One random evening, from miles away, Silvana emailed me about her random encounter with an elegant woman, one who works all across India with women and their handcraft. My friend had no idea what might come of this chance encounter, but wanted to connect me with Anandi.
Random, according to the dictionary, means something that happens without our heads getting all puffed up planning it. Which means when random arrives, it may be something else popping up, something mysterious, something better than I could have plotted out myself. My response to random is always Pay Attention. It could be serendipity.
The next thing I know, Anandi is sending image after image of the beautiful work that women are making by hand in her home country. Can we please meet, amazing woman?
Anandi and I discover that we'll both be attending the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market in a few months and make a date. At dinner under an apricot tree in the dark of that summer night, Anandi pulls from her tote the designs of women she knows, one after another, artisans of India, our iphone flashlights aglow. Along with our Ibu Ambassador, Ali MacGraw, we begin to dream the possible.
The first of which arrived this week. Ali loves a dirndl skirt, and her collection last spring featured one so popular we could hardly keep it in stock - crazy with kanga cloth from Kenya and a flattering fit. Ali wanted to give it new life with a graphic palette and some heft in the form of hand-beaded sunbursts of energy, and a dangle of pompoms at the hem. Anandi took our design to a group of 30 marginalized nomadic Lombadi women of the Telangana State in South India. Because of Anandi's collaboration with them, odd jobs as construction laborers and cotton picking that took them far from their villages are now replaced by the embroidery work they can do in their homes as they care for their families.
Namastey, wrote Anandi, after our collaboration began to bloom. Thank you for believing in me. You have just given my wings the much needed breath of life . . .
I wouldn't want Ibu to do anything less. Be the breath under women's dreams. Especially ones that come from a chance encounter, a random contact, a plan beyond our own making. A serendipity of the sisterhood kind.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker