Q. What do camels and elephants have in common?
A. You find both of them on the wrong side of the road walking in the fast lane on dual carriageways in India.
Today we are spending a second day at Tara, Tara has been a Fair Trade company for over 40 years, even longer than Shared Earth has been around … They supply us with jewellery, stoneware, bike chain giftware and more.
To be fair, on our way to Tara’s offices this morning we do not see much wildlife on the roads, though there is the usual transport chaos. The welcome breeze that swept away all the pollution yesterday is beginning to fade but visibility is still pretty good and the air smells better. How long before the brown mist envelops us again?
We spend the first few hours doing product selection, picking ranges for this summer and for next year’s January catalogue. I then have a visit to the crypt, the basement where all Tara products from the past are preserved in a mausoleum to giftware. Row upon row, graded by colour or by function: boxes, glass, ceramics, stone, figurines. It is a journey through design time. My job is to throw a fresh eye on this treasure in the chance that I might find a few jewels in the gloom. I do. Small chests with a patina. A metal and glass chalice. Some small stone heads.
After a late lunch I set off with Vikas Kumar on a trip to the village of Pataudi, 60 kilometres west of Delhi.
It is hard to believe that a sixty kilometre journey (about 37 miles) can take two hours and more but it does. And, yes, we meet a camel sauntering towards us in the fast lane but the main problems are the number of lorries on the road and a general refusal to pay any attention to lane or direction of travel. It is bewildering to be heading along a three lane dual carriageway sharing the space with bicycles, tuktuks, carts pulled by cows (or camels), pedestrians, and tractors as well as the boringly conventional cars and lorries, all travelling in both directions on both sides of the road. No wonder everyone is continuously parping their horn.