Gina writes:

Following up Corey's post about our day out and about, I'll write about our visit to the hospital and our visit to Kotpad to see the weavers.

In the morning on Tuesday, we had the opportunity to visit Jeypore Hospital, about 45 minutes from Koraput. This is one of the main hospitals in Koraput district. Annie wanted to talk to the doctors about their malaria cases and we were just along to observe. The hospital administrator gave us a brief tour and then we spent some time in the medicine ward, where diarrhea and malaria patients stay.

Hospital photos courtesy of Anne Heslop.

While in the ward, we were uncomfortable, because we felt like our presence was invading the patients' privacy. We've learned that the Indian definition of personal space is much different than ours, so that mitigated our feelings a little bit, but we were still self-conscious. Also, Annie was taking a lot of pictures and video. This will be useful to her when she's raising money, but how much is too much?

Corey and I have been thinking and talking about this a lot lately. If an Indian in a remote, tribal village is uncomfortable with an extended photo session, does the fact that the photographer has captured that "perfect image" counterbalance the subject's negative feelings? Will the villager think negatively about all foreigners when he remembers how uncomfortable or confused he was by the technology? Any traveler with a camera should consider his or her own line of propriety. For me, I ask permission of the subjects first and then take a few quick shots. If the result isn't quite right, I just move on and accept the images that I have. Readers, what do you think? Where is your line? How much is too much?

Anyway, after the hospital visit, we went to the goat market, which Corey has already written about. From the goat market, we drove to Kotpad, a village in Koraput district known for it's tradition of weaving wool and silk garments and wall hangings. We spent about an hour watching the villagers work and talking to them about their craft.

First, the cotton is washed and softened with castor oil and cow dung, then hung to dry.

Then the softened cotton is washed.

The white colored yarn can then be died. Kotpad weavers only use white, brown, black, and red color. They use bark of a rare tree and other natural items to make the dye. Then they spin the yarn into thin thread, which is wrapped around a wooden dowel.

The weaving is done on a loom that is moved up and down by the weaver's feet. The loom in these pictures is more than 200 years old!

This man will work for the next 20 days to make a 6-meter sari!

The finished product will look something like this.

Compared to the machine-made pieces, the saris are relatively expensive (6,000 rupees OR about 125 US dollars), but considering the production work, the cost makes sense. The Kotpad tradition was dying a few years ago (pun intended!), but the government and some NGOs have stepped in to market the products around the world, preserving the ancient customs of the village.