Savouring Sri Lanka – Kandy tripping 2

In my previous post, I shared about us going to the elephant orphanage at Pinnawela.

Along the little colourful lane inundated with local artisans vying with each other to sell their colourful leather and fabric, there is one elderly gentleman who stands in front of a very very modest looking house-like structure, distributing hand-outs. He came to us, handed out the flyer. K looked at it and exclaimed, “You will  like this!”

Upon seeing that we were interested, the man told us that this is a small cottage industry that makes paper out of elephant waste. Imagine paper as a by-product of animal waste! We were thrilled. He offered us a tour for free!

As soon as we stepped in, we saw a girl sewing pages together to form a book, sitting by the side of the verandah. I cannot tell you how ecstatic I felt when I realized that I will be spending a few minutes with one of my most favourite things in the world – paper!

A cheerful lady clad in a muklti-coloured kurti came to us and said that she will take us around. We followed her.

They had small little workstations that were set up in the order of the paper-making process. She first took us to a table where they had a pile of elephant poo. No need to gross out because all the leaves and fibre they eat is pretty much what comes out.

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They just sift through and make sure they are using only the fibre and no other foriegn object is present. Once they are done with that,

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they submerge it in water and some added solution in a big trough for a few hours. The pile becomes damp  and soggy and is crushed nicely to form a paste.

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Once it attains this modge-podge kind of consistency, they run it through the press and lay out the damp sheets to dry.

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They make coloured paper as well. To make coloured paper they use dyes and colour the fibre from stage 1 with the colour.

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And then, they soak it and run it under the press and get coloured sheets.

You know what they say about a coconut tree, the kalpavriksh? It is such a noble tree that every part of it has a use. I have read poems where poets advocate man to be like a coconut tree in life. And that was my first thought when I went through this process.

If the process looks simple, it is because it is! And precisely why we must advocate use of such paper. The paper has a very vintage, handmade feel to it, lovely for making bookmarks, cards, sketching, making calendars, diaries, envelopes – so much!

After the tour, we went to their sale area where they had several products on display.

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We did buy a 2013 calendar, some sheets of paper and a travel companion. The big diaries are beautiful and pricey as well. Some of the binding is of whole cinnamon stuck together as the cover. The book smells heavenly !

If you are wondering whether the place would be anywhere close to a stinkpot, you cannot be more wrong! It is well maintained and you have to remind yourself that is is best-of-waste. Well, not waste anymore, really!

When we went to India, K kept telling my MIL how I have elephant dung in the bag in which we got some gifts for her. It was hilarious to see her cute expressions. We teased her by putting some of this paper next to her and then going on the greentouch.

But seriously, this was one amazing learning for us! We took their contact numbers before leaving. Eventually, we did spot a few shops selling this paper but watching the process was ultimate! 🙂

Let’s go on and see what more excitement Kandy held for us! So long! 🙂

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42 comments

  1. Swaram · January 13, 2013

    I use poo paper and am glad I got to see how it is actually made! U are craving me to make a trip down to Lanka now 😛

    • kismitoffeebar · January 13, 2013

      Oh wowie! Where do you buy them from? I’d love to too. I know it may sound funny, but I love the rugged hand-made paper feeling 😛 Ideal for writing notes and even sketching apart from card making etc. Such a vintage feel it has!
      Swaram, you will LOVE Sri Lanka! Plan one soon 🙂 Not a long flight either 🙂

      • Swaram · January 13, 2013

        http://elephantpoopaper.com/ – HaathiChaap. They retail from many online shops here including Shopo: http://shopo.in/shop/haathichaap

        A trip has been long pending, but ya it is the same to many other places too hehe 😛 Must make a good vacation plan for 2013 before anything else 😉

        And I luv anything hand-made too 🙂

      • kismitoffeebar · January 13, 2013

        Thanks Swaram. I just checked it out – this is amazing! 🙂 I can buy my poo paper whenever I want. Yay! 🙂

        All the best with making your plan 😛 I so know what you mean by ” trip has been long pending, but ya it is the same to many other places too” Let’s work towards it 🙂

      • Swaram · January 13, 2013

        LOL ya 😛

  2. Destination Infinity · January 13, 2013

    It will be good if paper can be made from waste, like this instead of cutting valuable trees. I have heard that every part of the banana tree is useful as well, maybe they use more coconuts in their place. Good to know about a different paper factory.

    Destination Infinity

    • kismitoffeebar · January 13, 2013

      Absolutely DI! Yes, they do have coconut trees there! This was a very good experience for us as well!
      Thanks 🙂

  3. chattywren · January 13, 2013

    Very interesting post! I will share it with my daughter as one of the ways one can make paper. Btw, I love paper too!!

    • kismitoffeebar · January 14, 2013

      Thanks Chattywren! 🙂 This may probably amuse your daughter! 🙂
      Yay! Fellow paper fan 🙂

  4. KP · January 13, 2013

    interesting though I have seen paperboards for packaging made with cattle dung instead of elephant poo.

    • kismitoffeebar · January 14, 2013

      Oh I didn’t know of cattle dung being used for that purpose either. Thanks for sharing KP 🙂

  5. Bikramjit Singh Mann · January 13, 2013

    now that is very interesting.. you know so many things we take for granted and jsut go to the shop and buy.. yet all that works that goes behind making that particular thing we tend to forget ..

    thanks for sharing

    Bikram’s

    • kismitoffeebar · January 14, 2013

      I can’t agree more there Bikram! 🙂 It is fascinating to go behind-the-scenes 🙂 My pleasure !

  6. The Girl Next Door · January 14, 2013

    You know how much I love paper, right? So, naturally, I loved this post. 🙂

    I specially love hand-made paper. I ensure that I buy it from the Aurobindo Ashram shop in Pondicherry whenever we visit. You will LOVE that shop, too – I can bet on that. 🙂

    Paper out of elephant poo is so eco-friendly and lovely, no? I have seen it here in an exhibition, but didn’t venture to buy it. I saw it at a Haathi Chaap stall at Dastkar, I think. Next time, I will ensure that I buy some. 🙂

    I would love to tour a paper factory sometime. I missed doing that in Pondicherry. Next time, I will, pakka. 🙂

    • kismitoffeebar · January 15, 2013

      Ofcourse I know how much you love paper! I am so going to Pondicherry 🙂
      I would suggest you try some sheets from Haathi Chaap and see if you like it 🙂

      Would love to know about your visit to a paper factory! 🙂

  7. Roshni · January 14, 2013

    wow!! Never knew about this!! I guess, since it is all vegetation, the poo doesn’t smell and is fibrous, which is how the paper can be made?! Very, very interesting!!

    • kismitoffeebar · January 15, 2013

      hehehehe that was pretty much teh way I reacted when i first got to see it! It doesn’t smell a wee bit. Even the poo doesn’t. I was next to a pile of it anyways 🙂

  8. elraymonds · January 15, 2013

    Thanks for visiting my blog kismitoffeebar , also you can have what other opportunities in sri lanka http://www.journeylankaholidays.co.uk

  9. Amit · January 15, 2013

    This is amazing. It is so good to see that people have explored these options. Hopefully, cutting trees will be a thing of the past in a few decades.

    • kismitoffeebar · January 16, 2013

      Absolutely Amit! 🙂 I am not sure if cutting trees will become totaly a thing of the past but I really hope the quantity lessens in significant proportion.

    • kismitoffeebar · January 16, 2013

      totally*

  10. Visha · January 15, 2013

    you are enriching my knowledge day by day 😛

    lovely account here..I like the hand-made paper diaries and notepads the most 😀

    • kismitoffeebar · January 16, 2013

      hehehehe, thanks Visha! In the process, I always learn a lot from all of you 🙂
      Yeah, they are beautiful! 🙂

  11. pixie · January 17, 2013

    Sri Lanka has been on my list of places to “must-see” for a long time now!! 🙂
    Nice to know you had fun!! 😀
    and those hand-made diaries are beautiful

    • kismitoffeebar · January 19, 2013

      Seriously Pixie – do plan a visit soonie! 🙂
      Absolutely loved those diaries 🙂

  12. techie2mom · January 17, 2013

    Wow, i didn’t know about this way of making paper!!!

    • kismitoffeebar · January 19, 2013

      It is so cool, isn’t it? Such a lovely way of transforming waste into something useful and beautiful! 🙂

  13. Jas · January 19, 2013

    Thar’s indeed something worth a thought. Paper from waste is an incredible option.

  14. lifeslittletwists · January 19, 2013

    Read your previous post and now this one and youre making me add srilanka in my ‘must visit’ list.

  15. Deeps · January 20, 2013

    Wow! It was fascinating to read about the small cottage industry! Who would have thought that paper could be made out of elephant waste..surely not me!

    If I do plan a vacation to SL again, this place is sure going to feature in my must-visit! Thanks for sharing, Kismi! 🙂

    • kismitoffeebar · January 21, 2013

      Absolutely must-visit Deeps 🙂 It is amazing that these options have been explored pretty well!

  16. Dew · January 22, 2013

    Wow!! Thanks for sharing the knowledge with us 🙂

  17. eschris · February 12, 2013

    Having moved over to Evernote, the fact that we need to use paper is itself not appealing anymore. Digital simply has too many advantages. But yeah, there are millions who still need paper, and yeah, we can advocate such content, provided it ain’t too pricey.

    The post was very informative and interesting, though.

    • kismitoffeebar · February 13, 2013

      That’s an interesting viewpoint. I cannot imagine life without paper. I appreciate the advantages of going digital but like you said, I am one of those who needs paper. Just a mix of both, I guess!

      Thank you!

  18. Pingback: Savouring Sri Lanka: Kandy tripping 4 | Kismitoffeebar
  19. Lifesong · February 15, 2013

    Absolutely loved this post Kismi. I would have never never imagined paper made of elephant poo… thanks for sharing this and enlightening me 🙂 🙂

  20. Pingback: Kilim | Kismitoffeebar

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