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Report from Ajmer: New Anchal Products

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Report from Ajmer: New Anchal Products

After finishing up workshopping with the women in Ajmer, the tailor Dumgar-Das and I headed back to the children’s village in Udayan with the prototypes the artisans had developed: panels for small and large pouches, circle and straight scarves.

On the way there, we drove through Jaipur to see if we could get some saris, though the morning market had long closed. We had no luck in finding the cotton saris we wanted, mostly because we didn’t have a sense of the main market.

I then had a sudden craving for Naan and insisted that we stop somewhere to get some of the oven baked bread in a local restaurant, as spoiled Western tourist might do. As expected, it was incredible. Fluffy and hot.

The next day in Udayan was Sunday, and the kids spent the day playing. Goats, cows, buffalos, puppies, geese all co-exist and cross paths. 

Meanwhile, we started on the prototypes of the large pouches. We came across the challenges of getting the zipper to work with the kantha stitched panels and tried different combinations (inside liner vs. outside liner, by hand vs. by machine, using metal vs. using plastic zippers). We soon realized the kantha stitching of the foam was making it bend in a weird way so that the edges didn’t look that great. 

We also played with sewing up the circular scarves we had, which look fantastic when wrapped around twice. I’m really happy with the way they fall. 

Anchal Artisans India Workshop Design

Anchal Artisans India Workshop DesignIn the evening, Jaimala, director of Vatsalya, came by and we got to talking over a cup of chai. I spoke with her about conducting interviews with the artisans during my next trip to Ajmer, as they work on scarves and baby quilts. We talked about the best way to collect their stories while keeping the utmost sensitivity and privacy of their work. Having interviewed sexual assault survivors, depressed adolescents, chronically ill patients, both in the context of program evaluation and research, I understand the importance of these women’s consent and privacy in participating in any interviews. 

We’ll have to see how they go! It will be an interesting experience, especially with the language barrier and the fact that I have spent limited time with them so far. Whatever happens (and trust me, I have no expectations either way), I am simply happy to get to spend some one-on-one time with them, and just see who they are, as women with a profound desire to learn and grow. I head to Ajmer Wednesday morning.


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