Welcome to "On Her Own" Tour Specialist Michele Immelman
News, news, news!
We are launching our 2018/2019 "On Her Own" solo women tours and I am thrilled to welcome Michele Immelman to our team!
Michele left her corporate career to pursue an authentic life following her passion for India. Michele joins us in the capacity of Tour Specialist, for our small group women tours. Native to South Africa, Michele has travelled extensively in India over the past 12 years, chronicling her life there with photographs and her keen eye for detail.
Michele will be an invaluable asset to our team and I will look forward to sharing her stories and photos on our blog. Read below how she first visited India and then fell in love with this amazing country:
For a number of years I would receive these wonderfully exciting letters and photographs from my oldest sister who lived in India. This fascinated me immensely. In 2004 she convinced myself and another sister of ours to take an adventure to India. My other sister turned 50 that year and I decided to give this trip to her as 50th birthday gift.
We traveled to South India, Isabel lived in Tiruvanamalai in Tamil Nadu. I remember when we first arrived at Chennai Airport, the conditions were so different and crazy to what we were used to. One of the things I kept on saying to myself is “I hate this place, I want to go back home”….. hahahaha
Since 2004 I have been traveling often through India with my oldest sister. I have visited Kulu Manali area. Lived in Nagar for a month. Traveled to Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh. I have been to many places in the South - Kerala, Goa, middle regions of South India, Chennai, Pondicherry. I have been fortunate enough to have spent a month doing photography in Rajasthan. So have seen quite a bit of the golden circle as well.
You ask why I return. Well after the first visit I emphatically stated that I would never return to the crazy country, where everything is so noisy and frenetic. But, low and behold it was almost to the day a year later that I had this incredible yearning to go back….. I have never been able to articulate why India has such a fascination for me. Maybe it is because I have been welcomed with open arms by the locals, maybe it is the fact that there is order amongst all the craziness. Maybe it is the expression in the eyes of the local folk, or maybe it is the sights and smells that allure me…. All I can say is that whenever I leave after a trip, I ask myself will I ever be able to come back again. And then when I do get an opportunity to return, I am a very happy lady.
The places which I really loved to travel to the most has been Himachal Pradesh in the foothills of the Himalaya. I enjoy the more tribal customs and people. I also loved Udaipur, I think I could live in that town. My favourite city in India is Bangalore, I love the lazy atmosphere in the suburbs. Large, leafy trees line the streets.
In my travels I have stayed in very lovely places, my Rajasthan trip was quite luxurious because my husband was accompanying me. But then on the other hand I have often stayed in less expensive places where the facilities are quite spartan.
Just generally I have been fortunate to have learnt quite a lot about the culture, I am comfortable with getting around. Mostly I rent myself a scooter for the duration of my stay in a place so that I can zip around at my leisure. As I mentioned a big passion of mine is photography, so I like to roam the streets in the very early hours of the morning when all the stall holders and shop owners start preparing for the day. Then to walk the streets early evening again, cow dust time….
My favourite is to sit at a chai or coffee stall first thing in the morning. To sip my coffee and to read the Times of India newspaper. Most of my clothing which I wear I have made at a local tailor for me when I arrive in India, so that I am comfortable for the duration of my trip.