Arriving in India

Sept 22, 2009
I am in the London airport surrounded by duty free shops, restaurants and people – so many people and dressed so differently – from jeans and jogging wear to furs.  It is 1.30 am in Chicago and I need to stay awake for the next two hours before boarding the Mumbai flight.  I do not dare even sit down for fear of falling asleep because I am so tired and sleepy, I may not wake up in time to catch the next flight. So people-watching is my way of staying awake. 

They say that yesterday was the last day of summer – it was hard to believe because Chicago was so bright and warm.  However, predictably, London is dark and grey – to be fair, it is just 7.30 am in London, so things can change!

I cannot decide if I am hungry or not – the prices at the airport I think are deciding for me.  I do have a good book – Mountains beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, about Paul Farmer – fascinating and is certainly keeping me awake.

Sept 23
The fight from London to Mumbai was pretty empty and I had 4 seats to stretch out on.  Did I sleep!  On the one hand, international flights are good because they are long enough to see a movie and sleep.  I was quite excited because in all the times that I had flown twice a year for 30 years, this was the first time I had a woman pilot! Go British Airways! 

Getting off the fight was as usual an experience with the heat and humidity hitting me all at once.  But immigration, health screening due to H1N1, and baggage claim were a breeze for the most part.  We live in Santa Cruz, yes Santa Cruz, Mumbai! Which is pretty close to the airport. 

Since I was not able to sleep, I turned on my laptop and low and behold, I was able to connect to the internet.  Lalita Monteiro, who had arrived the night before had had it set up.  Our first meeting was at 10 am and we barely woke up in time.  One of the big benefits of coming to India and staying in the house that we were brought up in, is the fact that I do not have to cook or clean and the food is always the most delicious.  

The meetings in the morning centered on our schedule which I will post tomorrow.  The afternoon was looking at the line and getting ready to work with the women on the embroidery. 

Through the next couple of days, you will see how the design workshops are conducted, you will meet the artisans face-to-face, you will get a glimpse of how things work in Mumbai and how the artisans live. 

I am really thrilled about doing this blog because I have always felt that the biggest challenge for me was to connect the artisans to the customers – and Yes I agree with the many customers who say we do a great job, but I know we can do better. I know when I come to Mumbai and meet with the artisans, I am revitalized, I am ready to continue to work 60 hours a week, and I know I have a mission. 

I hope you will join me in this journey and ask questions, give me advice, and very importantly you will donate and spread the word so that we can raise $50,000 to support SHARE for the next year. 

In the next couple of days you will understand how crucial SHARE, a non-profit organization, is to the mission of MarketPlace and how this organization is changing the work by changing the perception of giving.  SHARE exists to empower: empower the most needy but the ones who can make the most change, the ones who can change the world forever – WOMEN.  So be a part of this movement – it is going to happen.

And stay with us every day to understand what change is about, that it is not easy, that there are heroines of change and how they do it every day, every minute and those days and minutes will last a lifetime.