Jaipur Travel Diary: Letting Travel Change You
In an effort to see as much of India as possible in the short time we could slip away from everyday life, we dreamt up a packed itinerary and spent plenty of time in the backseat of a car, gazing out at the villages and fields and temples dotting the landscape between Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. One of my favorite parts was seeing the lorries – at truck stops, barreling down the road, deftly avoiding camel carts and brave bicyclists, and getting in the way of our car and various auto rickshaws. Like everything else in this great country, the trucks are decorated, colorful, individually beautiful and unique. I couldn’t take my eyes off them- each painted to indicate if they held an All India Permit or a state-specific one, instructions to Sound Horn or Honk Please, birds or cows or flowers on their sides. And, my favorite, the Indian flag – on every one – and the words Great India, or in very special cases, I Love My India.
So many travelers make their way to India, each for very different reasons. I was drawn after hearing stories and seeing vignettes from friends who visited. I wanted to experience the country for myself, let it change me, and years after I first wanted to, we arrived early one morning. After ten days (much too short!), I, too, love my India. I think here, more than any other place I’ve visited, we each find something a bit different, our individual highlights making the country our own in a way. Colorful, individually beautiful, and unique, just like the trucks.
I knew I would love Savista before I even arrived. For months, I looked forward to the blockprinting class that Bhanwar and Radhika arranged for us. When we arrived and were greeted with warm smiles and hot chai, my suspicions were confirmed. Here was a haven lovingly created over many years to help travelers delve deeper into Rajasthan, discover the local artisans, and relax. It’s hard to say what we enjoyed more – the incredible opportunity to learn about and practice the art of blockprinting with Deepak in Bagru or the amazing conversations with Bhanwar, Radhika, and their other wonderful guests over meals served in the fresh air. Getting a chance to talk about the area’s history and current events made India come alive for me in ways that reading a text or listening to an audio guide never could. It didn’t take long for me to settle in, feel at home, and wish we could stay for many more weeks.
Since returning to the U.A.E., I find myself thinking of Rajasthan, Bagru, and Savista often. It’s not just that being on vacation there was relaxing since we weren’t worrying about bills or deadlines or responsibility. Savista created an atmosphere where I could pause and reflect. Savista offered a space to appreciate simplicity and that which nurtures. Savista’s landscape – especially the flowering jasmine that perfumed the air – was the perfect backdrop for the April full moon.
It’s not often that you come across a place like Savista or the creative, warm, giving people in and around Bagru. Now that I know it’s there, I’m already planning my next visit. I want to learn more about printing, the surrounding villages, and life outside of Jaipur. I need a few more sunsets from the roof of Savista, and I’m pretty sure I’d love a camel cart ride along the river banks. And I definitely haven’t had my fill of chai yet! So much yet to see.
As we were leaving Savista to travel to Kerala (with many personalised recommendations!), Radhika tucked a small package tied up in beautiful printed cloth into my hand. She sent us away with plenty of freshly picked jasmine blooms so our next room would smell sweetly and so we would remember our stay.
As if we could ever forget.
There are travellers who set out on tight schedules, knowing in
advance what they want to see and do. And feeling disappointed, angry
or let down every time the expected doesn’t happen to them.
And there are travellers who may have only a short time off from their
daily lives, but who make the choice to remain open and curious. Eager
to be surprised. Excited to encounter new experiences, sights and people. Determined to hold on to a sense of wonder and discovery.
Savista is lucky to have more than its fair share of guests belonging
to this latter genre. Indeed it is our greatest blessing, the
only reason we stay open as a hospitality destination.
Lindsay and Nick belong in this special group.
They arrived in mid April, all fired up and eager for their
blockprinting and “rural” experience. We had pre-warned them that it
would be very hot in the printing workshop and in the outdoors,
generally. And that the place would be very un-busy, since mid-April
is well past the conventional “season”. They were living in the
U.A.E., they said; so the heat was not going to be a problem. They
had grown up in quiet parts of the U.S., they said; so the quiet was
not going to be a problem either. We began to feel a little better.
But their enthusiasm – shining through their emails – was still
making us a wee bit nervous. Would Savista fulfil their obviously
Lindsay’s very personal foregoing account of her encounter could not
be more evocative. At the lazy, interminable lunches and dinners,
their questions came tumbling out incessantly, punctuated with humour
and laughter. It was a memorable few days…Made more special
by the shared experience of witnessing the magic of the full
moon of Baishakh (the month in the traditional lunar calendar that signals the end of the harvest and the start of summer). The mid-April full moon is regarded in India as the most beautiful full moon in the whole year, and is celebrated across large culture regions of the country – from south to north – as New Year’s day.
Lindsay and Nick’s chosen destination for their next taste of India
was Kerala. Given the short time that they had, the choice
serendipitously turned out to have been perfectly planned. For,
between Rajasthan and Kerala, they would get a wide-angle cultural
glimpse of India in their short time here: north and south, wheat
and rice, martial traditions and martial arts, royal history and
recent communist past, verbal understatement and argumentative
On the morning of their departure, a little farewell committee – of
Savista regulars and the few other resident guests – prepared to walk
them down to their car. The continuing animated conversation was
causing us to pause in our tracks every now and again. An endearing
image that will stay with us is of Lindsay stopping by the Jasmine
bushes – suddenly, like a child – and insisting that we continue our
conversation standing there…just so we could breathe in the
fragrance of the blooms as we talked…
We wish them many more enjoyable travels in Asia and look forward to their next visit to Savista!