Our last day in Ajmer was spent finishing up new product samples, laying out a new queen sized quilt, and spending time conducting a few interviews. Maggie and I also met with the senior artisans who have been in the program for over two years. These women are currently responsible for the color matching of each product. To expand their knowledge of color combinations, we conducted a quick workshop bringing back the color wheel to explain color families for the quilts. It was no easy task explaining why some things work better together than others because ultimately it is subjective. However, they undoubtedly know to avoid using the compliments red and green. For the first few months we received Christmas quilt after Christmas quilt, which let’s just say isn’t the easiest sale. So with only one point to the colors red and green, the whole room started laughing in understanding. The basic rules of the color wheel give the women the foundation for their decisions when pairing saris together for quilts. Since we were rushing around, it was difficult to focus on any specific task, but we powered through to ensure we had time for a proper goodbye. It was important that we shared down time and celebrated the end of the workshop with our friends. As the samples neared completion, we snacked on samosas and shared a few stories. While thanking the women for their hard work and dedication, they conveyed their sincere appreciation for the opportunity to be apart of the Anchal community and earn a respectable income for their family. I saw genuine gratitude and pride in their faces when we explain how “famous” they have become back home. The women are always amazed to learn how their quilts find a new home in the United States. It was a wonderful moment of mutual appreciation for all involved in the project around the world.
No goodbye can be found without a long photo shoot. It started out with just a few photos of each artisan, but within minutes it escalated into photo mania, each artisan requesting a solo shot, then one with myself and then one with Maggie. One of the women got the whole group rolling by requesting a “before” Anchal and “after” Anchal photo. The difference was her glasses. She burst out laughing; claiming 2 years of quilt making gave her glasses. Her infectious personality made everyone laugh and encourage even more photographs. I cherish the moments of this exchange, especially the giggles that consumed the group when we towered over them with giant hugs.
Saying goodbye is never easy, but I continue to be motivated by these personal exchanges for the months to come until my next trip. These women are my inspiration and will continue to live in my heart.
More stories from the interviews will be coming soon. But until then enjoy our last day photo-shoot.