There are many times on this journey that I find my mind wandering, contemplating what will happen next. Indeed, we face many daily unknowns—Will I get sick after I eat this delicious paratha? Is the mold on the wall of our hotel room unhealthy? How much is this tuk tuk driver trying to rip me off and will we ever get to where we're trying to go?
But I'm thinking of bigger life questions here—What happens after leaping into such an ambitious around-the-world trip? How will I find work again? What will I decide to change once I return home after more than a year of travel? And where is home anyways?
After awhile, the numerous uncertainties begin to feel like a heavy but familiar backpack along for the ride.
The truth is, I have no idea where I'll end up after all this, and that sometimes really frightens me. But I suppose it's all good practice for life, because really, if you think about it, we can never know, even when we think we know.
It's become a habit now, to push those thoughts aside and try to focus on the present moment. Today, we have landed in The Pink City, also known as Jaipur, the largest city in the state of Rajasthan, India and one of the points of the so-called Golden Triangle.
Since we aren't here on a tourist bus, we can create our own schedule, and decide to veer from the typical tourist sites to see The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, which is fitting given my current state of contemplation. See, for almost five years prior to this trip, I worked as a designer, and this museum is pretty much an ode to all things beautifully designed. It spurs me to think more about my past and future career, and how I like to spend my time, reminding me how much I value art and creativity in life.
Jaipur in general is a city known for its handicrafts, and it's no wonder. The hand-printed textiles at Anokhi are gorgeous. I want to scoop everything up and take it all with me.
The museum reminds me of art school, except without all the work.
How are hand-printed textiles made you ask? First, the drawing is transferred from paper to wood.
A craftsman then hand-carves the wood in order to create a block stamp from which prints can be made.
Once complete, the hand-carved wood blocks can be used repeatedly to create print designs on textiles. Although in my opinion, the wood carvings are fascinating artifacts themselves.
Here you can see a craftsman using a wood block to print designs onto fabric.
Even if you're not super into design, the museum is well worth visiting. Be forewarned though, some rickshaw drivers will try to talk you out of going to Anokhi. Why? Because they don't receive commission on textiles or clothing sales here. If you'd like to visit, be skeptical of what the drivers tell you my friends. I discovered that they're not so trustworthy in Jaipur.
Our visit comes to an end, leaving me with the desire to get back to drawing, printmaking or pretty much any art form using my hands. Nowadays, we spend so much time behind glowing screens. Certainly too much of my life prior to this journey was spent at the computer, which is one thing I fear about returning home.
While I don't leave with answers to that big life question—'what comes next?'—I do have the feeling that in good time, all things are revealed.
As we exit the Anokhi Museum, we pass locals bathing beneath a water spout in the middle of the road next to a garbage heap where a pig and cow rummage for food. All at once I'm thrown back into the craziness that is India and I'm happy to be present, enjoying the ups and downs of this wild ride.
TIPS FOR A VISIT:
Time recommended for visit: 2 hours
Time of year we visited: February
Time by private taxi from Jaipur central train station: 30 minutes
Distance from Jaipur central train station to Anokhi Museum: 14 kilometers
Note: The Anokhi Museum is just 1km north of popular tourist destination, the Amber Palace.