India

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

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T W O

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t w o  hours that changed a daily routine.

I remember arriving in India during the heatwave of summer – the ground almost felt like it was melting and moving into the desert certainly didnt make it any cooler.

It is without doubt that my first warm shower occurred only 70 odd days after arriving in India.

Darjeeling, having not seen sun for two months, snow capped mountains and daily rains, was the coldest and most beautiful place I visited on the subcontinent. . . and the two hours available for showering at Hotel Alignment was a sincere luxury.

|Hotel Alignment, Darjeeling, India| |August ’11|

Architecture of Happiness

 

from a distance the white domes shadow romance above Agra as the world indulges in its historical fairy tale but up close the architecture reveals the true intimacy of love hidden within each crack of its marble walls. . .

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the idea of love, whether it be being in love or being loved is simply beautiful.

love is the architecture of happiness.

happy belated valentines.

((never too late to celebrate that feeling of being alive.))

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|Taj Mahal, Agra, India|| August ’11|

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 |

festival of light

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There are two days that every traveler in India should experience:

Diwali and Holi.

I will make it back to see both.

India, how I miss you and your beautiful soul of energy.

Happy Diwali.

|festival of light on Independence Day|| Varanasi, India ||August ’11||

a poem and a picture

Children playing in the street
Dirty face and dirty feet
Skipping ropes and singing songs
This will last all summer long

Fresh air as they’re playing out
Keeps them fit as they run about
Games they play I know so well
As my journey back to my childhood dreams

Remembering the days no money about
All us kids just played out
Ancient games our parents would play
I still remember to this day

Skipping ropes tug of war
And playing tag I adored
Playing out from dawn to dusk
Happy were we school was done

These pleasant days I remember well
Because many times in my childhood dwell
To see a smile on a Child’s face
The world is a happier place

– Jim O’Donnell

|sambhali setrawa empowerment center, india || jun ’11|