Dogs, motorcycles, hanging clothes, satellites on shacks next to pristine condo towers 50 stories high… people everywhere, noise, noise, noise and SMELL! This is Mumbai. It’s a bustling metropolis even as we depart the airport en route to home base at 4 in the morning. But Malavli, where we sleep, eat and design over the next 3 weeks, is an absolute paradise. Located on top of a mountain in the Pune district, the elevation blesses us with slightly cooler weather. (Note: this still means 33 and sweat rolling from ungodly places). But the wonderfully lush plant-life, views and surrounding area more than make up for this.
The last few days have served up hot, humid afternoons and deliciously cool mornings and nights. We had Sunday to adjust to the time difference and get to know the area- stopping in the nearby town (Lonavala) for shopping that evening. This is a wild place- their train system (although 45 minutes late) made me feel shameful about my petty TTC complaints. Here you pack cars full of hundreds and, when there’s no room left, leave limbs hanging outside or climb atop the train (why not, right?). When we reached Lonavala, only a stop away from Malavli, we were all reminded that we are not, in fact, one of the locals. We, with our MEC backpacks buckled tightly around us and astonished faces, stood out like soar thumbs. This was probably why our instructor, Sarah, and ISAC staff Farooq brought us straight to two clothing stores. Our group, consisting of 8 ladies and 2 gents, was excited to get down to choosing sari material in one shop and ready-made Indian clothing in the next. We arrived back home late but happy to find a delicious home-made meal on the table, and slept like babies that night.
Today we organized ourselves and headed out to orientation in our studio space (a house a few steps away from the one we sleep in). Sarah and ISAC staff member, Aaron, presented our next 3 weeks of the program, and we were introduced to Yusuf Hussain. Father of ISAC founder Safeena, and wildly famous Bollywood actor, Yusuf left us with some great advice to “be what we’re not” and “design our lives.” We left in a daze, slightly star struck, and in hot-pursuit of chocolate ice cream.
You’ll see a few photos here of us grinning as we lick up our melting ice cream, looking forward to sweeter days ahead. (cheesy, for flavour).