“We do not live an equal life, but one of contrasts and mosaics; Now a little joy, then a pain, now a sin, Then a generous or courageous action “
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
By Rocio del Toro, Mafalda Budib, and Nicole Fuentes.
Out of a life coincidence, we ended up going on a trip. Although we toured India together, the adventure had different starting points. The time, circumstances, and reasons to visit that mysterious land were very particular for each of us.
During the journey, each moment took us by surprise. The colors, the crowds, the landscape, the chaos, everything kept us in awe at will.
A wonder captivated our attention, when seeing it, it was as if we could suddenly hear our voices captured and interwoven in those colored figures.
Patchwork or “piece work” is a form of sewing that involves joining different pieces of fabric together to form a larger and more complex design. Rajasthan padding is appreciated around the world for its beauty and symbolic meaning: labor of love, patience, and commitment.
The province of Rajasthan provided the fabric to join our patchwork, our pieces, to form an extraordinary mat. To be the same, think symmetrically, or have the same size to explode together, is simply not necessary. Each one dresses in colors that make sense to us, we adorn ourselves with the accessories that we like and need. One portion made up of colorful and shiny beads, sequins, and gold stampedes; another with rather rough, daring, brave textures. Finally, one with fine lines, turquoise color, rather sober, with only a few details. The result? three voices, or perhaps, a sound patchwork.
[Nicole] I vividly remember Rocio’s phone call… “I want to go to India for a year, it has always been my dream.” I knew that this “want” would become a fact. Was this crazy?
[Rocio] Ever since I can remember, I wanted to travel to India. That land, on the other side of my world, summoned me. First whispering, then screaming. I decided to answer the call in July 2019. With the certainty of one who will meet her destiny, I organized my departure in less than a year. I took my son’s hand and together we reached the subcontinent.
[Mafalda] In India, three women searching for a memorable adventure, day by day the journey became a transformative experience and a love story about weaving our very own selves to each other, we converted into a colorful tapestry of emotions, talks, laughter, lessons and mystical experiences that bonded us in a unique way, beyond all means.
[Nicole] On March 5th., 2020, I left for India. I took the longest flight I have ever taken. I spent 16 hours at 33,000 feet above sea level to go to the other side of the planet. What would that country be like? There, 15,085 kilometers from Mexico, was one of my best friends/sisters living her adventure. She had decided to spend a year in that land, and I went all the way to visit her. I wanted to be a part of her dream.
[Rocio] Nicole is my oldest friend, an inseparable companion since my adolescence. We are united by the strength of the years and confidence. Mafalda, my soul mate, my family. We share a passion for traveling and similar life stories.
[Mafalda] I have always believed that the realization of a piece of such beauty is equal to human threading compared to weaving in a friendship; it is formed hand in hand, without egos, in a deep exploration of life itself, transforming different pieces of your own being, into a whole.
[Nicole] In Delhi, Rocio and I finally met. At the restaurant in our hotel we jumped, shouted, and twisted intertwined regardless of the eyes of the waiters that made a monumental effort not to abandon their orbits. The meeting broke with the silence and seriousness of the place. A mariachi wouldn’t have made such a fuss. I saw Mafalda later. It was the first time that our paths crossed in time and space. She and I have walked along Rocio’s side for almost 30 years, but only now, we were going to walk together in India.
[Rocio] I dedicated the first months to take the pulse of this multicultural world. A photographic adventure took me to the colorful state of Rajasthan, which for me will always be the soul of India. Before the tour ended, we arrived at a town called Mandawa. Its Havelis (majestic houses of the merchants of the Silk Route) captivated the lens of my camera. I decided to leave the group and stay there. I arrived at the Mandawa Kothi Hotel on a Sunday. Standing in the center of its first inner courtyard, I knew I had found the place I was looking for.
[Mafalda] We are weavers, spinning life, and our dreams. Also, we are knotting ourselves to other souls whose experiences of loss and hope, of pain and joy, translate into opportunities to rediscover ourselves in the eyes of each other and, thus, walk in echo.
[Nicole] They say that India is not a place for everyone, and I agree. But it was for me. It was for us. Each one with a story, a journey, similar life situations, different environments. Each one yearning to return to the essential, to touch again our authentic versions. Each one with a lot to say, learn, share, accept, release, and feel.
[Rocio] After a while, I was taking Chai with Raju Singh, who would soon become my great friend and mentor. He opened the doors of his family to me. It made me feel part of them, at home. I discussed with him my dream of staying longer in India. From those afternoons of transformative conversations the idea of making a tourism project with his travel agency, Incredible Real India, arose. An itinerary was born to visit Rajasthan, which would not only become my first project in India, but also the opportunity to meet my friends again.
[Mafalda] And we will continue to make our patchwork by finding a way to co-create a masterpiece on life’s path, through time.
[Nicole] India became the canvas where we finally put our pieces together with the help of the thread and the needle of those who made this trip possible. The desert united us with its star-streaked sky. Sandip, the guide with the purest smile and the most generous soul, amalgamated us; we were joined by mantras. Our pieces also found a rhythm with Anu’s happy music and light with the portraits that come out of his pencil and look like photographs. Together we walked the temples with bare feet. Food, the unknown, and the sense of adventure combined us. Raju Singh brought us together with the colored powders he gave us to make collages in our faces during the celebration of Holi. We connected by painting.
[Rocio] Mafalda and Nicole said “YES” to the adventure. Both are portions that occupy large and significant spaces in the patchwork of my life. Beautiful pieces of unique textiles, embroidered to me, that remind me of whom I am and keep my story. Patches on a blue background, which is my favorite color, Nicole’s is turquoise, and one of Mafalda’s favorites. Golden threads and beads that fill with sun. Both, with their great differences, got to know each other and recognized themselves as the complete, confident, beautiful, intelligent, and talented women they are in front of my eyes. They found the way to sew themselves together to complete the patchwork mat that is my life.
[Nicole] I knew Mafy from the descriptions and stories I heard for years. An image in my head built from photographs. I knew her without knowing her. That famous, magnificent, bright, colorful, with hairbands, called Mafalda, appeared in front of me in the third dimension, wrapped in a wine-colored robe. “Nicole, sweetheart, welcome”.
Our voices became one and our screams found the chaotic compass among the narrow streets of Old Delhi riding on a Rickshaw. We felt like locals squeezed inside a Tuk Tuk, moving among sacred cows, dogs, motorcycles, and a rush of people.
Laughter that came out without filters, silence on top of a fort with the city lights below, dances around a campfire, out of tune singing, spontaneous hugs, red dots on the forehead, cannons that left their mark.
We made new seams in each night that met with the dawn without us noticing because we were opening our hearts, being vulnerable, letting ourselves be seen.
Chandu, our star photographer, captured our essence with his camera every time he managed to steal an instant in time without poses. The color blue assembled us in Jodhpur; we lost our sense of smell in hundreds of spices. We danced on a terrace by a lake in Udaipur with a background of palaces until they ran us out. We merged into the paintings of Chiman, a local artist who, in addition to being outstanding at his work, has an enormous heart as he contributes with his art to the well-being of children in his community.
We were joined by Devender with his sense of humor and behind-the-scenes work to make the tour comfortable and safe; Anurag, the young man offering water bottles, embraced us with his smile countless times; Our driver Rajesh, with his skill behind the wheel, took us from one destination to another, while we wove stories whispering. Each of them contributed with their unique stitches to our experience.
How great we are when we let go of the ego, when we let our guard down, when we take off our masks, when we genuinely want to see the other.
India became that canvas in which each of us embroidered her piece to create the Rajasthan mat, the friendship of three women that we will carry forever in our hearts.
Note: We are grateful to Ángeles Favela, Director of Literálika , for helping us to edit these three stories with her magical pen.