India: Day 9 (Part 2)

August 10, 2010

You only have a couple of hours left before your sixteen hour flight home and you are in search of something — an adventure or an experience of sorts — that will “complete” your extraordinary journey throughout India.  A lot of the shops are closing since it is getting late and it is so hot you can barely breathe.  What do you do?  Well, I will tell you what I did. . .I got my arms henna’ed!  Not only do I think it looks stunningly beautiful, but I also thought it would be nice to have a reminder once I returned home, albeit a temporary one, of my trip.

I ended up finding an adorable fourteen year old girl, who was back in Mumbai on her summer vacation from school.  She had already decided at her young age that she wanted to be an architect.  She said that her dream would cost a lot of money, so during the summers she would offer henna to tourists in order to save for her future higher education.  I recognized myself in her ambitious spirit, as I too knew at fourteen what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

She asked me to tell her some of my favorite things.  I mentioned butterflies, elephants, and flowers and the next thing I knew I had flowers all over my arms!  She was definitely a master of her trade; not only was her work perfection, but she did it in less than fifteen minutes.  She only charged me $10USD, however I chose to give her more and made her promise me that she would put it towards her education.

Nearby was a pink wall, which I thought would make for a great backdrop, so that I could properly display her work of art.

In this chaotic city, it can be difficult to escape the blaring horns and careening rickshaws, not to mention the hordes of fellow pedestrians.  At sunset though you can head to the seaside promenade, with broad views of the water, in order to find some peace within the chaos.  My friend Kristen and I returned for one last look of the Arabian Sea before heading back to our hotel to gather our luggage.  Do you recall that I said I was at first disappointed with it?  Well, my second time left me with a completely different impression.  How could I not be enchanted with a body of water being illuminated by a pink sky?  This is the exotic image that I had conjured in my mind for so many years!

Back at our hotel, while I was waiting for a table to become available in the restaurant we were having our last meal of the trip, I befriended the owner of the gift shop.  He tried to tempt me to extend my stay in Mumbai.  It was Friday night and he wanted to show me the nightlife of Mumbai.  I needed to return home for work and I did not want to abandon Kristen, so I begrudgingly declined.  I must admit, as the plane took off six hours late due to a delay, I experienced one of my biggest feelings of regret I have every experienced while traveling.  I should have stayed.

On my long flight back to the States, I had plenty of time to reflect on my eleven glorious days in India.  I knew that I had to return.  The planet is huge and life is short, but my time with India was not over.

Being in India is like stroking a starving tiger; as much as it tests your limits by making you move outside your comfort level, for those moments it allows you to touch it, you know you are blessed, as you have discovered the heights of achievement you are capable of attaining, and you feel immortal.

33 thoughts on “India: Day 9 (Part 2)

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  2. Lilliane

    a good way to wrap up your India journey indeed! I love the black ink on pink wall. And an interesting encounter with the girl… it’s the people as much as the scenery that makes our travels to a city interesting. Inspiring trip, Andi. =)

    Reply
  3. Danial Shah

    Henna, we call it Mehndi in Pakistan. My sister has some good Henna skills 🙂
    and i loved your picture with the pink wall and the hands full of beautiful henna design 🙂

    Reply
  4. Lauralei/ Buddha

    How do I say I am moved in so many ways.. The amazing sunset ,the lovely henna tattoo the young girl made for you, such detail , stunning really. I love your adventurous spirit and your willingness to travel so that others may see just a glimpse of this majestic world we live in ….

    Reply
  5. Connie

    I love that henna design! By the way, did your henna smell like raw potatoes after a few days whenever your hands were wet? Odd question, I know, but my hands and arms did after I got my henna done at the Indian wedding I attended. It put me off of henna for a bit but still…SO PRETTY!!!

    Reply
  6. Jenna

    What a great idea for how to end your stay there! She did amazing work, and I love the way you photographed it.
    I think we all know that feeling of not being ready to leave…I had that many times, especially when I was in Bali the first time…and it gives us the motivation to plan to come back 😉

    Reply
  7. Kay*

    The most perfect end to a most perfect adventure! I can’t believe she did that in less than 15 minutes – incredible! And that last view of the Arabian Sea–amazing.

    If you are in India in 2011 drop me a line – we’ll explore together!

    Reply
  8. Shannon OD

    Absolutely gorgeous shots of that henna – so precise and intricate and looks amazing with the pink wall behind! What a wonderful way to carry the memories with you for another couple weeks 🙂

    Reply
  9. Steve

    That photo of your hands against the wall is just plain awesome. I like how you went all out with the henna too instead of just getting something small and inconspicous.

    Admittedly, I haven’t been to India yet, which is odd since it is on my must see list.

    Reply
  10. Lindsey

    I try to imagine what traveling through India would REALLY be like and it’s definitely tempting! Your photos are spectacular! I’ve also never had henna done, but it’s on my list. Looking forward to following the rest of your travels!

    Reply
  11. Jason

    Andi, dont worry India isn’t going anywhere, so you can always return to continue you adventure. The henna work looks great. I remember Liza getting it done on her feet whilst we were there many years ago. I think it stayed on her skin for many weeks.

    Reply
  12. Emily

    Both the henna and that sunset are beautiful! And I’m in awe that all that work could be done in 15 minutes. What a great end to your trip.

    Reply
  13. megan

    Beautiful henna! And that pink wall is perfect. I shied away from getting any henna done last time I was in India, but if I could have butterflies and elephants…!!! Next time, maybe 🙂

    Reply
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  15. Latifa Ahmad

    I finally just got done reading your India blog. I really enjoyed it and the pictures were spectacular. You did a good job capturing all of your subjects. Hopefully, a couple of friends & myself will be going this December!

    Reply
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  17. Lorna - the roamantics

    what a great parting gift mumbai gave you- gorgeous sunset! and the little girl did such beautiful henna art. love that rather than just tell us about her as a “vendor” you tell us about here dream 🙂 and then you support it by paying her extra to boot- beautiful!

    Reply

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