The Faces You Remember When You Travel

Feb 2012

I could go on for a good bit of time about how much I love, love, love India, {perhaps I already have } but the real world calls and it’s difficult to come back to earth when you still have one foot out the door. The Faces I Remember from the Beatles was playing in my head until I looked up the lyrics and realized it was the places-not faces, but you get my drift -right? Anyway, there were a lot of places where this trip could have gone terribly wrong, and never did. Was it all the research we did before hand, the people we contacted on the ground, or a whole lotta luck? Honestly, I think it was a combo of all three. Hands down however, were the people we met. Never have so many smiles left such an impression!

Sitting atop the Intercontinental Hotel at Dome, the rooftop bar, with Deepa Krishnan and her lovely husband set the bar pretty high for the owner of Mumbai Magic. She definately didn’t disappoint. From the initial email contact thru the hundreds of correspondences and changes we made, this smart, insightful and PATIENT tour operator is the one to call if you’re headed to one of the many Indian cities she covers. It was unique, off beat, tailored to fit our needs and first rate!

85 dozen eggs on the back of a bicycle! Are you kidding me??? And he invites us to his house to make hard boiled eggs. Be still my heart…

Award winning miniature artist Mizra Mohammed Ali Baig who sensed that I had fallen in love with one of his prized paintings on the wall, and graciously agreed to part with it. He also did a quick sketch of Jane while we were visiting and captured her perfectly {hmmmm-would she agree?}

The enthusiastic Jonty, our guide in Hyderabad was like traveling with a friend. Local color, personal shopper, knowledge of artists and craftspeople in the area-she was the energizer bunny who kept offering up more until we dropped from exhaustion. Uncle, no mas, take thee to the hotel, we cried! If you fancy yourself the intrepid traveller, she will put you to the test.

The charming family in the weaving village of Ponchampally who welcomed us into their home and explained the age old custom where an infant is blessed with a black dot to ward off the evil eye. Just another example of hospitality and the symbolism of color that ties this country together.

Water taxi anyone? How’s this for a greeting on the Kerala waterways.

Jijo, the resident naturalist at the Marari Beach Resort went above and beyond for my tour of the property. The resort was built in 1998 and the management looked to the local expert organic farmers for advice on how to incorporate their techniques into the construction of the property. Jijo was loaded with information and his enthusiasm and knowledge was quite contagious. Who knew that a successful butterfly garden indicates a healthy Eco-system or that guinea hen eating bugs can replace insecticides!?

Last, but biggest impression. Our fab driver in Kerala, Anan. He kept us safe on the hazardous, windy roads into the spice hills, found rest rooms and packaged crackers { you had to be there} on our 5 hour car rides and regularly located Sula wine for us in a country that doesn’t welcome women in liquor stores. To be greeted with this smile every morning, well, what’s else can I say.

The sights, the sounds, the smells, they all leave a memory. On this trip, I never thought I would be moved by so many people in so many different ways. Their generosity and warmth is what has left the impression this time, and for that I am forever grateful.

  1. Leigh says:

    What a positive bunch of experiences you had in India. I’ve never had a passion to visit the country but perhaps with the help of a few tour operators to smooth the way, it would be a very different experience. Thanks for the great start to my week.

    • alison says:

      Leigh-Glad I could get your week off to the right start! People tend to either have a love affair with India, or never want to go back. For me, it’s power is definitely under my skin. I think the right arrangements make all the difference in the world and if and when you decide, please let me give you a few names.

  2. Yes, it is the people who truly make travel so mind-expanding and wonderful!

  3. noel says:

    Yes lots of beautiful smiles, it’s wonderful to connect with the people from the area and really share that spirit of friendship however brief…lovely smiles

  4. You sure had some amazing experiences in India! I’m amazed by the concept ( and the reality) of 85 dozen eggs on the back of a bicycle – way to go!

  5. You’re right that, so many times, the people make the places even more special. The more I read about India the more amazing it sounds and it’s one of the countries (on my long list) that I hope to travel to some day.

  6. A traveler can gaze upon buildings, vistas, and all sorts of things, but you’re right, it’s the people that make a place so memorable. Dozens of eggs on a bicycle is runner-up!

  7. India has always fascinated me. As I keep saying to my Indian and Anglo-Indian friends, ” I really must get there!” I really must! Perhaps 2015 will be the year. Thank you for giving me another judge!

  8. India has seemed too overwhelming and disrespectful of women for me to go there. I do like though all of the lovely smiling people you met. I don’t normally use travel agents but perhaps the gem of one you worked with made it all so successful. Maybe I need to rethink – maybe!

  9. Wonderful post, such great experiences.