Blog of London Stone Indian trip. Written by London Stone MD, Steve Walley.
I arrived in Khera at 7pm on the evening of the 25th to meet my final supplier of the trip. After spending a couple of hours checking my emails and catching up with some paperwork I was taken out for a meal by my supplier. One thing you can always be sure of in India is amazing hospitality and I was dropped back to my hotel later in the evening having eaten far too much. The majority of the population in Rajasthan are vegetarians and when you get out into the sticks although meat is available it is best to stick to the vegetables. I awoke the next morning still full from the night before to be faced with a six course Indian breakfast. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in India is to finish your plate of food off because it will be instantly replenished before you can raise an objection.
After breakfast we headed down to my suppliers factory to take a look at the facilities. This supplier supplies the majority of our sawn sandstone products. There is a wide range of different finishes emerging from India at the moment and one of these is called “brushing”. Brushing is when the surface of the stone is machine polished with a stiff circular brush head. The result is a smooth, but textured surface. This finish is also known as antiqued. A side effect of brushing is an enhanced surface colour.
There was a production line of edge cutting machines which converted large slabs of sawn sandstone into finished paving slabs.
My supplier was eager to show me his natural stone graveyard. In my experience every stone supplier has a graveyard. A graveyard is where you store, end of line product, defected material, off cuts and returns etc. There were piles and piles of sandstone paving. My supplier was throwing all sorts of crazy products and sizes at me and offering them at bargain prices as he was desperate to reduce the size of his graveyard. I could not help but to sympathize with him, as we have to put a lot of effort back in London to keep our graveyard at a manageable level.
This supplier sends a lot of material to Australia and it was interesting to see the different packaging standards that are tolerated down under. All the stone was for exterior use yet it was packed in cardboard boxes and some pieces were even packed individually in plastic bags (we attempted this method of packaging once but the amount of waste plastic was horrendous). I am also informed that the Australians are much more rigorous about what can be imported and implement stricter fumigation standards on all material going into OZ.
I now had a three hour drive back to Jaipur where I would be flying to Delhi from the next morning. The trip had gone very quickly and now heading back to Jaipur with all my business completed I had a bit of time to reflect on the trip. The overriding feeling I had was of the speed of the progress taking place in India. When I first travelled to India 5 years ago for example there was no highway to the quarries and I remember that particular journey being an absolute nightmare. Kota itself was also developing fast with Wal-Mart & McDonalds a sure sign of Western influences. One thing that hasn’t changed and probably never will is the power and influence of India’s most revered resident, the holy cow. Sacred to the Hindu religion the cows rule the roost in India. They are answerable to nobody and do whatever they want. It’s not an uncommon site to see half a dozen cows strolling brazenly down the wrong side of a highway, asleep in the fast line or crossing the road whenever they feel like it. If a cow is crossing the road then you better be sharp on your brakes or quick on the steering wheel because one thing that is certain in India is that the cow bows to no man.