Our real destination however was to be Jaipur, legendary Pink City and design Mecca. . .After what can only be described as a hair-raising drive from Delhi on a dusty and disordered road, we arrived to our hotel. The Raj Villas in Jaipur is an oasis of pink stone and gleaming marble, strutting peacocks, and be-turbaned servers with big smiles and warm hearts. At first you never want to leave the walls of this mogul paradise, yet once tantalized by the gleaming gems and polished bronzes displayed in the hotel gift shops, I knew much more tempting fodder lay outside this Temple of luxury.
Mary, the crew, and I set about our designing tasks by first visiting the local street markets in downtown Jaipur. A conundrum of vendors surrounded us. From bangle makers hastily glueing crystals in rainbow hues on their wares to three generations of men sitting cross legged in a homemade tent hammering brass bowls and statues of Shiva. The array of colored Saris both hanging on display and draped perfectly around the many women in the streets is perfectly spellbinding. To see so much elegance and complicated color matches and clashes everywhere you look could not help but inspire the most simple among us to dream of adding color into our own lives. (I actually think anyone whoever visits India will never be the same again due to exposure to their culture and color combinations. The spirit of the nation seems uplifted within their free and generous use of the color spectrum. Delicious is too casual a word to even describe this confection).
We visit an amazing craftsman, Ayush, who dazzles us with his talents for interpreting Indian craftsmanship into a simpler form, now so fashionable in our world of eclectic design and the American home. Mary and I set about showing this guru our designs and recently enlivened color choices for fabrics, holiday gifts, and beautiful small occasional furniture. Hours fly by without notice as we design away, dementedly inspired by all that's around us, until the dreaded jet lag finally takes hold and our colonial villas beckon us home for an amber-infused bath and a delicately scented culinary delight in the magnificent, palace-like restaurant.
Refreshed from a peaceful night's sleep, we excitedly return to the old town where we roam the streets, climbing high above the crowds to visit small workshops situated in the never-ending pink towers that weave through the old market place. Here we meet artisans, who from a simple drawing are able to interpret our design ideas for silver and brass table ware. An alligator bangle of Mary's is suddenly transformed into beaten napkin rings and place mats, while my golden snake ring, once pried from my finger, becomes decorative inspiration to writhe around small bowls and proud, cobra-like candle sticks. The skill of these generations-old craftsmen is astounding and the speed at which they work is an inspiration!