Thursday, June 19, 2014

#TBT: 4PM Meltdown

Excerpts From Travels In India

Monday, January 24th, 2010

As our train pulled into the station at Jodhpur, 4 hours late, we were met by the hotel's driver. And from our lovely hotel, an old haveli, I sit writing this. the Ratan Vilas is a veritable oasis within the equally chaotic (though much smaller) city of Jodphur. I cannot help but feel like an ugly Westerner as I retreat back to my hotel replete with never ending pots of chai, streaming fountains, and beautifully tiled floors all opening upon an inviting courtyard. However, we have realized our limits and in order for us to truly take in India we need someplace to return to in the afternoon that is peaceful and quiet. Hence, the title: the 4pm meltdown. It seems that neither of us is able to bear the non-stop intensity of India past 4 pm. By 4pm we have reached our boiling point and must return somewhere calm. Usually, it was difficult to find a calm atmosphere within the city so we return to our calm hotel. That being said, we have most certainly ventured out each day on our own. We have yet to use drivers (beyond the first two days) and have instead walked or rickshawed our way around both Delhi and Jodphur. We have stood in long and confusing lines at the train stations to buy, change, and re-change tickets. We have wandered and haggled through the cities bazaars, eating amazing street food and taking photos with the locals (I think that at least a dozen locals have asked to have their photo taken with me, on their own cameras, much the same way we wish to have ours taken with them).

Chaotic square in Jophur

Waiting for samosa

4 PM melt down coming on
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India in spite of the chaos is a wonderfully colorful place. Beneath the layers of dirt and grime and poverty and desperation, there are smiles and laughter.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

#TBT: Bundi: Losing Motion & Madame Is Coming

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I have had quite a journey these last five years traveling and curating for The Loaded Trunk. In the early years my blogs were often written with more detail about the journey and often in collaboration with my sometime fellow traveler and daughter. As the online business grew it became more difficult to come up with creative and engaging topics to write about. People often live by sound bites so I have changed the tone to go with the flow. After reading and giggling at some of these older posts, I will be posting an occasional #TBT.

Excerpts from travel in India Monday, January 25th, 2010

Bundi: Lossing Motion & Madame is Coming

After picking up our tailor made kurtis (traditional women's tops) in Udaipur, we got back on the road for the journey to Bundi, a small haven in-between bustling Udaipur and Jaipur. Along the road to Bundi we stopped at the impressive fort town of Chittorgarh, home to the largest of the many Rajput forts and shares temples with those of the Muslim, Jain, and Hindu faiths. After a whirlwind tour of the top, as we were naturally running behind (Indian style), we headed for the last bit of our journey to Bundi. Unfortunately, the lovely toll road (which is really just a nicely paved road with all sorts of traffic coming from all angles) ended about 60 kilometres from Bundi and so that last portion was traveled along a one lane, poorly paved road through unlit villages and rock mines.

Needless to say, we arrived in Bundi past 9 pm to our highly recommended women-run guesthouse. We entered a jammed packed Fellini-esque living room scene with numerous family members and apparent boarders to find that there was no water and banging on pipes throughout the very dark interior. The term 'haveli' (which in most cases means renovated mansions) really meant run-down, dirty old house. We fled as quickly as possible, in the dark, with both our driver Raj and the owner of the guesthouse running behind us asking us whether we had lost motion. "Madame, have you lost motion? We will fix water very soon. No problem". To 'lose one's motion' in India means to have 'diarrhea'. While madame (me) and my daughter Ryan did not lose our motion, we certainly weren't staying.

We eventually ended up at a lovely rooftop room in the Kasera Paradise where we were duly treated to a beer and a Masala Omelet. Little did we know what was awaiting us in the morning.
Wall paintings in our room in Bundi
As one becomes more comfortable with India, one becomes excited at small comforts provided: the fact that this hotel actually had toilet paper and warmer-than-lukewarm water was incredible. The fact that we had to beat off monkeys with a monkey-stick at breakfast was not such a highlight. We soon found out that the sleepy town of Bundi was a haven for monkeys: both Gibbons and the naughty Macaques. The former are generally quite harmless and afraid of people, however due to close quarters the latter have shown the peaceful Gibbons a few of the many tricks up their sleeves. Therefore, we rambled around town with monkey sticks (really just bamboo scraps found along the road) in tow and a high-pitched scream when necessary.
Roni becoming quite adept with the monkey stick

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Apart from monkey mayhem, Bundi was simply lovely and had a yet untouched feeling about it. The small fort and palace overlooking the town was in quite good condition, considering that most monuments in India are rather rundown, and the 'Maharani's Quarters' were simply breathtaking. Maharani means 'queen' and in her quarters were allowed only women, eunuchs, or the Maharaja (her husband, the king). The palace was covered from floor to ceiling in magnificently preserved miniatures of women bathing, putting on makeup, dancing, playing music, and generally enjoying themselves. All this was presented to us by the extremely enthusiastic 'keeper of the keys' (the palace's security guard) who opened locked rooms and pointed out details we would surely have missed. The fact that Roni is so close to the Indian name Rani (again, meaning queen) delighted the 'keeper of the keys' to no end which perhaps ensured our special treatment.

More to come from our sometime irreverent blogs past travels...

Safe and happy travels wherever you are this summer.

Warm regards,


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Peas in a Pod

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My mom celebrated another trip around the earth this year and I went out to pay her a little visit. She instilled the wanderlust and love for travel in me along with a passion for collecting things from around the world. In turn, I'm passing those things along to my own daughter. This is a little peek at some of the fun and beautiful things in her California home. What interests do you and your mom share? 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Arrivals - Silk Ikat Pillows

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Have you seen our new pillows yet? Ikat remains popular and these designs pack a great graphic punch. There's a great selection of black and white pillows along with some fresh, bright colors for spring. Check them ALL out here

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Style Tip – Bring Beauty to Everyday Tasks

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I try to encourage people to use the beautiful things they buy. Don't let them gather dust, stored away for special occasions. Use them today. Right now. Because your every day is a special day. I incorporate my love of tinned copper into my mundane, every day routines: doing dishes, washing my hands, cooking and corralling odds and ends.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Basic Tips for Your Next Trip to Turkey

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Recently, I met with a friend who was traveling to Turkey for the first time. Since I had just come back from my trip, she asked for some simple tips before she packed her bags. Some of the questions she asked will seem rudimentary to more well-seasoned travelers. But for those who are just getting the wanderlust bug, it's good basic knowledge to have, whether you're traveling to Turkey or to other corners of the world.

1. What kind of shoes do you recommend?
I wear my trusty camper boots and Puma boots. I love the way they hug the cobblestones. 

2. Is it cold at this time of year? Coat or jacket?
Who knows with global warming? It was temperate when I was there, but layering is always the key. Bring a waterproof jacket, gloves, and of course a fabulous scarf.

3. What are the best places to shop? As a first-time visitor?
I love the Arasta bazaar. It has a bazaar feel with less pressure maybe. The Arasta, and shops nearby, have some hip designers. Look up where weekly fleas markets are.

4. Do I need to know the language?
I know very little Turkish. I just have some of the bargaining mannerisms down and certain looks.

5. Should I haggle? Does it work?
No question, you should haggle. If a store has fixed prices, expect to pay that unless you are buying wholesale. That means more then one!

6. I'm looking for a rug. What should I look for in terms of quality?
Too broad a question. RESEARCH. Ask questions before you go. There are so many blogs, books, resources you can find. Allow yourself to be seduced by the stories. LOOK and DO NOT buy the first day, no matter what. But if you try to bargain and a price is met, be prepared to buy.

These are two books I recommend: Rugs and Carpets of the World by Ian Bennett (great images of what looms are used and what weaving looks like) and Kilim, the Complete Guide by Alastair Hull and Jose Luczyc-Wyhowska. Fantastic images and great insight of all the tribes and explanations of what the pieces are and why things are done a certain way.

7. Do I need to wear a head scarf?
Your trusty pashmina works. Mostly you will need to cover your head when you go to a religious place.

8. Do I need cash or can I use my credit card?
Cash always is best for the vendor and often for you. More bargaining power, less fees for all!

9. What kind of bag should I carry? For shopping...
I use my ancient Tumi bag that is a cross bag with hidden pockets, it's light weight and black. I am not a back pack lover.

10. Can I buy most toiletries and things over there?
Yes, you can buy all of that over there. Istanbul is very cosmopolitan. You may not find brands you are familiar with but take a chance and go local! 

If you have additional questions about Turkey that you'd like to ask me, leave a comment or message me on Facebook. I'm happy to share my love of this beautiful country. For now, enjoy some night scenes and street shots I captured from my last visit.