March 12, 2016

Portraits From India

India... I've been staring at this screen for quite a while. How on earth do you put it into words?

There is a part of me that would like to shelve the whole experience for three months (or 85 years) to decompress and process my time there.  The other half of me acknowledges that the vivid pictures and feelings I experienced there begin to slip away each day I'm back home, which makes me determined to put what I can into writing.

India is the ultimate dichotomy. It is everything so it leaves you feeling everything.  It fills you with everything. It is dirty. It is beautiful.  It is different.  It is the same.  India is drowned in hardship and it shows on thick toenails and calloused, bloated feet.  It is also vivid with motion, color, sounds and smells that leave you feeling exhilarated and breathless.

At one point I was riding an elephant as the sun was setting (I can actually say that) and tears began to flood my cheeks.  I had never been so grateful for my life.  I had never felt so alive or in such gratitude for everything I was experiencing.  I had never felt so whole or complete.  Everything that resonates in my bones was in that moment in India.  Travel, adventure, doing what scares you, color, culture, people, reality, connectedness with animals and nature, connectedness with other parts of humanity, the differences, the same-ness, the search for what's true...

Talking with Stacy, part of that is the obvious adventure-- the scary and thrilling first time world traveller experience.  The other part, for me, was having my camera.  It felt like being cracked open.  I was so excited to shoot I couldn't sleep at night.  To me, photography is a practice of being in constant gratitude.  You're always looking for color, composition, lighting, etc.  When you're always looking for beauty, humanity, a special moment, etc. it feels virtually impossible to not be grounded in gratitude.  These are moments I would typically miss or would have taken for granted.  And then to capture it?  Such a gift!  There's an exchange of humanity there.  And an exchange of respect.  It's humbling.  It's a teacher.  And then you get to share it-- so the gift just keeps on giving.

In the coming weeks, I will be doing a daily run down of our time in India but for today, I just wanted to share some of the portraits I got to take while I was there.  I am so grateful for each of these people and what they shared with me.  It truly was an incredible experience.  These people were lovely and they humbled me.

A merchant-ess.  I bought a wok from her!


A sweet mother and her son...


These girls from Agra were an entire cast of characters.
One of my favorite memories of the trip I'll blog about later.


A sugarcane presser...


A taxi driver... he wanted me to take his picture.
A lot of people wanted their picture taken in India!



The old woman with glasses...


He was frying corn for some kind of fritter...


These sweet girls at the train station.


He was also a sugarcane presser, I believe.
(They press the sugarcane to make a milky drink out of it) 


This sweet and handsome school boy was hanging
out in the markets of Jaipur.



One of the merchants.
Loooooove his smile!!!



These four guys were at the train station all dressed
in various shades of red.  Men are very affectionate in India.
They all hold hands and aren't afraid of showing
their feelings for each other.  Fascinating.

The Peacock Man.  
I bought one of his lovely fans but it got damaged
on the return trip.  


The Doorman to a bakery...



It's the strangest thing... The best time of my life followed by the most intense gratitude for being home.  Until I head back to work tomorrow, I'm soaking up my honey, The Small Dog, the quiet and this beautiful place I live in!

Namastes full of elephant kisses,
Mandi



3 comments:

Mili T said...

by joe, I think shes gawt it:)......& yet there's nothing to get:) xxxxxxoooooo

Mili T said...

by joe, I think shes gawt it:)......& yet there's nothing to get:) xxxxxxoooooo

Darci Monet said...

YOU RODE AN EPHELANT????? OMG I CAN'T EVEN!!! I am so happy you had such a wonderful experience, seester (I knew you would). I am totally bummed your peacock fan got damaged, though. :-/ Can't wait to see MORE pictures and hear more stories!