Now, I have to be honest. The images you are about to see are not mine, as you may remember my camera is still in India. These images were taken by Mr David Penton, a fellow bookbinder and friend, he being the man who first aroused my interest in ANANDWAN.
This is a remarkable place and you can find out more by visiting their web site:-
Things started well, we arrived on time at Heathrow airport, checking in was the first of many queues......We had seats with Jet Airways to Mumbai (Bombay as the locals call it) and then onto Nagpur. Nagpur is in the centre of India with its very own international airport, currently undergoing modernisation. Once at Nagpur we took to the roads for a two hour journey to our final destination 'Anandwan'. From Heathrow the flight was fine, the television did not work, I read and slept. The food was, well, airplane food but the staff were happy to help. A five hour wait in Bombay for the connecting flight to Nagpur was spent in a hotel lobby, so it was only having finaly disembarked at Nagpour that I had my first taste of India.
To sum up in mere words would do an injustice to this most wonderous country. So I shall not bother.
Waiting for transport to Anandwan outside the bamboo clad exterior of Nagpur airport.
Up to this point, David and Penny Penton had been the perfect traveling companions (Penny was visiting Anandwan to touch base with a project she had been working on and to do some clinics, Penny is a TOP person) As our four wheel drive ambulance turned up ( I kid you not ) David suggested that I should have the front seat 'As it was my first visit' and they felt that I should have 'the full benefit' of the two hour journey. How kind, I thought!
For those thrill seekers amongst us I would suggest that you forget the theme rides of the amusement park, white water rafting is nothing more than a paddle in the local Lido when compared to the rigours of the two hour journey that awaited us.
One of the four wheel drive ambulances.
I grew to admire our driver, a man of skill, dexterity, vim and swerve. His driving was without compare, unfortunately he had only two methods of driving. The first was fast, the second being very fast. The road was undergoing widening and repair work, this resulted in oncoming traffic vying for the right of way. Long stretches of the road were made up of rough hard core, testing the construction of our ambulance and my nerve. I have to say that it was fantastic. The countryside was breathtaking, the lorries a riot of colour and sound, the oxcarts making their way along the roadside with timeless dignity.
Now for some important....
On arrival we were shown to our rooms. After a short rest we were shown around the complex to acclimatise and get our bearings.
The Dye Shop.
One of the spinners
Spinner and daughter.
Carpet and Rug Weavers.
Fantastic colours and they are huge !
The rug weaving unit was one of many enterprises that make up only part of Anandwan, please check out the website for a more overall coverage. Next on the itinerary was the the unit that I would be working in for the next few days. During our tour we had the company of the sublime Nikita. Nikita is a whirlwind of a person, truly a top lady.