The First Impressions of Two Visiting Artisans

For the last week, MarketPlace has enjoyed welcoming two of our artisans to Chicago. Manisha Pawar and Shaily Agrawal are both learning about the US side of the business and the culture and life of the American women who wear the clothing the artisans design and make by hand. Their visit began with a low-key first few days, including a welcome party at the family home of Pushpika in Evanston, and a day on Devon Street — the home of many of Chicago’s Indian shops.

Pushpika and Manisha prepare for the arrival of guests!

Today Manisha and Shaily were asked a few questions about their visit…which they are clearly enjoying!

When asked about their first impressions on the day they arrived, Manisha said, “I found it peaceful, green and clean!” Shaily was struck by the soaring temperatures: “It was as hot and humid as Mumbai!”

And how does Chicago differ from their expectations? Manisha said she thought it would be a very big city, with a lot of people — but found it is less crowded than Mumbai. “It is very similar to Mumbai, with water all around,” she said. “But Mumbai trains are very crowded while Chicago trains and buses are not crowded — and other difference is that here we have to buy the ticket before we get in the bus.”

Shaily, meanwhile, found most things as she expected: the houses, for example. “Also the roads are clean, there are fewer people than in Mumbai, and the driving is more systematic,” she noted. “But I was really surprised when I was on Devon Street and in the Patel Brother’s shop and I learned that you can get here Indian food & spices, and that they sell similar brands to those at home!”

They both commented on how much the welcome party meant to them. “Everyone was very nice to me and they wanted to talk with me,” said Manisha. “They gave me a lot of attention. They praised me for my saree and my jewelry.” This struck her, she said, because “no one talks to any one in Mumbai if they do not know them!”

Shaily said she was moved by not just how nice people were to her at the welcome party but how much everyone truly appreciates the MarketPlace artisans and their work. 

…. And we do! We also appreciate the cooking Manisha and Shaily did for the many friends of MarketPlace who came to welcome them! Authentic Indian cooking is almost as divine as the hand-embroidery the MarketPlace artisans are known for!

MarketPlace Board, Junior Board, and Staff Members welcome Manisha and Shaily on a hot Chicago night!

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