One of my most treasured travel moments is the morning I spent with the ladies in my group having our hands painted. This charming occasion was on a sunlit morning as the ladies and I gathered in a small closed courtyard. The intimate space was decorated with potted plants and small round iron tables and chairs. A young Indian woman from the nearby village was our painter and her soft smile was shy and kind. The ladies and I arranged ourselves around the table and one by one we shuffled along as each delicate design was drawn on our right hand
This type of hand painting is called ‘Mandi’, which is rather ironic as my name is Mandy. The designs were individual to the person, so some of us had glorious flower motifs and others a paisley design. At first the henna is a yellow paste, squeezed out by the artist and sits on the skin. When this paste dries it falls off and underneath is an orange stain upon the skin. This stain gradually darkens to a warm brown.
What made the occasion so lovely was the pure feminine time. We were all ladies together enjoying the sun, the chat and the beauty treatment. Samode is situated on a hill so the glimpses out of the open arches was of blue sky and soaring birds. As so often happens this group of women were friendly and kind, so we had a lot to talk about and enjoy.
Samode is a palace made for a Maharajah so its cascading terraces are lined with pots, flowers and interesting courtyards. The bedrooms at the top of the palace open into the inner space and have balconies facing the outside world. If you have ever seen ‘Far Pavilions’ then you have seen Samode. I love the fact that each room is different and for a small time we get to live like the English Raj did.
But back to the sunlit courtyard and a group of women enjoying each other’s company. I don’t know where the men in our party got to – probably looking at the antique cars – when they returned it was all bustle and hustle and so adieu to our ladies morning.
Mandy has been a tour leader with Tours Direct for over 15 years. She has a wealth of experience and never gets tired of travelling to old and new destinations.