Last week was a week of firsts for the group of students from NZFT travelling to India.
Day one was full of excitement and anticipation as we travelled for close to 24 hours before finally arriving at our destination tired but happy to be here.
Day two, Wednesday was our first full day in India and we got a tour around the parts of campus that we will be taking classes in, such as the spinning lab, weaving and knitting lab and also the main fashion centre. How lucky are the students who study at a facility which is so well equipped.
24 pillars tall we visited our first temple called Bannari Amman Temple. It was the most colourful thing I’ve ever seen. We lined up with the local people as they prayed to the goddess of rain. Mother goddess is treated as an indication of a society which values femininity. When we visited, lots of women were holding their babies and most of the baby girls had makeup on, dark eyebrows and eyeliner around their whole eyes.
Day three, Thursday, we went to a little village and visited a few sari shops to pick saris for the remake of our Resene garments. We got to look at different types of saris, plain, patterned, pure silk, silk and synthetic. The saris that we purchased are made in the houses around the shops and we were able to visit a house to see how they make them. The saris are made by the whole family with everyone playing a part and taking a turn in producing them on the family loom. One sari can take up to 16 hours to make.
On Thursday afternoon we got to visit an entertainment park called the Bhavanisagar Dam. We weren’t able to see the real dam but we saw a smaller model of what it looks like. Some of the students went on a peddle boats and on a rocking pirate ship ride.
Day four, Friday, was our first day of class, which was a little challenging with the heat but we had the luxury of being able to sit in some classrooms that had fans. In class we learnt about the process of cotton to yarn. We got to speak with some of the students and a few of us got up to do some Indian dancing.
Day five, Saturday, it was a beautiful warm day; the temperatures have been around 30-35 degrees, as we went to our first factory visit to Poomex cotton factory in Tiruppur. Seeing how yarn is made in a mass production line is amazing, how the cotton goes from a ball off the plant all the way to yarn that then gets used to make cotton fabric or mixed fabrics.
Early Sunday morning we were all dressed nicely to attend a south Indian wedding. The temple where the wedding was held was full of the smells of jasmine and south Indian food. Food was served on banana leaves that were cleaned in front of us and then small portions of food were placed all over it to be eaten.
India is a place full of rich culture, kind people and amazing food. Breakfasts this past week have been sweet and mild. Lots of dosa, idly, different vegetarian curries and a little French toast. My experience being in India has been everything and more that I could have imagined. I have experienced so much in such a short timeframe, and I know my knowledge of textiles and the Indian culture will only grow over the remaining weeks I am here and will help me grow as a person. Although this was only the first week there are still many more firsts to come.
Words and pictures by Harmony Paea