Saturday, March 16, 2013

Visiting the government silk factory, Mysore

Spinning skeins of neon-colored silk onto spools, hundreds, thousands of spinning ovals, the thread thin and bright and somehow strong enough to withstand this torture. The incredible noise of acres of looms, bars slamming back and forth, shoring up inches, and then more inches, of cloth patterned with zari—gold. Patterns form at the edge of the cloth as if they’ve been made out of thin air. Vats of pungent dye in huge, high-ceilinged rooms. The Industrial Revolution is churning all around us, making silk saris.

I’m thrilled by the risk of wandering unfettered among the machinery—the kind of thrill you can have as an American in the context of lavish risk-taking, without waivers or restraints.

Silk and cashmere, shatoosh, pashtoosh—fantasies, rumors, sometimes the real thing—sold by Kashmiri men with penetrating gazes, as if, having seen the top of the world, they’d descended into commerce with a fervor for human foibles. India reminds me that luxury tends to require exploitation. Cashmere embroidered by poor herdsmen, old men who are going blind—carpets woven by children with delicate fingers. (What of the silk worms, killed in their cocoons once they’ve finished them?) While every day, it seemed, even the poorest women make themselves beautiful—drawing beauty out of the noise and smoke simply as a matter of course.

In Hajemoosa, where fine fabrics go.


1 comment:

dimpy roy said...

Nice place. Mysore is an inspired mosaic of ornate palaces, gardens, boulevards and markets, the legacy left by the Wodeyar kings. So rich is this legacy that it inspired the works of Kannada’s greatest writers, from Kuvempu to UR Ananthamurthy and English’s most durable one, RK Narayan. From the Clock Tower to the station to schoolboys with satchels gawking at the big cats in Mysore Zoo, everywhere you will see the magic of Malgudi come alive. Check out all best Mysore hotels.