Have you ever been to India? And if yes, what were your experiences like? For me, India’s home. It’s where I was born and raised, where I lived until I was almost 23. The very first I travelled abroad was in September 2004 - one month shy of my 23rd birthday and on my way to London. Two suitcases for the two years I was to spend there, finishing my BA in Graphic Design. It was such a huge change in so many senses that I almost stopped making any comparisons between home and this new place I was settling into. Loving but also wary of. It was quite exhilarating, even if it was sometimes overwhelming and lonely.
I didn’t really think about what was going to happen once I’d finished those two years. Getting a job there was impossible and I figured I’d be going back to India once I was done. But instead I moved to Germany — and have been here eleven and a half years now. I travel back to India atleast once a year and it’s always a charged experience. How much travel vs. how much family time is something that can take on the aspect of a tug of war. In the last few years, however, flexibility at work has meant I can spend a few weeks away at a stretch and this has given me the chance to do some exploring in my motherland.
Even though I grew up within India, there is so little I’ve seen in comparison to the great whole. So now I’m trying to play catch up, learning many things parallely and realising how much I don’t know. I always like basing my travels and experiences whilst on the road on recommendations — from friends, blogs, books, magazines — somehow the Lonely Planet isn’t my automatic — or first — go-to resource (this is by no means a diss, I own plenty of them!) So when I discovered the Love Travel series of guide books whilst doing research for Indian Goods Co., I was thrilled. At that time it had more to do with how beautiful the books were, how much care and love went into each of them. Each is screen printed onto handmade paper with a beautiful linen jacket that features a map of old India. Opening the book, Fiona welcomes you warmly—the entire experience really is like sitting down with a friend and chatting about travel experiences in a place they've been and loved. Whimsical little illustrations are scattered across the pages and the guides differentiate from each other through the single colour assigned to each.
I've used the Goa, Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai editions over the last few years and each is a trove of treasures and insights that urge you to explore and assimilate. From the language to the practicality to the presentation—and each of the sights and experiences presented—these are very unique travel companions and a beautiful way to present travel.Rather than just arriving at a place and passively taking it in, you’re encouraged to participate and engage all of your senses in your destination, in a way that's meant to make you fall in love. Because once that happens, you’ll never travel any other way again.
Happy exploring - even if just through some beautiful Instagram streams!
Images: Vatsala Murthy