culture

People as Places

Visiting a new place is like seeing the world for the first time. Your eyes search high and low following the natural lines and movement, your heart beats a little faster everytime you feel a new vibe and your nose, hands and taste are in pretty much sensory overload for the entire duration of exploration. But what does it all actually mean?

“All this scrambling around
Hunting high and then low
Looking for the face love
Or somewhere to go
I hardly have places that I need to go
‘Cause you’re the places that I wanted to go”

– Modest Mouse, People as Places

Whenever I visit a new place, be it a different city or country, my experience there is generally based upon the faces I meet. No matter how high or low my senses are explored, my memories of the landscapes and scenery are captured through endless photographs but the feeling within my heart of wanderlust of a certain place is due to the people I meet along the way.

Quite frankly I cannot believe that after five years I’ve finally had the chance to travel back to my favourite place, my beloved India. As I sit writing this in the moon light of this vibrant country, I remember the one question I get asked by locals and foreigners all too often “why do you love India so much? “.

The unique culture, the food, the vibrancy, the feeling of being somewhere completely foreign, the noise, the landscape, the history are generally the responses travellers who loved India will give. On the other hand you get those travellers who completely loathed the place for those reasons.

However for me, the answer is simple, it’s the people. Once you fall in love with the people you notice every detail of the landscape and culture and that’s when you really experience and fall in love with the country itself.

The hospitable nature of Indian people is indescribable. It’s one of those things that I can’t ever find the words to properly explain. It’s only something you can choose to fully embrace if you allow yourself to be in situations where you can openly interact with the people. I don’t believe in travelling where you stay in fancy places, with on site restaurants, tourist agency organised shuttles and tours. If you really want to experience the country, do as the locals do and go where the locals go.

As overwhelming as that sounds, because I can assure you that you are literally throwing yourself in the deep end, the experience you gain will be nothing short of an adventure.

I’ve had the opportunity to do some pretty crazy things in India ranging from living in the desert with the most beautiful family to running a guesthouse in Agra. Travelling by third class seating in trains to riding on the back of a new friends motorbike. Eating lunch within the homes of new faces is always something special to me and the offering of tea by strangers is always welcomed in my hands. Over the five years since my last stay I’ve come to love this place for countless reasons and this trip has been no different. I really don’t even know where to begin because although I’ve only been here two weeks the stories are numerous and I’d be writing for days. I’ve been lucky because my searching high and low, while met with unforgettable landscapes, architecture and cityscapes of India have actually been obscured by some beautiful faces that I have without a doubt fallen in love with over the past weeks.

Although my experience in 2016 is every ounce unique and different to my first in 2011, my memory of India hasn’t waivered, it’s only made me realise that this is the place I’m always meant to be, because the people for me are the place.

Ooty, India || February 2016

Remembering Darjeeling

Arriving in Darjeeling with news that it had been raining for 3 months straight definitely put a damper on my one Indian Adventure goal: seeing the majestic Himalayan range.

although the rain continued and the mystical town was coated in clouds, it didn’t stop Darjeeling from turning out to be my all time favourite destination. Having travelled over 2000km across India to this small town tucked away in the mountains was probably the most thrilling journey and once i arrived, i never wanted to leave.

Waking up each morning to the peaceful sound of Nepali music, the smell of Tibet at its finest, meeting some inspiring people, jamming with a Kolkata band, trekking up to a Buddhist temple, changing hotels a total of three times, falling in love with a Nepali boy’s smile, learning yoga on top of a mountain, harvesting tea across the green landscape, playing bingo for meals, walking up down up up up and up  . . . the spirituality and bliss of this town never ended.

and although i ever expected much, on my last day at 5am, the sky was completely clear for one hour. . . i got my Himalayan view.

it truly put me in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

and i miss dearly, for the pure tranquility that was Darjeeling.

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| darjeeling, india|| Aug ’11|| k.szuman |

the simplicity of life

people with watches have no time, but people without watches seem to have all the time

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Last December, I went to my first other African country . . . Lesotho.

The simple life and beauty of the landscapes, people and atmosphere were just too good to pass up.

We had an amazing crew with us and it was definitely one of my favourite African experiences.

Matt our trusty village guide said the saying about people with watches, and when you visit a place where times seems to stand still for life, it rings true.

|1. Lesotho motto 2.Masotho on horseback 3. Local bread |

| Lesotho || december ’12 |