Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Silver Site-Visit Lahore

During the expo, it became clear that I would work best with Amna Shariff, the sterling silver jewelry designer. Before we left for Pakistan, I had already started gearing up to create a line of ostrich eggshell and sterling silver. Her design sense - modern and simplified incorporated with cultural traditions was evident. I thought she could bring that melding of old and new to the San jewelry.
I wanted to create a line that would be higher-end and still in keeping with the origins of the materials. Ostrich Eggshell is the oldest bead, with the San women the last to be making them as part of their tradition. And working in Sterling Silver is a dying art in Pakistan. The preserving of both cultures seemed to work beautifully together.
Some shifting of schedules, flights, and accommodations were made, thanks to our very amiable hosts, Sue and Halle, and on Monday, I was off to Lahore.
The airport experience was harrowing. I had to be ready by 4 AM so I decided to catch up on emails, blogging and uploading pictures instead of sleep. We were checking out of our rooms at the Serena because we'd be in Lahore for the next two days, so I was packed and downstairs on time. KJ and Cecilia Foxworthy came shortly afterward. Our guard and driver (do we tell you their names or will they have to kill us afterward?) were ready, but no Phil in sight. Hmmm...what to do? Cutting it very close, we finally got a hold of Phil but would we catch the flight? We arrived at the gate, I had my pass, but no one else had tickets - or so we thought...I was told to go in so that I didn't miss the flight, but KJ said to follow them. Let's not get separated and something inside me said the same. So off we went with our guard who would negotiate for us at the ticket counter. Turns out the ticket I possessed had the other three's tickets on it, but not mine. The guard ( I feel funny not saying his name) laughed. "See, Cecilia, you should have just gone in. Now you're the one without a ticket." But soon, the ticketing agent found me in the computer and after printing our boarding passes, we were off. Go, Go, Go, we were told. But first, a very thorough frisking from the female security guard. Then another. We made it to the gate only to find that there was a 2 hour delay. Another passenger grumbled that the flights never left on time. We waited...Mechanical difficulties. Not a good sign.
Once on board, I had trouble with my seat - it was perpetually reclined. Hmm...I meditated hoping to dispel my negative thoughts and fears so that we could get to Lahore in one piece.
After a very hard, like we fell out of the sky, landing, we were finally there. The security team was there along with our drivers and off we went.
Through the city, guided by the driver, we were told about the different areas we would pass. The military state, the parks, the buildings much like Washington DC, even treelined streets with cars sprinkled amongst the schools of motor bikes. It was an interesting sight to see an entire parking lot full of motorcycles. They are very cheap, we are told, so everyone, anyone can buy them.
Once at the Avari Hotel, I rushed off anxious to start working with Amna. We were now over three hours late and time was a wastin'.
The temperature in Lahore on this day was 120 degrees Fahrenheit! Inside Amna's workshop it was that and more! We tried cooling off in her home but with a broken AC, there was no relief.
Her array of finished products, handcrafted findings and beads, and the men soldering, pounding, finishing jewelry was fascinating and so much fun! Amna pulled out treasures and we worked together to come up with new, fresh designs with the Ostrich Eggshell. Imagine having an entire silver workshop at you disposal - it was heaven...
But the heat was hell, so off we went to explore Lahore. I got to see Amna's jewelry exclusive to Kaadi ( very nice chain of boutiques), several other clothing stores and we got to go into the market (something I didn't think the guard would let us do, but there we were) shopping for sandals. The small store had walls lined with every type of sandal. They were less than $10 each and exquisitely embroidered with a stiff but comfortably flat sole. I bought a few for myself and found several I thought would fit Macallan - would she wear them, now that's a different story.
Amna, wonderful hostess that she is, introduced me to her friend, an artist. Little did I know, she was quite famous in Pakistan as a print artist in her own right, a professor of art at the university and on her way to Boston on a Fulbright Fellowship (along with her husband who received a Fulbright Fellowship for Mathematics as well). They would be leaving their beautiful home with glass walls that overlooked an interior courtyard garden for Boston in August. How exciting!
We'd kept our driver and guard on duty for far too long. We finally dropped Amna off at her home and I went back to the hotel with plans to meet up for dinner.
What a long satisfying day!
Now, this is the reason I came to Pakistan.


hmb said...

they're guards not spies ;) you can say their names

Stephina Suzzane said...

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