He opened a tiny shop in the market, and every day he carried a big blanket filled with spices up the mountain to a space outside of the fort. When the tourists came out, he engaged them in conversation, explained passionately about his spices, and had good sales and happy customers. Reorders started coming from all over the world.  When one came from Germany directed for The Spice Man, outside of the Jodhpur fort, care of the king of Jodhpur, the maharaji was so impressed that he granted M V special permission to sell his spices outside of the fort.  At the same time that M V's business was growing, so was his family. M V had married a strong wonderful woman and then tried seven times to have a son.  They had seven daughters, which they loved and educated to speak English and to be strong in dependant women.  Even though their family and friends felt sorry for M V and his wife for having no son, M V referred to his daughter's as the Seven Wonders of the World.  Their family and friends were also envious of M V's business success.

Ten years ago, when the daughters were all between ten and twenty, M V died suddenly of a heart attack.  His wife knew that they had to keep the spice shop going in order to survive.  Family and friends  tried to take over the shop because they thought that women could not and should not run a business.  When M V 's wife wouldn't give in, they promised to run them out of business within six months. These family and friends opened competing shops with names like M Z Spices or N V spices and put up signs saying that they were the shop in all the guide books. M V 's wife stood firmly and said that she would open seven shops, one for each of her daughters. To date there are four shops but things have been very far from easy.  This is a country where one of their friends, a young bride, was put to death by the grooms family. The sisters faced lies, degradation, humiliation, intimidation, beatings with bamboo and even an acid attack.  But they are strong young independent women. With their mother, five sisters continue to work together to buy top quality spices and run the four shops.  By hand, they clean and prepare the spices and the blends. They all speak English and one sister Nikki not only has put the acid attack behind her, she is known as the Spice Lioness of the market for her fearlessness. Although her schooling was stopped to help the family business, Nikki taught herself four other languages in addition to Hindi and English in order to be able to talk to tourists. The world is now a small place, and when the BBC heard about M V Spices, they decided to do a story. This resulted in an Australian deciding to do a 50 minute documentary film on their story. The film was released at the Feminist Film Festival in London, England in November, and is currently on offer to other film festivals.  Jim and I will work to see if we can help to get it into Canadian film festivals.

These intelligent, strong young women are roll models for  women the world over and especially in India where there is still such inequality.  We need to keep the Spice Girls of India in business and to encourage their bravery and leadership.  Want to order some fantastic spices?  Or want to view the film "Spice Girls if India" when it appears as it eventually will on utube? Just email me and I will put you in touch. 

March 21, 2014, word picture "Simplicity"


The full squat
Replaces sofas and chairs
When selling at market,
Waiting road side for buses,
In homes.
Living room and sleeping room are one.
In the street,
Men squat in clusters
Around games.
Women squat to pick up cow dung
For fuel.
Everyone squats to defecate.
They rinse with the left hand
And then stand effortlessly.
Everyone has a position 
Of comport and repose
With them at all times.

The right hand 
Becomes a knife,
A fork,
A spoon.
No utensils to wash up.
Nothing to store.
Just the ends of fingers 
Pinch gobs of biryani,
Or a piece of nan
To soak up
The last of the marsala.

A strip of cloth
White and worn,
Or shimmering and brightly coloured,
A sari,
A lounghi,
A turban,
A shawl,
A baby holder,
Or rain coat.
It might be woven of
Camel hair or silk.
There are no buttons,
No zippers, 
No sizes,
No fashion seasons.
It is rinsed in the river,
Then flung in arching smacks onto rocks.
After it is clean,
The sun dries and perfumes it.

March 21, 2014. Word Picture "The Stink of Shit"

 The Stink of Shit

The stink of shit washes over me,
Permeating my every pore.
I verge on retching.
Recent mounds of shit 
Sit here and there.
Everywhere, the smear 
Of shit from yesterdays
Is dragged along
On wheels and feet.

Cows, lunching on garbage,
The main producers of this shit,
Stand or lay,
Serenely watching.
Watching motorcycles, cars and trucks
Trying not to hit them.
Watching colourful sari clad women,
With water jugs on their heads,
Weave around them.

Cows are not immune to beauty.
Amid the blaring horns and chaos
They radiate tranquility.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 18, Jodhpur, India

Spent the morning at one more incredible marble temple

And one more incredible fort/palace

I guess this had better be my last fort, since I can no longer be bothered even to learn it's name.
I know this won't be my last temple as we have one to see tomorrow.  There was one painting done by a European in the palace and of course a huge number of Indian paintings. Unfortunately, although I have enjoyed learning about Indian art and architecture, I don't relate to the over the top embellishment and the stylization, and so I haven't felt inspired or moved by all the Indian Art.  I also find the male dominance and the extravagance of the maharajis appalling.  That being said, I do love seeing the real people of India and their lives and their traditions.


One chore that Ihave enjoyed watching is the making of dried dung paddies. 
First, women in beautiful saris with plastic bags on their hands, scoop  up the dung from the street while keeping an aluminum bowl balanced in their heads.

Then the dung is dumped into a wagon and mixed with straw.  it is made into paddies and these are airdried.  

Then the paddies are sold, used for cooking, bonfires, 

or stored in these great mounds until needed.

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17, Jodhpur, India

Today is Holi, the festival of colour! It's a wild free for all when small plastic bags of brightly coloured dye and water based dyes in water guns are smeared on everyone and everything.
Last night there was much selling of dye and also bonfires and drumming ing the street.

Women selling dried dung paddies for the bonfires

Dried dung paddies on top of sticks, already for the bonfire.

Today, I think I will be content to sit by our second story open window and just enjoy the shenanegans.