Travelling is a basic instinct. We all love to travel to new places, meet new people, taste new food and enjoy the wonders of nature. We jump at every opportunity to get out of our homes, our cities and our countries.
Have you ever thought of reversing this situation? How about opening your doors and allowing the world to come to our homes. Yes, it is possible. We just have to open out hearts to people, minds to ideas and the world will come running to us. If this sounds too much of talk, let me share how I invite the world to my home.
I have been a member of Couchsurfing for a decade now. Yes, that makes me a veteran of kinds. In my various homes across Bangalore, Gurgaon, Hyderabad and Goa, I have hosted people from more than 20 nationalities. That is not counting the fellow Indians. When I am unable to host people for some practical reasons, I invite them over for a meal or a Chai. Sometimes I meet them and show them around a part of the city I live in.
My guests carried gifts for me from their villages and towns – like handmade pasta or a book about the place they were coming from. Sometimes they just took over the kitchen and cooked a meal with the ingredients they carried with them. The gifts were not just personal but they carried the essence of the place they came from. They added a piece of their world to my world.
By allowing travelers to come to my space and time, I have met their world in an unusual way. I have introduced them to my world just as it is, by giving them a unique experience that only a home can.
Read More: Couchsurfing – the Next Wave in Travel
When I started traveling as an independent person, my favorite way to bring the world back with me was to carry back souvenirs. I cherish the wooden Ravana mask I picked up in Sri Lanka. Thangka paintings from Nepal are my treasure. Handcrafted shell bangles from an artist in Bishnupur in Bengal remind of the narrow lane where I bought them. Prayer flags that I picked up in Bhutan are a blessing I carried with me.
Fridge magnets and bookmarks are easy to buy souvenirs. I picked them from almost everywhere I went. Now, every time a new fridge magnet comes, some adjustments have to be made to accommodate it on the surface of my fridge.
Travel themed furniture for your Home.
I have a small home library that needs new book shelves at regular intervals. As I do not live in a metro city, I went online looking for some new designs for bookshelves. I must confess this was the first time I was exploring an online furniture store. As luck would have it, I discovered some travel themed furniture. Now, is that not the best way to have flavors of different places as part of your day to day living. My next few hours were lost in exploring the store for various travel inspired collections. Let me share some that left me impressed:
Travelling back to Caledonia.
Remember I wrote about visiting the Scotch Whiskey Center in Edinburgh sometime back. On Urban Ladder website, I was looking at a bar unit designed for optimal storage of tall bottles and glasses. Appropriately called Caledonia Bar Unit, it reminds you of those days when the Island of Britain was under the Roman rule. Remember those Roman Baths in the city of Bath in the United Kingdom.
Let Colors of Rajasthan Travel Home.
Imagine your curtains or your cushion covers carrying a hint of forts of Rajasthan. The arches of Rajasthan showing on your tablecloth. The ramparts of forts re-created on your curtains. Sometimes it was just an outline and sometimes there is are solid red and yellow colors of Rajasthan. I wonder if I can let my curtains remind me of the places I am yet to visit. Once visited, they should become a part of my memories, taking me back to the destination. Or maybe just choose some part of your home furnishing that will be a part of your future travel plans. It would be like having motivation all around you.
Travel like Ashanti tribe of Africa.
I am yet to go to Africa. The visuals of Africa for me always have colorful geometric patterns that African tribes like Ashanti wear. These patterns are woven in bright colorful cotton resembling the patterns on woven baskets. In fact, the word ‘Kente’ comes from the basket. I was pleasantly surprised to the same patterns on a chest of drawers. Each drawer had a different pattern and together they create a melange of African patterns. Instead of bright colors, they had screen printed on the drawers – giving it an earthy monotone.
Like a good book, that always leaves me wanting for more, the travel-inspired furniture ranges also left we wanting for more. In my mind, I started creating my own collections. Let me share a few from my wish list.
Travel inspired wish list.
Wall frames inspired by Tanjore paintings
Phulkari or Ikkat pattern on my furniture just like Kente inspired furniture
A chair right from the royal palaces that make feel like a princess or maybe a queen
A work table with the world map as a theme – it could be furnishing too – imagine curtains with maps.
A colorful jhoola from Sankheda
An inlay-work coffee table from Agra
Practically speaking, furniture is not something that you can bring back from a destination. Yes, there are options to get it shipped, but that is not always economical enough to make sense. Our very own desi online stores like Urban Ladder are giving us the options to pick and choose from their collections of world furniture.
I hope they keep designing new collections inspired by wanderlust. I hope they keep connecting us to other cultures through their creative designs that blend our needs with our sensibilities. Let’s hope they keep adding to our dreams that we live with.
If I ever write a sequel to The Mouse Charmers, the online furniture stores would be a very strong candidate to feature in it.
This post has been written in association with Urban Ladder. Do check out their travel-inspired range of furniture and furnishings.