I travelled to India almost five years ago as part of a two month trip involving interning at an orphanage, where I coloured in and did the hokey-pokey, and afterwards, wandered around the north-west of this incredible country.
I had wanted to travel to India for three years. It was always in the back of my mind. I had purchased the Lonely Planet Guide to India LONG before I ever started planning my trip. I wanted to see the diabolical streets, the colours, experience the food, the fast-paced cities full of people and the lifestyle they lived.
Each picture has a special meaning to me.
This was taken from the balcony of a women’s boarding house in Rajgurunagar. I have absolutely no idea where it was, suffice to say it was hours from anywhere. This was taken after my first night sleeping in the boarding house. I distinctly remember waking up and hearing nothing. It was silent. No one talking. No cars, trucks or horns. Not even a dog barking. Just silence. And the air. It was already sunny, but the air was cool and fresh. Like a morning after the rain. I remember looking out over the mish mash of buildings and abundance of colour and thinking to myself, “I’ve made it. Finally”.
Whilst staying in Rajgurunagar, myself and the people I travelled on the internship with, were asked to participate in an Eradicate AIDS rally. There would gave had to have been two hundred of us. We all wore red ribbons and walked through the main streets in the town. I actually have no idea what people were saying, they were chanting something, but due to the local’s lack of English and our lack of Hindi knowledge. However, I was teamed up with the girls in this picture, they were making sure I didn’t get lost in the back streets of this town. I remember taking this picture looking back at the procession behind us.
These pictures were taken at a place known as Little Buddha School and Orphanage in Malvali, three hours east of Mumbai. This is where I stayed for four weeks, hanging out with these little ones.
The stories at this place weren’t good. A lot of these children weren’t actually orphans, they were just children victim to parents who couldn’t afford to care for them. However, the Little Buddha School was well funded, relatively clean, the children were well fed and SMART. One amazing little guy could name the full Australian Cricket team before I could, and whats more, he spelled the name of each team member. Perfectly.
These little ones up above were some of the cheekiest, funniest, and animated girls I have ever come across. The girl in the green dress, Suneri, would rifle through our pockets as soon as we got on site asking for chocolate. Being with these little ones reminded me just how lucky I was to be raised in Australia. Those four weeks taught me how happy you can be when you’re helping others.
One weekend whilst staying in Malvali, our carer suggested we make a trip to the Karla and Bhaja Caves, these massive carved Indian Buddhist shrines set into the hills just outside of Lonavla. The hike to these places was insane. It was here I discovered how unfit I was. The walk was steep and the steps were massive and primitive. Up the path were vendors welling spices, flowers, chikki and other gifts in offering to Buddha.
I remember seeing flowers on string everywhere. I always liked this picture because the flowers were just starting to wilt, the giver long gone, but their intentions still present.
I remember at the end of this walk I got so sugar depleted, I could barely walk. What better way to rectify that situation with a small fizzy drink and a bag of chips. It was on this day I tried my first ‘Thumbs Up’, the Indian version of Coca Cola with a hell of a lot more sugar. I was more than OK after this beverage.
What would a trip to India be without a trip to the Taj Mahal? I cried walking through the gates here, I was so excited, I had waited so long to see this magnificent structure, I couldn’t contain myself.
It was baltic the day I went here. Seriously, so so cold.
I remember everything about this day. The black lettering quoting the Qur’an bordering the entrance to the building, the red shower hats we had to wear over our shoes, the squirrel-type animals in the gardens, the amount of people, the smells, the noise. This day, was by far one of the most memorable days in India.
I remember, before leaving Australia, that I wanted to come home with a photograph of the Taj Mahal that was different. Something that was artistic. Something that was from a different perspective. Something that was mine. This is what I came up with.
India tested me. It pushed me to rely on only myself, to keep calm, to communicate effectively, to push myself, and to experience life. It wasn’t perfect; but it was the perfect situation for me to flourish.
Next on my list… Bali and Turkey.