On coming back from breakfast in the hotel dining room I travelled in the lift with two people who didn’t look like locals. Just as I was wondering if it would be too rude to ask them what they were doing there, I was asked the same question, albeit politely! That led to our all introducing ourselves . Snap! They are on the tour too. What a relief, I thought. These two, Sue and Richard, seem very nice.
Later that day we all met in the foyer of the hotel and were joined by Sunita, our guide for the whole tour. No one else to meet because, guess what?, there are only the three of us, plus Sunita, as two people had to cancel at the last minute because of illness. We travelled to the airport by car rather than the more usual small bus. I think it might have been my silly suggestion that we go there and then grab a sandwich rather than going to the hotel cafe first. Yuk!
Our destination today and our place of stay for the next five days is Bhuj. Bhuj is the capital of the Kutch (also spelt Kachchh) District in the State of Gujarat. Famous for textiles.
Bhuj by internal airline (Jet Airways I think) was a short flight but it enabled Sunita to find out from me what some of my objectives for the tour might be. The trip from the airport to ur hotel (http://www.mangalamhotels.com) was long but very engaging. It was my first glimpse into the status of cows. They take up very scarce roadway space and calmly watch as vehicles of all kinds negotiate their way around them. The other exciting experience was simply the life and colour and bustle we could see from our car windows.
Sharing the road with motor rickshaws or occupying the median strip
Above and below: Some of them go shopping.
Below: Some of the intriguing sites glimpsed from the car on the trip from Bhuj Airport to our hotel in Bhuj.
Before putting ourselves to bed we took a short trip around the corner to some streets of little shops. Here we saw lots of places selling very traditional heavy silver jewellery and other decorative pieces. With Sunita’s help we were able to talk to the vendors about them. Several other stores had bronze utensils and statues made of kansa (a phosphor bronze or copper-tin alloy). I was able to buy a few pieces….seemingly priced by weight.
The highlight of the evening and the event that saw us through to bed was popping into the small shop of a young silversmith. He sat in a small room (the only room) on the floor with a few tools, a gas flame and two buckets of water. Towards the rear of the shop sat his father, hammering hand made earring findings into a flat plane.The young craftsman had learned his trade from his father.
This silversmith doesn’t have a website but there is a Facebook page with lots of photos of the work. Start with this link then flip back to the previous page: https://www.facebook.com/1526968147582523/photos/a.1526969560915715.1073741826.1526968147582523/1526970260915645/?type=1&theater
All three of us, with Sunita, enjoyed masala chai and samosas magically produced for other places down the alley while watching the making of a ring for me. Sue also ordered earrings. The camaraderie of sitting around on low stools watching, photographing, eating and chatting while the ring took shape was magic.
When we returned a few days later to collect all the various pieces we had ordered, my ring had been polished. I’d originally been given an estimate of its cost but the final price was determined easily. The jeweller simply weighed it and applied the spot price for silver!!
What a great first night!