Thursday, April 16th 2015
The day I fell in love with this country.
It’s 1:30 at night when I landed at the International Airport in Mumbai. The flight was calm, the plane just booked about 60% and it was possible to have a rest and some sleep for a few hours. I felt quite cold, due to the aircondition in the plane, although I had put nice warm clothes on. It seemed to be warmer outside, people working outside were wearing short sleeves – I had no idea about summertime in India.
On my way from the gate to passport control I felt embraced by the warm and cozy terminal. At this time of the night very few other international flights arrived, no traffic on the airport and I got my luggage already half an hour later. Took my trolley and went direction out of the airport, looking for the taxi from the hotel, to pick me up.
The large glass doors of the building opened and I walked into a thick wall of heat and humidity. For the first moment I found it hard to breathe, too violent was the change of air. Just concentrating on the shields of taxidrivers, I continued walking, until I read somewhere “BERNINA India, Jutta Hellbach, Hotal Sun N Sand”. That was mine. And just a few moments later, the friendly-looking Indian took my trolley and guided me to his car. Until then, I had already been completely drenched in sweat. Jeans, sweater, socks, sneakers and scarf were not really appropriate to this climate. But his car had an stand-bye-aircondition and nice cool 16 degrees made me cool down within minutes. Theses were changes in temperature!
We went for the way to the hotel. Along quiet and almost empty roads. The driver involved me immediately into a conversation. With great interest and kindness we chatted in a very short time, uninhibited and curious. And since English is the second language in India, besides numerous Indian dialects it is a gift to be able to have a direct conversation.
After a quick check-in I went into my room, that showed, as the entire hotel the old days of British Empire, beautifully restored – and air conditioned to 18 degrees.
A few hours later I was ready for the first day in India. I peered through the darkening curtains of my room and looked into the hotel’s courtyard. Flowerparadisewonderlandnature! Wow. So beautiful. And I realized that I had caught a cold in the plane. No matter. I went down to the lobby and quickly on to the terrace at a first look at the Arabian Sea. I opened the doublewing doors and got embraced with a surge of moist heat. April and May are the months of summer in India. The thermometer showed 38 degrees already at 9 o’clock in the morning, humidity about 75%. But the view was beautiful.
The expansive beach swings from north to south of Mumbai, which is still affectionately named Bombay by the Indians. The outdoor area of the hotel features a large pool, nice seating ares, beautiful palm trees and fragrant flowers, whose name is entirely unknown for me.
No matter how nice it was to look at, I had urgently to return into an air conditioned area.
After having coffee and fresh fruit for a late breakfast I waited for Ajay and Deepika Gupta from BERNINA India. We already met before, last November in Steckborn and I was full of anticipation to see them again.
But, as I know now, traffic in Mumbai can be “difficult” and it’s rare to be in time. Therefore there was time to take some more impressions of this beautiful hotel.
For a relevant security is taken care, nobody gets in, who is not previously passed through a security gate and another personal security check.
And then they arrived. After a warm welcome we went for a short lunch and headed over to the BERNINA CreativCenter Mumbai. We needed to prepare the workshops for the coming three days. Ajay had received most workshop material via airfreight already a few weeks ago.
Welcome to India, being received and welcomed by BERNINA India, traditional with “Chai”. Thank you so much!
We startet to work. The classroom opposite the showroom had to be established. Everybody helped. Ajays wonderful team was a great help, cut battings and material for the workshops, Deepika and I set the tables and about 2 hours later we were ready for the first workshop. Ajay incidentally imports all commercial battings for patchwork and quiltling of the range of Freudenberg, which make things a lot easier.
In the early evening Deepika and Ajays brave son chauffered me to the hotel. I would never drive in Bombay. Never!
Just catching a view on the sunset I went again on the hotel terrace…
sat down for a moment, savoring the strong warm wind, looked the coconut tree above me, got aware about the wild rustle in the wind and with a closer look at the thick coconuts directly above me, I left my seat immediately….
Friday, 17th 2015
I got a pretty nice cold. Cough and runny nose are my constant companions from now on. With aspirin I prepare myself for the day. I am so much looking forward to the students. Looking forward to the class. Today, we will work with paperlamination.
But first getting a good dose of coffeine. The Indian coffee is strong and tastes good. Breakfast at the Hotel is offered in Intercontinental style and typically Indian. Both are chosen by the numerous guests and each is freshly prepared by the very courteous and friendly hotel staff.
India has a rich orchard. There are fresh and ripe, wonderful tasty fruits: small banana, pineapple, prunes, honey and watermelons, grapefruit, papaya and mango.
And this is Mr. Rajshekar, the keeper of the coffee and tea pots. When he looks at you, the sun rises. Warm-hearted and smiling, he captures a morning and makes the day be great.
I boldly sit in Ajay’s car and we take half an hour’s drive for 1.2 km to drive to the CreativeCenter. “If you can drive in Bombay, you can drive everywhere in the world” he tells me. I can hardly keep from laughing, yes, there seems to be some truth to it.
Workshop starts. The first Indian women are already there. As great, as colourful, as friendly, as warm.
I met Shruti who is also a BERNINA ambassador and writes for the new international BERNINA blog. Shruti is a fantastic quilt artist and shows her work not only in India but in the USA too.
Here we go. First there is the general presentation and Ajay introduced me to all workshop members. I continued with an overview of the daily routine and presented the workshop topic: paperlamination.
Not that there were not enough newspapers and other papers. In advance, the participants have made a lot of thought to the design – great!
Quite good collages were prepared and laminated.
and looked at whilst drying.
We started printing – and I knew – these woman live in India – the land of colors. Wow, here were no fears about combination and experimentation in color. I loved it. I loved them all.
During the workshop was always enough time to show a quilt of a participant – is this not an fantastic gem? Painted and quilted. 200 hours work. Congratulations, Kalindi!
For lunch, we did not had to leave the CreativCenter, because Deepika brought for all participants and the staff several pots full of Indian specialities. Warm and cold. And not too hot – thank you so much, Deepika :-). What a great effort! However, the participants could hardly stop working – and a loud “Chocolate is melting, come for lunch” from Ajay made them to leave.
The organzas went out fine and dryed rapidly due to the air conditioning. Actually I would have layed them outside, in front of the door, but my idea was really not followed ;-).
We had so much fun and laughed a lot!
Thats just perfect!
Tables were cleared, the BERNINA sewing machines set. Time was running. We started quilting and sewing.
It was a long day, around 7 p.m we left the CreativCenter and had a quick dinner in Ajay and Deepikas Club.
Indian specialities, delicious.
Saturday, April 18th, 2015
Artbagclass, first of two days, that is going to be exciting! The day before, the Indians have shown me how strong they are on colored work. And now they were allowed to work the whole day with color. How will this be?
And again I was affectionately welcomed by Ajay’s team.
And a few moments later we have already entered the jungle of color.
Morning just passed by and Deepika called us for lunch – again she had dona an incredible job! How many times she was asked in those days when to print her first cookbook? But I understand this question, she is a gifted chef de cuisine!
After lunch an older Indian lady arrived, just to say hello, isn’t it nice? She was quite wonderful.
This concludes the first part of the Artbag class. I hafe little photographed, unfortunately. Tomorrow there will be more images.
It goes straight to the hotl and to bed. In the meantime I have a fever and feel pretty ill. Recuperate and recharge batteries for the next day.
Sunday, April 19th, 2015
Today we start with the BERNINAs set on the tables. All ladies are keen on quilting the printed fabrics and adding a new outfit on them. But first, materials are cut and put on the batting. Kalindi has chosen a quiet place to do so.
And step by step all quilted and printed fabrics turn into bags, it’s always a very special moment in an Artbagclass.
Deepika and Ajay are already considering how to present the finished bags at the most ideal. Without further ado, they cleared the BERNINA shelf – how nice!
Not only the course participants are very enthusiastic about their designed bags, even I have utmost respect for their work. Each bag is unique, beautiful and technically well done. There are now a lot of impressions:
The proud and happy Indian ladies 🙂
And of course each participant receives a certificate after the class.
lots of emotions – so special.
BERNINA Family makes happy, allover the world.
These first three days in Bombay were incredibel. I met wonderful people, who are close to my heart. I was overwhelmed by a deep thankfulness and joy. And I am thankful, having been with all of you.
Gut the adventure at BERNINA India is not over. Tomorrow, Ajay and I fly to Chennai, to the new shop of Tina Katwal. She has become a BERNINA dealer for Ajay Gupta, BERNINA India, not long ago and also likes to sell Indian fabrics and to teach. I look forward to further impressions of India, unfortunately no further “view” of the city and the people was made possible during these days, due to the tight schedule and my infection. Now there are antibiotics, that Deepika brought me late in the evening to the hotel – you were so wonderful and cared so much, both of you, dear Deepika and Ajay. So it is better to be safe with medicaments, just in case. And tomorrow I hope for a good flight to Chennai.