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The HAT Project 2006/07 is supporting 20 exchange fellowships between England, South Asia and Australia

Tanvi Kant

Residency at Arts Reverie

week three

Posted by Tanvi Kant on 23rd February 2008

Began working in various rooms and spaces around the house. It was good to move about, plus being out on the terrace makes up for being at the house all day. 


However, I end up going for a walk when it was cooler, but as it is a residential area with lots of alley ways I just stick to the route I know which leads to the main road and back - not as long as I would like and probably to the amusement to the people out on the streets. The little lanes either side, I tend not to go down because as they seem as if they all lead to dead ends or someone's front door and people see me going up and down the same stretch and I start to create even more attention to myself.


You can always hear something going on, sound of water running, singing, shouting, layers of conversation and pressure cookers going off, children crying, playing and laughing, dogs whimpering, rickshaws and scooters with their beeping... Most of this runs through the night and early in the morning, there's loud banging and thumping, and men singing out to sell things or asking for things, mostly inaudible as they sound like they are making strange loud sounds. 

Shopping mall

The temperatures are rising now and I have to shop! I get some linen trousers from Western style stores in a huge shopping mall along with some books: Khalil Gibran, Rumi and Jawarahlal Nehru. Plus some snacks from a large supermarket. 


I have not yet been to a sari shop, but we have tailors in their tiny little holes in the wall around the haveli and I have been eyeing up their off-cuts piling up around them. I ask one what he does with them, but as he tells me a list of things I decide not to ask if I can have them. 

Thursday, what a day! 

7.30 start, I wrap two pieces of toast that have been kindly spread with jam and two lumps of butter by the kitchen staff here and I'm handed a bottle of water as I walk out. Mohammed my rickshaw driver takes me to a Swaminarayan temple where the Heritage Walk starts off. I notice on the sign in book different countries of origin of the tourist are priced accordingly for participation on this walk. My UK price is half the price of the Canadian non resident indians'. 

There was a smallish group and the walk started with a presentation of the history of this very interesting and very old city... 

(as I am typing this there goes another wedding procession with dhols playing - very loudly. Its definitely wedding season....its still going on and having looked out the window I see that it is just around the corner about four metres away) 

....I make a friend who makes good company for the rest of the day. We attend the morning session at the Calico Museum, the second time I have seen this astounding collection of textiles, and visit the Ghandi Ashram, my personal favourite, the paper factory nearby plus a few peacocks, and the step well at Adalaj, which too was fantastic. The details of carving in stone that I have seen over and over again never fails to amaze. 

Overall, an incredible day and a long one at that. I feel a real satisfaction that I have been able to see and experience these incredible places and come to a place that was home to Ghandiji. Unfortunately, I also know how far things continue to rapidly move from the ideals that were communicated by him. 

making Friday 

The next day I am happy to be in one place and making, I also make some notes and re-evaluate where I am going. I realise some things I was planning to do this week have not been very successful so I take it as something I will come back to later on, as the materials I am working with, namely textiles, are not appropriate for what I wanted to achieve. However, I actually see it as a little bit of success too, as deciding not to follow is as important as deciding to follow a path. 


I visit sari shops with another guest staying at the Haveli and we see wonderful suits and sarees, I try some on which I still like but I haven't bought anything. Honestly. 

I see a girl with her parents, being shown bridal dresses, stunning red and white skirts with sparkling embroidery that haven't been sewn yet. The three stores we visit have mostly designer outfits suited to the overseas visitors aka NRI (non resident indians) like myself. They are, after all, dresses I would wear myself. I remember that I use to think the best fashion/dress is in the Indian culture. I still firmly believe this, from antique dresses to vintage to contemporary, even the ones suited for a more western market and I feel a little pride to have this as a part of my heritage. 


In particular, the benares woven silk sari with real zari (fine gold wire) bhandini (tie and dye) and habla (mirrorwork) is my all time favourite. I have seen expert craftswomen practising the latter two crafts with incredible quality, I am yet to see the weaving of the benares silks though, as well as the making of real zari...which I think I need to get on the case for more urgently as I have been asking about it for quite some time now. 

(sounds: wedding dhols are yet again playing, amongst the singing of women, children playing and men talking loudly)