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Visiting Paper and Textile Factories in Jaipur

Sanskriti Kendra is an oasis amidst the chaos that is Delhi. It is an enclave of small museums and terraced desert gardens dotted with residences for artists and writers built for the summer heat. Thick walls and shaded courtyards graced with bougainvillea make for a lovely setting.

BUT - it is hard to leave on a whim. A woman alone can not just walk to the local cafe or get a drink at the corner restaurant. There is a quiet road leading to the superhighway to Delhi, but watch out for the monkeys! I was actually surrounded by some angry monkey moms who thought I was threatening their babies. The facial expression on one of them did not leave me wondering if I should hang around a bit longer! I began to feel a bit trapped and really needed to grab some friends and go into Delhi or take a field trip.

Fortunately, my friends Anne and Hartash scheduled a field trip to Jaipur, about 7 hours by car from Delhi. Jaipur is the heart of north Indian textiles and papermaking. We were very fortunate to visit several factories and watch the process. We might as well have been in the 18th century. Hard physical labor and painstaking hand work which would cost a fortune here in the first world is available at a fraction of the cost in India.

Paper is made from cotton scrap, recycled clothing and other fabric. It is separated by hand, then made into paper pulp. Dye is added for stunning color. Each sheet of paper is made by sifting water from a layer of pulp that is collected onto a screen. It takes two men to quickly dip and then dump the completed sheet of paper onto a stack. Paper is dried outside usually, since this is typically a very dry climate (except during the summer monsoon season.)

An installation all by itself, right? Lines of gorgeous colored paper hung up to dry.