Posts tagged india

Kashmir shawls – Wani’s self-help group


How do you find the talents? It’s one of the most asked questions people ask me about the project. It’s always different and that’s what makes it so interesting. My time in Kashmir was definitely different… I arrived in the middle of Ramadan and celebrated AID (the end of it) with the local sufi-muslims. It turned out to be a very welcoming and open atmosphere in one of the most disputed areas of the world. Since I had seen Kashmir-shops all over India, I was anxious to see where these products came from. Especially the Kashmir shawls drew my attention. Since everybody I talked to seemed to be of the male-gender, I decided to search for a women’s group. Surely this wouldn’t be too hard?

A full week I stayed in Shrinagar, asking anyone that would listen where I could find a group of independent women that make Kashmir shawls. Nobody knew. Or if they knew and enthusiastically told me ‘sure, no problem!’, the shrewd Kashmiri businessmen would follow that sentence with a ‘so what will you pay me for that information?’. Youssef, owner of my regular restaurant, shook his head sympathetically each time he saw me coming back empty handed. Eventually one day he came up to me and told me for Allah’s sake to go to the local television studio. ‘They are educated people, there they will help you.’ Figuring I didn’t really have any alternatives, I decided to follow his advice.

My first attempt to get in failed miserably (‘no sir, security problem sir’). Being Kashmir’s voice to the world, the television station (Durdarshan), is one of the most guarded and well-defended buildings in India. The next day however, I met a more willing attendant and after some phone calls, some questions and a lot of waiting I could go through the multiple military check posts to visit the head of operations personally. I was pleased to see that the Durdarshan director turned out to be a woman. She immediately decided to help me and pulled some strings to find me my women’s group. In fact, she liked the idea so much, that she decided to make an item of it herself and consequently sent a whole television crew with me! Deep into the Kashmiri valley of paradise I eventually found what I was looking for: an independent women’s group making Kashmir shawls: Wani’s self-help group!

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The Sufyana music performed in the video was done by Mohammed Yaqoob Sheikh & Party. Their group is a well known performer of Sufyana music and is one of the only professional groups in Kashmir that consists mostly of women (albeit, being led by a man). Like with the women’s self help group, the Durdarshan director also assisted in arranging this music-performance in her studio.

To get in contact with Wani might be challenging. None in her group speaks English. If interested however, the contact details of the government official that helped funding their group are available by contacting the GTP. The same goes for Mohammed Yaqoob!

Tibetan opera in India


As I could not get into Tibet due to China’s celebration of the ‘liberation’ of the region, I decided to visit the Tibetan government in exile instead. Mc Leod Ganj is a small village near Dharamsala in India where Tibetan refugees have made a home away from home. The place was covered in mist and apart from some monkeys and a dog that attacked me, I liked the mysticism of it. When I went looking for talent I naturally got lost three times before by coincidence I met a girl that was on her way to the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts. It turned out she was a performer in the Tibetan opera. I immediately assumed her voice could probably brake mirrors and that she most likely performed with bearded men having extraordinary jaw dropping mouth-capacities. When I visited for the practice session however, it turned out that this is a whole kind of different opera! No beards, no braking mirrors, but a ferocious attack of goose bumps out of nowhere. This is something you need to hear!

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The video was made during a practice session and contains just a small selection of different clippings. For the real deal, TIPA welcomes you to drop by!

The diversity of different cultures in the world for me is one of the most interesting features of traveling. The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) is an organisation that tries to preserve and promote this kind of culture. More about this institute and how to get their music can be found on

To put it in the words of the Dalai Lama: “Protecting an ancient culture like this is the responsibility not only of the concerned nation, but also of the world community as a whole.”

Drama in India – Rudradeep Chakrabarti


The GTP has been dangling on a very thin rope this last month. Or maybe not the project as such, but more the technical expression of it. It’s not that surprising, considdering that I myself almost got a system overload going through some of the beautiful, mindblowing areas of this country. But where my brain only just could process the information, my laptop wouldn’t take it anymore and decided to block the Indian world and me out from its most inner files. Fortunately, a local geek was able to breath life in my heavy companion once more and I could refresh most of its memmory. A memmory that was already full of what one could call ‘the beat of India’. Being in this country has not given me a single boring day. On the contrary. With millions of people, it is sometimes difficult to find the time and the place to be with your own thoughts. India seems to be the stage for a never ending play. One scetch even more bisar than the last.

The first talent to turn the spotlight on, not surprisingly, is therefore not the usual GTP-suspect, but a creative talent nonetheless. Meet stage director Rudradeep and let his words and his world inspire you.

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Music by Ustad Hanif and two of his students from the ‘Delhi Music Emprium’ in Changspa, Delhi. Their video can be found here.

Although Rudradeep is a gifted ‘scatcher’, which he does sometimes to prepare for his plays, he has learned to trust on his instincts and let his plays form while he works on them. Therefore, none of his creative work can be purchased. He is a talented upcoming stage-directer nonetheless and for any kind of information on Indian performing arts, Rudradeep is the guy to talk to and learn from. Contact the GTP to get in contact with Rudradeep!

Rudradep Chakrabarti
Rudradep Chakrabarti
Rudradep Chakrabarti
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