The best way to get to know a destination and learn its culture is to meet the people who live and work there. In Rajasthan, India, our Ancient Arts tour introduces travellers to the artisans who craft jewellery, shoes, utensils, pottery, and more. Not only do travellers get to learn about how and why these traditions have been carried on, but also find out how local artisans today make a living from their crafts.
Last week, one of our guides in Udaipur snapped this photo of a potter at work, making traditional Indian clay pots — but ended up with much more than just a picture:
A middle-aged man was in the process of making these traditional clay pots when I quickly took a photo. I didn’t know if he gave a look of boredom because of the thousands of tourists he encounters every day or if he was upset because of my intrusion. When I asked him why he didn’t smile, he answered, ‘I’m sorry if I didn’t smile. You’re the first one who has really talked to me. Others just click pictures.’
And then he told me his story. ‘I dream of making enough money to send my seven-year-old girl to school. To make enough money, I need to make at least a thousand pots every day. I need to exploit my full capacity and therefore don’t wish to be disturbed even for a second. But you are the first one who has asked me my story. I would be more than happy to teach you how to make a pot.’ I was ecstatic as I got my first hands-on pottery lesson.
While walking back, I realised one thing: the locals of Udaipur are so determined and resolute. That day I had found a hero.