A clash of modern life and old worlds, there is always something new to love in India’s colorful capital. Writer Martine Bury takes us along on her journey to India. Read the first part of her journey here.
Following Robyn Bickford’s sage advice, I did get in touch with Fiona Caulfield—a globe-trotting Australian author, writer, journalist, explorer, sought-after public speaker and entrepreneur living the Artist’s Way in India. A long love story—she fell for the country in 2004, in Calcutta, on the way from Everest Base Camp to the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.
Having left a lucrative career in New York, her journey ultimately resulted in the creation of the Love Travel series of guidebooks for travelers seeking a deeper, more authentic experience with a good dose of luxury and style. Caulfield has unpeeled some of Delhi’s layers and unveiled its gems—from the “back lanes off Chandni Chowk” in Old Delhi to the beloved and affluent Khan Market with must stops such as Good Earth, Anokhi and Amrapali jewelers. Here, she shares a few must-dos.
Tell us about your first visit to India?
It was in 1992 and I needed to make a decision about living in London, England or Sydney, Australia and so I took a break midway in India to reflect on the choice. I was reading India: A Million Mutinies Now and the opening line really resonated. “Bombay is a crowd”. It certainly was even at 3 a.m.!
Where do you consider home?
My “emotional home” is my cottage on the water at Hardys Bay, north of Sydney. My India home is Bangalore, on a leafy quiet street in India’s “city of the future.”
What inspired you to write the Love Travel Guides?
I was living in Manhattan working as the president of a consulting firm, and I got interested in mountain climbing. On one of these journeys, I had an idea of a different way of living and also saw the need for different kinds of travel content about the places I was visiting. These insights connected and I moved to India in 2004 to create the Love Travel brand.
Where has the journey of researching and writing these books led you?
India is much more than a physical journey, it becomes a journey inside. A decade later and I feel I have just scraped the surface of what India can teach us and how deep that journey can be.
What I find amazing about the guides is that the design style and colors are vibrant, modern and a bit old fashioned in the illustrations and the way they are hand-bound and packaged. They remind me of India’s aesthetic with the combination of old, new and all of the color. Are you involved in the design process?
Very much so, the design brief was sensuality; I wanted people to touch, smell and taste India in these books. We have intentionally created a handcrafted product, each sheet of paper is made by hand in India’s oldest papermaking village. The design, even the typography, was inspired by the early travel guides like Murray’s and Badekars.
Why is New Delhi a magical place?
In Delhi you can experience India’s past and India’s future. Jan Morris described Delhi as being “unimaginably antique” with a history dating back to 1000 BC. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The layering of history and how this influences the future fascinates me. Delhi is both the beacon of India Modern and a linchpin to India’s past.
Any secret spots?
In a city of around 20 million people, there are few secret spots. A place I love going to is the India International Centre (www.iicdelhi.nic.in), it is an exclusive club for the city’s intellectual elite. However, their programs are open to the public and are free. Most evenings at 6:30 p.m. there is a fascinating speaker or cultural performance.
What is the one thing you feel you have yet to discover in India?
I am working on a book called Love India, which will feature the best 108 experiences in India. However, on nearly every day there is a new discovery and a potential inclusion, so I am not sure when I will finish it.