Carly and I rolled out of bed like a rolling pin rolls across biscuit dough. Our alarm showed no mercy as it laughed at us at 4:30 a.m. In the moment of our tiredness and confusion, we almost had second thoughts about travelling to Jaipur but two words jolted excitement: elephants and pink. Yes, the thought of riding elephants in a city painted with pink energized our tired minds; more importantly, we were motivated by our pending visit with Tribe Alive's new artisan partner Seen Unseen.
The drive to Jaipur was anything but pleasant. Drivers in India thoroughly enjoy honking their horns, but our driver took his horn usage to a new level. At times he would hold his horn down for a solid minute. And, let's not forget his driving skill. At one point I looked at Carly with panicked eyes and said, "Carly, if we make it to the city limits of Jaipur it will be a miracle." We came so close to the grille of a semi-truck that I literally thought I was about to enter the gates of heaven.
After living a two and a half hour road nightmare, we finally saw the sign that welcomed us to Jaipur. The sign was our pink oasis. Our first stop was the Amber Palace where we met the sweet, beautiful, and majestic elephant that would carry us to the Palace Square. She was beautiful and majestic. As we began our trek to the top, we widened our eyes to take in the beauty surrounding the palace. The scene along with the heat made my imagination run wild until our sweet elephant sprayed us with water from her trunk.
Arriving to the palace square was everything I thought it would be. The white marble mixed with the rays of the orange Indian sun and the pink stone accents overwhelmed my senses. Carly, knowing my love for history, agreed we should pay for a tour guide. We lucked out and got the sweetest and very knowledgeable guide. He had been giving tours of the Amber Palace for 55 years. He led us through the Palace giving us a wealth of information while waiting patiently as we stopped to snap photos. I listened with intent, trying to write the historical facts our tour guide had given us on my mental notepad.
Each wall and each room was built with purpose over the span of 200 years. As we walked through, I could hear the voices of the past whispering from the pink and orange walls. I could see the Queens as they gathered to gossip about what they observed from their towers. (They were not allowed to leave the palace.) I stayed close to our guide until the end of the tour and was so grateful for his knowledge. It was wild to think that the bottoms of my Everlane Sandals would forever have scratches from the ancient Palace embedded in their soles.
Before leaving the Palace, we had to stop and watch the King Cobra dance to the tune of the pungi instrument. It was fascinating to watch the deadly snake rise from its straw basket. When we were finished enjoying the cultural entertainment, we hopped into the car (same crazy driver) and drove through the bustling city of Jaipur to meet with Tribe Alive's new artisan partner Seen Unseen.
When they say the city is pink, it is truly pink. Everything from the buildings to the light polls and buses, was painted with the gentle feminine color. We passed by the pink Palace of Windows, and I made our driver risk our lives to turn around. (I guess it was my fault that a teenager driving a scooter slammed into our bumper.) I saw this beautiful structure on Pinterest and didn't want to leave until I saw it with my own eyes. It was amazing.
We finally arrived "safely" to Seen Unseen. Jyoti and Priti warmly greeted us and guided us in to the Seen Unseen studio. (I felt bad for Joshua and JP because they had followed us all day, but they were just as excited to be there as we were.) I cannot begin to describe the positive energy that filled Jyoti's spirit and studio. Between her and Priti, they could have powered the room with their smiles. They offered us iced coffee and I almost cried. I thoroughly enjoyed all the chai tea; however, I was going through coffee withdraw.
As we sat in awe at the scarf and clothing samples, I asked questions while Carly and Joshua (Andy and Susan's son) documented with video and photos. It was inspiring to sit across the table from a female entrepreneur who fought all odds to grow her business. She looked at me and said, "I look forward to challenges and accept them with grace." With that comment, I knew that Tribe Alive had stumbled upon a gem in India.
After our wonderful conversation, they showed us around their studio. We watched in admiration as two women were weaving one of Tribe Alive's tie dyed scarves. The detail blew me away. Seen Unseen did a marvelous job combining ancient Indian craft with contemporary design and hand embroidery techniques. The only word I could say was "fantastic".
We spent almost 2 hours with Jyoti and Priti. When it was time to leave, I was sad. There was so much more that I wanted to learn about Jyoti, Priti, and their magnificent city. They sent us off with hugs, smiles, and sandwiches. Their kindness made an impression that I won't forget.
As we bid farewell to Jaipur, I braced myself for the journey home. Our adventure in Jaipur made the crazy ride worth every second. It was an amazing opportunity to dive in to more of India's history and color. Carly and I both know that we will return to Jaipur. We barely scratched the surface of this magnificent, pink city.