In April a few of the Nkuku team, Ali, myself and our children set off to India. The purpose of the trip was to host a conference and lunch for all our suppliers.
The venue was Delhi and our suppliers kindly came from far and wide to join us for a great day of business, socialising and delicious Indian food. The event was a huge success. The day provided an opportunity to thank our suppliers for the amazing work they do and allowed us to catch up with owners, husbands, wives and children.
For some time we have wanted to travel around India with our family, and the conference gave us the perfect excuse. We left Delhi and the splendour of the red fort, and the busy streets and headed to the blue city of Jodhpur. We soon worked out that the six of us could squeeze into one rickshaw; three children on the small drop down bench, and our youngest squeezed in between us on the seat. The first journey was an event in itself. The elections were running during our visit and there were a number of elaborate processions complete with music and drums. This combined with general rush hour traffic, noise and the occasional cow (including one over friendly one who poked her head into our rickshaw, much to our children’s delight) was a great introduction to Jodhpur and Indian city life. Our four year old asked if we could ‘turn it down for a bit’!
After exploring the city and surrounding villages we spent a fantastic day with one of our suppliers, with our children helping out with design suggestions! We then paid a necessary visit to the Meherangarh fort. This incredible fortress dominates the city of Jodhpur. The fort managed to captivate our children's imaginations with the legendary tales of martyrdom.
The children had their first taste of celebrity as they were ‘papped’ by other Indian tourists. Our two year old became a celebrity in her own right and we had to explain politely after the hundredth person asked for her photograph that she needed a rest. From Jodhpur we set off on the next leg heading out into the Great Indian Thar Desert to explore the stunning rural landscape.
The Bishnoi community live in this area, with their fascinating culture and passion for protecting wildlife and environmentally friendly living. It was wonderful to visit their villages and homes. We loved learning how to spin thread, and the immaculate red earth huts were a fascination. The women looked beautiful in their stunning sari's and elaborate jewellery.
We visited a local Thar school which was a fantastic experience for our children. They stood spellbound as they surveyed the concrete floor, lack of desks, pens or books. It was great to hear our them fueling each other with ideas of how to get the school some books and pens.
It was hard to tear ourselves away from the Thar and all the wonderful people we met, as well as camels and Marwari horses, but we set off the next part off our journey to Ranakpur, the most stunning Jain temple which literally blew all our minds. From here we traveled through the beautiful Aravalli hills to Delwara, staying in an old palace and exploring the busy streets.
Our final destination was Udaipur for more sightseeing and of course the beautiful Lake Palace. It had been nearly ten years since we had last visited Udaipur, and the changes were huge, the lake now full of water, hotels circling its banks and a main highway running straight into the city.
But as the saying goes 'All good things must come to an end' and it was heavy hearts we flew back to Delhi to make our journey home. Thankfully we now have four children who are also in love with India!