The evolution of dreams


I stand on the edge of the Arabian Sea, my feet routed in that sweet spot where the white lip of the waves gently brushes the shore, covering my feet with foamy kisses. I allow my heels to sink into the soft wet sand, staring down at its rippled surface, lightly skimmed with a thin coating of sea water that transforms it into a mirror for the eagles that circle overhead.

I guess that is what India has been for me this time around; a place where I can see myself clearly, for perhaps the first time, reflected amidst the turbulence of a county I have felt inexplicably drawn to ever since I first set foot on her soil over a decade ago.


“Time has a funny way of collapsing when you go back to a place you once loved. You find yourself thinking, I was kissed in that building, I climbed up that tree. This place hasn’t changed so terribly much, and so by an extension of logic I must not have changed much, either. […] Coming back is the thing that enables you to see how all the dots in your life are connected.”
– Anne Patchett

Coming back to India has been a theme that has charted my entire adult life, a collection of moments dotted at regular intervals. It is a geographical constant from which I feel a gravitational-like pull, shaping the path my life has taken, helping me grow into the woman I am now.

  • April 2002

I was 22 years old when I first came to India, and cried within thirty minutes of leaving Delhi airport. I was timid and unsure, a misnomer of a woman still very much a child, and in love with the male equivalent, an eternal Peter Pan. India took my breath away, and the air that flowed back into my lungs left me forever changed.

  • December 2004

I was back in the country that had stolen my heart to share a love affair of a different kind, as two of my best friends got engaged at the Taj Mahal. Basking in the warmth of their relationship showed me how unhappy I was in my own. I knew I was living the wrong life, but didn’t know what the right one was. India was trying to show me.

  • December 2007

An Indian wedding and the chance to explore Goa with my younger sister lured me back a third time. I brought with me the wounds of a love run dry, and let the ebullience of India flood my heart instead. I watched a man walk the beach in a kilt, and the next thing I knew, he had strolled his way into my life.

Sunset sisters

Dharamsala days

The road to love

Jumping into a new era

  • February 2008

I found myself cross-legged on the floor of a monastery in Dharamsala, attending the annual teachings of HH The Dalai Lama. It was a time of spiritual awakening and struggling to let go. I had an image of what I wanted my life to look like, but was too afraid to cast the first brushstroke.

  • November 2008

I was in love with the man I had met in India one year earlier, and returned to Goa to be with him as he wrapped up a year of travel. It was here, in the comfort of a country I felt more at home in than any other, that I finally let go of my fears and embarked on a new relationship.

  • February 2010

I was turning 30, and there was only one place in the world I wanted to start this new era of my life. It was during this time that I first voiced my desire to live in Goa. I daydreamed of what my life could be like, but was weighed down by the fact that I was seriously (and secretly) in debt, and lacked the courage to act on my desires.

  • October 2012

I arrived to the monsoon rains, letting them wash me clean of the negative emotions I had been carrying with me for such a long time. I was debt free at last, and on a path of discovery that was almost too great to comprehend. I spent five beautiful and imperfect months finding self-acceptance, sowing seeds, and voicing dreams.

Tomorrow I will be leaving India, and making my way to Thailand, a country I have never visited before. I am sad to be moving on, but grateful for everything I have experienced during my time here. I know now, without hesitation, what I want, and more importantly, who I am as I take these first steps into the unknown.

I have a starting point, and an end point. All I have to do is connect the dots.


Earlier this week I took my friend Candace up to my office on the hill. I told her how, every time I sit there staring out to sea, I hope to see dolphins. We sat for an hour or two, sharing our stories and dreams beneath the feathery branches of a great old she-oak, until our conversation was interrupted by a glimmer of silver in the distance.

There they were, for just the briefest moment. My dolphins.

The greatest lesson I have learnt throughout my love affair with India, is that anything is possible. Dreams can become reality; you just have to give them a voice first. The future is as deep and unknown as the ocean, but every so often just enough of a dream rises up, cresting above the blue, a sign of what lies beneath the surface, waiting to evolve as you do.


{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Carmel March 7, 2013 at 15:39

Lovely. Inspiring. Just a couple of words for this post AND you.


Hannah March 10, 2013 at 16:09

Thank you Carmel, and right back at ya!


Candace March 7, 2013 at 15:47

Oh, Hannah, I am sitting here in a Cafe Coffee Day in Delhi quite literally in tears. This is a heart-wrenchingly beautiful and honest post, and I loved jumping from dot to dot as you connected them for us. This line especially, “[India] is a geographical constant from which I feel a gravitational-like pull, shaping the path my life has taken, helping me grow into the woman I am now,” is GORGEOUS and so incredibly, perfectly put. Thank you for this, my dear friend – I can’t until our paths cross again! xx


Hannah March 10, 2013 at 16:14

Thank you so much Candace, I can’t tell you how much it means to receive such wonderful praise from a writer I admire so greatly. I was also totally jealous that you were in Cafe Coffee Day, until I discovered they have Starbucks here in Thailand! Hopefully we can share a coffee together here in the not too distant future xo


Jeremy or IHeartTravel March 7, 2013 at 15:59

I love how greatly you have summarized in words the different experiences you encountered in a place that undoubtedly holds a place in your heart for eternity!
I’m always looking forward to where your journey is heading and continue to be inspired by your poetic words : )


Hannah March 13, 2013 at 06:26

Thank you so much Jeremy, it is such a blessing to have your continued to support, and I am so very grateful.


Monica March 7, 2013 at 16:11

Crying in a Brooklyn coffee shop. I heart you so much. I’ll always remember how you helped make my first trip to India a memorable one:) xo


Hannah March 13, 2013 at 06:28

I heart you too! Thank you for coming to visit me, it was an honour to share India with you and I’ll treasure the memories forever 🙂


Vanessa @ Sauteed Happy Family March 7, 2013 at 16:32

Looking back on life is always so bittersweet… I love how you connected all your dots through India, giving it living breath. Excited to hear about the new adventures to come in Thailand!


Hannah March 13, 2013 at 06:29

Thank you Vanessa, I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂


Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) March 7, 2013 at 16:34

It’s amazing to see how far you have come, how much you have grown in the past 5 months, but with this post, we can all see how this is just a continuation of the journey you’ve been on for 10+ years now. India has been your home, but I am excited to see how you continue to flourish in a new environment!
(P.S. Tony & I are currently in Thailand and will be here for another week or so. Would love to meet up if possible!)


Hannah March 15, 2013 at 14:11

Thanks Steph, I’m excited to see how things develop now we are somewhere new as well. It would be so wonderful to meet up – I’ll send you an email 🙂


Mariellen Ward March 7, 2013 at 16:47

Thanks for writing this, it’s very inspiring. I feel the same way, “India is geographical constant from which I feel a gravitational-like pull, shaping the path my life has taken, helping me grow into the woman I am now…”
I’m at a bit of low ebb in the journey, and writing like this, and keeping my dreams alive, is keeping me going at the moment. Hope our paths cross, and maybe with Candace too, one day in India 🙂


freckleface March 7, 2013 at 17:04

What a lyrical, beautifully written post about the most important things in life. Good luck in Thailand, I’m looking forward to following the next chapter of your journey.


Hannah March 21, 2013 at 12:58

Thank you so much, I’m so happy to have you following along!


Katie @ March 7, 2013 at 17:26

I had no idea you’d been to India so many times! That is a country I would love to see, and Thailand as well. I can’t wait to see what your next destination has in store. 🙂


Hannah March 21, 2013 at 12:38

Yes, India just keeps pulling me back! I really hope you make it there one day, it’s the kind of place that gets under you skin, leaving you forever changed. I don’t know if any other place will ever effect me in the same way, but I’m trying to travel with an open heart, and mind 🙂


Rachel March 7, 2013 at 17:40

Beautifully written as always.
India has always been there for you and will continue to be your spiritual home, even though you have new adventures to experience in Thailand and the rest of the world after.


Hannah March 14, 2013 at 16:11

Thanks Rach! I hope I get to share India with my big sister as well one day xxx


Ross March 7, 2013 at 18:28

I came across your blog & your posts have inspired me to go see Goa, sounds amazing. You will love Thailand, am going there end of march to visit my sister who’s lived there over 2years, I’ve travelled alot of SE Asia & it’s been my best of travels, will defo love it, just email if you need any tips of cool places to go, can’t wait to be back amongst the energy of BKK


Hannah March 21, 2013 at 12:14

Ross, thank you so much for reading and commenting, I’m so happy I have inspired you to visit Goa, and can’t recommend it highly enough! If you do go, head south towards Patnem, as the north is sadly over-developed. As for Thailand, we have just agreed rental of a beautiful little house on Koh Tao for the next couple of months, so if you make it down this way let me know 🙂


Patti March 7, 2013 at 18:32

Lovely Hannah. I look forward to following the next chapter in Thailand.


Hannah March 14, 2013 at 16:52

Thank you so much Patti, I’m so happy to have you following along 🙂


Amy March 7, 2013 at 21:10

That last picture is beautiful. What a great story of your love affair with India – I’m sure you’ll have a brilliant time as you move on to Thailand.


Hannah March 21, 2013 at 12:10

Thank you so much Amy! I’m excited to see what Thailand has in store for us 🙂


Jade March 7, 2013 at 23:04

This posts is, as always, beautiful.
I hope your journey to Thailand is just as eye-opening and poignant- will you be traveling the rest of South East Asia?


Hannah March 14, 2013 at 16:31

Thank you so much Jade, I really appreciate your kind words. Our plans after Thailand are still very vague, but we will certainly make it to the rest of SE Asia at some stage. It is such a beautiful part of the world and I can’t wait to explore more of it 🙂


Sophie March 8, 2013 at 00:12

I just Loved your recap of your attraction to India! Looking forward to hearing your Thailand adventures …


Hannah March 15, 2013 at 03:08

I’m so glad you enjoyed it Sophie! Thank you so much for reading.


Ashlie March 8, 2013 at 01:54

Only in retrospect can we see how the universe was conspiring on our behalf. I love that you shared these reflections, I’m left with a sense of trust in life. Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end {Indian head shake} 🙂


Hannah March 21, 2013 at 11:38

Haha, I love those Indian head shakes – it’s impossible not to start doing it yourself after a while, though I’m terrible at it!


Maddie March 8, 2013 at 03:32

Beautifully written as always Hannah and very excited to hear about your adventures in Thailand!


Hannah March 14, 2013 at 16:39

Thank you so much Maddie, I’m excited to share them!


Alana - Paper Planes March 8, 2013 at 09:18

This was beautiful! And you’ll love Thailand, it’s been for me a bit of what it sounds like Goa is for you…how long will you be here??


Hannah March 19, 2013 at 11:27

Thank you Alana, I really appreciate that. So far I am indeed loving Thailand, and we are planning to be here for at least a month. We are basing ourselves on Koh Phangan at the moment. Have you been before?


Savvy Scot March 8, 2013 at 09:49

Thailand is a place very close to my heart (my wife and I got married there last year) and I can’t wait to hear about all your new adventures to follow 🙂 I don’t always have time to comment, but I ALWAYS read your posts Hannah – your writing is incredible 🙂


Hannah March 21, 2013 at 11:36

Yes, I remember reading about your beautiful wedding, what a wonderful place to get married! And thank you so much for your kind comment, I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to hear something like that!


kristine s March 8, 2013 at 15:24

your witing is like a daydream-whimsical and so beautiful. thank you for sharing your journey and your encouragement of pursuing what matters most to you. it gives me hope and inspiration. thailand is incredible magical place. if you ever want to spend some time at an orphanage close to burma- let me know. there are 60 gorgeous little angels that would love to love on you. don’t worry… they are as happy as can be in their home so you won’t have to wonder how to squeeze them all in your travel bags! safe travels!!


Hannah March 21, 2013 at 11:25

Thank you so much for your kind words Kristine, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. The orphanage near Burma sounds very interesting, I will email you for more details if we head over that way.


Rika | Cubicle Throwdown March 9, 2013 at 18:22

Beautiful, as always. You’ve been back to India so many times, incredible! Nice to know that a place that steals our heart never leaves, even if we do.


Hannah March 15, 2013 at 12:24

“… a place that steals our heart never leaves, even if we do.” So beautifully put Rika. India is definitely still with me, and always will be 🙂


Kim March 10, 2013 at 10:39

Such a lovely, stunning post Hannah (again! as always!). India suits you and thank you so much for introducing her to me. XO


Hannah March 15, 2013 at 11:51

Thank you Kim, and it was my pleasure. It was wonderful to be able share India with you for a while.


Sofie March 12, 2013 at 12:30

Beautiful post.
I think a lot of us realize they want something to change, but haven’t figured out what yet and what they want to replace ‘it’ with.
I sure know that goes for me.
I’m 26 right now, and I often feel like I’m already too old not to know where I want to go. I know I’m not old, but I hope you get what I mean. I chose what I wanted to study, I found a job, I’m renting an apartment… I made some big decisions and yet I feel like I still have to make the biggest one.
Reading your posts make me feel like one day I’ll get there. Eventually:)


Hannah March 21, 2013 at 11:22

Thank you Sofie. If it helps, I was 30 when I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life, and found the courage to act on it. Don’t feel rushed to make big choices, just endeavour to make the most of each day as it comes. Like they say, life is a journey, so make sure you enjoy the ride 🙂


Sofie March 3, 2014 at 11:46

You have no idea how fitting that advice is for me.
I’m a pretty impatient girl and I always feel like I should have achieved everything yesterday:)
Thanks girl!


Vacay Girl March 13, 2013 at 06:02

We all can’t help but see how content you are. I’m so glad your journey has been a pleasant one. Minus a few bumps you manage to stay on your path of happiness and that’s what we all strive for isn’t it? Many blessings during the continuance of your RTW travels. I’m sending nothing but positive energy out into the universe for you.


Hannah March 21, 2013 at 02:52

Thank you so much for your kind words! Life on the road isn’t always easy, and the hardships can be made all the harder without friends and family around, but living this life, the life of my dreams, is definitely worth it.


Hannah @ Getting Stamped March 14, 2013 at 14:15

Loved reading your history with India! Great post! We can’t wait to spend time in India on our RTW trip!


Hannah March 15, 2013 at 12:02

Thank you Hannah. Let me know when you are planning to reach India – we are already discussing our return!


Cate March 14, 2013 at 14:37

Hey Hannah! I just came across your blog and I love it! It makes me realize that it is possible to have whatever life you want.
I am graduating this May and immediately traveling to Southeast Asia for 7 weeks, so I can’t wait to hear how Thailand is! I have a couple months of open time for traveling and I would LOVE to go to India. Did you go alone your first time? Did you feel safe? And were you doing any sort of program or volunteering or did you just travel? I’d love to hear any advice you have!


Hannah March 21, 2013 at 11:18

Thank you Cate, that makes me so happy! I am sure you are going to have a wonderful time, and your trip sounds like the perfect way to celebrate your graduation. I have never been to India alone, though I know lots of women who have. I recommend you read as she has travelled extensively throughout India on her own, and is a remarkable young woman I am proud to call my friend. Feel free to email me at if you have any other questions and I will be more than happy to help.


Jessica Wray March 16, 2013 at 04:49

I am so happy to be able to read this post in the midst of my first travels to India. I starting to understand how much of an impact this place can have. It was really interesting to read about the way India shaped parts of your life. I hope your next journey outside of India is just as special in its own way. 🙂


Hannah March 21, 2013 at 11:12

Thank you Jessica, I hope you are enjoying India too, she’ll steal your heart if you let her.


Lela March 18, 2013 at 11:42

I think you’re pretty. What’s even pretty is you’ve been to India numerous times!


Hannah March 21, 2013 at 02:44

Thank you Lela! India is pretty wonderful 🙂


Wilhelm October 19, 2013 at 16:53

#BeHappy 🙂 You Are Awesome!


A Cook Not Mad (Nat) March 2, 2014 at 17:43

I just found your website and happy that I did. Your writing is beautiful, thank you for sharing.


Hannah March 3, 2014 at 09:27

Thank you so much, that really means a lot!


Franca May 1, 2014 at 07:48

I love the way you tell about yourself, your dreams, your changes and how India has been a big part of this amazing evolution. Beautifully written piece! 🙂


Hannah May 1, 2014 at 12:05

Thank you so much Franca, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!


Pratik September 15, 2014 at 14:31

Thanks a lot for sharing your Experiences and showing your beautiful house.
these things are inspiring to settle down in Goa.


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