thank you India.

May 24, 2018

India is a bucket list destination for me.  After spending many years traveling in Europe, Thailand, Greece, and Turkey.  I was ready to immerse myself in incredible India.

After drinking half a bottle of wine, in my pj’s in the very early afternoon, my partner and I decided to book our tickets to India.  We giggled and found the cheapest flight from CPT to Delhi and return.  Picked a date and had 5 months to save and plan.  It was exciting and I was finally thrilled it was done.  There was no turning back. 

I woke up the next morning with a hangover and realized that we had actually paid for the tickets. And booked the journey with very little research.  Don’t laugh, I am 42 years old and am entitled to be irresponsible sometimes!!

With a very dry mouth and a lot of greasy food, we mapped out our 2-week wiz in India, Rajasthan

I hit the accommodation sites to book and map out our adventure.  I was pleasantly surprised at the cost. Excellent good four-star hotels were affordable and train fare was cheap.   Flights were a steal, I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins. India here we come.

Following all the Indian photographers on Instagram. My dreams began with photography in India.  It felt like I slept, ate, and lived for this trip!

I mapped our way through the gorgeous Rajasthan, making sure we ended in Varanasi.  The most spiritual capital of India.  Planning only 3 nights, this is where we wanted, I mean I, wanted to end our short, but sweet India experience. Thinking that the absolute shock of Varanasi would be a breeze as we would be used to the Indian way by then. 

And so it began the negative talk, and the famous line “My aunt went to India and hated it” Shoving all the negativity of its dirty, overpopulated, poverty-stricken masses of people, animal cruelty, and bad smells!!

Well, it does all of that. Although coming from Africa, I have some life experience.  You either put on your big girl panties or stay home in your comfort zone.  Or you travel to a first-world country where everything works and the trains are on time. 

India changes you.  It makes you realize so much about yourself, your own country, and how life works.

It took me 4 months to edit 5000 photographs.  80% are skew, unfocused, and completely over-exposed.  A few are just perfect.  I have not deleted the bad ones, I never want to delete anything I captured in India. I fell in love with it over and over.

Travel Photography is a rush.  You have no time to set up, it’s moving at all angles.  When you see something, you love, you have only a few minutes to shoot it.  Most of the time you fail but every now and again you hit the mark. 

Slog your large heavy camera bag, your 3 lenses, Vicks for your nose, and buff around your face to protect yourself from the smog.  It’s hot, you are walking everywhere. Make sure you are wearing a good pair of closed shoes, to avoid the human and animal poo.  Never lose your sense of humour or have the right attitude.  I forced myself into situations, pretended to be lost, couldn’t speak English, sat with locals as they were making dinner, sat with construction workers as they laid bricks, and watched a cricket match with my partner playing with complete strangers.

Such a humbling experience.

India is friendly and accommodating, they welcome you with all their hearts and souls. They are very humble and never once did I feel scared or afraid of my life, as I feel at home often.  I am blonde, I have big boobs and green eyes.  And wear red lipstick, the men gawked at me constantly, but out of pure curiosity.  After day 3 I ignored it.   I let it be and carried on regardless, sometimes it was too much but I reminded myself, to imagine walking into a rural African village and the same thing would happen.  I was more harassed by men in Turkey than in India. The fact that my partner was 2 metres tall definitely did help. 

By day 9 I was over and out.  I was over-exhausted and needed a long afternoon nap, my right eye had a camera imprint on it and I needed time out. I sneaked into a five-star hotel, sat at a bay window, overlooking the lake, and fell asleep.  For 2 hours.  I woke up, drooling all over myself, everything was still intact, not a thing is stolen.  I ordered a chai tea and a delicious dessert.  Coming from South Africa, you have to close 100 doors and lock & chain yourself before sleeping.  

After a pleasant nap, good tea, and a sugar rush, I was back to the stinky, vibrant crazy world of India.



    1 comment

  • Liz
    July 27, 2023

    Love this story!

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