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Mahalo, Fawne + Sebastian
Asos - for the boho lace look, How gorgeous is this dress!?!
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India had always been a place of mystery and wonder for me. My parents, before I was born and to this day, go every year to an ashram in northern India. My whole life, stories of this far off land created a collage of mystery for this place that my parents loved so much. And finally this past December, my mom, sister and I made the adventure happen.
We headed for south India, to a magical Ayurvedic retreat to relax, unwind, and share some quality time together. We had a few days in Delhi and a few days in Cochin on our way to Kerala where Nattika Beach Resort is located. Before I hop into the magic of Nattika, let's talk culture shock. We flew from Tokyo to New Delhi, and as we approached, this belt of grey pollution lined the horizon, and yes we descended under it, like going into an under world or something. The clean air Hawaii girl in me, got out my mask to prepare for leaving the plane. Haha, I heard the stories, I was prepared! ;) My mom and sister, no masks. Also before going, a huge issue was happening with government and money, so we were unsure if we could exchange money, and heard stories of 8 hours plus waiting in lines to exchange a maximum of $75. Luckily, grace was on our side, and only 1 hour in line, we were all set. (Yes we used airport exchange booths, it was worth it and so happy we did because banks in town had lines for blocks!!)
It was dusk by this point, and the adventure of experiencing driving in India begins. I should clarify, being a passenger, we would never attempt to drive here - oh my! The Horn, for example the most precious asset of your car in India, and if it doesn't work, I would imagine you would be in serious trouble. 'Honk - Honk!!' I am here. 'Honk-Honk!!' - Coming over. 'Honk - Honk' - Don't come over I am here. 'Honk - Honk' - No I am really coming over. It was like a language of its own. It was not aggressive, pist off honks you think of here in America, it was a constant conversation, of little light beep beeps, that by the end of the trip, I started to understand more. But really the moment you get in the taxi (ours was a nice comfortable AC van), and you see the driver start to cross the line into the other lane, that clearly can not fit another car, you tighten up and brace for impact. Pretty sure my sister and I were in the back seat squeezing each other and looking at each other big eyed as we seemingly were headed for a sure collision. And for a 45min taxi ride to the lovely Imperial Hotel in New Delhi we saw quickly that everything we've been taught about driving does not apply here. lol. I wish I captured photos of the streets jammed, thinking how would any car be able to move, but some how the chaos was fluid, and bringing any structure into this situation, would be a complete fail and surly get you killed, in their world. I could go on, but one more surprising thing here, headlights, another must for your car in India. In the misty morning and pollution filled streets, that sometimes you could not see a cars length in front of you, flashing your lights (while honking your horn) was vital to your survival. There was some other communication of high beam and low beam, that we could not quite figure out, but the person in front of you would give way if you high beamed them.
This very well might be the longest blog post, but hey if you are this far still reading this, you are awesome, and I totally get it, if you just skip to the photos. I am a visual person too. But I want to share this awesome experience, as I was not always taking photos and there is just so much to share of this full experience.
So New Delhi was an adventure, wild and crazy. In short, we found the best vegan, pure Organic food at Devang House (seriously OMG!), had killer dhal (in room service of all places) at the Imperial Hotel, shopped some local favs of my moms that we've been getting presents from over the years (Anokhi & Fab India) and then, ended up in the hospital, yes I shut my moms hand in the taxi door on accident (insert huge sad face!!) and man, a hospital in India was something else. I could write a novel on that crazy wild story, but lets just leave it at, my mom was ok, got some stitches from a young Bollywood jazzed nurse (because my mom refused from the old doctor who fiddled in the corner with his books and then bandaged her finger like a 2 year old did it, which we found out later he did not speak english and was waiting for orders, but still, the bandage job was seriously worrisome!) We survived the hospital and my moms finger was ok and today is totally fine! Feeewwph!
Onward to Kerala. Now at the local side of the airport, the cultural experience gets more real. No more english, a smaller plane that feels like an Indian school bus from the vibrant colors, to the music, to the broken english on the flaps on the seat in front of you, to the bathrooms and so on. Landing in Kerla, a huge contrast to Delhi. Palm trees and space. Ok, feeling a bit more relaxed now. A sweet Indian man picked us up at the airport from the resort and we started the 2 hour drive south to Nattika. Smaller roads (still 'crazy' driving), lots of palm trees and space.
Nattika Beach Resort was pure magic. You get welcomed with a coconut and sweet lei. And 2 hours later we were in treatments already! Ok, we were already in heaven. Each day we got pampered for 2 hours based off our Doshas and what treatments we needed, but they all consisted of lots of oil and massage. I would get up at 5:45am each morning while my mom and sister were sleeping and slip out the door, in the dark with a blanket wrapped around me, shuffle off to the meditation hut, where others started to quietly gather. As the sun would rise, you would hear songs and chants in the far off distance, crows chipping, and leaves rustling. Then following meditation, yoga was after and I of course stayed for that. I felt so alive starting each day like this, with such self care. Then breakfast around 7:30am I'd meet up with my mom and sister. We'd laugh, eat and drink tea. The whole resort was vegetarian, and they accommodate any dietary need you have, so I was in heaven. The cooks name was 'Sebastian', a little something that I loved and made me think of my sweet man at home. He was so lovely and knew in detail our dietary preferences (how did he remember everyones??!?!) and any doctors notes on suggestions what dishes were best. Warm cumin and ginger water started every meal. It seemed odd at first, but now back at home, I see myself wanting to do this more and more. It's really good for your digestion, and they are not big on cold water or drinks, as it slows down 'digestive fire'.
The resort had 24 hours guards, so you feel real safe, but my sister and I wanted to go outside the gates and explore. We both were a little hesitant, like was it safe for us to go? They assured us it was, so we took the bikes they offered and went off on the small one lane windy road to see what was out there and biked to the nearest town 30 minutes away. Keep in mind it was HOT, but we are wearing long tights, a dress over that and a shaull over our shoulders to be respectful of their culture. It was one sweaty ride, haha! I of course brought my camera and made many stops for photo ops, but not as many as my creative mind wanted, I just mainly soaked up the ride and this new experience. :)
There were these magical beach huts on the beach, the resort was beach front to the Arbian Sea. Being Hawaii girls, the beach was less than impressive, and we did not get in the ocean, as it was a bit polluted but we did lounge in the huts lots and take naps. :) They had a magical pool that we'd daily swim laps in and sun bathe. There were lectures and classes throughout the day you could take if it interested you. I took a few ones on breath, that I loved. I found myself enjoying slowing down the pace of life and enjoying long meals and great conversation, laughter and quality time with my mom and sister.
Although India was crazy, polluted, dirty, wild on the outside, there was something so magical about India on the inside. I have been wanting to really mediate daily, but could never find the spark to really get me there. But something changed within me in this India trip, and the blessings of slowing down, self care and meditating daily have been such gifts to learn. I've noticed it brings me more present in each moment. And this moment is truly all we have, so how are you going to choose to experience it? Enjoy this little photo essay of my trip.
Mahalo for stopping by! Hugs, Fawne
p.s. If you are wondering where those super cute Kaftans are from, check out my childhood friends awesome company Pondicherie. Modeled by my gorgeous sister.