India affected me

Patterns, tessellated, hexagonal, stars.
Sun gate, moon gate, lion’s gate, more.
Kingfisher Strong.
Blessing, anointing, flower petals, pattern again.
Filth, poverty, caste, oppression, freedom, slavery.
Chanting, prayer, empty, full, covered,  uncovered,
Lost, found.

The queen’s view of the courtyard.

I returned from a magical trip to India over a month ago. It’s taken this long for my mind and body to recover. Sue Stover and Michelle Fletcher put together an appropriately named trip: The Art of Travel…Inspired Journey to India. (And yes, this is the same Sue Stover that will be guest artist here at Studio Joy this May.) Not only was their behind-the-scenes planning evident, but we had an unusual group of people, few who knew each other, who got along better than family. We all enjoyed being together for this journey.

Sue Stover teaching us about stamp carving.

Not only did we visit and learn from local artisans and from Sue Stover, we also took wild rides through the city, ate one delicious meal after another, and watched the moon grow from a sliver crescent to its fullness.

Floor tile in the dining hall at Deogarh Palace.
Daisy chain tessellation folded before stepping on the matching floor tile above.

I had a special companion on this trip, my partner in life, Scott. He came along on this trip not knowing what to expect. He was one of the few men along.

I was not surprised to walk down the street and hear locals call Scott by name.

While he joined in on all the fun, he also was in his own groove of creating art. He took perhaps the best photos of his life while we were there. I’m utterly blown away by what he captured, and the story he has created through his photography.

God in his workshop.
-Photo by Scott Jolley

He posted many of the photos on Facebook and soon had suggestions of compiling a book. That is happening. We also wanted a way to return some love to India from this project, so devised a scheme. This is what we’ve put together:

India, According to Scott: a Kickstarter Project

The book Scott has compiled is about 100 pages, softcover. Our friends, Buck and John, who actually know how to create a book, have offered to help with this project as well. We are utilizing Kickstarter to determine how many books to order. All excess funds from the Kickstarter Project (net profit) will be sent to support the elementary school in the hometown (near Jaipur) of our fabulous guide and dear friend, Richi Gurjar. We will also be sending books to Richi to distribute to many of the people in the photos, like our tuk tuk driver, G2.

Here is G2 after driving over an hour on the highway in his tuk tuk to bring us a delicious and filling lunch.

I’m still processing the trip, how exposure to the caste system has affected my heart, how in love I fell with the beautiful ritual of daily life, how shocked I am at the little pay received for artisan work. I’d like to invite you further into our story with Scott’s book. Get one for yourself, or as a gift. Before you open the pages, open your heart to humanity and our oneness.

Besides this country reaching deep down inside our souls causing great introspection, we just had plain fun.

Sue and I designing our nose jewelry with the help of Richi.
Scott, Michelle and I got inked


Spending time with the locals was one of my favorite things. They taught me things with joy, like how to balance a large bowl of vegetables on my head. I couldn’t quite go hands free.

Massage by Baba Sen, the Cosmic Barber
And lots of dancing.

I wish you could smell my journal from India. It smells like magic.

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