yesterday i received the most delightful little parcel, enfolded in calico, stitched around the edges and then (for good measure) adorned with small red dots of sealing wax. it felt rather naughty, cutting my way into it.
inside was a delicious silk shawl, handwoven especially for me by a weaver working with the Avani project (AVANI is a voluntary organization working in the Kumaon region of Uttaranchal, located in the middle ranges of the Central Himalayan region). the 'eri' silk, soft and light as a feather; is gathered from the wild.
why was i so blessed? twas a lovely swap in exchange for a copy of my book, sent to them earlier this year.
i had the good fortune to meet Rashmi Bharti (one of the organisers of the Avani craft project) at the UNESCO Symposium on Natural Dyes in Hyderabad a couple of years ago and we've been corresponding from time to time since then. the craft project helps establish sustainable practices in textile production so that participating villagers can earn an income (and plan for the future) and alongside this they've also been developing simple solar-powered technology to make life a little more comfortable.
it's a long way from anywhere. my little parcel had to be carried for some distance on foot before it was able to join the postal system, thence hitch a ride on a train and eventually wing its way across the ocean.
click here to see more about Avani
the difficulty facing me now is deciding what colours to dye my lovely shawl....