Price tag doesn’t matter - Its Pashmina Shawl of Kashmir


Janey King, née Morris better
known as Rosie Thomas is the author of numerous best selling and critically acclaimed novels. Born in Denbigh, Wales she was educated at Millfield and later she studied at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. After completion of her studies, she worked in Publishing and also as a journalist before dedicating her time for writing novel as full time.

She has been crowned with unanimous feat of achieving the Romantic Novel of the Year twice for Sunrise in 1985 and for Iris and Ruby in 2007 which has made her more popular among readers across the globe. Currently living in London, she has par take in Peking to Paris Car Rally, climbed the Himalayas and the Alps and has also indulged in trekking and many other adventurous activities. Recently she travelled to Kashmir and Ladakh to research for her book The Kashmir Shawl which was launched in 2011. Some of the other books written by her includes Celebration (1982), Follies (1983), The White Dove (1986), The Moon Island (1998), Sun at Midnight (2004), Lovers and New Comers (2010) and many more.

A Kashmiri salesman will not only sell you a product, but an experience. His customer centric approach will let nothing come between him and his sale. He uses the weapon of humour to win over his customer and it rightly pays off. When I expressed my desire to meet one of those fine craftsmen of Kashmir’s fine pashmina shawls, my wish was immediately turned into my guide’s command who led the way to meet some of the finest craftsmen alive on earth. Rafiq, my sweetest salesman guide led me across a wooden bridge and darts down an alley to meet the workers I had wished to meet. All this happened in the marvellous lakeside city of Srinagar, which is considered to be the most important valve in the heart of Kashmir, a place one must visit in their lifetime. The importance with which he fulfilled my wish to understand the product way beyond its glittery display in a fancy showroom was an experience I had never felt in any of my purchases before. It was an experience worth asking for, for it is rarely that you get to unfold the story the goes behind the coming alive of any product that you purchase.

After we reached the place, Rafiq led me to an airy and open room overlooking a garden. The room was filled with a dozen women who sat there barefoot forming a circle and busy spinning. There were a couple of children, probably accompanying their mothers, playing quietly in one corner of the room. The room had an air of familiarity and friendliness, filled with the welcoming smiles of the ladies. All the women were busy spinning airy puffs of goat’s fleece into yarn. When I entered the room, I felt like an awkward intruder, but their welcoming and shy smiles immediately helped me feel at ease and settle down. I sat cross legged and got the first taste of their hospitality when the woman sitting next to me handed me her wooden spindle. I felt honoured and overwhelmed at the same time and immediately got to work taking the fleecy puff, fruitlessly trying to copy her. But to my disappointment the thread snapped and flew off. There was a clutter of laughter and I felt a tinge of embarrassment. The spun yarn was too fine for me to see without my specs. Nonetheless my embarrassment melted and disappeared amidst the beauty of their talent and nothing else made any sense.

Rafiq remarks that it’s a good work for women which provide them opportunity to earn money for their family by simply spinning the yarn. As he says this there is a woman who is turning the wooden drum and counting the revolutions as yarn spools from a brass bowl. She was measuring the output of a spinner for the day to calculate her wages. Our next destination was across the black Jhelum River. Rafiq’s white skullcap leads the way along with him and we enter a place with a muddy yard. As we enter the yard we are greeted by a dash of flashing colours coming from the dyed shawls that have been spread across to dry. The place which is supposed to be a dye works is a small and simple tin shack which is built along a river. You can see hordes of copper vats and split packets of powder dye lying all around, further reinforcing the identity of the place we were in. the sight is mostly filled with men who hoist boiling hanks of yarn on wooden paddles or prodding at sopping billows of half dyed shawls. For a commoner and amateur like me it was completely haphazard, all that he was doing. The accuracy of his work was evident when I saw a man matching a dripping twist with a thin burgundy stripe in a grubby tea towel. For my untrained eye there was nothing different, it all looked the same, but the dissatisfaction in the eyes of that man was visible. He could clearly make out the difference in the shade with his experienced eye, thus he added another teaspoon of powder into his vat and submerged the yarn again.

Out next stop through the busy streets of Srinagar was another workshop of the Kani weavers. These are the men responsible for the marvellous patterns of rich paisley swirls and luscious flowers which gives the shawls its royal and distinct looks. The small room where these skilled men worked was nothing much different from the dye works, except it was more silent, lit up with huge overhead lamps and huge wooden looms. There men were busy in their work, imprinting some of the most beautiful and exquisite designs on the shawls. It was a totally unique experience to see that marvellous beauty coming alive right in front of your naked eyes.

Next we stop at a tall room that is filled with huge folds of shawls and young men or boys working busily on the shawls. The room has a wide open window which allows the passage of a smooth and gentle breeze. These boys are filling the shawls with beautiful embroidery of tiny flowers and twining leaves. These boys look too young to be working in the room but seem fit to be outside in the open field, playing some sport. But is it their young age which provides them the sharp eyesight that is required to do such intricate work. According to Rafiq it might take months or even years for one boy to complete one piece. I try to make conversation with one and ask him if he likes his job. He looks at me with his reddened eyes (either due to grief or squinting) and tells me that it’s the best he has got in Srinagar. I chat with him for an hour and in the meanwhile he completes a single silvery floret. Finally we stop at Rafiq’s showroom where I find the finished shawls piled in stacks. He pulls out one for me, I look at it, ask for its price which is seventy five thousand rupees (approximately a thousand pounds), swallow the price and buy it thinking about all the hard work that goes behind it.

Blog by : Wison Tom - Written 50+ Travel Articles and Blogs

Hi, am Wilson Tom and I really love to travel. I love writing on different destinations around the world. I started writing blogs in 2010, and have been loving every minute of it. Today am working in a Travel house named Global Vision Tours am providing best packages for my client. As i Travel a lot, I know better what your requirement is. And i will offer you the best Travel Ideas, Travel Tips, Trip Planning, Best Honeymoon Package and through this Blog i would like to share as much Travel Information, Tour Packages and Vacation Ideas.
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