Agra / India · 2015   mirage

  

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   Yes, you can see everything, taste everything, smell everything, and experience everything in India, but most importantly, you can feel everything there. The human condition, raw, in all its extremes and middles and aberrations cannot not touch you one way or the other. The colors cannot not dye you a little. The turmoil cannot not whirl you a lot. The cement, the jungle, the desert – everything is sweating life’s essence until it drips from the walls and cheeks and runs to the Ganges or the gutter. There is nothing before or after India; it is the moment zero in the flesh, a permanent reincarnation of the origin molecule, inflation and collapse happening at the same time and in the same direction.

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a glimpse

glimpse: LIFE LOTTERY | Against all intuition, this is not a picture that speaks for itself. It doesn’t tell the whole story and is easy to misinterpret. One might toss it into a cliché-box somewhere in the mind’s attic, where it gathers dust quickly. Yes, these children are poor, but they are not “pity-poor.” They oughtn’t to be thought of as “aww these poor kids.” It doesn’t do their strength and fortitude and grace any justice. It denies them the agency to make the best of a hard lot. They have lives. They play, they laugh. Probably more than their spoiled cousins elsewhere. Having less is not the problem here; but having little or no access to the most basic resources, rendering food, shelter, hygiene, healthcare and education daily struggles, is a fundamental injustice. Pity doesn’t help these kids, nor does indifferent awareness. Only action can level out the odds of an arbitrary life lottery. We don’t choose the circumstances we are born into and there is little to no merit in where we end up being when given a winning ticket. A false sense of entitlement keeps us from redistributing resources and opportunities in this world more evenly – from the life lottery winners to the runner ups.

glimpse: GOLDEN GREEN | With a harvest so golden green came the luxury to forget for a moment; forget about the previous year’s drought and those floods the season before that. Their pay was not measured in labor, sweat, dirt or time, but in luck – existential luck – and so their fate was never fully in their own calloused hands, but in the hand they got dealt by the capricious mother of all, queen of spades.
 

Harvest season in Tamil Nadu, India
An elderly man on a night bus in India

glimpse: ELDERLY RESILIENCE | Being old takes a lot of experience; you don’t get there overnight. But the journey drives resilience, especially when it’s bumpy. Like in places where it’s literally bumpy, and where life is rarely on time, which can make any mundane task an endurance contest. For those elderly, a loooong and d-e-l-a-y-e-d sleeper bus ride halfway across India is an easy-breezy trip.

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glimpse:
 LIVES I’VE NEVER LIVED | When I see you and the place you call home so tenderly, it reminds me of a life I’ve never lived, a dream I’ve never dreamed; but my longing is painless, my melancholy sweet, my smile pure.
 

Everybody raved about Goa and Goa’s raves, and it was obvious that there wouldn’t be much India there. But throw a rock and you’ll hit an expat on a scooter.
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Goa / India · 2015   tropical nest

A beach in Goa, India
Cluster of houses in Jodhpur, India


Jodhpur / India · 2015   brick box



 

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Tamil Nadu / India · 2018   ocean on her


Tamil Nadu / India · 2018   friends dance

 

 

 

 

 

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places / stories

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Delhi / Juggling Juxtapositions

My first distinct memory of India is a cliché cow, walking into a train station with human confidence and swagger to take a significant dump in the sultry waiting hall before lying down and calling it a holy day. Right the next memory is Delhi’s mega-modern metro that served the route between the capital and the future – bright, AC-cold, liberal signs pointing out seats for differently abled people, not “The Disabled.” What more is there to say? India is big on juggling juxtapositions. You could throw it a ball, a burning knife, and a cow, and it would just keep going.



 

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Delhi / India · 2015   open to all religions



 

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Delhi / India · 2015   pink future



 

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Rajasthan / Fairy Functions

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Pushkar / India · 2015   desert colors



 


Pushkar / India · 2015   cow clan



 

To reach Rajasthan, you had to take a night train, step out in the morning, trip, and fall into that tale. The desert state was pure fairy dust, or maybe just dust, but at least that’s real, and what’s the difference really? Was that an elephant at the traffic light just now? Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur, the Rs rolling like purrs – those city names sounded exactly what the wave functions of their alleyways looked like.



 

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Jodhpur / India · 2015   something is burning



 


Jaipur / India · 2015   sitting on water



 

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Udaipur / India · 2015   water town



 


Udaipur / India · 2015   an everyday architectural rainbow



 

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Agra / The Density of Love

Woman with Sari at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India


Agra / India · 2015   Sari Safari



 

Taj Mahal seen through a gateway, Agra, India


Agra / India · 2015   gateway gander



 

White marble, the complexion of light, for her, for love. Taj Mahal. Makes you wonder about the density of love. If love is burying your third wife out of six after she died in childbirth with kid number 14. Taj Mahal. Not all that romantic maybe. But Agra had more than a marble heart. When you looked at its fabric from up close, you saw right down to the rumbling guts and a little past those you saw a crazed soul that was always busy.



 

A group of men taking pictures at the Taj Mahal, Agra, India


Agra / India · 2015   peephole window



 

A couple taking picture at the Taj Mahal in India


Agra / India · 2015   picture perfect



 

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Mumbai / The Melody, Louder

People gathering on rocks by the sea at Haji Ali Dargah mosque in Mumbai, India


Mumbai / India · 2018   people on the rocks



 

I’ve been to Mumbai and I’ve been back to Mumbai and I’ll be back again by the looks of it, but I need to stop brushing it and start running my fingers deep through that thick mane, because I know it’s a harp with many million strings, and I want to hear the melody, loud and louder, until well after I cut my fingers.



 

View from an apartment building in Chandivali, Mumbai, India


Mumbai / India · 2018   crawling metal



 

Apartment building in Chandivali, Mumbai, India


Mumbai / India · 2018   apartment hive



 

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Mumbai / India · 2018   the calm after the storm



 

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Kerala / Mountain Tea and Brackish Sea

Woman walking through rice paddies in Kerala, India


Kerala / India · 2015   into the rice



 

Kerala,

mountain tea and brackish sea,

twister road and houseboat,

a mix of tricks,

a flavor a little different

Tea plantations in Kerala, India


Kerala / India · 2015   neon tea



 

Houseboats in Kerala, India


Kerala / India · 2015   water road



 

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Tamil Nadu / Two Mini-Lives

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Tamil Nadu / India · 2015   berry



 

Tamil is not a language. It’s a melody. Soft and round like sea gooseberries and with a wave-like rhythm. It comes after the people who speak it.



 

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Tamil Nadu / India · 2018   English Day



 

Making fabric from twine in India


Tamil Nadu / India · 2018   little fashion robot



 


Tamil Nadu / India · 2018   work day



 

Toothbrushes pinned to a door in Tamil Nadu, India


Tamil Nadu / India · 2018   no bathroom, toothbrushes yes



 

Marina Beach in Chennai, India


Chennai / India · 2018   beach people



 

Chennai was a smoothie of cement and trees that Lord Rama and his monkey army had poured out by the beach. And all that stuck to you and grew on you until you were all covered in it without any desire to wash it off. Two fine mini-lives I’ve lived there, a few years apart, setting an interval for future returns. AID India was a wonderful nonprofit to work with – the right mix of smart compassion and down-to-earth grassroots proximity. So long friends.



 

A fruit store in Chennai, India


Chennai / India · 2018   ripe night

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elsewhere

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in South(east) Asia