COLORFUL KANDY

What a day today has been.. 

It was quite uneventful but extraordinarily fulfilling.

This morning I woke up earlier than usual and started off with a bit of yoga and some reading.

Feeling extra productive, I intended to sit at my laptop, edit pictures, and write all day. That really just didn't last too long..

I decided to go for a stroll. The second that I went outside, the rain came pouring down.

It was glorious.

I walked in the rain, singing, yes singing.. for about 45 minutes. Anybody who knows me is aware that I really am not fit for any sort of singing. I have some raspy, out of tune vocals going on, but it was such a liberating adventure. I even made up my own song. It didn't matter if anybody heard me because they would have thought I was mental enough for running around with the raindrops. 

Ah.. but it was marvelous. I felt so free without a care in the world, singing my songs and getting completely soaking wet.

I didn't know where I was going but my favorite thing to do in a new city is get lost. So that's exactly what I did. 

After winding around a bit, I turned left continuing up a hill toward a temple. For some reason this little street invited me in. It was the first time I had turned in over 30 minutes.. It was simply just calling my name. Once I got around the corner, my eyes were drawn away from the Hindu shrine and toward the community that I was about to enter.

I came across a few colorful homes with some children outside. It looked like the most inviting dead-end I've ever seen. I curiously continued. I had my camera out and started interacting with some of the kids. When i began taking photos of one little girl, her mom brought out her sister for some family portraits. 

At first, the kids weren't the biggest fans...

After a while, they relaxed a bit and started to enjoy this strange situation. 

The neighbors were all noticeably curious about the white girl walking around with her camera in their hidden sanctuary but they kept a distance at first. One by one they started peeking their heads around the corners to check out the scene. 

 

The mother of the two girls invited me into her fuchsia pink cement home. As I was sitting there, a man entered. He quickly became my tour guide for the next hour or two. His name is Prem.

As we walked outside of the house, I turned the corner to find an entire group of kids awaiting me and my services. They came fully prepared - matching outfits and modeling poses. 

 

After my next photo session, Prem guided me along through an alley way. This lead to dozens and dozens more vibrant homes with children poking their heads out of every crevice. I was amazed.. I couldn't believe how many hidden apartments there were lining these narrow streets. 

These humble abodes were decorated with every color imaginable. It completely changed the energy of these little dwellings. Walking through the lanes was absolutely marvelous.

I was stepping into a dream filled with people it seemed that I already knew. I never wanted to leave.

Prem guided me along numerous passageways, shouting into each home for the family to come out for a photo.

Quickly, I became the town photographer.

Little girls ran all around me flirting with the camera for over an hour. They were so shy yet secretly wanted to be photographed. It was the best game of hide and seek that I've played in ages.

Everywhere I looked there more children peaking out from behind a brilliantly colored wall.

 

Each of the families were welcoming beyond belief. Considering it was raining, they were all inviting me into their homes, which were even more vivid and colorful on the inside. There were a few houses with photos taped on the walls, but for the most part, the homes were just filled with a whole lot of love.

This community that I stumbled upon is one massive, beautiful, welcoming family.

The children, the elderly, and everyone in between played their part in making my day absolutely magical. 

STRANGER'S SADNESS

6 March 2016

I had one of the most intense moments of my life yesterday. In words it may just seem like a calm, strange experience but it brought upon feelings and emotions that have never been inside my body before.


I have been living in Faridabad, India for nearly two months teaching the children living in the slums. Throughout my time here, I have been walking the same path, smiling at the same strangers, and occasionally snapping some photos. This week I printed the pictures then went knocking on doors, asking neighbors if they know where the person lives and ringing door bells to distribute these photographs.

This is the last woman I needed to find after over 50 deliveries.

The first time I saw her I said namaste and gave a 'how are you?' in Hindi. I suggestively lifted my camera with a smile. This was the outcome. The next time I saw her, she was sitting just the same way a bit further down the alley. I bought some chocolate biscuits and brought them over to her.. She didn't really say anything and I couldn't even tell if she was happy so I just went on my way.

 

This expression that speaks so loudly seems to be the only one that this woman wears. To me it screams a story of sadness, struggle and pure loneliness.


I found out where she lives and peeked my head over the gate. After my Indian mum shouted a few things in Hindi she noticed us and waved around signaling her family to let us inside. She was sitting on a bamboo bed inside a courtyard surrounded by apartment style homes. She excitedly waved me over to sit with her and held my hands. She could not have been more overcome with emotion by the photo and the sight of this reoccurring stranger.. She was so happy yet inexplicably overcome with sadness.


I quickly found out that this woman is paralyzed. About a year ago she lost the feeling in her legs as well as the ability to speak. She cannot speak a word..

 

We sat there understanding each other through her own way of communicating. For an hour she hugged me, held my hands, and cried touching her throat whimpering the only sounds that she can make. I never wanted to leave her side.. Leave her sitting there in this empty silent life drowning in her trapped thoughts. 


Despite the tears, her happiness showed that she got exactly she needed.. People who finally listened to what she wants to say

STUCK IN A DESERT DAZE

There was a time that I got stuck in a city. That tends to happen to me as I enjoy traveling slow. I was in Jaisalmer, India. It is an area in the Thar desert of Rajasthan. Travelers go here to enjoy a camel safari and a night under the stars.

I met a group of friends, who quickly became family… When I say family, I mean we were plucking each other’s eyebrows and washing each others’ feet.

You just need good people sometimes.

It had been about four days that I was in this town and I had all the intentions of leaving to explore the rest of India. Some friends were leaving the morning and I insisted that I was as well..

That, of course, didn’t happen.

The Dutch boys I was traveling with offered up a nice, home cooked meal and I caved. It was a gorgeous meal.. It was one of the best that I had eaten in weeks.

That isn’t the best part. In exchange for slowing things down, sticking around, I gained one of my favorite nights of travel.

Our group had become great friends with the most fascinating man of Rajasthan, Abu. He is the owner of the hostel we were staying in and is also quite famous in the traveling circuit of India. Abu calls himself ‘Camel Boy.’ He is truly one of the funniest characters I have yet to come across. We had been spending some days with Abu, playing Indian games and hitting all the best local spots of Jaisalmer.

That night, however, Abu said that if we stayed one more night then we could have a desert party at his luxury tent resort.  He would provide the whiskey, traditional Indian food, luxury accommodation and even a cultural show. With so much more of India to see, I questioned it, but yet again, I caved.

The next night, we all set off to the desert once again. The first night was spent around a campfire getting to know one another after riding camels across the sandy dunes. This time, we were back for more. After we watched the women in traditional Rajasthan outfits dance and play music, we began our own show. Our second night in the desert was spent learning Indian dance moves with some local college students. We had dance offs among the men and women and learned the rhythm of the shoulders.

We shared whiskey, laughs, and an understanding that we are all the same. There were probably seven or so nationalities represented but we all shared one thing in common. We shared a magical night together in the Indian desert.

Abu cut the tunes. He insisted that we get the group together for another adventure. Without hesitation, we followed this desert man toward the darkness.

The gang piled into the back of a truck and we set off zooming through the desert. Aha, we quickly realized that the plan was to go dune surfing. Three dutch boys, an English girl, myself, and an Indian boy, stood together clinging to one another as we squealed with laughter. Heads bobbled up and down and bodies flung from side to side, as we soared around happy as can be. Standing in the back of this truck attached to new family, I felt invincible. After what seemed like an hour of exhilarating fun, flying through the desert sands, we stopped.

We piled out of the truck and laid in the sand. A blanket of the world’s brightest stars covered us from head to toe. The crisp, calm desert air soothed our beating hearts. That was it. That was all we needed.

The feeling of life can be so incredibly beautiful.

In that moment, I needed nothing more. Life was perfect. The universe was perfect.

Sometimes we are meant to stick around. Sometimes life is supposed to be lived slowly for you never know what is in store. We try to rush off to the next bigger and better thing when life is really just in front of us waiting for us to slow down and feel it.