The girls of the family had just come in. They had been at school to celebrate India's Republic Day (26 January), and so were dressed up in their finery. But in 25 years fashions had also changed. Traditional clothing had also given way to the practical. The gorgeous embroideries and weaves of Kutch no longer worn the way they used to be, still.... the girls were lovely!
It had been 25 years since I had last been in Kutch. And then I remembered that we were arriving in Kutch exactly 6 years after the devastating earthquake of 26 January 2001, one of the worst in India’s history. As we drove through the Rann of Kutch, road works and construction seemed to be happening everywhere. When we drove past Bacchau, close to the epicenter of the quake, to Bhuj we started to notice factories in the seemingly middle of nowhere. Nearing Bhuj, all the construction you saw looked new. The buildings freshly painted, in pastel colours, reminding me of Miami. The architecture, curious (I wish now that I had taken photos), reminding me again of long stretches of American malls topped by some flourish that is hard to describe.
The next day we went to Bhujodi, ten kilometers outside Bhuj. A village of weavers. Twenty five years ago, Bhujodi had ten weavers. Now I was told there were over 400 families. All of Bhujodi was newly constructed. I couldn’t remember the name of the weaver I had met (and bought an incredibly beautiful man’s shawl from, that I still use) all those years ago, but I was eager to see if some of that style of weaving remained.
At having asked questions at our hotel, we had been pointed in the direction of Dayaram Vankar, the night watch man. It turned out that Dayaram was from a family of weavers of Bhujodi but to make ends meet, he had this job – at the hotel. Anyway Dayaram suggested that he would meet us in Bhujodi and show us around. And so we were able to visit his lovely family who insisted we stay for a typical Kutchi meal. It was delicious!!!