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What Makes the Bead and Art to India Tour Different?
All the tours will take you to the "usual" places. For example, the Taj Mahal in Agra. I knew for years that it was considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. When I finally got there, I had to concur. It was also much larger than I had envisioned.
And all the tours will have local guides to tell you the story of the unfailing love between Shah Jahan and his beautiful wife, Mumtaz. They'll tell you the Taj was build out of his grief for her and how his evil son, Arungzeb, keep Jahan imprisoned in the Red Fort where he spent his time looking at the Taj down river.
But we also show you the real India. By focusing on one of India's oldest and most renowned crafts, beads, we meet the people behind the beads. This leads us into unexpected places, small towns and villages not on any other itineraries. Many of these places were first discovered and documented by Pete Francis, the tour leader.
India is really a land of villages (about 500,000 at last count) and is still predominantly rural. Village-based small industries (beadmaking is a typical one) still dominate the Indian economy. Though quickly rushing toward the 21st century, the "real India" remains here.
This is Himmat Patel of the village of Nagara. His agricultural caste (the Patels) is one of the larger castes in Gujarat.
However, in recent years many Patels have learned how to cut diamonds (India is now the biggest diamond cutter in the world, again) and, in this case, drill carnelian beads (note the traditional bow drill). The Patels have more recently embarked on another career abroad. They run an increasing number of small, independent motels in the US.
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