As an American from the least populated state in the US, India does not exactly scream peaceful with its densely populated streets and constant honking, not to mention it’s crazy mob of people wanting to look at foreigners….that being said, I absolutely loved my trip to India, plan to go back and am even learning Hindi.
Shantiniketan, located in West Bengal, was an exception to this overwhelming chaos stereotypically associated with India. Our final stop on trip to India for an art class was the peaceful town of Shantiniketan. Shantiniketan was a town surrounded by small villages and consisting of chair shops every couple blocks.
We spent a week at the Shantiniketan School of Visual Art and Design (SSVAD). While in there we met some inspirational artists, professors and built some great friendships. I spent the week exploring the library at SSVAD and artist studio spaces in the afternoon, rode my bike through the terracotta mural and other artsy villages in the morning while it rained, and explored the local village wedding dances at night.
Shantiniketan, like many college towns in America, was very diverse. By the end of the week I had made plenty of friends and at one point people even thought that I was a local school teacher. It was nice to go for a bike ride to the chai shop and meet up with people I had met throughout the week. Shantiniketan is an artsy community with plenty to see and listen to. The Saturday market is a must-see while visiting, as is the Rabindranath Tagore museum.
After experiencing the art and culture this lovely town has to offer during the day we met with friends, drank some home brewed rice beer which seems to be a Bengali favorite and attended a wedding ceremony at night. The last morning in Santiniketan, I rode my bike to the chai shop just a few blocks away and was pleased to find that I actually knew two of the people who were there so I stopped and joined them for some hot chai and breakfast.
Santiniketan was the perfect way to end a fantastic trip through India.
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Felicia Follum is an artist and graphic designer from the Mid-Western United States. She currently teaches and makes art. Her artwork tends to focus on social change and was greatly influenced by her recent trip to India. She loves the culture, art and people.