I know it happened. I'm sitting here at my desk in Atlanta sifting thru photos of camel rides at sunrise. I'm shaking my head at the temples made of pure gold and cackling thru my coffee at how many glamour shots of goats I snapped, all the while listening back to a field recording of grumpy cows. Agh! I just passed a mirror and judging by the shaggy beard that's occupying my face, I know I've been somewhere far away. India happened. I know it to be true now.
The last couple weeks of our trip were the most exciting and the most challenging. We were back in Ajmer and Colleen was finishing a new design that she and Tricia concocted earlier in the trip. I was conducting my final interviews and scheming rooftop time lapse shots.
I am still amazed that in such a short period of time these women were opening up to me, one 6 foot caucasian klutz. They were sharing very intimate details about their brutal treks to the present moment, all with such grace and poise. As I reflect now, it's clear that the catharsis of sharing was a huge relief for them, a luxury many of us take for granted. I also think because they saw me engaging their children with the camera, taking pictures and horsing around, they knew to trust me. That, and they love Colleen so much. I could spend an entire blog just talking about how amazing Colleen is when she's working with these ladies, but believe me when I say it's a beautiful sight. The atmosphere is inspired, no traces to the past in the electric moments of creative bliss.
Before leaving Ajmer, I took my camera on a motor around the city. Those couple hours on our translator Amita's scooter were severely surreal. I thrust the camera into the wind, into oncoming traffic and at parked livestock. We got so many weird looks at red lights. Amita's veil obscuring her features as I held on trying to secure mine past this ride. That's my favorite part about India. Some people will stare with curious and sometimes sharpened looks, but after flashing a foreigner surrender smile, it's grins on both faces. So much of our lives is built around our perspective, which can be shifted without a moment's notice. I felt like I was molting, right there in Ajmer, as the sun was now a sliver skimming the cloudless sky.
The sweet songs of Lata Mangeshkar filled our ears on the trek north to Jaipur. Colleen and I had our final workshop in the morning and then were off to a wedding in Udayan, which is a Vatsalaya affiliated children's village that educates runaways and street children. We were so close to the finish line with so much left to accomplish on our trip.
And then, the challenges greeted us --
In the midst of filming in the Jaipur slums, my camera died. I took it to the Canon doctor. Diagnosis: fried motherboard. Not the meal my mind was looking for. I was stunned but eventually realized there was no time to sweat it. I borrowed a Fuji video camera from the Gupta family and we made our way to Udayan. We had a wedding to attend; a storybook tale to tell. Two street children met at the village, got an education, fell in love and got married. This wedding doesn't happen every day. These children got a second chance and made the best of it. To sum it all up, the wedding was rich with song and dance, even attended by a local politician. But most exciting, the whopping 52 dish feast!
The moral of the story is that when the camera dies, don't let your eyes die with it. The opportunity to dive back in to the moment, as quickly as you can, will save your journey. Whether it be to the Taj Mahal or the corner store, see where you are going. I filmed some great moments with borrowed gear those last 2 days, even captured some of my favorite shots, but, the best shots from the whole trip were taken by my own eyes. Now, the real work begins in the editing room and in the real world.
Can't wait to show you. Can't wait to tell you about in person. India awaits you. Yes, you. Or if you're booked for a bit, I'll have this film done by summer, at which point you can book your trip after watching. Remember, no camera needed.
Big thanks to Colleen Clines, Vatsalaya, Udayan and the entire Anchal family for your support and kindness. Thanks to you for tuning in and staying tuned in to Anchal and the documentary film piece coming up. With your continued support, we can sew the change we want to see in the world.
Lastly, check out more of my photos from India, which I'll be updating throughout the coming months.