I am wrapping up my month in Kashmir. Well, Kashmir and Ladakh. It did not go exactly as I expected, and my expectations had some fairly open parameters. I had some names and I had some ideas and I wanted to get to the bottom of this Pashmina business.
I am wrapping up my month in Kashmir. Well, Kashmir and Ladakh. It did not go exactly as I expected, and my expectations had some fairly open parameters. I had some names and I had some ideas and I wanted to get to the bottom of this Pashmina business. Somehow, I connected with the right people. Somehow, with one phone call I connected to community builders, integrity holders and social activists in the name of keeping the name of Kashmiri Pashmina Cashmere authentic and pure.
I’ve shared a bit of that story, and a bit of the story that involves us leaving Kashmir, at ungodly hours in the AM due to threats of stone pelting, of strict curfews and businesses shut down, of all access to communication cut off. It was getting bad then. I’ve heard from a friend that left and I will meet shortly in Dharamsala, that it is even worse now. The lack of medicine is becoming more and more of an issue. Basic care, let alone access to a functioning hospital is a stretch. Clean water is becoming scarce.
Luckily the outside pressure to resolve the issue seems to be escalating and I hope for a some reprieve for all there.
I am currently on a bus south, from Leh, where I have been for the last week, battling poor internet and shipping issues. Mild problems in comparison. I am in heading to Manali and from there Kullu and Dharamsala, both of which I will be sourcing more products before my upcoming return to the US. First, as I sit here, typing away in a bus seat, where we will be waiting for hours, as the scariest looking work is being done on a bridge before we can cross over it. I might as well make use of the time, and distract myself from the potential death threat we are going to use to cross a deep ravine.
Luckily, while in Leh, there was a Tribal Affairs market bringing artisans from primarily northern India and the now Union Territory of Ladakh, in order to promote business and provide market access. I fell in love with hand made woolen blanket scarves from Kullu, where an artisan collective is working together to create a better industry and standard of living. Then I will head onward to Dharamsala to meet someone I know from Gulmarg, Kashmir whose family are pashmina weavers and has quite a passion for the pure thing. This way I will be able to bring back a bit more than that mad dash into the city during curfew allowed.
And all that will come back with me and make it to both events and the website around the middle of September. FIRST, there will be releases from grass basket weavers and stone carving masters! They should be up and on the site by next week.
Boxes and baskets and diffusers, oh my!
And if anyone NEEDS one of the Pashmina scarves I am bringing back, feel free to email me directly soon and I can send more info and pictures.
As always… thank you.