Interview with Love Travel Guides creator Fiona Caulfield
I was introduced to Fiona’s Love Delhi book on our look-see visit to Delhi 4 years ago. My husband and I spent several days visiting potential homes in each neighborhood, taking in the lush green settings and getting a sense of the city. I think back now and remember feeling overwhelmed by the traffic congestion and never in a million years did I think I would be driving in it 4 years on, yet here I am and happy to call Delhi my home.
We were fortunate to have a local agent showing us around but I remember being shown the various malls through our visit. My husband and I understood and appreciated the intention to make us feel “closer to home”. However, for us, malls were the the last thing we expected to see in Delhi. So after some discussions and being told a visit to Old Delhi won’t be happening on our first visit, a woman from my husband’s future company introduced me Fiona’s book. She said if I wanted to discover Delhi on a more intimate level, then I should go find her book at the beautiful Imperial Hotel bookshop. I did just that.
Upon finding and opening the book, I was in love.
You simply won’t find another guide book quite like it..
Fiona Caulfield is the creator of the Love Travel brand and has also written ”401 Reasons to Fall in Love with Delhi” in collaboration with Andaz Hotel.
We caught up with Fiona in June via email to ask about her passion to travel, her books and some tips on living in Delhi.
MangoliMag: What initially brought you to India?
Fiona Caulfield: I came in 2004 to create the Love Travel brand. I had been living a very different life in New York working as the President of a consulting company after many years working in advertising, branding and innovation. In May 2004 I had a life changing trip to the Himalayas and then simply decided to live a different kind of life and move to India.
The full story is detailed on my website http://www.lovetravelguides.com/full-story
MM: Can you share your first impression of living in India? Were there challenges or was it what you imagined it to be?
FC: I loved the intensity of India and the incredible diversity and I still do. When I leave India, I feel like someone has flicked the switch from color to black and white and turned the volume down. I don’t think anyone can properly imagine India without spending time here, it is complex and full of wonderful surprises.
MM: We love the stylish design of the hand-crafted Love Travel Guides series. Not only is it filled with recommendations of special or hard to find places, but the guide is very intimate and carefully curated. Can you tell us about the overall concept of the guides?
FC: The design concept for the guides was sensuality. I wanted people to be transported to India as soon as they came in contact with the guides. I believe they feel more soulful as they are completely handmade and help support artisans and traditional crafts. The khadi cloth covers are handwoven in villages in Andhra Pradesh, we hand make the paper in Jaipur and we hand bind the books in Bangalore. The bookmarks are hand crafted by Aneeth Arora and her team at pero in Delhi.
More information is available here http://www.lovetravelguides.com/publishing-notes
The content concept was intimacy. I wanted the books to be like a letter from a close friend who was out of town when you arrived and had written you a detailed note of all their insights and best advice on how to fall in love with the destination.
MM: We imagine travel in the coming days will be very different. How do you see the future of travel?
FC: I am hugely optimistic about the future of travel. I believe people are curious beings and will want to explore the world. I believe that we will continue to appreciate the inner journeys that result from the outer journeys we take. Post the pandemic I hope people will travel in a more conscious way recognising that travel is a huge privilege and that choices we make about where and how we travel are more important than ever.
MM: You are known to be an avid traveler. What do you love about traveling the most?
FC: The joy of discovery. I am curious and love learning. My favorite people are those with passions and who are willing to share their knowledge with others. They are the ones with the sparkling eyes who invite you to fall in love with their world.
MM: What are your favorite destinations in India from Delhi?
FC: One of the best things about being in India’s capital is how easy it is to get anywhere across the country be that in a car, on a train or on a plane. I love that Delhi is within an hour of reaching Kashmir, Ladakh or the more familiar Rajasthan.
There is something very magical about catching an early morning train out of Delhi, be that on the ultrafast Gatimaan express gliding to Agra or taking a in under two hours or a slower journey on a train heading north to the mountains. I love the steady rhythm of the train followed by a long and winding drive, and then a marvellous leg stretching walk to finally be rewarded with a snow-capped Himalayan view. Bliss!
MM: Other than to read your guides to enrich our lives in Delhi, Could you share advice on how to make the most of living in Delhi?
FC: Approach India with an openness to learn, what can India teach you? Avoid the ‘expat bubble’. Befriend as many locals as possible, especially in Delhi there are so many different communities with such diversity of language, beliefs and culture. I feel it is possible for one to ‘travel’ the length and breadth of India within Delhi itself; discovering the food, the crafts and textiles and the culture from every Indian state.
MM: Please tell us about your upcoming Love Sri Lanka and any other projects you may be working on.
FC: About six years ago my work as a travel writer (working on the books and contributing to various media outlets) expanded to also offering travel design services. I now curate journeys for clients, as well as provide travel advice and also offer a sourcing service, ‘Made in India’.
More information is available here https://lovetravelguides.com/bespoke-journeys
More recently, I have expanded my remit to include Sri Lanka and Bhutan . A number of my private clients asked me to help them with these destinations. Given both are so close to India it has been a pleasure for me to explore them. At the moment books do not exist for these destinations so I share my knowledge via my concierge and travel services.
Since moving to India in 2004, I have always wanted to create a Love India book. It is a daunting undertaking and a wonderful new project. The other India destination titles are however on hold whilst the national book is being created.
Love Travel Guide books are available on www.lovetravelguides.com
Also on Amazon India and Delhi retailers: Bahri, The Bookshop Jorbagh and The Imperial Hotel Bookshop
All images courtesy of Fiona Caulfield