As we were leaving the Kailasanathar Temple we found ourselves unexpectedely in the middle of a group of school students walking in and as we steped out a noisy group of demonstrators ... Across the road a panel with the image of one of India's best known actors ... and on the ground a rather interesting technique to have decorating designs printed being displayed (I just wish I had bought one of those "magic" rolls).
We soon moved into some back streets where a lady was waiting for us. The moment she saw me she took an instantaneaous liking to me and seconds afterwards was removing the garland from her hair to have it placed on mine. I was speechless as she did it and then took my hand leading me and the others across some narrow lanes into her house where a family silk weaving and looming industry goes on. We were introduced to two of her family members working on the looms (a fairly young man in the first house we walked into and a much older man in the second house)
To reach the second house, or better said one room house, we had to walk along a very narrow lane with clothes hanging on ropes stretched along the walls, where no windows could be seen. In fact the rooms where the men were working (no doubt for endless hours, once a saree takes about 10 days to make) were very poorly lit. Despite the conditions they were both eager to share some of the silk Art "secrets", particularly when it comes to the weaving patterns and the quality of the silk.
Looming and traditional silk weaving is going through a rather difficult phase, as it has been highlighted in the press, because many people prefer to buy cheap machine made sarees rather than the "pieces of Art" which come out of the hands of these creative and brave artists.
Kanchipuram silk sarees are said to stand out from others fabricated elsewhere due to the intricate weaving patterns and the quality of the silk itself. We were taken into a shop that sells a wide variety of silk scarves. I bought three of those with rather exquisite colour blended patterns and three different types of silk. By the time I left the shop I had had some more flowers flower put on my hair.
Upon having reached the hotel I came across another little kindness, one hotel employees in many developing countries I have been to "honour" foreigners'presence with. Still not feeling completely well I sat in the veranda and read throughout the rest of the afternoon as my trip companions made it to the beach and the swimming pool areas.