Today began with a visit to Netaji Apparel Park. Located about an hour outside of Coimbatore city, Netaji Apparel Park was established nearly 6 years ago, and it serves as a large area with many apparel factories. These factories are not related, however many of them work together to produce completed garments. Some factories specialize in weaving fabrics, while others focus on dyeing or packaging. We visited two factories within the park: a circular knitting factory and a garment production factory.
At the circular knitting factory, we watched as yarns were transformed into seamless circular fabrics. Often, these machines are used to produce inexpensive basic t-shirts, however the diameter of the fabric this particular factory produces is much larger than a t-shirt size, so it is likely they use circular knitting purely because it is efficient and inexpensive. The machines have different configurations to make jersey and rib knits, and the factory can change the style depending on the order. In terms of patterns, these machines are only capable of producing stripes. It was cool to see this machine in action because I've learned a lot about it in my classes, but I was never really able to visualize how it worked. For me, watching the threads become whole fabrics really cleared up so much confusion with how this machine operates!
Next, we went to a garment production facility in the apparel park. At this point in the trip, we’ve seen so many assembly-line style factories, but this one stood out to me as one of the better facilities we’ve seen. The manager who gave us a tour was passionate and honest, and he incorporates these values into the way he does business. . It takes about 3 months for this factory to produce a completed order, and along the way, they work closely with the client to ensure the colors, patterns, and stitches are correct. They make a garment sample to have it approved, and once they receive an approval, they begin producing the garment in an assembly-line style. This part of the process takes between 30 and 45 days, and after the garment is completed, they package it and prepare it for shipment!
While at the factory, we saw a pair of flannel pajama pants being produced. This pair of pajamas is sold from the factory to the client for about $3.50, and the client sells it in stores for between three and four times this price, which is a pretty sizable profit margin. They only work with client companies from Germany and the United Arab Emirates, and they can produce between 1,000 and 1,500 garments per day!
At this factory, workers have 10 hour shifts. This is a longer workday than some of the other factories we've visited, however workers are given 30 minutes for lunch, a tea break in the morning, and they are paid overtime for the last two hours of their shift. This amounts to a salary of about 6,000 rupees per month, which is 2,000 rupees over the minimum monthly wage in India. This factory is running an honest operation, which is rare in India.
After our factory visit, we stopped at another Hindu Temple that is about 1000 years old. The temple was closed, so we were unable to see inside, but the exterior architecture was so stunning.
We were approached by local people who asked for our photograph. I've really enjoyed all the fame being a blonde haired blue eyed girl in India has brought me. I think I'm going to miss it when I go home.
I had the best lunch of my trip so far, so for all my foodie followers, here's some rice & potatoes, Indian style!
We had the afternoon to ourselves, so some of us decided to go shopping at Gandhipuram, a downtown shopping district in Coimbatore. In the area of India where we are staying, tourism is rare, so once again, we attracted a lot of attention and many people were asking to take photos with us! Shopping at Gandhipuram was a blast because it gave me an opportunity to really immerse myself in the hustle and bustle of Coimbatore. The streets are so alive and full of color, but also covered in dark dust. Some people rush and push through the crowds, while others sit at the side of the streets for hours. India is a place rich with contrasts, and it continues to amaze and surprise me every day.
After wandering around the confusing and crowded city of Coimbatore for a few hours, we were ready to call it a night. I finally got a chance to ride in a rickshaw, which was quite the experience! Although a rickshaw ride may seem borderline life-threatening, I wouldn’t have missed out on it for the world!
Tomorrow is our last full day in Coimbatore before moving on to our final stop, Ooty. I can't believe how quickly this trip is flying by!