Where Do You Find Ordinary Magic?

Via Peggy Markel
on May 16, 2013
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 The Chhatra Sagar luxury tent village, India: Tasting Royal Rajasthan
The Chhatra Sagar luxury tent village, India: Tasting Royal Rajasthan

“Another incredible place! They took Ann Coffaro and I on a guided bird walk. I saw one hundred and twenty new birds in India. My favorite was the Bee-eater. Talk about birding in style! A porter to carry the scope and refreshing drinks on a tray at the end of the trail.”

~ Tara O’Leary, India 2012.

Each time I visit India, I find myself slipping between the veils of past and present, of luxury and the ordinary. I am reminded how thin the line is between the extraordinary and the everyday.

Devi Garh is my favorite hotel of the program, an 18th century palace fort that royally commands the valley and looks out over the Aravalli hills. Bo-chic in style, its modern interiors are minimalist, austere five-star elegance, a bit “Indian Zen.”


The surrounding natural landscape offers solace. The colorful village below, with intermittent baby blue houses, offers charm. I learned the motive for this brilliant color is two-fold: the paint keeps insects away and also praises lord Krishna. On my first visit to this divine place, I left the fairy tale world of the palace hotel, the bathtubs filled with rose petals and airy verandas, and went for a walk in the village down the hill.

Barefoot shop owners sat before scales on old wooden counters or on the floor. Some were turbaned, some not. We nodded hello to each other as I passed. Women carried food or water jugs on their heads, gliding gracefully in their saris, as vibrantly colored as the fruits and vegetables spread out on blankets and carts. The village astrologer sat on the corner, dressed in red next to a sky-blue wall, waiting for a consultation. Carts of vegetables displayed local varieties with names like “Lady Fingers” and “Gentleman’s Thumbs.”

I followed some of the women through a doorway and found an old man making the terra cotta pots used to store cool water. With white hair and beard, he stooped and twirled his wheel with a stick. Once it got going to the speed he was happy with, he threw some clay in the middle and started molding. Three small pots were produced within minutes:

These are the moments I cherish: easing into the pace of local life and discovering the artfulness of a simple, age-old skill, watching an old man’s hands shape clay into pots, or the hands of the women easing the pots onto their heads, calling their little ones to follow down the road.

So often travel to a faraway spot reminds us to appreciate the magic of everyday life. The finer elements of this particular program always bring me back to the simple pleasures that lend soulfulness.

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Ed: Brianna Bemel


About Peggy Markel

Since 1992, Peggy Markel has traversed the Mediterranean and North Africa, from Elban fishing villages and Moroccan markets to the homes of Tuscan artisans and chefs, furthering her own exploration of culture and cuisine. On these journeys, she saw an opportunity to design and direct her own brand of culinary tours in which enjoyment of the present place and moment plays a pivotal role. "When we speak of Slow Travel, we mean that particular experience of letting yourself merge with your surroundings: the pace, customs, mores and style of where you find yourself. It’s really about our willingness to let the world in, and see ourselves a part of it.” For more information about Peggy's trips and classes, check her web page. For more writing and recipes by Peggy, check her blog. Sign up for Peggy's monthly newsletter, to receive stories, videos, recipes and updates in your inbox. Join the PMCA community on facebook for photos and stories from the road.


3 Responses to “Where Do You Find Ordinary Magic?”

  1. Emma says:

    It has much to offer to travelers and tourists. It is a land of hills, rivers, plateaus, plains, beaches, deltas and deserts. It also houses many luxurious hotels and resorts to cater to its booming travel and tourism industry.

  2. NYC LASIK says:

    Traveling gives you the experience nothing else can give. A person who does not travel will be poor, no matter who much he earns. My life goel is to travel as much as I can, and I will never regret spending money and time on it.

  3. Linda V. Lewis says:

    Beautiful, Peggy!