Endorsed by the clatter of the birds in their daily song. This oasis steps outside the norms of any hotel but still provides all the desired comforts and conveniences. This is a home. The home of Bhanwar and Radhika who welcome you into their lovingly restored haveli and if you so desire, engage you in to their lives and learnings.
I arrived after a week behind the lens. A photography workshop in Jodhpur over Holi. It had been an inspiring, intense and all round colourful week. Now I was on my own to travel and recuperate (with my remaining streaks of pink hair and one pink eyebrow thanks to the playful celebrations of Holi).
A girl of the orient by heart and by birth I chose the jasmine room. A symbol of love, grace and elegance. The room embodied all of this in it’s tasteful simplicity. I needed to relax! Taking photos all week had been so mentally and emotionally demanding (as well as a huge amount of fun!) that I wanted a day or two to put the camera down and take stock. Just as the jasmine flower is thought to have medicinal qualities, my stay at this home and in this room, had a wonderfully medicinal effect on me. Restoring the calm and preparing me to re-enter the hectic and demanding world of Hong Kong.
I found this to be a space to reflect and decompress. There is an on point saying: “we do not live to travel, rather we travel to live”. An opportunity to engage with others, ask questions and explore new points of view, cultures and idioms. I feel this needs to be done at least annually. But then I am an English girl, born in Hong Kong, who is neither fully English nor fully Hong Kong, so I am always rather keen to hop on a plane and explore.
On my second day I walked out for hours in the countryside, appreciating beyond measure the feeling of safety and freedom in being able to walk alone here. Although in fact I was not alone for long. Villagers bent over backwards to usher me into their homes to serve me with milk, tea and water. I also had a little trio of kids who tailed me like I was the Pied Piper and took great pride in carrying my water bottle for me. “Smile and the world smiles with you …”, with no English spoken here, laughter and smiles were enough to entertain.
I haven’t travelled solo all that often, but the Savista held true to its promise of being a great environment for solo female travellers. Bhanwar and Radhika looked after me so well, even taking me with them to an Indian wedding and checking up on me when I got caught in torrential rain on my way to Delhi. Bhanwar rather kindly said I was like an ‘infection”, meaning I was easy to get along with. The truth was the “infectiousness” was all with them and this place! I cannot recommend it highly enough.
After a gleeful mixture of yoga, walking in the countryside, sightseeing, reading and chatting to my wonderful hosts, I return to Hong Kong all the better for my stay at the Savista.
It was a mutual “infection” that we all contracted gladly! From the moment Kate breezed into Savista – tall, statuesque and stunningly good looking, chatting away companionably and apologizing for her Holi-Pink hair – it was like an encounter that was destined to happen.
It is not always that one gets to meet and interact with such a young person who is so quintessentially and unselfconsciously multicultural, and at the same time so willing to hold a mirror to her soul. Kate erects no barriers around herself. She simply is.
Kate speaks in her post of two islands – Hong Kong and England – that claim her as theirs. In fact, she has a veritable archipelago of identities: born in Hong Kong and brought up partly also in Singapore, English through parents and education, her cute passport which proclaims her as belonging to the “Bailliwick of Guernsey”, and her professional specialization in Cayman Islands law. As a high flying corporate lawyer based in Hong Kong and working with international clients, she is constantly ferrying between these various islands. Naturally, her restless travel legs push her to seek out new experiences in landlocked sub-continental spaces – like Rajasthan, which was her choice for this holiday! We delighted in Kate’s company. We have a feeling that this will not be her last visit:)