Alena Kartushina is both the muse and the eye that frames the muse and we have loved working with her, as model and photographer, ever since we first met. We first connected with Alena through our mutual friend and sister Alisa Belochkina here in Goa, where she is now based.
When she’s not in Goa you will find her travelling the world and exploring Europe or exotic destinations with her partner.
We chatted with Alena about all things Goa, FARA, photography, travel and love.
Alena, we originally met you here in Goa where you are now based. What first brought you to India and why did you choose to make Goa your home?
I first came to Goa as a tourist 9 years ago. I actively practised yoga, trained as an instructor and it felt like a cool idea to visit India, to see with my own eyes the country that gave yoga to the world.
So, it was 9 years ago that I fell in love with this country. I saw in India something completely wild and free, pristine and very real.. Colours, smells, palm trees, dogs, cows and PEOPLE! Goa is a place where people from all over the world live and create by the sea under palm trees, united by the spirit of freedom and creativity. They are much more free to express themselves than anyone I have ever met before. It set me on fire and I passionately wanted to not only to touch this, but also to become a part of this community. This creative madness and magnificence.
A few months later I returned to India for an extended time to travel from South to North, and to Nepal. To feel its spirit and understand it without embellishments and masks, to absorb its authenticity. It was not an easy journey. But it also became the most grandiose and interesting journey, which became an important stage in the formation of my current.
After this, I finally decided that I want to live in Goa.
You’ve been a close part of our FARA community for several years and we love working with you, both as our model and our photographer. How does your experience in front of the camera, as a model, affect your work behind the lens, as a photographer?
I love working with FARA and for FARA. Our co-creation is brilliant and one of the best gifts from Goa for me. Being a model and being a photographer is equally cool, but it definitely feels completely different. Both of these processes I really love because they each reveal different facets of my creativity. They make me whole and help me grow and develop in different ways. It’s also very helpful for me to be on both sides of the camera. So I better understand the specifics of both processes and can think both as a photographer and as a model in both situations.
What inspires your creativity and vision?
I’m inspired by nature, by art and by people. Mama Earth is, perhaps, my main endless source of inspiration, I draw a resource from it and fill it up. With her, I learn and expand.
People! Their sense of beauty, their talent, their love and kindness – all these are the driving forces of our planet. The way people know how to subtly feel, support, give away for free. I find this a huge support and blessing.
And finally, what is created by divine people. Painting, music, fashion, architecture… all kinds of art. Everything that brings me tears of happiness.
I’m also inspired to learn to be in contact with myself and nature. It is very important to learn to feel subtly and trust. And in this I also find a huge source of strength, vitality and creativity.
We love to follow you in your adventures, seeing you wearing FARA in far flung corners of the earth, and also witnessing the journey and love you share with your husband Bogdan Babanin.
What is your favourite travel story or moment that you have experienced with your husband?
A year ago we went on a big trip through the Himalayas on our motorcycle for the first time. We drove along one of the most difficult yet amazing routes from Manali to Leh. It was a real journey of the soul. On such journeys, you get to know yourself and your partner best, you get to experience the world and everything around you in the most authentic way. It was incredibly beautiful. I can’t describe in words what we saw with our own eyes. We couldn’t believe that all this beauty is happening to us, and that all of this is beauty of our planet, which many don’t even suspect.
On this trip there was one story that we will remember for a lifetime.
We were driving from one of the high mountain lakes when heavy downpour covered us on the way. It began to get dark, it became very cold. There are no large settlements along this mountain road, and all the villages are scattered at a distance of 10-20 km from each other. We passed several villages, but all the tourist accommodations there were closed. We were very cold, completely wet, it was already completely dark and the rain was pouring without stopping. When in one of the villages, a simple rather poor Buddhist family took us into their home. They fed us their traditional meals, gave us a thermos of hot salted Tibetan tea. All the while a Buddhist monk chanted a prayer in the same room next to us. They put us to bed in one of the very simple poor rooms of their house, with no electricity or beds. We warmed up, dried our clothes and slept amazingly. In the morning we had breakfast sharing their simple delicious food, hugged for a long time with their whole family and set off on our way. This incident was incredibly cinematic. He showed us the best local people and way of life, their hospitality. I’m sure through such people and such cases the universe shows us its love. And it’s just priceless.
Can you share some of the ways you nourish your relationship as you co-create and grow together?
Doing everything together can sometimes be very difficult but, it is an interesting journey and healing interaction if you are on the same wavelength and think in the same direction. It’s important to be able to hear your partner in order to nourish each other, fill and be supportive. We have work disputes and disagreements and it’s not just normal, it’s cool!
This is how we grow. The main thing to remember is respect for the partner.
So, respect for personal boundaries and to be tuned into the subtle feelings of a partner. The desire to grow together and the desire to learn how to build a harmonious relationship. The wish to support each other and the ability to listen and to hear. There maybe something else that I forgot to mention as his topic is so deep and multifaceted but I think these things create an ideal and healthy ground.
Finally, as a model and muse in the public eye what is the message would you like to you share with our sisters and the FARA community?
Don’t be afraid to be honest, don’t be afraid to be free. Don’t be afraid to be weird, don’t be afraid to be out of the mainstream. Or be afraid, but still be, if you really want it!
Love as much as you can. Be sensitive, don’t be stale. Sensitive people are real gifts. Don’t lose faith in people and in the fact that the universe is on your side. Support each other, listen to each other, hug. People are flourishing in this. Learn how to feel yourself, your deepest needs and your deepest desires. Be pure, radiate kindness, appreciate those around you. Finally, know how to ask for forgiveness and know how to forgive. Life is too fleeting to spend it on competition, gossip and the pursuit of illusory ideals…
In short, my main message is “Let your inner light, your kindness and love illuminate this world.” Just imagine if most of us tried to live like this!