Posted by: jess | December 14, 2010

On va, tout le monde!

The story continues here…

Posted by: jess | March 14, 2010

An update

After 577 days of delaying the real world, my wanderlust was finally satiated. I now live in a teeny-tiny apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a neighborhood that combines all the things I love about the places I visited. I work for a tech start-up, and I continue to write. I’m ecstatic to be in a city whose energy rivals the excitement of non-stop travel, surrounded by a wildly dynamic group of friends and acquaintances. I’m settled, but life continues to move at the speed of light.

The past year and a half has been a wild ride, and I’ve enjoyed sharing it with you all. Thank you so much to everyone who offered advice and encouragement along the way. Taking time off after graduating from college gave me the perspective to discover what I really want from this period in my life, and it armed me with the tools I need to find it.

Until the next fabulous adventure… peace out.

Posted by: jess | December 12, 2009

Bali Ha’i, come to me

Originally posted on my Full Frontal Fashion blog.


I stepped off the plane into a wave of humidity, scented with flowers, spice, and ocean air. After a month of roughing it in India, I was looking forward to a little R&R. A long weekend in Bali with two girlfriends from college was just the answer.

We spent our first night drinking mojitos and dancing to cover bands in Kuta, which is party central for long-haul backpackers and Aussie teenagers. The next day, we escaped the hustle and bustle of downtown for the serene beaches and barrel waves of Padang Padang, located on the Bukit Peninsula in the southeastern part of the island. The tiny cliffside town was still buzzing with talk of American movies; several weeks earlier, Julia Roberts had passed through to film segments of the highly anticipated EAT, PRAY, LOVE film adaptation. We indulged in white sand and tender fish for a few days before returning to Seminyak, an upscale neighborhood outside Kuta, for an obligatory sunset cocktail at Ku De Ta. My lychee martini was wildly expensive, but the view of the bright-orange sun disappearing beyond the horizon was priceless.



Next up? Ubud, Bali’s creative and cultural center. As a fashion writer, I was excited to explore the village’s traditional crafts. Ubud is famous for its weaving, textile-making, batik-painting, and silversmithing workshops, but unfortunately, immersing myself in these crafts required a little more time than the few days I had. I did delight, though, in Ubud’s innumerable shops and boutiques, picking up delicate silver earrings, silk batik scarves, and woven baskets for my new apartment. At the end of my trip, I boarded the plane in the same flower-scented heat, but with a considerably heavier bag.

Posted by: jess | December 4, 2009

One week in Auroville, a universal city in the making

Originally posted on my Full Frontal Fashion blog.


In the southeast Indian state of Tamil Nadu, approximately 160 kilometers from the capital of Chennai and 10 kilometers from the charming French colonial town of Puducherry, there lies a universal city in the making. Its name is Auroville, and its aim is to be “a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.” Founded in 1968 by a Frenchwoman referred to by Aurovillians as “the Mother,” Auroville contains a little more than 2,000 permanent residents from 45 nations. Its charter is fourfold.

  • Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville, one must be a willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.
  • Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.
  • Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations.
  • Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual Human Unity.

Naturally, I was skeptical, but I was also intrigued. So while in India, I decided to sign up for a week-long work placement on an organic farm in Auroville to check it out for myself. I spent my mornings planting tomatoes and picking weeds on the farm, my afternoons biking and reading, and my evenings dodging mosquitoes in my bamboo hut (see photo). I also spent a fair amount of time exploring the township. Auroville is divided into several zones, which spiral out from a central “Peace Area.” In the Industrial Zone, I was excited to find a number of workshops, factories, and crafts centers where Aurovillians produce the goods that allow the town to be self-sustaining. Over the next week or so, I will introduce several Aurovillian workshops that are doing really exciting things with sustainable and ethical fashion. For now, whet your appetite by checking out the Auroville Online Store here.


Posted by: jess | November 26, 2009

Bonkers for Bollywood

What I gathered from watching a Bollywood film in Mumbai:

There was a boy. He had a clubhouse. The other boys in the clubhouse were silly sidekicks. Then came a girl. She was pretty and wore western clothes. He fell in love. She wasn’t having it. They became friends. But, it seemed like she could be falling for him. Then, in quick succession: a dance sequence in a rugby-themed discotheque, a wedding, a car and helicopter chase, a political scandal, a mafia kidnapping, a kung-fu fight sequence…

And then they lost me.

Posted by: jess | November 22, 2009

Scenes from Rajasthan

Posted by: jess | November 17, 2009

Meeting Deepak, or how I was healed in Pushkar

The healer from Pushkar welcomed me into his massage studio with a hug. A long one. At first, I stiffened. I was uncomfortable. I hadn’t allowed a man close enough to touch me in the week I’d been traveling in India. I tried to pull away after a few seconds, but he held on tighter. I realized he was applying pressure up and down my spine with the palm of his hands — reiki, a form of alternative medicine that promotes healing through touch. I relaxed, but just a little. After what seemed like an eternity, he let me go. He smiled a bright smile, which matched his bright eyes. “I am Deepak,” he said.

The massage started. Using long, hard strokes, Deepak kneaded out the tension brought about by hours of bus and train rides, rock hard mattresses, and the stress of navigating a chaotic country like India. Knots I thought impenetrable were slowly eliminated. At the end of the massage, Deepak placed his hands on my forehead and chanted in Hindi. I felt the energy flow from his fingertips into my head, and for the first time since landing in India, I felt at peace.

At the end of the massage, Deepak gave me an assessment of my body’s chakras. Two — in my upper chest and forehead — were blocked. I had a lot of tension. I was worried about my life and where it was going. He instructed me to abstain from bananas for two months, avoid spicy foods and soda, and walk barefoot on the grass often. He ended the massage with another long hug. This time, I didn’t try to pull away.

Posted by: jess | November 15, 2009

It rained on the day I visited the Taj Mahal

Posted by: jess | November 11, 2009

First impressions of India

N.B. I didn’t take my laptop on my trip to India and Indonesia for obvious reasons, so I’m posting these entries, which were handwritten in my journal — the romance! — a few months late.

I arrived in Delhi yesterday. It’s chaos — an utter and complete assault on the senses.

Sights: Rubble. Cows. Bumper-to-bumper traffic. Eyes. Misspelled English signs. Auto-rickshaws. Juice stands. Men peeing in corners. Bright saris. Sikh turbans. Beggars, hands outstretched.

Sounds: Honking. Hindi. Blaring music. Miscellaneous animal sounds. Television. Honking.

Smells: Exhaust. Fried food. Animal crap. Rotting fruit. Urine. Body odor. The very, very faint scent of marigolds.

Posted by: jess | October 26, 2009

Savoring the last months of fun-employment


My goals for my Guam “stay-cation” — lofty, I know.

  1. Do lots and lots of yoga.
  2. Finish the Harry Potter series. After years of boycotting HP, I gave in and decided to read ’em for pop culture value. I’m on book 4!
  3. Fill my weekends with outdoor activities. Hiking, check. Sunning on Tumon Bay, check. Southern BBQs, check. Scooter-ing around the island, check.
  4. Delve into Indian history.
  5. Get a legit tan.
  6. Watch Seasons 1 & 2 of Mad Men.
  7. Write lots and lots of “easy money” articles.
  8. Try to avoid unnecessary freak-outs about impending move to NYC.

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