Last week I found myself, weak from a bought of Delhi belly, laid out in a non-AC sleeper bus from Delhi to Jaipur. Sweating out whatever little nutrients were left in my body and choking on the dust that only an Indian highway can sweep into the air, I stared out the window at the endless 'hotels' and truck-stops that punctuate any self-respecting beaten track in the sub-continent. When the bus wasn't stopped or tipping over into a ditch to allow traffic come the wrong way down the highway, we crawled our way for 12 hours in what felt like a penance only a God could demand of someone.
It's been 14 months since I arrived in India, almost twice as long as I had been living in Cambridge, preparing for fieldwork. I have spent almost all of that time in Mayapur in West Bengal with occasional trips to Kolkata. I have been lucky enough to travel all over India, Nepal and China over the course of this last year, along the way seeing some amazing places and meeting some really lifelong friends (necessarily optimistic forecast). As I won't have so much time to run around taking photographs once I settle back to a life of an academic in Cambridge, I decided I needed one last photography trip before wrapping up my adventures. Where else would a photographer go, but Rajasthan, the 'Land of the Kings' (stopping by Rishikesh on the way).
For those of you who have followed my Photo Blog over the last year thank you very much. I hope it has provided some distraction from whatever (likely more sensible) path you are on, if nothing else. Do feel free to get in touch with any comments, questions, feedback or photos of your own! I'd love to hear from you!
Rishikesh is a popular destination for both Westerners and Indians alike, packed full of yoga retreats, German bakeries and and ashrams offering whatever type of austerity tickles your fancy. These women were preparing for a small puja by the Ganga in the early morning.
I'm not sure if there are more sadhus or cows in the alleyways of Rishikesh...
This is how any self-respecting Indian starts their day (newspaper optional)
...Even if you're a sadhu. By the river, these holymen queued up for their morning chai in what seemed to be a kind of Sadhu Soup Kitchen
Setting up shop in the Pink City in Jaipur
Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
Near the City Palace, Jaipur, where dozens of makeshift homes have popped up along the veranda
A busy market near the Gopinath Temple in Jaipur, where women carry the heavy loads and the men conduct negotiations (or take extended breaks)
Near the City Palace, where street kids get some respite from the 40 degree heat
Amer Palace, Jaipur
Picnic on the palace grounds
The women who sweep the grounds of the palace and fort make a cheeky few extra rupees posing for pictures (they saw me coming!)
Amer fort that overlooks Jaipur from a hilltop
Pushkar is a small pilgrimmage town a couple of hours outside Jaipur. These women were preparing to bathe in the lake on the ocassion of Sarasvati's birthday (Brahma's wife)
Like a lot of locals in Pushkar, people are always ready to have their photo taken for a small 'donation'. They seem to have nailed the distant/ pensive pose...
This woman was preparing lunch for her family as I came down the alley that led to the doorway of her home (again a small 'donation' was requested)
This photo is my tribute to Steve McCurry (Nat Geo photographer). We sat and chatted with this lady and her family for a while, taking a break from the heat in Pushkar. She was selling traditional clothes which my friend generously bought just to buy me time to get the photo!
This little girl was cleaning pots by her family's restaurant down a small alley that leads to the mosque in Ajmer. In what is an otherwise unbelievably chaotic street packed full of beggars rolling on the street, pilgrims clambering to get to the mosque and traders screaming deals, she seemed to find herself a moment of peace