I was asked by a Peruvian magazine to write a story to go along with my India images. This hipster/surf mag is pretty cool and just came out the other day. They don’t have an on-line version so here is a pdf of the issue. K4_07_(02-2010) The piece starts on page 32. The mag has some beautiful surf images from Peru.
My writing was translated to Spanish so here it is in English..
India is fucked. Its not all OM’s and downward dogs, if you know what I mean. But, if you have a deep reserve of patience (day long train delays), a strong stomach (fecal matter and a plethora of foreign bacteria have their way with you in this country where one finds neither toilet paper nor soap, a bad combination) and the ability to turn off your natural propensity to feel sympathy (a majority of the 1.3 billion people live in abject poverty) you just may love it.
I traveled there in 2004 for three months for a number of reasons. I started it off volunteering for an Indian NGO who build wells, schools and hospitals for poor communities. Little did I know that my two weeks photographing in this tiny mud village in northern West Bengal would be the only relaxing part of my journey. I ventured from there to photograph the ancient holy cities of the north, in-search of Hindu monks and elephants. Its amazing that the most advanced society of the world 4000 years ago, who were already studying astronomy, medicine, mathematics and language, could dissolve to its current state.
That being said, yes, it’s what you think and hope it is; colorful, spiritual, cheap, beautiful, historical, etc.. But for me, this was all tempered by the constant awareness that the caste system still exists (westernized and rich Indians will deny this), and using religious dogma to keep the poor in a perpetual state of poverty was just too much to handle.
Ok, I feel a bit better after venting. India is an incredible place and they are truly making strides in their distribution of wealth and caring for the poor. We must admit that problems are a bit more complicated when you have over a billion citizens to deal with. Most Indian travelers either LOVE it or HATE it. I felt both. So, if you so desire, you should go and see for yourself. I recommend the Bhang Lassis (marijuana smoothies used in Shiva worship), the Ghat’s of Benares at night, and visiting Bodgaya, the place where Buddha became Buddha. But please do something I surely should of; hit the beaches in the south, as a vacation from your vacation will most likely be needed.