My youngest daughter Rebecca and I embarked on another adventure, this time to South America. Combining her biologist/conservation/educator profession and mine as an artist, I learnt to see things differently. Our introduction to Lima was the ruin near our hotel in Miraflores, called “Huaca Pucllana” built by people of the Lima culture around the 5th century A.D. The site was considered a “Nawpallacta”: an ancient sacred place. Small adobe bricks were made by hand and placed in vertical rows. The effect was pure symmetry . The restaurant on site was an unintentional find: Lima is becoming one of the culinary capitals of the world. The food was absolutely delicious. Rebecca had her first ceviche – delicately marinated raw fish.
The next day, we walked through the old part of Lima. Plaza des Armas, for example, with it’s original fountain, has it’s own story. Every year on July 27th, it is filled with Pisco Sour, for every one to enjoy. Or so they say..
The architecture is a type of neo-colonial style, with a Moorish influence. I will learn later on in the trip that Peru consists of many cultures, blending from the Incas, Spaniards, Chinese, and so many more. The buildings in Old Lima reflected this. I started thinking about paintings with these brightly coloured buildings and delicately carved wooden balconies.
Touring the City Palace of Jaipur (Rajasthan) was to behold one beautiful thing after another. The ornate marble patterns, the carvings, inlays and even giant silver urns meant to carry water from the Ganges for the Maharaja’s travels, were all spectacular. One again, the colors shone for me.A memorable and suitable finish to our stay in Jaipur and our tour of India was the “Gaitore” Crematorium, a mausoleum for the Maharajas. It was quiet there. Peaceful. And for my daughter Tamara, who did not want to walk through yet another beautiful sight, there was a lady doing henna in a hut by the crematorium. So we were both quite satisfied.
Finally, the ladies of Jaipur chatting on our way home (why can’t I dress this way?) juxtaposed with a painting in the lobby of our hotel. Lastly, a Happy Hour good bye with my new favourite wine, Indian Fratelli Chardonay.
Walking around Jaipur, founded in 1727 and called the Pink City, one might see shades of deep oranges and paler reds, and golds and diffused yellows, rather than pink. There are larger roads here, lined with bazar-like shops selling everything. All this was punctuated by amazing architecture like the “Howa Mahal” which was constructed for the Royal Harem to observe daily life, without being seen.
What I marvelled at was the architecture of this city, the woodwork almost looked lacy, delicate, ornate but not over powering, I love it. I love Jaipur.
The stops that nourished my artistic needs were as follows: First, a textile co-operative on Old Amer Road. I learnt how the textile industry came about and how fabric is printed upon today, in the old ways still. Harkening back to my beginnings as a print maker, I am always on the lookout for new ways of incorporating printing styles in my work…
Second, we went to a painting collective, The Khajana Art Gallery, specializing in miniature painting. I watched intensely as an artist painted an elephant with single hairs of his brush to represent the hairs of the elephants back, then wrote our names on a piece of rice. Talk about excellent eye sight!! I had to use my reading glasses to make out the perfectly written names. What dexterity! What skill!!Our first day in Jaipur was filled with the arts and color…
It’s like walking into a post card. But even more grand. The marble is so white. The details overwhelm. Learning about the art of inlaying precious and semi precious stones, still done today but only by a handful of family descendants who know the secrets of the procedure and the guarded glue recipe. The Taj Mahal grounds are spotless. An oasis amidst the chaos.Agra has approx. 1.6 million people with a decaying third world infrastructure, but they are trying to rebuild. Driving mere miles is hazardous, horns blowing, cars, motorcycles, tuk tuks, bicycles, camels, cows, and people in a steady stream with no apparent order. But there is great beauty in the sheer exotic nature of it all.
I will never get enough of the saris..
Next up: Agra Fort. My reading for this trip is a series of historical fiction novels by Indu Sundaresan, so I felt like I was back in the 16th century of the Mughal empire, reliving what I had read about the Agra Fort. It’s spectacular.