It's been almost three years since I last wrote a blog post. I confess it feels strange to come back here after such a long time. A month ago I went on a lifetime photo travel, and I promised to share everything with you. I did a portrait project, and here I am typing and clicking again.
Firstly, I have a confession to make - I hate writing, I suck at it. I do.
Second important thing - During the journey, an absurd amount of things happened, and it was hard to fit them all in a single post. So, while looking at the ceiling, I got to this conclusion. I will sum up my movements, the places I saw and people I met. I will try to orientate you and guide you through my trip but if you want to know even more, please, get in touch!
Last but not least, the final project is already online. If you haven't seen it yet, you can find it ----> HERE
That said, let's start!
I left the UK on my own in November, and I spent 20 days travelling around Rajasthan and other states of India.
My journey started in New Delhi, and It started right the way it was meant to. After 30 minutes there, I felt like someone chucked me in a massive pot full of bitter ingredients: dirtiness, noise, smog, chaos and smell. I swear I could imagine a giant stirring everything with a big spoon.
New Delhi became my teacher, my "master Miyagi". It prepared me to love India for its real beauty. It helped me to learn and adapt myself to the cultural shock. Because no matter how ready you are, if it's your first time in such a different country, as my friend David said once, “it feels like being punched in the stomach". It's essential to experience the pain, to feel uncomfortable and out of place. You are brought to realise what your limits are and eventually learn to overcome them.
I tried to adjust my lifestyle and habits to the Indian madness. I had to open my mind further to realise there was a certain harmony in all that chaos. It's part of the culture, and it's beautiful.
When I started to trust India, I was ready to live it.
So I left "Miyagi" and headed to Varanasi. I opted to travel by train, the famous Indian trains. Excellent experience not considering the standard 13 hours delay!
I can only describe the Holy city of Varanasi, as a magical place. I was overwhelmed by the number of things I wanted to photograph. I spent three days there, and every day I tried to capture the spirituality that was in the air. Everything in Varanasi blends to perfection. A mix of contrasts that for some reason make perfect sense. Everything was wrapped in a warm light where life and death are coexisting in a harmonious balance.
Banares, as the locals call it, played a crucial role in my trip. After days immersed in this world where people were ready to give everything away and live out of the essential, I was reminded the importance of appreciate every little thing and I was then prepared to accept anything would have come next.
I decided to give a second chance to the railway system and, after three magical days, I left the holy city to go to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.
It was during this train journey that my trip took a different direction. While I was travelling, my Nikon camera and two lenses got stolen, leaving me, luckily, with my Fuji X100T and its 23mm lens (crop sensor so 35mm full frame).
I only realised my camera was missing, when I got out of the train. It was too late to do anything except going to the police station to get a sort of statement for my insurance.
Police, India and language barrier. You are probably thinking the three together don't go very well, aren't you? In fact, it has been the craziest time I had in a while. Long story short, I ended up spending six hours between two stations to follow all the procedures that included, obviously, taking selfies with all the police officers and downloading Google Translate on their phones.
Five days after I was heading to Pushkar, after stopping in Jaipur for a couple of days and one in Bundi.
Knowing that 20 days to travel India were not enough, I had to speed up the travel logistic. In fact, I booked a car in advance using Prem Viaggi (a great travel agency based in New Delhi and Rome). Prem was very helpful, and he made sure I had this great driver looking after me for the entire second part of my trip.
The ride was an average of three hours per day. We drove long desertic roads, passing through attractive landscapes and tiny villages spread on both sides of the lanes.
After crossing some hills and bumpy roads, in the middle of nowhere, there was a tiny village with one hotel and one ATM. I had heard great things about it, and I wanted to spend two nights there to get in touch with the "real" Rajasthani life. So, on the way to Jodhpur, I had to make a stop in Jojawar.
Jojawar it's like a big market; it has an access road to the village and the main street.
There are no attractions just life in its simplicity.
The welcoming of the locals was heartbreaking; they know how to make you feel special.
I spent two days walking around, exploring and sharing experiences with them.
Kids were so fearless and joyful. Everyone wanted to talk to me. Some of them to practice English other just to say hi and shake hands. Someone invited me to play cricket too.
After the first day, I could recognise some characters, and I swear someone shouted my name from the other side of the road. They remembered my name, I mean, my name!
It was beautiful to sit down with old men drinking chai and smoking "beedi". I was so grateful to have the opportunity to photograph their handsome faces and sit with someone in front of their house, silently, to meditate.
In Jojawar I found the love and respect that people should give to each other, the little attention to details and small things that too often we take for granted.
Finally, my journey took me to Jodhpur and concluded in Jaisalmer where I took a flight back to New Delhi.
Like in all the other places in India, even in the "blue" and the "golden city", my eyes were stolen by the beauty of the men, women and kids that crowd the streets.
For my last day, I went back to "master Miyagi". Purposely I stayed in the same hostel and same area where everything started. I wanted to see my perspective changing, and look at everything with different eyes. Staying in New Delhi was then a piece of cake.
It has been an extraordinary trip. I would describe it as a rollercoaster of emotions.
I met incredible people from locals to travellers. I've never felt alone.
After these incredible days, it's now time to breathe everything in and look forward to the next challenge.
Keep in touch.