PMSA Trip 2019: Danielle Matthews

Each week, Whitecliffe Fashion Tech students will have their unique PSMA Indian journey highlighted as they’re immersed in international issues and culture – this week, we feature Auckland student Danielle Matthews.


Hello readers, my name is Danielle and I will be writing this weeks instalments of the Whitecliffe Fashion Tech PMSA Scholarship to India blog. That was really long and formal and don’t worry I’m only doing it once. 

So on this Monday morning we went to the Ahill Apparel factory, they produce garments for various brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Ben Sherman and The Childrens place, but before that, FOOD!!!

As it is the third week of eating curry and chutney, almost everyone is sticking to toast with butter and marmite – some clever students packed a survival kit. Fruit is also served at meals -we’ve had rockmelon, watermelon and pineapple primarily.

The bus rides out of campus are always interesting, theres an array of  different smells assaulting your nose. We’ve seen various temples and brightly coloured houses, but I would say that the most exciting and terrifying thing is the traffic. It’s loud and fast, we see entire families on scooters or motorbikes with absolutely no fear and the bus is like roller coaster with all the twists and turns and bumps on the road.

Photo credit: Danielle Matthews

We got to the factory at around 11am and upon our arrival we were told to leave our phones on the bus so there are no photos of the factory, I’m sorry but not my fault. The factory was established in 1994 and they produce knitwear and sleepwear for adults and children. We were shown around the factory by the general manager of the company and he took us around most of their departments of production such as embroidery, screen printing, fabric cutting, sewing, pressing and quality control. The tour took an hour an a half but between you and me it felt way longer.

After the visit we went to an amazing restaurant called hotel Sri Surya where we indulged in amazing cuisine. We ordered some chicken noodles, tandoori chicken, chicken lollipops (yes, that’s what they are called, no they are not sweet) with a main of curry and lots of buttered naan. It was all so good 10\10 highly recommend and now I’m fairly sure no one is eating dinner.

Tuesday was a fairly low key day as we didn’t go anywhere but the classroom but we also didn’t have a theory class. What we did have was a work shop on how to make traditional terracotta clay jewellery, I for one was really excited to do something with my hands as I am a very hands on learner.

So at first groups of us would go up to the tutor to see how it was done and then we took what we needed and we were allowed to go crazy with our imagination and creativity running wild. I made some rather large teardrop earrings that I managed to shape myself and some moulded items as well. After we finished moulding our creations they needed to be baked in a bowl of fire (I’m serious) so we were told that would be done after lunch.

Photo credit: Danielle Matthews

Nothing really exciting was served for lunch just curry rice and roti (roti are really good, curries are kind of spicy and the rice is nice) anyway we went back to the classroom and instead of doing more jewellery things we did some embroidery techniques. See now it sounds interesting but it was kind of tedious as we were just being taught how to do various stitches, I think I would have preferred more of a we get given an embroidery pattern and we are taught the different stitches while creating something fun.

Wednesday started at 6:30am because we went on an over night trip to Thanjavur which was about an 8-hour trip going right there now add an industry visit food breaks and a temple, we were in for a long trip.

Our first stop was about an hour after we started at an Indian café for breakfast which was interesting, what happened was they brought out one of what could have been every dish for us to taste and we decided what we wanted like that. There was dosas which are like thin savoury pancakes, more iglie and chutney and some kind of porridge looking thing that looked and tasted like mashed potato but wasn’t, that was really good. While at the café some of us bought some snacks for they’re array of sweet and savoury goodies.

Our next stop wasn’t long after that at a home textiles manufacturer, they make bed sheets, curtains, bags, towels etc. it was very interesting to see but more fun at the end as they had a showroom where we could buy some of the product we saw them make. A lot of people got bags and sheets and pillows. Almost immediately after we went for lunch at a place called Green Chillies,  which was another really good place we all ordered different food some people had curry, others had chicken fingers and fries and some people had ice cream. (not for lunch but more dessert)

After being on the bus for 3 hours and having some after lunch naps we stopped to stretch our legs and climb 400 steps (yes 400 steps we were very high up) walking to the temple was quite exciting we got to walk through a market with stalls of different merchandise and people yelling and cars and motorcycles coming from all directions it was very full on. The walk up to the iron fort temple was very stimulating it kind of felt like you were on the set of an Indiana jones film and Harrison Ford was gonna come running from from the top followed by  a boulder at any second. (he didn’t unfortunately) the view from the top of the mountain was increadible we saw so much and it looked as though all of India was made of colour, it was stunning.  The walk down was a lot easier then te walk up and on he way back we saw an Elephant, it was really cute we saw some kids give the elephant an offering and the kids would get a pat on their head with its trunk.

Fortunately that was the last stop before the hotel, we were all really tired and ready for a rest.

On Thursday, we headed back to the guest house with a few stops on the way (so many stops) so we had breakfast at the Green Palace Hotel in Thanjavur, it was a buffet style restaurant so we could pick and choose but they had some lemon muffins which seemed to be a favourite among us and they also had the not mashed potato dish from Wednesday. So we didn’t leave the hotel straight away, well we did but we didn’t check out. Our first activity on the list was a visit to the Thanjavur Big Temple which is one of the biggest and oldest temples in India.  The Thanjavur big temple was built over 1000 years ago and is still in one piece this temple is made entirely of rock with no glue like substance holding it, they way its been built is very similar to Lego.  This temple was amazing to explore and we had so much fun taking photos of the architecture, people (with permission) and of each other.

Our next stop was at the Thanjavur palace which is now used as a museum for sculptures and art. While we were there we saw a short video about Thanjavur and the many exciting activities and land marks to visit and a small history about those landmarks. At the palace there was a small souvenir shop where you could buy traditional toys, our tutors bought some recorders (instruments) for their children, they will regret this later.

We went back to the hotel for lunch and it was a delicious range of curries and salad type food. After lunch we packed up and started heading back to the guest house. Along the way we stopped at a Dam that was built 1800 years ago by a king in the Chola dynasty. We also stopped at another temple on the way to the guest house at around 6pm which was very similar to the iron fort temple as we had to walk through a market to get there. Going to temple at night was a very different experience then during the day it had a much more mysterious and ancient feel to it.

We weren’t allowed into all of the temple so we spent a little time waiting for our tutors to finish worshipping out side in the part we were allowed. During this time we had a small group of women come up and start talking to us, asking for photos and just being there with us. It was really nice talking to them they asked us questions about what we were doing in India an we asked them questions about the temple and such.

After this temple, we went back to Green Chilies for dinner and then headed bak to the guest house. We got back around 2:30am so we were all very tired

Friday afternoon involved a printing demonstration in one of the labs on campus, done by outside guests from CHT India who are a printing company here in India. we saw them mix the chemicals to make different effects on the fabric. They would start off with a discharging agent and mix the dye in and then using heat they would seal the pattern onto the fabric. They had a lot of different effects going on such as glossy, 3D, flat, coloured and my personal favourite glitter.

Because we were all still tired from the trip after class we all rested some more till dinner and then went to bed.

Saturday had more guest speakers from another company here in India, though they specialised in silk dying. So during the morning we had about four different lectures on the different silk you can find in India, the different productions of silk sarees, colour perception and wetness processing of silk. Let me tell you it was a lot to take in.

After lunch, we met them in the chemical processing lab where we were shown how they mix the dye and we coloured cocoons as well as tie dyed fabric in different colours. It was very interesting to see the dying process even if it was on a small scale. After class we were told to meet in the dining room, because it was GK sirs birthday (he has been looking after us a majority of our time here) so Prabha organised a cake and we all sang him happy birthday, earlier that day we had also given him a gift of chocolates and pens from NZ so hopefully he enjoyed it.


Read more from the PSMA India Trip 2019


Being awarded a Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Asia (PMSA) is a once in a lifetime opportunity, one which 15 Whitecliffe New Zealand Fashion Tech students are the lucky recipients of for 2019.

The level 5 Diploma in Apparel and Fashion Technology students, seven from Auckland and eight from Wellington, are travelling to Bannari Amman Institute of Technology in India as part of their Indian Apparel and Textile Practicum. 

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