Trip to India

Dharavi and Beyond

When in Mumbai it’s a must to go and see the latest blockbuster movie as Mumbai is where most of the Indian film stars live and many come here to fulfill their dreams. The latest film release is Gullyboy which means street boy. We went to see this and it tells the story of a boy from the Dharavi slums seeking fame and fortune in the music industry. Even without subtitles I was able to follow the story and really enjoyed it! Funny, sad and with a strong message that big dreams can be achieved with determination and ambition.

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Mumbai Sights...

Gurpreet and I were up early for a walk and tuk tuk ride while it was still cool, before the sun ☀️ gets too hot. We fed a cow, and stopped at a beautiful Hindu temple to see Ganesha garnished in beautiful flowers. A bit of shopping in nearby Bandra West and then we were picked up by Yogesh and his family for a sightseeing tour of South Mumbai.South Mumbai is very colonial and green with beautiful old buildings , temples and arts/culture. We toured the Colaba area and Khola Ghada before a trip to the beach to build a sandcastle with Yogesh’ 4 year old son.The sand was just bearable to walk on...but still very hot !

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Hare Krishna

Our first full day in Mumbai and we were kindly shown the sights by Yogish, a friend of Gurpreet. We drove to Iskon temple which is a Hare Krishna place of worship. It was a very spiritual place and we arrived in time to see the doors opening to reveal the gods. It was a religious ceremony and there were lots of worshipers there. The whole ceremony was very moving with the Krishna devotees dressed in orange robes, the sweet smell of incense and the Krishna chant. Unfortunately no photography allowed so I can't share any photos. After a quick stop to get some street food, Yogesh then drove us to the Sahara Hotel which was incredibly posh and stunning inside. Here we met some business men to talk about our project. They were also meeting to do commerce  business so Gurpreet and I walked back to the hotel to do some creative work and plan for our week. Mumbai holds many opportunities for our project which we have yet to discover .

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Mumbai Incoming ..

The next part of our adventure began today as we headed from Kochi to Mumbai. We took a taxi at 9.30am with Harris to the airport stopping for chai on the way. The flight was 1 hour 45 mins and temperature in Mumbai  is 31 degrees . The journey was straight forward and getting through customs was also much easier this time, probably because it was an internal flight. We were picked up by the hotel taxi and taken to the Bawa International, Mumbai. In the evening we went for a walk but the area is new for us and the streets seem very congested and busy. Mumbai is a huge contrast from Kerala and the air feels so polluted, but our hotel is very central so we need to discover some green areas. Finding local yoga is a priority...The hotel is very comfortable and we have booked for 2 weeks although plans of location  may change. Tomorrow we meet friends of Gurpreet and discover the area more...

Another Visit to the Relief Settlement

A 6am start again for yoga and this time Ramesh our teacher was there to guide us into positions I didn’t think were possible. Once again the sun rose and we did our salutations on the roof terrace.Back for breakfast, several chores and then a Tuk tuk to the relief settlement to talk again to Agnes about the amazing work she is doing with the people who live there. She showed us the hand looms where they weave fine blankets and more rag rugs and bags. We hope to sell some of the beautiful products soon through the Ragwaste Collective to raise funds for The settlement in Palluruthy.

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Last Day with Tejus Girls.

Today began with another 6am start for yoga but after a “no show” from our teacher Gurpreet and I did our own sun salutations on the roof terrace.It was back to the hotel for breakfast and then a Tuk Tuk to the DilSe office to meet the girls. Today we made bunting and asked the girls to embellish their work with beads , buttons and some positive words. The bunting will hang on the banister at the Tejus home. The girls did some lovely work and sat chatting whilst they sewed, it was such a relaxing workshop.It was our last workshop with DilSe today but we have left fabrics, cottons and needles to enable the girls to continue their sewing in the days that lead up to their births and beyond.

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Tejus Home for Girls

Today we worked with 3 girls at the Tejus Home who are pregnant and under 16. The Ragwaste Project aims to provide therapeutic textile activities to those most in need in our communities and today we did just that. For safety reasons we are unable to show any faces of the girls or show their location and we respect their privacy and safety in our work.They made some prayer flags and wrote some personal words on the hangings. They showed a real creative flair and through facilitation we allowed them to be expressive through their creations. They seemed to really enjoy the experience and created some wonderful prayer flags which were left adorning the stairs in their home.

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Dil Se Project

Today was the first day at the Dil Se project. We worked with staff ( doctors, counsellors and volunteers) to train them how to make upcycled crafts so that they can continue these skills with the girls at the Tejus Home.They really enjoyed it and made some really beautiful items. It was lovely just to sit in a circle and talk whilst doing something creative and relaxing.It was a milestone for the Ragwaste Project as it marked the first day working with vulnerable groups in India. From the Dil Se office we had lunch at The Farmers Cafe which is an art gallery / restaurant.

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Kerala Backwaters and Strange Fruits

Today we took a trip onto the backwaters of South Kerala. We were picked up by a mini bus and after about 90 mins arrived at our destination. We took a traditional “punt” boat which was made from the bark of a jackfruit tree and went deep into the backwaters. We saw several large water snakes, goats, hungry dogs, women doing their laundry in the waters, unusual birds and fruits hanging from oversized tropical trees of which I had never before seen! The gentle sound of the water against the boat and the call of the rare birds from the enormous boughs of the trees could have taken us back thousands of years to prehistoric times. It was a sensory feast.

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Tuk Tuks and Temples

sewing1-smallTodays adventure began with a a bit of shopping and then we went to get some fabric offcuts from a small tailors in Fort Kochi, “Edens”. We explained the project to them and they were happy to give us some waste materials.The tailor gave us some beautiful scraps that were going to be thrown away and we will be using these at the Tejus home next week.

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