I’ve been spending the last week or so with my family in India. My first week here has been rather eventful. There was a sudden cyclone in Chennai just before I landed, and everything was in a state of chaos when I arrived. The roads were blocked and dotted with fallen trees and fences. The cyclone had disrupted mobile, TV and internet networks, as well — so I had a hard time getting in contact with anyone.
To add to the confusion, the government had recently demonetised 500 and 1,000 rupee notes without any warning, so there was a shortage of cash everywhere. India is a cash economy, and a number of shops don’t accept cards. The places that accepted cards often had network issues and the ones that had machines that worked didn’t always accept foreign cards! While I was getting frustrated with all these glitches, the lovely and ever-patient Chennai locals seemed to consider it all a normal – if inconvenient – part of everyday life. Such things happen, they shrugged. You just can’t help it. I heard no one complain when we had to wait almost 2 hours to get 2,000 rupees from an ATM, and no one seemed as disappointed as I was when the machine ran out of cash before we got to use it.
Anyway… I’m now in Kerala, at my parents’ place, where cash isn’t really a necessity. I spent the last couple of days in a lovely coffee estate resort, and that was a nice change from the hustle and bustle of the rest of India.
Skincare-wise, I haven’t really had a chance to discover any new local brands. I’d gone crazy about Forest Essentials the last time I visited India and splurged on a number of their offerings, but I haven’t stumbled upon any new brands so far. Hopefully, that changes. Most people here seem more interested in the new, slickly-packaged offerings from French department store brands than the ‘clean’ Ayurvedic ones they grew up using. It’s almost the opposite of what I see happening everywhere else!
The only ‘beauty’ treatment I’ve had so far was a scalp massage at my hotel spa in Chennai. Since getting cash out was an issue, I didn’t want to spend my precious rupees on anything too extravagant, so I settled for their 30-minute scalp massage, one of the cheapest items on their menu (about $50, not much of bargain by Indian standards). The bathrobe I was offered was frayed and yellowing, and the spa room smelled musty, but the actual massage was outstanding. I’d even go to the extent of saying it was one of the best massages I’d ever had. I was expecting just a head massage, but the masseur massaged my head, shoulders and back. There were unexpected touches like a gentle eye massage and a rigorous kneading of the face to improve circulation! Also, the oil they used smelled heavenly. It was floral, woody, relaxing and camphorous, all at the same time! When I asked the spa what it was, all they said was that it was hand-blended on site and it wasn’t available for sale!
Despite having a lot of free time to devote to complex routines, my skincare so far has been relatively simple and fuss-free. I’m glad to report that all my staples are working just as well in India as they were in Australia: it’s almost as if they’ve custom-adapted to the new climate. Other than my usual favourites from brands like Julisis and African Botanics, I’ve found some new friends in products from Kora Organics and Black Chicken Remedies (both of which I’d brought along to judge for The Beauty Shortlist awards). My biggest skincare hero so far has been La Potion Infinie from Argentum Apothecary. I don’t know how it does all it does, but as I mentioned on Instagram a few weeks ago, it’s greater than the sum of its parts. The ingredients are great, but I could never have guessed all the wonders it would work on my skin just by looking at its ingredient list. It banishes pimples, lifts saggy skin, blurs imperfections… there is nothing this miracle product can’t seem to do! It is currently in my top 3, and I can’t wait to review it in detail when I get back to Australia.
I’m off to my sister’s place tomorrow, and I don’t think I’ll get the chance to work on another post before Christmas, so here’s wishing you all a Merry Christmas! May your holidays be filled with lots of food, love and joy! Arjun x