Humble India

October 17, 2022
Couple in Varanasi

I was humble when I announced to friends and family that we were traveling to India.

Everyone was shocked? They thought I was crazy for actually traveling to a place that is overpopulated and dirty.

Yet it’s one of the most incredible yet humble experiences of my life, I will hold onto those memories until I am an old dying woman!  And thankfully I will have thousands of images to go back to and look at.  We will live there one day too!

After jet-setting all over Rajasthan.

Rajasthan is North India, borders Pakistan.  Its palaces and forts are magnificent, historical, and entertained us for 4 days.  The history, the people, the colours, everything was perfect.  Not once was I unhappy?

Our last three nights were Varanasi.

In Varanasi the holiest city in India, many Hindus gather to bathe in the Ganges, and where they cremate their loved ones.

And of course, I planned to bathe in the Ganges, it was on my bucket list.  Like for some of you, bungee jumping is? When I arrived and witnessed what goes into the Ganges.  I decided it wouldn’t be a good idea.  Then a  bloated dead goat came floating past, although I knew I had enough medical aid to airlift me where ever I needed.  So I didn’t touch the Ganges.  Even when it sprayed onto my face from the countless boat trips, I would use medical & alcoholic swabs to clean my skin. Eventually, I wore a buffer in case it got into my mouth.

Varanasi took my breath away in so many ways.  We walked the streets at night, we were offered dope, hash, heroin, and cocaine.  Yet we felt safe. We walked around with an excellent guide who made the trip who took us to the best places and local hangouts.  And took us to the best Indian sweet shop, while we were tasting the sweets, the funerals in the streets would pass you, dead bodies covered in a beautiful material, singing and bells, literally every ten minutes, it became normal.

Then the constant burning of the bodies on the pyres along the Ganges. As their family sat with their dead, mourning, celebrating, just being together.  I suddenly realized we Westerners are pretty uptight.  We all need a lesson in just being humble.  I took it in and understood it, I felt such compassion and happiness in my heart that they could sit next to their loved one for 7 hours while they burnt to ash.  After the body is burnt, they take their ashes, along with a lot of previous bodies’ ashes, like seriously there isn’t an ash checker or anything.  It’s just simple and just peaceful.

Out of respect, I never took many photographs of the burning pyres, but I took images of the faces in Varanasi.  As you can understand, it’s hard taking pictures of people, as firstly I would have had to have been rich and so rightly so, they would ask for rupees for the picture.  But I learned that would be posed and the arguing and the negotiations were just not worth it.  So, I had to try my best to capture as naturally as I could.

I realized, that it does not matter what you look like. You are the same as the person next to you. You are walking the same path, yes of course sometimes it’s easier for you, but for most, it’s harder and life has not been easy.  I learn to have empathy, accept that what I have is more than good.  It taught me to be grateful for who I am, where I come from and although my road was not an easy one, it is much better.

I learned that giving, touching, hugging, and being kind to all types of people will not kill you.  You will not die.  You will live and you will feel better about it. 

A place where my heart will always be. Such a humble experience. Here are more photographs to show you my experience.

 

 

    4 Comments

  • Linda Welsh
    October 18, 2018
    Reply

    Your portrait photography is beautiful. These could be in a National Geographic magazine

    • LM
      October 23, 2018
      Reply

      Thank you Linda, for your wonderful message. I can definitely say that when you are in that environment you get such a wide range of amazing people and things to shoot, it become overwhelming. I wish I spent more time in Varanasi.

  • Karan Singh Sachan
    April 3, 2019
    Reply

    Pure’s photography is beyond the limit “अनहद” as we say in Hindi. Her camera presents different faces in different moods, emotions, rasa (रस) so well. I just love to stare them & explore these elements behind them. She is a genius in terms of many different facets.

    • LM
      April 4, 2019
      Reply

      Ahhh Namaste my darling friend. Such strong beautiful words, that truly move me, the way Varanasi did. I have fallen in love with India, its magic, its people and of course my heart remains in Varasani. A very holy spiritual place for so many. Such a new taught grown respect.

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