Liz Light is an award winning writer and photographer who has been in love with India since she saw a picture of a group of women wearing saris when she was nine years old.
She has visited this magnificently diverse country many times and loves the warm welcome and humour that is special to India, the vegetarian food and, of course,
the carefully handcrafted textiles and photographic opportunities. It is India that has captivated her; she is not interested in hosting tours to other countries.
If you wish take a look at her website.
www.lizlight.co.nz. Click on Library, then India and find many India stories and images.
Liz hosts many of the tours.
Rahul Sharma, who owns Exotic Holidays, was born in India but has worked in New Zealand, in the travel industry, for many years.
He was manager at Adventure World before branching out and beginning his own travel wholesale company.
Rahul and his company are well-known and highly regarded in the travel industry. Exotic Holidays handles all the air tickets and bookings.
Rahul and his people are global travel experts. Nabendu Sikder is our man in Delhi, the organiser on the ground. There is not much he doesn’t know about travelling in India.
He is obliging, available on the phone 24/7 and is extremely efficient and personable.
Janie Randerson is an English language teacher and a weaver. She has raised two lovely daughters, who have now flown, so she is free to follow her long-held interest in India and India textiles.
In 2014 she taught in a street school in Delhi for children whose parents couldn’t afford to send them to a regular school. She loved it. Janie says that Indian food is delicious,
the textiles are amazing but it is the people who really win your heart.
Janie has accompanied Liz on both textile tours so she knows the territory. Janie is Liz’s backup for the textile tours.
Eastern Himalayas in Bloom.
Sailesh Pradhan is a third generation plants-man who was raised in a family-owned plant nursery in Sikkim.
His passion is Sikkim's indigenous flora in its natural environment and the wild, mountainous beauty of this small Himalayan state.
Sailesh has been guiding rhododendron and orchid tours for 26 years. He is making the arrangements for our tour and guiding some of it.
Our everyday guide will be Thupten Bhutia who has been working with Sailesh for 20 years and has become a plants-man by proxy. Thupten, who is Buddhist,
has immense knowledge of this important cultural aspect of the Eastern Himalayas.
Brent Atherfold has a horticultural background spanning 42 years. When he left school he did the hard-yards as an apprentice in a nursery in Hamilton, and later studied biology, botany,
soil chemistry and propagation. He has managed nurseries and orchards in New Zealand, worked as a landscape contractor in London and is now a manager for Natural Habitats in Auckland.
Brent is particularity fond of India and the diverse flora and landscapes in the Himalayas. He will be participating in the 2017 botanical tour and hosting it in 2018.
Marlene Walker has enjoyed cooking for as long as she can remember and she has had her own boutique catering company for 15 years.
She has always been one for a recipe and wherever Marlene travels she usually gravitates towards the kitchen.
Marlene has travelled extensively in India, has taken cooking classes there and particularly enjoys the diversity of spices and flavours of Indian cuisine.
“Indian food is much more delicious and varied in India than the Indian food we experience here, in New Zealand,” she says.
“I also enjoy the warm welcome and sense of humour that is unique to India and the landscape and culture that is as interesting and varied as the food.”
Textiles. We visit the artisans who do the spinning, weaving, embroidery and other fabric crafts. We visit them in their homes in little villages, through weaving cooperatives, not-for-profit village-based associations and self-employed women’s associations (SEWA). We meet the artisans and they explain their craft to us, and often demonstrate the techniques they use. We are able to purchase these extraordinary textiles from the women and men who create them, thus directly supporting the artisans, their families and their traditional skills.
Photography. Besides Liz, who has visited all the destinations, we employ a local guide. He or she knows the territory, the light and the cultural expectations. This allows the group to divide into two when unique images are being sought.