I know I know, I should write more often when traveling, keeping you up to date but it’s hard with everything going on, trying to post semi-daily pictures, writing How I got the Shot posts, taking and processing pictures, traveling and oh working on a full-time job in Shoot to Help, but I do need to posts more often travel anecdotes and stories. For those not familiar with Shoot to Help, learn more about us here!
I’ll try to give a brief overview since my arrival in India in the course of Shoot to Help’s first mission. We’ve (Vincent and I) landed in Mumbai on January 1st after an extremely boring New Year’s Eve on a United Airlines flight. For those wondering what’s the celebration when flying for New Year, well I can only say for United and well it’s nothing, meh.
Arriving in India by night, in a 13 million people city was quite the experience I needed to realise the trip had started. It didn’t take long to get invited and attend an Indian wedding (day one) and my time in Mumbai was short but great mainly thanks to Reality Gives and Reality Tours and Travel (Shoot to Help report here), the NGO we were covering for Shoot to Help. I had the opportunity not only to meet amazing people but also to visit and understand Dharavi, the largest slum of Mumbai, to experience the best street food and to ride a bicycle at 6h am in the heart of Mumbai while not feeling well at all. Oh and I’ve also fell from a moving train after that bike trip but I did not hurt myself badly, just don’t tell my parents please. I was packed in a crowded wagon and thought my station was the next one but some Indian told me to get down so I had to push my way out. By that time the train had started and I jumped but did not manage to land that properly. All the Indians on the platform were shocked and Vince was laughing, it stopped hurting after a week! Lots of stuff, lots of stories, lots of great pictures, all that through the organised tours of this company and its sister NGO, highly recommended.
Leaving Mumbai behind, our first taste (and a pretty good one) of India was not as easy as it was supposed to be. When entering our non-AC sleeper bus (basic one) and finding our designated beds, we both thought, well those beds are not so small, it shouldn't be too hard to sleep after all, turned out we were looking at 4 separate beds...It wouldn't have been that bad if the bus had not broken down in the middle of the night on the middle of the highway but when you think about it, this little 8 hours delay gave me the opportunity to see a wedding procession and take nice pictures and to make friends with the people on the bus.
The second destination was Dharvad to head out to see Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya (Shoot to Help report here), a music school. In a magical setting in the forest, this school campus houses more than two hundred children studying music and academic classes. With Vincent, we had our own little mud hut in the forest, perfect place to work for our reports and we had a great time living with the children to document the whole school. Nothing comes quite close to waking up at 6 in the morning when it’s still dark, chilly and you hear all those instruments of children practicing everywhere on the campus while the sun is rising, I still get shrills thinking about this fabulous feeling!
Being in Kalkeri gave me time to walk around the village to do some portraits shots of the locals. At first I was reluctant to go all out with the camera, not wanting to offend anyone but I was surprised to see it was quite the opposite, they wanted to be photographed, especially the children. At one point it even became difficult just to walk freely without having to take pictures. The whole thing ended with one of my proudest portrait shots so far and you can read the whole story in this How I Got the Shot post.
Leaving this little heaven in the forest was not easy, leaving friends and good memories behind but also because I had to take as many as five different vehicles to get to my next destination, the number 1 recommendation of the Lonely Planet…stay tuned for the stories and images of Hampi!