Remember back in Mongolia when I was feeling the fashion pains of backpacking? I was missing my closet, feeling as unglamorous as possible, and felt as frumpy as my clothes were fitting me. Luckily, India was our next destination and I was hopeful to revamp my nomadic closet. India has been a lot of things (amazing, exhausting, awful), and it’s also been a shopping gold mine. If you are like me and like bold prints, colorful textiles, chunky jewelry, and a good bargain, India is heaven. My backpack got heavier in every city and I was continually leaving behind old clothes to make way for new threads.

Want to know what gems I found? How much I paid? And where I found them?

Rick and I put together a look book of my favorite frocks and fashion finds in India.

* shot at our beloved Agonda Beach in Goa, India *

View the spreads below or download the pdf here.



Varkala + Kovalam | Kerala, India

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 7.36.12 PMWe've covered some serious land in India. In total we've hit around 3000 miles. Our last two weeks of our Indian adventure we spent at the beaches of Varkala and Kovalam in the state of Kerala. Check out our path... Before we got to the beaches of India, Rick and I hypothesized about which beach would be our favorite. We both guessed Varkala in the state of Kerala. Varkala is a known pilgrimage site for Hindus and from google images, the beach lived at the bottom of rusted colored cliffs. We took our last Indian train (phew) from Kochi to Varkala and were eager to see if we had guessed right.

Well. We were wrong. We both agreed that Agonda Beach deserves the best Indian beach prize.

Varkala is decent enough though a bit crowded. We were also there during peak time, which could account for the crowds and price gouging. Restaurants and shops line the top of the cliff and there are black sand beaches just to the north of the main beach along with some small fishing enclaves.

Here’s a look at the quieter beaches just north of the main beach in Varkala.

Varkala_1 Varkala_2 Varkala_3Varkala_4 Varkala_6 Varkala_5Varkala_7 Varkala_8 Varkala_9 Varkala_10Varkala_11 Varkala_12 Varkala_13 Varkala_14 Varkala_15The main beach was always abuzz. There also seemed to be a clear tourist section at the north end of the beach, while the south end was primarily packed with locals…

Varkala_16 Varkala_19 Varkala_20 Varkala_21Varkala_22 Varkala_23 Varkala_24 Varkala_25Varkala_26 Varkala_27 Varkala_28 Varkala_29 Varkala_30Varkala_31 Varkala_32 Varkala_33 Varkala_34 Varkala_35So Varkala didn’t live up to our expectations, but it was enjoyable enough and we rung in 2014 here and celebrated Rick's birthday with some ayurvedic massages.

Sadly, Kovalam wasn't any better. In fact, it was worse.

Wiki travel described Kovalam as "famous for its beaches, among the most pristine in India."


Kovalam is a resort town of the past. It's overpriced, over-crowded, and we were over it. Not to mention dirty. Piles of smoldering trash released picturesque smoke at both ends of the beach. The food left something to desire and we both agreed it was the worst beach in India, not the best. I was less than inspired by it so here are the few shots I took...

_MG_4361 _MG_4362 _MG_4363 _MG_4364 _MG_4365_MG_4370 _MG_4372 _MG_4374 _MG_4375 _MG_4382 _MG_4386So, a bit of an anticlimactic end to India, but by the end of 3000 some miles, we were a bit tired and anxious to move on to Sri Lanka. The last three nights we spent at a jail-like hotel near the airport where the first night we turned out the lights and a pigeon wiggled through an opening in our window (because the window wouldn't close properly) and was stuck flying around in our room. Did I mention I hate birds? After cowering under the covers, I ran to the bathroom until Rick shooed it out after it pooped all over the floor. Conclusion? Room change at midnight and we were over India. Don't get me started.

But what did I love about India??? It will all be in the next post.


Munnar | Kerala, India

I hope everyone had nice holiday season. We spent x-mas in Fort Kochi and spent New Year's in Varkala where we are now. But let's back it up...

While we were in Kochi, we took an overnight trip to the Munnar tea plantations high up in the mountains. The drive is a good four hours and on the way up we stopped at an elephant training center. I was hoping this would be some sort of an elephant sanctuary where they are lovingly cared for, but sadly this was not really the case. It seemed this was a center to train elephants for forestry work. We watched them get bathed, chained at the feet, as they absorbed much yelling.

Munnar_1 Munnar_2 Munnar_3 Munnar_4Munnar_6Once we got to Munnar, we had lunch at our homestay for the night, which had quite a view, then got back in the car for some ‘sightseeing.’

Munnar_7The plantations fill the mountainside and it’s really an incredible sight. The pictures don’t do it justice. I was hoping we’d stop and get lost in the mazes of the plantations but instead we ended up at a tea museum which was lackluster and underwhelming. You receive complimentary tea which I was hoping was a tea from the area, but in fact it was a milk tea out of a cappuccino-like machine. What??? We are surrounded by tea at a tea museum and they are serving mass produced tea that I wouldn’t be surprised if it was from some mix/powder. Disappointing.

Munnar_8 Munnar_11 Munnar_10 Munnar_9 Munnar_18Munnar_12Munnar_13Munnar_14Munnar_15Munnar_16Munnar_17Munnar_19The following day we stopped by some other tourist spots (aka shop stalls ready to haggle you) and then headed back to Kochi. Overall I’d say the tour itself was a bit disappointing, but the tea plantations are quite impressive and wished the tour included a more intimate look at the plantations.

Backwaters | Kerala, India

Kerala is synonymous with the backwaters. A houseboat tour is a must. We opted for a 7 hour tour where the day was split between time on a country boat (smaller, canoe type boat) that allowed us to explore smaller canals, and in the afternoon we boarded a houseboat for larger waterways. We had entertained an overnight houseboat trip or a day trip and we are glad we decided on just the day jaunt. We had heard the backwaters were a bit over-hyped and I think we'd agree. It was lush as expected but perhaps not as mind blowing as we had hoped. Nevertheless, I'd recommend it and am glad to have seen the area. Here we start the tour on the country boat...

Kerala Backwaters_1 Kerala Backwaters_2 Kerala Backwaters_3 Kerala Backwaters_4 Kerala Backwaters_5We stop at a few destinations where various products are made like coconut oil, spices, & coconut fiber rope.

Kerala Backwaters_6 Kerala Backwaters_7 Kerala Backwaters_8 Kerala Backwaters_9 Kerala Backwaters_10 Kerala Backwaters_11 Kerala Backwaters_12 Kerala Backwaters_13 Kerala Backwaters_14 Kerala Backwaters_15 Kerala Backwaters_16 Kerala Backwaters_17In the afternoon we headed to an island where we were served a delicious lunch. The rest of the afternoon was spent on a houseboat that lazily crawled around the waterways. It was so calming that I was fighting my appetite for a nap.

Kerala Backwaters_18 Kerala Backwaters_19 Kerala Backwaters_20 Kerala Backwaters_21 Kerala Backwaters_22 Kerala Backwaters_23Kerala Backwaters_24 Kerala Backwaters_25 Kerala Backwaters_26 Kerala Backwaters_27 Kerala Backwaters_28 Kerala Backwaters_29 Kerala Backwaters_30 Kerala Backwaters_31 Kerala Backwaters_32For more information regarding the backwaters, check out Kerala Tourism's latest backwaters campaign


Next stop? The tea plantations of Munnar.

Fort Kochi | Kerala, India

We were sad to leave Agonda as we were growing accustomed to our morning coffee while watching the waves crash, our comfy tent, our daily beach walks and swims, and good eats. We said goodbye to Goa and hopped a plane to Kochi in the state of Kerala. We are staying in the area of Fort Kochi where there are clear remnants of Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonization. Several religions are visible here and there's even an area called Jew Town, complete with a Jewish synagogue and cemetery.  The area is full of color and some pockets of old colonial architecture had me feeling like I was in the alleyways of Europe. Sadly, most buildings have fallen into disrepair.

A noticeable difference here are the streets are much cleaner than what we've seen in India, however there is still a sewage/trash problem. Also, they speak Malayalam in Kerala and the alphabet is beautiful and quite graphic.

Kochi_1 Kochi_2 Kochi_3 Kochi_4 Kochi_5 Kochi_6 Kochi_7 Kochi_8 Kochi_9 Kochi_10Kochi_11 Kochi_12 Kochi_13 Kochi_14 Kochi_15 Kochi_16 Kochi_17 Kochi_18 Kochi_19 Kochi_20 Kochi_21 Kochi_22 Kochi_23 Kochi_24 Kochi_25 Kochi_26 Kochi_27 Kochi_28 Kochi_29 Kochi_30 Kochi_31 Kochi_32Another main attraction in Fort Kochi are the Chinese fishing nets.

We went on a Sunday, so there wasn't as much fishing action, but to be honest, I'm not sure I'd want to eat any of the fish coming out of these waters. The nets are near to Fort Kochi Beach which seems more like a wasteland than a beach, but perhaps we are seeing it with our Goan glasses on. However dismal it seems to us, it's quite a popular promenade and I use the word promenade loosely. The industrial view is also lost on us.

Kochi_33 Kochi_34 Kochi_35 Kochi_36 Kochi_37 Kochi_38 Kochi_39 Kochi_40 Kochi_41Overall, Fort Kochi is quite an interesting nook with moments that have you forgetting you are in India.

Next post? The backwaters!

Palolem Beach | Goa, India

Palolem_1Our last stop in Goa we planned was Palolem Beach, which is a short ride south of Agonda. We had reserved an oceanfront cottage, which we found was a short trek from the main action (thank goodness). The cottages were nestled among a rocky cove (ours is the one on the left in the photo above) and we were literally steps to the water. The accommodations were as simple as they come. The panoramic photo below makes it look more charming than it really is. Palolem_2 Palolem_3However, our view from the terrace was amazing!

Palolem_4 Palolem_5 Palolem_6Palolem_7 Palolem_8Palolem_9After we settled in we headed to the main beach where we quickly noticed signs posted in Russian, which meant that awful techno beats weren’t far behind.

Palolem_10 Palolem_11 Palolem_12 Palolem_13 Palolem_14We were beginning to miss Agonda and were beginning to feel like we were back in Baga. As we strolled the crowded shore, got hassled just as in the north, we were less impressed with Palolem and both had the same thought at the same time.

Let’s go back to Agonda.

We had already paid for 3 nights upfront and decided we’d spend the duration of the week back in Agonda in our cozy air-conditioned tent. Never thought I’d be itching for a tent, but after a few nights on a hard mattress with our neighbor snoring the night away, club music until 3am, fireworks, cockroach killings, and trying to identify if we had lizard or mouse droppings, the novelty of a bare bones ocean shack started to thin.

Agonda, we miss you.

We enjoyed our view for the 3 nights and kept cocooned in our cove.

Palolem_15 Palolem_16 Palolem_17 Palolem_18 Palolem_19 Palolem_20Rick looks like Robinson Crusoe while reading Robinson Crusoe.

Palolem_21So now we are back Agonda, loving the peace and quiet.

Friday we fly to Kerala to continue our journey south.

Agonda Beach | Goa, India

Agonda_titleAfter countless dinners to the tune or cacophony of bad club music, we were excited to head south where we heard it was quiet and very different than the north. A two-hour drive south took us to Agonda Beach. Days prior to arriving, we had confirmed our accommodation booking only to find out the manager we had been dealing with via email and to whom we had already paid a 40% deposit was now telling us that we owed him an additional 2500 Indian Rupees on top of what we had initially agreed upon. We went back and forth via email only for him to admit his initial agreement was a calculation error on his part, but that he wouldn’t honor the mistake. This place reeked of bad business and we knew we were going to have to face this genius of a manager upon arrival. Well, maybe not upon arrival. The first thing we did was put our stuff in our dingy room (while other nicer rooms next to us were completely empty) and walked down the beach to find other accommodations. We had decided to stay the 3 nights which we had paid for and then to get the hell out of there. The manager, knowing we had checked in, had not bothered to find us the first day and by the time he happened upon us on the 2nd day, we already had one foot out the door. Blessing in disguise? Lesson learned? Never stay at Simrose in Agonda Beach. We ended up at H20 Agonda where we ended up ‘glamping’ in our luxury tent complete with A/C, outdoor-ish bathroom and shower with hot water.

(Picture below taken from their website)

Agonda_1The tents are close enough to the water that we could hear the waves crashing when we’d crawl into the comfy bed. For a nightly rate that was just $3 more than what we would’ve been paying at Simrose, we were happy ‘glampers.’ We’d have our morning coffee in the airy lounge that overlooked the ocean and then find our way to the sun beds that were more cabana style.

Agonda_2 Agonda_3 Agonda_4 Agonda_5 Now let’s talk about the beach. Best beach in India thus far. It’s quiet and beautiful with lush green surroundings without the hassle of people constantly trying to sell you things. Unlike the north, this beach is lined with oceanfront huts and it’s clear there is a strong yoga presence. This is what I’m talking about!

Agonda_6 Agonda_7 Agonda_8 Agonda_9 Agonda_10 Agonda_11 Agonda_12 Agonda_13 Agonda_14 Agonda_15 Agonda_16 Agonda_17 Agonda_18When the tide is low, it's possible to reach a small strip of beach at the south end which we made our yoga at sunset spot.

It's a bit more rocky and quite photogenic.

Agonda_19 Agonda_20 Agonda_21 Agonda_22 Agonda_23 Agonda_24 Agonda_25 Agonda_26 Agonda_27Agonda_28 Agonda_29 Agonda_30Agonda is lovely and we wish we had more time here.

We continue south on Friday when we head to Palolem.



Baga Beach | Goa, India

Baga_1If you want atrocious trance and techno beats with your could be romantic, but ruined by people trying to sell you glow in the dark devil horns, or speakers (why?!), while you dine, then Baga Beach is for you. Just north of Candolim and Calangute, we stayed at the very cute Little India Guest House which was just steps from the beach. Baga Beach looks very much like Calangute or Candolim as the beach is lined with food shacks and sun beds.

baga_4 baga_5 Baga_6 Baga_7 Baga_8 Baga_9We got in on a Friday and headed to the weekly Saturday night bazaar in nearby Agonda. I did some shopping as people kept trying to bargain with me in Russian.

Baga_2 Baga_3We also discovered a more secluded beach north of Baga that you can only get to by crossing a river which can be difficult depending on the tide then hiking the side of a mountain. The crossing proved difficult with a camera and our feet got cut up from rocks, but the beach is well worth the trek.

Baga_10Baga_11Baga_12 Baga_13 Baga_14Baga_15Baga_16 Baga_17 Baga_18 Baga_19Baga_20We spent Thanksgiving here and while we were craving mashed potatoes and stuffing, we opted for seafood, found a quiet dinner spot on the beach and our dinner ended with an impromptu fireworks show. Quite a nice last night in Baga.

Next stop? Agonda Beach in the south.

Candolim + Calangute | GOA, INDIA

candolim_calungute_1After making miles through Europe, Russia, and Mongolia, we were suffering from severe beach withdrawal. Sure we had a taste of Siberian beach life on Olkhon Island, but frigid lake water wasn’t exactly what us beach bums had in mind. The last we saw a beach day was in December 2012 in Puerto Rico. The ocean was calling and we were way overdue. We weren’t sure what we were going to find in Goa as our India trip has thus far been challenging but we were hoping for a little restorative stint in the sand. We knew Goa was going to be touristy and we wondered if it was going to live up to the hype. We knew it had its’ hippie heyday, complete with full moon raves and probably a fair share of glow sticks, but was all this fame just a thing of the past?

The first lesson we learned was never use’s secret hotel rates. We had tried this twice before where you get a good price for a room but you are only told the hotel after your nonrefundable booking is placed. The first time we used this service was great, the second was eh, and the third was ew. Three strikes and you are out hotwire! We got to our hotel in Candolim in North Goa and we were over India all over again. The hotel was far from the beach, the room was gross, the water was cold, and the ac was a joke. We found ourselves unable to sleep, hot, frustrated, and at 3am, eating a box of cereal on our stained bed.

The following day, we ended up moving to a better room where we got poor to mediocre sleep due to noise-at-dawn factors for our first week in Goa. Thank god for the beach. The shore is lined with food shacks that have sun beds with umbrellas. We spent every day laying out, swimming, eating seafood, drinking beer, and surrendering to the sand. It felt amazing to be reunited with the sea. We found a proper supermarket with all kinds of toiletries. It was like a backpackers dream. I even found the elusive tampons with applicators, which is like finding a needle in a haystack here in India.

We are surprised to find that the major tourist population is Russian. Signs and menus are in Russian and the locals have picked up a fair amount of Russian too to conduct business. There are tons of Indian tourists and plenty of Brits too, but we didn’t hear a lick of an American accent anywhere. Surprisingly, I also heard some Finnish and even saw a shack that flew the Finnish flag. So last we were in Siberia with Russians on a beach and now we are in India with Russians on the beach.

candolim_calungute_2 candolim_calungute_3 candolim_calungute_4 candolim_calungute_5 candolim_calungute_6 candolim_calungute_7 candolim_calungute_8 candolim_calungute_9 candolim_calungute_10 candolim_calungute_11 candolim_calungute_12 candolim_calungute_13 candolim_calungute_14 candolim_calungute_15 candolim_calungute_16 candolim_calungute_17 candolim_calungute_18 candolim_calungute_19 candolim_calungute_20 candolim_calungute_21 candolim_calungute_22 candolim_calungute_23 candolim_calungute_24 candolim_calungute_25 candolim_calungute_26 candolim_calungute_27 candolim_calungute_28 candolim_calungute_29 candolim_calungute_30 candolim_calungute_31We also would drift to neighboring beach, Calangute which is much more crowded than Candolim, but more or less the same. Shacks, sun beds, seafood, and sand.

So minus the poor accommodations of week 1, we were starting to relax.

It was about time.


Sorry for the major delay in posting. We had spotty wifi in Mumbai and when we got to Goa we found little to no access.

So we are in Goa now, but let’s back it up to Mumbai…

I was ready to break up with India on our way to Mumbai.

Six weeks of dodging cow dung, fighting crowds, and succumbing to a number of health ailments was breaking me down. We were both hitting a bit of a six-month travel wall and hitting it in India only magnified the exhaustion. We were missing modern luxuries like consistent hot water, fast internet, and a comfortable bed.

With that being said, I was happy to be flying from Udaipur to Mumbai as it is much more pleasurable than long train rides. But just like any country, there are ineffective systems that can drive you mad and when you are already aggravated, it’s enough to put you over the edge. This is how I felt after an insanely ineffective check-in and security check to get on an hour flight. We land late because of too much traffic at the airport but our taxi we arranged through our hotel was luckily still waiting for us. We get in the taxi and sit in more traffic. It takes an hour to get to our hotel area only to realize our taxi driver has no idea where our hotel is. He stops numerous times to ask people, eventually calls the hotel, but after an hour of circling, we are the ones that spot it. We guessed we’d get to the hotel by 8pm at the latest and it was now past 10pm.

We check in which is by far the most expensive hotel we’ve booked in India and not because we wanted to splurge, but because Mumbai is expensive with little to no budget lodging options. We’ve averaged around $25/night for most places and this place almost hits $60/night. We are hoping the $60/night gets us at least a hot shower, fast internet, and comfy bed, but instead we find a mediocre lukewarm shower, slow internet that only works in reception, and stained, dirty sheets. We’ve had it by this point and we were starving so we head out hoping something nearby is open. We go to the first place we see which is also a little pricey but we were desperate.

We are seated and we are suddenly suffering from modern shock. We haven’t sat in a proper restaurant with tablecloths and cloth napkins in who knows how long. It feels strange and comfortable at the same time. We go to town. Rick gets a beer, we share a pizza and salad and end up going all the way with dessert and espresso. They bring out the caesar salad and Rick exclaims, “IS THIS SHAVED PARMESAN CHEESE????”

I burst out laughing because it was like he had struck gold. It only goes to show the food depravity we had been feeling.

1 2We blew our food budget but it was worth it. We walk back to the hotel on sidewalks! We also haven’t seen proper sidewalks in over a month. Who knew sidewalks could make you so happy?

As expected, Mumbai proved to be much more modern than the other cities we’ve seen in India. We stayed on Marine Drive, which is lined with walkways and places to sit along the Arabian Sea. It’s actually a little reminiscent of Ocean Drive in my hometown of Long Beach, California. It is a place of congregation come sunset where many couples canoodle under the stars. Public displays of affection! We can finally hold hands in public again.

3 4 5 6We ate well in Mumbai and were thrilled when we had a good sushi dinner. We had been dream-eating sushi since Mongolia. Cosmopolitan living was all coming back to us.

We took it pretty easy as we were really just counting down the days to the beach and were a bit day-tripped out. We did however make it to Elephanta Island, which is about an hour-long ferry trip out of India Gate…

Mumbai_1 Mumbai_2 Mumbai_3 Mumbai_4 Mumbai_5 Mumbai_6 Mumbai_7 Mumbai_8 Mumbai_9 Mumbai_10 Mumbai_11 Mumbai_12 Mumbai_13 Mumbai_14 Mumbai_15 Mumbai_16 Mumbai_17 Mumbai_18The last two days, unbeknownst to us, Sachin Tendulkar (think David Beckham of cricket) was playing his final farewell games down the street from us. This is MAJOR in India. Our block was packed with news crews, fans, and roaring crowds. It was the talk of the town and here we were watching it from our window.

And then we were off... to the beach... finally.


Udaipur, India

Udaipur is known as the "Venice of India," and we were eager to find out if this comparison rang true. (Secretly wishing there was also comparable gelato). We have been traveling from busy city to busy city and we found Udaipur a nice break from the madness. We stayed at Jheel's Guesthouse right on the lake and they serve coffee drinks from a legit Espresso maker with baked goods, so our stomachs welcomed the rehabilitation. We also were able to breathe a sigh of relief that we weren't being bombarded on the streets. We could actually walk! And the cow dung density was finally in our favor. We were here during Diwali so there were a few nights of fireworks at every corner and I feared for my limbs and ear drums.

Oh, and you might recognize the floating palace in the lake from the James Bond movie Octopussy.

Below is a view of our guesthouse facing the lake... Udaipur_1 Udaipur_2 Udaipur_3 Udaipur_4Udaipur_5 Udaipur_6 Udaipur_7 Udaipur_8 Udaipur_9 Udaipur_10 Udaipur_11 Udaipur_12We visited the nearby City Palace which is also perfectly set on the shore.

Udaipur_13 Udaipur_14 Udaipur_15 Udaipur_16 Udaipur_17The following day we took a boat ride around the lake in a haze... (James Bond Palace below)

Udaipur_18 Udaipur_19 Udaipur_20 Udaipur_21 Udaipur_22 Udaipur_23Diwali, the festival of lights provided some nice night mood lighting. Udaipur_24 Udaipur_25 Udaipur_26 Udaipur_27 Udaipur_28 Udaipur_29 Udaipur_30 Udaipur_31 Udaipur_32Our last Udaipur excursion was a 4 hour horseback riding expedition...

Udaipur_33 Udaipur_34 Udaipur_35 Udaipur_36 Udaipur_37 Udaipur_38 Udaipur_39So, Udaipur was the less congested, calmer break that we needed. Phew.

Tomorrow we head to Mumbai!



Block Printing Workshop - Bagru, India

One thing that long term travel hasn't been able to afford me is the ability to be as crafty as I want to be. It's been six months since I've touched a sewing machine or made anything and my hands can feel the creative absence. Traveling fills me with inspiration but I feel a bit creatively out of shape. My artistic muscles feel as though they are atrophying. So when we went back to Jaipur for a few days after Jodhpur, I looked into a block printing workshop to appease my creative hunger. We traveled to the Jai Texart Factory in Bagru, 30 km from  Jaipur for a 1 day block printing workshop. Bagru is a town that is famous for their expertise in block printing and more specifically, their printing with vegetable and natural dyes. The process is not only painstakingly laborious but anciently beautiful. It has been perfected over 1000+ years.

The workshop runs from 10am-5pm and I come out with two beautiful cotton scarves.

Let's get started.

_MG_2042Below are a few of the natural dyes that I will make reference too throughout the process. Bagru_2.1 Bagru_2.2STEP 1: WASHING

This step is important to rid the fabric of any impurities. In the olden days, they would use cow dung diluted in water to do this. My fabric was already treated so I began at step 2.


The fabric is dyed in cool water and harda powder. Think of this as a primer. Without this step, the dye will not absorb into the cotton properly.

Bagru_2 _MG_2061Once dyed, the fabric needs to lay flat and dry in the sunlight. (STEP 3) The fabric will have a yellowish tint after this step which will later disappear once washed.

Bagru_4 Below we are showed just how important this step is. Fabric that is not harda treated and harda treated are dipped into black dye and you can see the difference. The not harda treated fabric is the white fabric on the left, and the harda treated fabric is the yellow tinted fabric on the right.

Bagru_5 Bagru_6While the fabric is drying, we watch as colors are mixed. _MG_2072 Bagru_8 Bagru_9Just how these color recipes were made still blows me away. The recipe for black especially boggles my mind. Below are the colors used today...

BLACK: Horseshoes that sit on coals for a period of time, brushed of rust are then put in cans with water and sugar cane juice, left to ferment for periods of months to yield black dye.

RED: A mixture of natural gum paste and alum

BROWN: Red Kashish with water

We also had a little time to peek around the factory...

Bagru_10Bagru_11 Bagru_12 Bagru_13Bagru_16The guys here do it so effortlessly, some masters have been block printing for 30+ years. I'm about to find out how it's not as easy as it looks. My fabrics are ready now dry and primed for...


I first stretch and pin the fabric on the printing table and choose some blocks for my design. A master helps me start my border corners...

Bagru_14I find out quickly this takes precision. The block is placed from left to right and then slammed hard with your fist on the back of the handle for complete registration.

Bagru_15Bagru_17I finish the border and it's time to print with my outline block for my main zig-zag pattern.

Bagru_18 Bagru_19 Bagru_20 Bagru_21 Bagru_22 Bagru_23 Bagru_24Now time to fill those zig-zags. I choose red, which appears yellow at this point. It won't show as red until the last step when it is boiled with the presence of alizarin (root of Indian Madder Tree). Now I use the filling block which is like the inverse of the outline block. This is getting tricky!

Bagru_25 Bagru_26 Bagru_27I also print the border with brown dye and proceed to...


Bagru_28Bagru_29 Bagru_30Now that's I've practiced with one, I move on to scarf #2! This time I opt for a monochromatic geometric pattern using only black ink. Here we go! I'm also guided by a few other printers that help me with the print.

Bagru_31 Bagru_32Bagru_33 Bagru_34 Bagru_35 Bagru_36My hands at this point are sore from slamming the blocks (see the damage later) but my print is done and I am loving it! Time to lay it out to dry!

Bagru_37 Bagru_38 Bagru_39 Bagru_40We break for lunch while they dry.

We are showed the indigo dyeing pot and another part of the factory where they silk screen.

Bagru_41 Bagru_42 Bagru_43Once dried, we are ready for the next step!


The fabric is now ready to be washed in cool water.

Bagru_44 Bagru_45 Bagru_46The pieces are beaten against the concrete and ready for the final step...


This is where the color fasting takes place with the help of flowers from the Dhaura tree.

Pieces with red dye is boiled in a separate pot with alizarin which then turns the once yellowish color red.

Bagru_48 Bagru_49 Bagru_50 Bagru_51 Bagru_52Once boiled, they give it a quick rinse, quick spin to dry and they are done!!! They dry in the sun and I have two scarves that I'm ready to rock.

Bagru_53 Bagru_54bagru_55I even get a certificate at the end of the workshop!

Bagru_56So there you have it. A day of much needed creativity thanks to the team of Jai Texart!

A few days pass and the art pains are visible on my hands.

Beauty is pain.




Thar Desert, India

When we got to India we noticed the camels are much taller albeit a bit more worn than the camels in Mongolia. We couldn’t pass up a chance at a third go with these creatures. Soon enough we will be expert camel riders. We decided on a day trip out of Jodhpur that would have us at the edge of the Thar Desert in just 1 ½ hours. We stopped for lunch at a tourist tent camp where for the first time in India, we found quiet. “Do you hear that?” We asked. It was the sweet sound of silence. It almost felt like Mongolia for a second. We ate a meal of tourist trap price proportions and we were on our way to the camels. Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_1 Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_2Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_3One thing I love about India is that everything is decorated… from their trucks, to their tuk-tuks, to even their camels. These camels were more accessorized than I could compete with not to mention tall! We rode for 1.5 hours through desert brush and small dunes. They weren’t quite Gobi dunes, but I doubt that experience can be trumped. Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_4 Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_5 Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_7 _MG_1930 Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_9 Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_10 Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_11 Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_12 Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_13 _MG_1947 Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_15 Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_16 Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_17 Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_18 Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_19When we got back in the car we got stuck waiting for a train to cross, meanwhile kids clamored to our windows asking for money, chocolate, pens, etc. One girl in particular caught my eye. It was her big eyes and pixie cut that I fell in love with. Thar_Marianna_Jamadi_20 I gave them some candy and we made faces at each other through the window until they spotted other tourists ripe for the touting.

Below is an animated gif I made as they fought to be in frame.

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Jodhpur, India

After we survived our tuk-tuk ride to our hotel, we settled into a lovely heritage guesthouse. I don't usually post anything about where we stay because as a backpacker, there is usually not much to get excited about. We spent a little more this time and I fell in love with the decor. Shahi Guesthouse is a 350 old mughal-style Haveli, situated in the oldest part of the blue city. The building is rich in history and was originally the “JANANA DODI”, or women's area, of Rajput Officers' quarters. Traditionally, women met here in purdah and the haveli maintains many of its original features such as stone lattice work, balconies and an open central courtyard.

We got to stay in two of the six rooms and enjoyed our meals on the rooftop which boasts quite a view of the blue city as well as the fort atop the hill. Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_1 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_2 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_3 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_4 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_5From the rooftop there were ample photo opportunities...Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_6 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_7 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_8 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_9 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_10 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_11 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_12From the roof you are encircled with all sorts of noise... prayer calls, stray dogs fighting, the city noise below (constant honking), and a night wouldn't be complete without young kids setting off fireworks. This is not only extremely unsafe, but because the buildings are so close together, it becomes highly annoying when you are trying to go to sleep and fireworks are going off feet from your window. Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_13 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_14The following day we climb to the top of the hill to check out the Mehrangarh Fort. It is quite opulent inside and it houses a museum along with grounds to roam, a restaurant, and other nooks and crannies. It is easy to spend a few hours here. Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_15 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_16 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_17 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_18 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_19 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_20 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_21 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_22 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_23 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_24 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_25 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_26 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_27Like I said, while this is somewhat calmer than the other cities we've visited, it is by no means calm. This coming from two New Yorkers. The streets still emit the same chaos. Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_28 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_29 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_30 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_31 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_32 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_33 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_34 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_35 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_36 Jodhpur_Marianna_Jamadi_37Stay tuned for the next post where we day trip it to the Thar Desert to ride camels for the third time.

Jaipur, India | Part 2

We decided to take a day trip out of Jaipur and I'm going to call it, the photography prohibited day trip. Nearly every attraction we visited did not allow photos, so my apologies for no visuals. I assure you it was interesting. We went to Ajmer and Puskar which are about a 2.5 hour drive out of Jaipur. The most interesting part of Ajmer was our visit to Dargah. After haggling with an auto rickshaw driver, me putting on a head scarf and Rick purchasing a Muslim cap, we dropped our shoes off in a random shop and walked barefoot (glad I got that tetanus shot in Finland) to the pilgrimage site. Inside people were praying, selling things, you name it. It was somewhat hectic upon entering but an interesting site nonetheless. We then got to Pushkar which is sort of like a mini Varanasi with bathing ghats around the small lake. It was quite photogenic, if only you could take photos (I sneaked a few below). They claim the photo discretion is for holy purposes but we soon find out it's really just about money. Isn't it always? If you don't buy flower offerings for a water side puja, you can't take photos. So sadly, the only photos I snapped from this day trip are the 5 below.  The last one is of our driver getting some pampering before we headed back.Pushkar_1 Pushkar_2Pushkar3Pushkar_4The next day once back in Jaipur we did our second round of sightseeing. We were off to City Palace and Hawa Mahal.

City Palace...Jaipur2_1 Jaipur2_2 Jaipur2_3 Jaipur2_4 Jaipur2_5 Jaipur2_6Hawa Mahal... Jaipur2_9 Jaipur2_10 Jaipur2_11 Jaipur2_12 Jaipur2_13 Jaipur2_14 Jaipur2_15 Jaipur2_16 Jaipur2_17While walking around the streets we stumbled across a photographer who shoots with an old 4x5 camera and develops and prints on the spot. This apparently is a family tradition that started with his grandfather. We were hooked! Jaipur2_19 Jaipur2_20 Jaipur2_21 Jaipur2_22 Jaipur2_23 Jaipur2_24And now for some street scenes...Jaipur2_8Jaipur2_18Jaipur2_25 Jaipur2_26 Jaipur2_27 Jaipur2_28 Jaipur2_29 Jaipur2_30 Jaipur2_31 Jaipur2_32 Jaipur2_33 Jaipur2_34 Jaipur2_35

Jaipur, India | Part 1

The first few days in Jaipur we were holed up in our hotel because we were both still battling Delhi Belly. Luckily I had picked up some antibiotics in Finland for just the bacterial occasion. We got tired of wavering between feeling starving and nauseous and grew tired of talking about our bathroom habits. Now as we are recovering we are dreaming about things like sushi, salads with artichoke hearts, fromage from France, gelato from Italy, and I even had a dream about a bakery with every kind of muffin in it. But then I woke up and realized I was far from any of my food fantasies. I love Indian food but after being sick for two weeks from what I suspect was a Malai Kofta dish which I ironically announced "This is the best Malai Kofta I've had," my body has begun to fear it and now I'm dreaming about baked goods.

We had enough strength on our fourth day to finally do a bit of sightseeing. We decided to head for the forts.  Amer Fort, Jaigarh Fort, & Nahagarh Fort. We finished off the day with Jal Mahal which stands in the middle of a lake.

Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-1 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-2 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-3 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-4 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-5 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-6 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-7 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-8 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-9 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-10 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-11 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-12 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-13 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-14 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-15 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-16 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-17 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-18 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-19 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-20 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-21 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-22Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-23 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-24 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-25 Jaipur_Marianna Jamadi-26Of course our driver then wanted to take us to some shops to close out the day but we kindly declined the cottage industry offer.

Delhi Tour, India

After the madness of Varanasi, we headed back to Delhi to recuperate for a few days before heading to Jaipur. I had previously posted about Paharganj, which is only a small part of Delhi. During our two stints in Delhi, we also did some sightseeing which led us to the more historical parts of the city. Indeed the architecture is beautiful. A few sights included:

Indira Ghandi Memorial Museum, Lodi Gardens, Qutab Minar, Lotus Temple, Humayun's Tomb, & Red Fort

_MG_0652 Delhi_2 Delhi_3 Delhi_4 _MG_0660 Delhi_6 Delhi_7 Delhi_8 Delhi_9 Delhi_10 Delhi_11 Delhi_12 Delhi_13 Delhi_14Delhi_15 Delhi_16 Delhi_17 Delhi_18