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india

Where to Stay and What to do in Jaisalmer, India

Have you ever seen a photo and thought to yourself, I would love to go there!?!  A few years ago I saw a photo from a café with a lit up fort in the background and I instantly felt like I wanted to experience that view for myself.

Here is the image I saw.

This photo was taken in the small desert town of Jaislmer in the state of Rajastan, India. When we planned our trip to India this year, I included a three night stay in Rajasthan . We spent one night in Jodhpur and two nights in Jaislmer.  After a one night stay at Ajit Bhawan in Jodhpur, we made the six hour drive through the Thar desert to Jaisalmer where we stayed at a beautiful hotel called Suryagarh.  Usually car rides make me sleepy, but this drive was so unique that I was wide awake the WHOLE TIME.   We stopped along the way for tea and selfies with cows and camels ( I couldn’t resist) until we finally reached our destination. 

Where to Stay

In Jaisalmer we stayed at Suryagarh. This seven star resort in in the heart of the desert is literally the stuff dreams are made of.  For my fellow Bollywood fans, think Sanjay Leela Bansali perfect.  With backdrops and structures worthy of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam or Ram Leela this haveli had everything. Most recently Housefull 4 was filmed here.

Suryagarh-Jaisalmer

What To Do

The weather in Rajasthan is great during the month of December with highs hitting about 70-73 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and the nights getting down to a cool 45 degrees.  Known for its location in the Thar Desert, excursions into the desert are popular among tourists.  I, for one, could not wait for a desert jeep safari and camel ride into the dunes.  I have always felt a connection with the desert which is why Sedona, Arizona is also one of my favorite places in the US (see my post about my favorite drive of 2019 here). 

We ventured into the desert, walked through the only remaining living fort in India, and visited Gadisar Lake. Jaisalmer was everything I could have expected and more from this little town.  From the local experiences all the way up to the seven star hotel experience, Jaisalmer is a must see.  I love seeing places a little bit off the beaten path and this is one of those places not overrun by tourists. In my opinion, two nights in Jaisalmer is just right for a Rajasthan itinerary (note: they have a great airport).

Travel is one of those things that you spend money on and it truly makes you richer.  My visit to India was wonderful, but the visit to Jaislmer was truly the cherry on top. 

Having visited Mumbai, Kerala, and now Rajasthan, next on my list is Leh.  If you know anyone who has been there who has recommendations please let me know.

Thanks for checking out my post.

Your Chick,

Rina

Jodhpur Hotel Recommendation

Known as the little brother of the much more luxurious and expensive (3x more expensive) Umaid Bhawan (where Priyanka Chopra got married), Ajit Bhwan offers a royal and regal experience right in the heart of the city.  It’s amazing to me how places like this are built with so much creativity and effort.  The hotel is designed like a village where you are escorted to your mini villa.  It was also the best shower I had in the two weeks I was in India.  See my pictures from Ajit Bhawan below.

Jaisalmer (2)

Sanaya Set: Be Distinguished by Shopping With Purpose

The Story
We were thrilled to check out a subscription box designed for women of color by women of color.  Although our journey as humans has many similarities, life has a way of testing us in different ways.  The women behind the Sanaya Set all have a story and a common interest that brought them together.  They have used their work with API Chaya, a community for women who have been marginalized by domestic violence and sexual assault, to channel their energies to create a product that delivers awareness for a variety of good causes that speak to the experiences of women.
The Box
The Sayana set is a subscription box that is full of hand picked products that each tell a story and support a cause.  What could be better than a seasonal box that comes to your door with a message?  These products help women feel educated, engaged, and empowered to make the world a better place.
We felt strongly about the quality of the products (all 8 of them!) and the design of the box.  A lot of thought and effort has been put into the selection of each and every product.  The items each come with an information card and beautiful packaging.
If you are looking for a way to reach out to those who are working each and every day to make life better for themselves and their communities, look no further, the team at Sanaya Set has done the work for you!  For $99 per box, per season, you can do good in a way that feels good and looks good.
Check out our unboxing video here:
Thanks for checking out our unboxing and be sure to check out Sanaya Set for you or as a gift!
Your Chicks,
Rina and Sonia

Evil Eye: Is It a Real Thing?

As an Indian-American, my thoughts and beliefs have been heavily influenced by my parents who immigrated from India over 30 years ago.  I feel blessed to have grown up in a dual culture household — I often ponder the discussions we’ve had that were deeply rooted in my parents upbringing. When reflecting on my childhood, much of the “norm” in my household was governed by my parent religious and cultural background.

The Evil Eye

One of the most fascinating topics was the concept of the “Evil Eye”, also known as “Nazar”, in India.  The idea is that unbeknownst to a person there is negative energy in the universe wishing malice upon you or your family.  This negative energy can manifest in human emotions by way of envy. Both my children were gifted black bracelets to wear in order to ward off any bad thoughts or energy that might come their way.  I was happy to comply, but I couldn’t help to wonder, “Is it possible that there really is an energy to fight off those who don’t mean well?”  I didn’t want to take the chance to find out so I was happy to have them wear it.  Similarly, in this world of social media, it’s often said not to show too much of your life or family for fear that others might look on and wish negativity upon you.  As a spiritual chick, I have found over the years that I truly am a believer in the evil eye warding off evil spirits. Whether the evil eye actually wards off mysterious negative energy or not, the comfort and confidence I derive from the superstition is worth it.

I have received so many compliments on this blue and white sapphire necklace that I wear and it is only $32Evil Eye Necklace
Layering

Evil Eye Necklace

Over the years, I have learned that this concept exists beyond Indian folklore. Latinos speak of “Malos Ojos” , Jewish and Islamic stories speak of the “Hamsa” or hand of God, and here in the US, we refer to the “Evil Eye” and have fashioned it into our culture as well through fashion.  You can often find evil eyepieces to compliment a cute outfit. Accessories that are an ode to the energy theory are a way to feel protected from negativity.  Why not, right?!? Even if only symbolically  the Evil Eye concept is a reminder to remain positive and emanate that positivity to others.

Shop this an other evil eye swag that I have my eye on here!

Anyone heard of the Evil Eye?  Would love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment below.

Your Chick,
Sonia

Botox and the Indian Community      

Botox, everyone has thought about it, many of us are doing it, so why aren’t we talking about it?

Growing up as first generation Indian Americans, my sister and I had the impossible task of representing our Indian side, our American side, and our hybrid side with grace and full understanding.  This meant being respectful yet assertive and exploring our interests while not wandering too far outside of our parents understanding. It also meant looking and acting within certain cultural norms without compromising our opportunities here as Americans.

Aging is one of those unusual paradoxes where being Indian and American does not agree.  It appears that Americans embrace doing things make you feel good — from facials to chemical peels to plastic surgery to Botox. There is discussion and a sharing of experiences that is a part of the American culture.  I can’t speak to other communities and cultures but the Indian community from both the immigrant and first generation perspectives does not embrace artificial enhancement. Indo-American women will undergo a variety of procedures and services behind closed doors and lie about their genetics and diets to no end.   An acceptance of anti-aging tools that we have available to us as Indians in America has been a difficult pill to swallow for many.

Avani getting her bi annual Botox shots.I am 36 years old, I have been getting Botox for 3 years.  When I looked in the mirror after having two kids and moving homes twice, my body directly experienced the stress. My body had undergone both of those life-changing events and left me with deep wrinkles which made me feel older than I was. My friends, co-workers, and sisters were supportive when I first considered Botox (see our article here about facing judgement). We talked about it, read about it, researched it until I eventually went for it.  Some family members, on the other hand, discouraged me from doing it and hesitantly added that if I did get it, I should keep it to myself.  After seeing my results and my satisfaction, two short years later, they too went ahead and tried it out. But they have since kept their “genetic” advantages to themselves.

Before And After
Before And After

Without getting too carried away, I am grateful that I can take little steps to look the way I feel.  I am not in denial of aging or of my life circumstances; this is a personal choice and one that has left me satisfied. By not sharing ideas and privatizing our desires, we cannot lift each other up in a way that can be positive in the right context.

I hope to get the discussion started.  We are fortunate that one of our Savvy Chicks’, Avani, has a husband who is a plastic surgeon — if you have any questions please leave them in comments below and we will be happy to get you an expert’s perspective.

Cheers,

Rina

If Botox is not your thing yet, here are a few Chicks Picks from Beauty Chick, Neema (check out her take on sunscreen).