I had first planned to visit India in 2002, the year after my grandmother, my aunt and my father (three of the only five family members with whom I was close) all died. I wanted to go somewhere entirely different and have a profoundly intense and deep experience. However, things were heating up with India and Pakistan, as they periodically do. My only contact there said the Canadian government had advised them to leave the country, so if things were that bad off, I know I would have to wait until another time, and so I went to Paris instead.
Six years later, the India bug came back to bite and I tried myself to fortify myself for what I anticipated might be the trip of a lifetime. Sure enough, I had an amazing trip to India on my own in the summer of 2008. It was, however, monsoon season, the most humid weather I had ever experienced. Not surprisingly, I saw almost no other tourists my entire two-week stay.
I travelled from capital city Delhi to the foot of the Himalayas in Dharamsala, the headquarters for the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. It was the Dalai Lama's birthday while I was there, one of the highlights of the trip. I then headed back through Delhi to Agra to see the magnificent Taj Mahal, before flying to Varanasi, the holiest of the Hindi sites. From there, I went to Bodhgaya, one of the most significant Buddhist pilgrimage sites, and then journeyed back on the train to Calcutta. I flew to Chennai, but was sick for the third time and had to cut my trip short to fly home. I've lived in many different places and like to think I'm as strong spiritually and physically as can be, but India simply did me in. That's how it felt when I returned a few pounds lighter from being sick throughout most of the trip.
As many photographs as I took of the temples and landscapes, the most memorable ones for me are of the people. This is a collection of street scenes and bystanders, religious pilgrims and exiles, travelers, children and Indian citizens. Some of them obviously lived in very dire, unsanitary circumstances. Traveling very light, I had only taken my Kodakshare camera on this trip, so what I lack in technical prowess, I hope is made up for in the on-the-go, mostly candid portraits of Indian life that I'm including here. They are no less or not more than one Western woman's view of life in another place of the world for three weeks as different as any I've ever experienced. For some helpful ideas about traveling to this amazing subcontinent, check out this Lonely Planet link.