Jantar Mantar is one of 5 observatories built nearly 300 years ago by the warrior and astronomer Jal Singh. These complex instruments were once used to measure time by the shadows cast by the sun onto sundials, and to chart the progress of the moon through the zodiac. It was fascinating to see how accurate these structures are. No need for a watch while in Jaipur!
The Taj Mahal is the most extravagant monument ever built for love. Emperor Shah Jahan was so deeply enamored with his second wife Mumtaz Mahal, that upon her death while giving birth to their fourteenth child, he had a mausoleum constructed in her memory. In a culture where an emperor can have a dozen wives and countless concubines, this is quite impressive! This monument took 22 years of construction, with 20,000 people enlisted and 70 million dollars spent. It is indeed awe-inspiring, constructed of marble from Europe and detailed with thousands of semi-precious stones. The royal purity of this imposing structure is unmistakable. The story is unlike any other. Emperor Shah was a dedicated man and lived his remaining years at the Agra Fort with a direct view to the resting place of the woman he loved.
One of my favorite designers happens to be a dear friend. I met Kanika in NYC four years ago, as her passion for design led her to create her first of many Indian inspired collections, gaining her a reputation as one of New York’s hottest young designers, www.nikkanewyork.com. In addition to my role as a fit model, in which I very eagerly tried on pieces that I hope to add to my collection, I gained much insight as to the workings of a factory in India, and how skillfully each piece is created. I even joined Kanika in her pursuit of trim and assisted in designing the new collection. Or so I like to think!
In New Delhi I found a home, in the company of my dear friends Kanika and Azfar. Kanika is a local and welcomed me most whole-heartedly into a life of home-cooked feasts and neighborhood jaunts. My adopted Indian grandmother felt much like my own. A warm heart has no cultural boundaries, be it Indian or Polish. In little time I understood the extreme duality which exists in the interior and exterior worlds of India. In an instant I was transported in a rusty rickshaw to a place of great splendor, the Imperial, one of the majestic hotels of Delhi. I momentarily forgot the mesmerizing eyes of poverty in the surrounding streets. Yet this is what India is all about, the people. I am fortunate enough to know them from the inside.
This is my first taste of India, flavors I am certain will remain in my palate for a lifetime. The sights are intense amidst a cacophony of honking horns, in a city that is over-populated and under-nourished. Today I spent a feverishly hot afternoon at the Prince of Wales Museum gaining a bit of insight as to the beginnings of this enchantingly intricate culture. Tomorrow New Delhi awaits, where I will meet with my dear friends Kanika and Azfar…
‘I could live here’. These are the words that most often exit my lips, as I journey to so many vibrant and culturally rich cities of the world. Sydney is quite the ideal place to live, there is something inspiring about being so close to the sea. An enticing city bordered by tranquil beaches, my favorites being Manly and Bondi. There I experienced a perfect day: the morning began with a yoga class. Upon finding inner balance I retreated to the sea for a surf lesson. With a little practice and resolve I stood on the board, what a high! I am still a bit weary of those commanding waves but I have found a new sensation. the day of fortuitous pleasures continues…the afternoon was spent indulging in Shiraz at Darling Harbor (any place with the name darling must have a certain charm to it!). In the evening I enjoyed my first Eastern European opera in the most stunning opera house, ‘Rusalka’ by Dvorak. And this was only one day of many.