Yves in India Blog: Day 6

2008-10-16 00:00

4pm

 

I take that back. Just rattiness. An early morning stroll in the neighbourhood has lifted my spirits. Bangalore has an East Coast feel; a little bit muggy, refreshing breeze from time to time, and recognizable vegetation: Flame trees, oleander, bougainvillea, coconut palms. (The Deccan Times announces on its front page that a Talipot palm tree in Mangalore has bloomed. They only bloom once, apparently, and that after 75 years, and then they die). Krishna temples abound, with new ones being built and old ones being renovated. Taking pictures is no longer a hazardous undertaking fraught with the potential for faux pas and extortionate demands on one's pity. Within minutes a builder and two lots of flower sellers have beckoned me over and invited me (or was that maybe a demand) that I take a picture. Here and there are tiny parks, and some larger: neat points of punctuation amid the jumble of houses and rubble and rubbish. Everyone I talk to, even just to ask directions, asks where I'm from. There's less English spoken here than in New Delhi, so it's difficult at times.

Above: Roadside altar decoration.

Above: Piles clinic.

Above: Flower seller.

Above: Cocoon auction in progress.

The outing for the day was to see the silk centre of Ramanagam about an hour out of Bangalore. "Welcome to Silk City". A case of unintended consequences as the thought of buying a sari now seems less than kosher. We visit the Government cocoon factory, an auction and sorting house set up by the UN where about 1000 farmers from the district bring their bags of cocoons every day. Today they're getting about 180 rupees/kilogram (45 rupees to the US dollar). About 35 tons are sold a day, every day except for two national public holidays. It takes 6.3kg of coccons to make one kg of silk. One yellow coccon will spin out a thread of silk of 600 metres, and a white one up to 1000 metres. It feels like a school tour, but fascinating nonetheless. We move on to a village to see the spinning process: the coccons get boiled up and threaded on Victorian era machines by women who work an eight-hour shift for about 150 rupees (R24 give or take) a day. It'll take a minimum of 40g per metre to make a sari, which will sell for between 5000 and 25000 rupees depending on quality.

The final stop is in a village where the silkworms are farmed and the cocoons cultivated. The first step of the production chain is unsurprisingly characterized by ramshackle houses and palm huts.

Maybe something else for presents then.

 

Read the Yves's blog: Day 7

Read Yves's blog from Day 1.

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