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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Emery

India -Passport to Inspiration, Adventure and Perspective

Updated: Apr 1

Satpura National Park, Madhya Pradesh,India

Like many people, I have always loved to travel. In fact, I have just come back from a several weeks long trip to India, a place I have returned to again and again. As an interior designer, it is no surprise that I am always on the lookout for new ideas and inspirations, and India is full of them. But when people ask me what kinds of inspirations I find there, I find myself struggling with how to put it into words. Of course, India is a widely varied and spectacular feast for the senses, with beautiful colors, textiles, architecture, food, and people, and that is part of its great appeal.

But it’s also so much more than that for me...

Royal Chhatris of Orchha, Madhya Pradesh

Lucknow, city of Nawabs, Uttar Pradesh, India

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to visit all kinds of workshops and meet with the artisans who produce the products we order. In doing so, I’ve been able to appreciate how much time and effort goes into the end products.

Weavers at their looms in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh

Potter at work in Rampura, Uttar Pradesh

Speaking with the weavers at their looms, I learned that a single length of 10 meters of silk can take 30 days to weave—or significantly more so the finer the threads and more intricate the pattern. Of course, machines can do it faster. But being there in person, I can see and feel the difference in quality between hand woven and machine products and understand the high cost of hand-produced materials.

I have also learned how tough the conditions are for a metal worker—where the temperatures of the fire coupled with a hot climate are a brutal combination—and a potter squatting for hours before his hand operated spinning wheel. Despite often difficult conditions, the artisans I have met are proud of their work and knowing what goes into the finished product gives me a deep appreciation.

Fort Rampura, Uttar Pradesh

Travel in general—and India in particular—is an opportunity to experience some adventure and get out of my comfort zone both physically and mentally, as well as try things I don’t normally do. While this can make me feel a little uncertain in the moment, I ultimately end up feeling stronger, more accomplished, and more confident once I have done it. Even better, I continue to carry those feelings into my everyday life, so that when I encounter a hiccup or road block, I feel better able to handle it because I know I have handled difficult things and come through it before. On this recent trip, we hiked and camped in the jungle for a couple of days. The rocky and mountainous terrain was quite taxing physically, and the knowledge that there were tigers, bears, snakes, and scorpions in the tall grasses around us made it that much more adrenalizing. But in the moment, I was more focused on removing the painful needle grasses that mysteriously worked their way into all sorts of body parts I thought were well covered up. What a feeling of accomplishment and exhilaration though, when we emerged from the jungle! Since I’ve been back home, I keep thinking about what I can do to recapture that feeling…

Mahadeo Hills, Satpura National Park, Madhya Pradesh

Campsite along the Denwa River - Satpura National Park

The opportunity to clear my head and escape from the stresses of my highly demanding and detailed-oriented work opens up all kinds of possibilities and perspectives upon my return. So while I am always inspired by the aesthetic opportunities of a place like India, I am also attracted to the shifting of my mindset that invariably occurs, which positively affects not only my personal life, but my professional one as well. When I return, I find I have solutions for issues that have been hanging over my head, decisions are clearer, and challenges I have been struggling with are more easily handled.

Tawa Reservoir - Satpura National Park

And at the end of it all, there is nothing like taking some time off, getting away, meeting new people, and having memorable experiences to get back in touch with a feeling of immense gratitude—both for what I have enjoyed while traveling and for everything and everyone I’ve missed at home.

So here are just a few of the things I am grateful for: my husband, who holds down the fort, never holds me back, and who, like my kids, is always supportive of my adventures; Ann, my cherished friend since high school, an India (and travel in general) expert and the mastermind behind some of my best travel experiences; Judith, my fellow adventurer, roommate, and dear friend; and my other travel buddies, impressive and brilliant ladies all; Vijay and Rohan and Ventours, our unmatchable on-the-ground guides and travel partners; and the extremely knowledgeable (and impressively young!!) naturalists and guides of Satpura National Park where we hiked and camped—and where I finally had not just one tiger sighting, but two! Magnificent!

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