When I was in India, I set my mind on finding a local artist to draw henna (or mehindi) on my hand. I’ve always admired the art form and I so desperately wanted the experience.
I traveled to five cities while in India: New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur and Mumbai. While in Mumbai – the last stop on my trip – I sat down with a Bombay woman, who was kind enough to come to my hotel room and draw this absolutely gorgeous design on my hand.
My hand drying after a mehindi design was applied in Mumbai
It took about 20 minutes and even though she didn’t speak English, we somehow, miraculously, managed to have a conversation. I woke up the next morning to see a stunning, dark red design on my hand (traditionally in Indian culture, henna is applied to the arms and hands of a bride on her wedding night and if the color turns dark red by morning, the bride is marrying the right person. Ha!).
If you want to see or do something badly enough, you’ll do it. When you’re traveling far away from home and you don’t know if or when you’ll be back, create your opportunities. No regrets.
Finally seeing the Taj Mahal was a dream and a journey…if you keep thinking about going somewhere, just go.
Yellow reflections in Udaipur
They told us that the sunsets in Udaipur, India, a city known for its 7 lakes, were special.
“The water here picks up colors after 5 pm that aren’t visible during the day,” they said. We believed them; but you have to see it for yourself to really comprehend this type of natural beauty. Pay close attention to the specific designs in the water – you couldn’t create those shapes and shades on your own without atmospheric inspiration. Each wave is like an intricate mosaic.
Udaipur is an absolutely stunning Indian city. In fact, the best day I’ve ever had in my life was in Udaipur. The sun woke me up in the morning, I visited my favorite palace, City Palace (the prettiest I’ve ever seen), I had an Ayurveda massage in the afternoon, a sunset cruise at dusk and a dockside, starry-skied dinner as my evening activity.
Dressing the part in India is a dream come true…floor length dresses, sheer textiles to beat out the hot sun and traditional Indian floral embroidery and patterns…I’ve never felt as languid and natural as I did while in India. Could you ask for more?
Here are a few photographs from the sunset cruise, and stay tuned for my Udaipur writeup on Forbes.;)
When I look back on my travels from this year, few truly superlative hotels come to mind. Dwarika’s Hotel in Kathmandu is one of them. Amidst the Everesters, locals and tourists, find Dwarika’s, a respite and heavenly hotel right smack in the middle of one of the craziest – and coolest – cities on earth.
The beauty of this property cannot be described in words. I traveled there with my best friend in winter, and even in the cold, bright orange marigold flowers cascade down the tall trees in Dwarika’s otherworldly courtyard. Rooms are designed with exposed brick, dark wooden beams, traditional Indian floral embroidery and a hint of Asian, minimalist simplicity.
Choices for accommodations are limited in the Kathmandu Valley – if you’re not planning on climbing Everest, this is where you should set up camp while you explore the city.
Bundling up to visit Swayambhunath स्वयम्भूनाथ स्तुप (The Monkey Temple) and doing my best to dress like a trekker, of course.
Humayun’s Tomb in New Delhi served as the architectural inspiration for the Taj Mahal. Think of it as a precursor to the actual Taj Mahal; the tomb looks exactly like it, except that it’s brown in color and a bit smaller…(in all honesty, the white marble at the Taj is what makes the structure so magnificent…)!
The tomb is a world heritage site and is definitely worth seeing. It’s a national landmark representative of classic Mughal architecture. Mughal refers to a member of the Muslim dynasty in India, a tribe of Mongol origin, who ruled India from the 16th-19th centuries. The tomb was built for Humayun, the second Mughal Emperor of India, by his widow Biga Begum. Built 14 years after his death, it cost 1.4 million rupees…constructed in 1569-70!
The tomb is a beautifully preserved structure and a must-see while in Delhi. Of course, in the shot where the light shines in, the window is carefully directed towards Mecca.;)
My little niece Siddy is on her way to becoming a crazy world traveler.
Siddy had mehindi (henna) artfully drawn on her hand. I love it!!!
Since the beginning of my life as a nomad, I’ve searched the world for a cobbler.
Cobblers are essentially artists, and their craft, when truly outstanding in its attention to detail, is really its own art form. I’ve used the same cobbler in New York for years now, and when my travels began in January of this year, he asked me to photograph a cobbler, anywhere in the world, to add to his collection of international cobblers on his wall of fame in his shop. I have searched endlessly to no avail until my trip to India, where I saw this adorable man on the street in his “shop.”
This Bombay local did not speak English, but there were several English-speaking men around to kindly translate my question, “May I take your photograph?” He looked up at me, carefully and slowly combed his eyebrows, and grinned.
After all, Jimmy Choo was once a humble cobbler, too…;)
This henna design (known in India as “mehindi”) was put on last night by a Bombay local. Awesome!