Visiting the “Golden Triangle” of India to capture the sights and people in all of its full color was magical. India is not for the faint at heart. It can be very dusty, seemingly unsanitary and all the other issues that come with too many people packed in small areas (cities) where the infrastructure is being taxed. Welcome to Rajasthan. Home to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur – at least the places that were travelled on this particular
adventure. Prior to going on this journey, I was informed that being a male, I had certain restrictions around certain protocols in public. Namely, I could just go up to a woman and start making images of her – that is a cultural no-no. I had to first ask permission, but never directly to her. I had to either ask her husband (if nearby) or as another woman to ask if it was ok. Shooting from an extended range using a fairly powerful zoom lens was more acceptable, but never woman up close in this manner. Also, I had to make a
judgment call as to age. I couldn’t shoot a certain age range (woman) as well. Little girls and early teenagers were ok. The gray area was late teens. In the end, I think it all had to do with ownership. Pride of ownership of her mate. That’s the main reason for women having to cover their faces up. From what I understand, when a woman covers herself up, she is indicating that she is “spoken for”, wearing a veil creates curiosity … you know, the Pandora’s box sort of thing. So, if something like this increases curiosity or desire, why do it? For the male ego! What you cannot see, you want to see, but you cannot have because it is off limits creates desire … something her male counterpart can feel proud of. Crazy isn’t it? Anyhow, having been prompted beforehand, I’m ready to hit the streets …
Entering Delhi for a quick stopover, it’s off to Agra, home to the Taj Mahal. A couple things to note while shooting this place … go in the fall if you can when the river out back is full of water (I went in Spring and it was nearly empty). Make
sure t go to the Park across from the river to view the Taj Mahal from the backside. Get there first thing in the morning to line up; there are 4 lines, 2 for males and females each. Each gender has an Indian and foreigner line … guess who gets to go in first? And lastly, take a wide angle and zoom lens, they’ll both
be need to capture the vastness of it as well as the beautiful details high above. Midday should be avoided if you can because of the harsh flat light, but you already knew that, right?
The many fortresses in the cities visited were just amazing. After all, they were constructed to protect someone important, right? Aside from those, I’m always game for a street market anytime! It’s difficult to choose which one I liked more, Chandi Chowk in Delhi or the ones in Jaipur or Jodhpur – I think they all had a certaincharm to them in their own way. By far, though, I really enjoyed the neighborhood meander from the fortress above Johdpur, aka The Blue City. Why the name?
Easy … the houses in town are mostly blue! Starting from the fortress, you meander down back towards the main market in town. Take you time winding through maze of little streets and alleyways – it’s virtually impossible to get lost as all roads lead to the market. It’s all residential so it’s peaceful with folks young, old and in between are walk to/from their homes/market. I did see the local milkman making his rounds for door-to-door delivery with tall metal milk cans by way of scooter. Although blue is the predominant color, you get the burst of other colors on the building as well. Couple this with colorfully adored woman and their Sari’s, it’s a color paradise in the ‘hood!
Rounding one corner, there’s a man readying himself at the community spigot,
bucket in hand with only shorts on to take a “shower” in the street. It was located right in the “Y” part of an intersection. Out comes the soap … i knelt down for a number of minutes not but 15’ or so where he finally saw me and motioned and posed to take photos! I had to oblige! After he finished, he surprised me by speaking to me in near perfect English! He invited us to his home and asked if
we’d like to get up on his roof to see his city from above. Again, had to oblige. The was spectacular, but difficult to capture in a single frame. In no time, the word got out and in came his wife who served us Chai tea (best I had in India) and brother, a local accountant. Somewhere in the our
conversation, it was said that he has a son who’s going to Medical School in the US! Go figure … here’s this man, bathing himself in the streets, living in his 500 year old family home and somehow sending his son to med school in the US – something just didn’t compute there! Crazy isn’t it? Anyhow, there were many
many encounters with the residents in the Blue City – too many for this post.
Leaving the Blue City and on to Udaipur before heading back to Delhi to end our photo junket, I only saw our last city through the 4-walls of my hotel room. I had to stay close to the Porcelain God for I had taken ill (in the stomach). No matter how careful you are about eating and drinking here, you’re always suspect to getting sick. I’m just glad that it happened towards the end of the journey and not the beginning. Barely making it back to Delhi, we went to one of my travel companions friends place of work – a
6-star hotel called the Armon. There, they had an in-house Doctor who was available to see me. After his examination of my condition, he sits down, nods his head and says quite satisfactorily, “Yes, you have what we call The Delhi Belly!” aka Montezuma’s Revenge or more simply the “runs”! Sorry for the graphicness of it, but it is what it is. He wrote up a Script and
order some wonder-mojo and later that day I was as good as new … well nearly anyways. Pulling out the Dr.’s Script, reading his letterhead, it read (under his name and credentials), “… 8th Doctor to the King of India …”! Now I can say that I was treated by Royalty!
Although I loved the food, friendly people, colorful everything, I was glad to return to something a bit more civil as constant stimuli the cities in India can
bombard you with, it gets exhausting at the same time. And, it was nice to have a variety of food choices as well. You can only have so much Dal, curries, tandoor, paneer, naan and the like for so long before you need to change it up a bit. I will, however, never get tired of the awesome mango lassi’s and Limca!