Images of India
India was one of the most challenging places I've been.
It's pretty massive, darn hot and really busy.
Its never quiet. Ever. In India you've just gotta go with the flow.
Its such a land of contrasts.
Animals plod down the main village street between chai stalls and tshirt sellers. They amble down motorways and beside the piles of rubble and sleeping bodies. Camels and elephants, mobile barbers, denches sellers, shoes shiners, a snake charmer and pigs that snuffle through the roadside rubbish all co-exist on some of the busiest roads I've travelled on.
Toilets with no paper. And with no or crumbling walls in Delhi to the tranquility of the Jain temples in northern India. The heat of New delhi to the don't-miss sight that is the Taj Mahal.
Shanties vs. shiny offices. Clean suit-wearing men and filthy street - children begging for food and money. So many are desperate and live under cardboard, corrugated iron or tattered plastic tarps. They tap on our windows as we drive by and motion for food. Many have red stained teeth, which means they are eating chewing tobacco or beetlenut. Its a form of narcotic that they spit in globs on the roadside and you have to side-step as you're walking along the "footpath".
Smog filled valleys and cheeky monkeys in trees. THE most amazing chai tea made from hot milk and spices. Scrumptious bananas that cost 10R per hand (30c) and boiling vats of milk frothing and steaming over fires. Colourful spice markets and bright red saris in fields of green crops.
Piles of hand shaped dung and roadside stalls by the mile. Sleeping men and children playing cricket. Ruins beside shanties.
Hot water comes from gas heaters mounted on the walls. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. Sometimes you get water and sometimes you don't.
There are huge phone towers in front of straw huts. There are motorcycles that share the road with rickshaws. There are cow pats drying on corrugated iron roofs and tractors towing BIG wooden overflowing obese looking trailers.
There are many wasted bits of land. There are crumbling ruins and holes filled with garbage and small children. The cows stroll past them oblivious to the passing rabble of smoke belching motorbikes and tuk tuks. Everyone is busy, doing whatever it is they do here. Some are working in fields, some jostle with the tourists, some drive old noisy smelly tractors and pile bricks high on the trailers they pull.
Amongst all this chaos, there is beauty.
Hard work and a very colourful life.
Bright red and gold saris flutter in the fields of emerald green wheat and saffron turbans pop up from dusty roadside stalls.
They definitely have an eye for opportunity here and make the most of every one. "Do you want 2 or 10 t-shirts? Well - ok 4 for 400, I feed my family!"
The persistent touts are full on and are very persuasive. If you look beyond the beggars and sellers, there is beautiful art, incredible skill and the most gorgeous jewellery to be found here. Some of the most skilled craftspeople I've seen at work were in India.
You can see some beautiful things in my store from India here.
Driving here is not for the feint hearted.
There is an unwritten pecking order.
Bicycles give way to rickshaws, rickshaws give way to motorbikes who in turn give way to tuk tuks. Tuk tuks give way to cars and trucks and the buses just push in where ever they want to.
Big 1 and 2 lane motorways that are either being constructed or being repaired are turned into accidental 7 lane traffic bottlenecks and the biggest vehicles win.
Horns are just part of the daily driving and a vehicle without a horn may as well not have brakes.
There are different honks depending on just what you are trying to communicate. They vary between long honks, short sharp blasts and downright cranky beeeeeps.
That one means "get the hell out of the way or i am going to run you over".
The lorries have painted, in childish colourful letters on the tailgate. "HORN PLEASE."
Everything looks like it is being constructed or being pulled down. The roads are potholed and rickety and it takes ages to get anywhere. He who hesitates is not going anywhere. The roads are built by hand and the bricks for building and rocks for roads are loaded by hand into the colourful lorries.
Camels are used for lots of work here. They gingerly pull carts with food, bricks, gravel, people, wheat and other crops, branches, water and animal food.
These are my images of India.
There is so much poverty here and it feels like the wrong thing to have money. Gosh it made me feel grateful.
If you're going to India dont miss the Taj Mahal. Visit the cremation ghats in Varanasi. The Golden City of Jaisalmer and take time ot experience the river Ganges.
The best time to visit the river is early morning, when the holy men are taking their daily rituals and the river is relatively calm.
I have a love hate relationship with this amazing country. I hate the constant touting and hassling for money and I hate the smog that dries out my skin and i hate the constant traffic and the rubbish.
But I love the friendly smiles, the fact that every one wants to know you, talk to you, the shopping and the hard haggling, the huge contrast to Australia. I love the smiles combined with the the head wobbling just like those things you stick on your dashboard.
I love all the icons of religion here. I love the old temples and the ancient ruins and I love the sense of history here. Every hotel is faulty towers and India is your toilet and your rubbish bin.
All in all, India was an incredible experience that I was not prepared for. (thought I was.) It is not really Asian, not really Middle eastern - it is only Indian. There is nothing i have seen that compares to it anywhere, and it will make me more aware of their hardships understanding our culture.
Had a ball. (even though it doesnt sound like it.)
If you're considering India, take a tour or hire a driver. You will be glad you did.
PS I have owned that scarf below for years and had forgotten where I bought it. Rajhasthan India. More just like it here.