Josje Schuiling is an untiring solo traveler constantly looking for adventures. A rebel red long hair Dutch girl who found in travelling her own natural life dimension. Her encounter with India and henna art played a key role.
“I need to explore, I need to look beyond things, I need to follow my heart.”
As an artist and creator of Toko Mehndi, she brings the delicate beauty of her soul and drawings around the world.
Do you remember your first trip ever?
The first trip I remember is when I was about 10 years old. My father took me on a road trip through Europe for three weeks and I think that is when I seriously got infected with the “travel bug”, as my father calls it. With no specific destination and me being the navigator with the roadmap in my hands, we covered six countries, including Italy, which, at that time for me, was such an amazing adventure.
And your first trip alone?
My first trip alone was in 2004, when I was 16 years old. I was totally obsessed with this band from Finland, Apocalyptica. Four long haired guys playing Metallica covers on cello, how cool. So when I found out they planned a tour in Finland, it took me less than 24hours to decide and my flight to Helsinki was booked. For two weeks I was traveling all by myself from city to city through Finland according to Apocalyptica’s tour schedule. I didn’t see much of Finland itself though, because being a devoted groupie I spent most of my time waiting in front of the venues doors to make sure I had a front row place to watch the show.
After a long trip through Nepal, India and Southeast Asia, where we met and where you had already told me about India with enchanted eyes, you came back to Netherlands but after a while you decided to go back to India and you’ve gone back and forth from this country for two years now. Why do you love it so much? What did you find there which is so unique?
There is something special about this country and I find it hard to describe what exactly that is. I have been thinking about it many times before and I think it has to do with the unpredictable and the unknown. I am someone that gets bored easily and I am always looking for excitement in everything. Here in India every single day is unpredictable, always something exciting crosses my path. Even if I just sit outside and watch people passing by in the streets.
How and why did you decide to keep travelling to India and not only there?
Traveling and exploring is in my being, I have to travel. So traveling itself doesn’t really feel as a decision I make. The decisions I make are the ones which make it possible for me to keep traveling. Which means I gave up my studies, and rented out my apartment back home and I didn’t go for the security of a permanent job. It’s a risk I take but so far I never regretted it because I get so much in return.
I have always been into drawing and designing, and recently I came in touch with the art and culture of henna. It was love at first sight. So it happened that last year I started working as a henna artist, which makes traveling for me even more fun. Now I combine my passion of traveling and passion for art with work because with the help of internet and mainly social media I have a growing amount of clients all over the world. And I don’t know if it is just luck or of it is my personality and lifestyle that created this for me, but I am very very happy with what I do and what I have.
Now it feels more as if my entire life is a journey, whether I am in my apartment in the Netherlands or on a train through Malaysia, it feels as if I am always traveling and always at home.