India, My Love

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Approximately 3 years ago, I spent 2 heart-stretching, self-revealing weeks traveling along the western coast of India. Approximately 2 years ago, my laptop crashed, survived by only its shell. I had already erased all of the original India images from my SIM cards by that point - or so I had thought. Once the stress of finding a new laptop subsided, I sunk as I realized what I had lost. Needless to say, last week when I was clearing off an old SIM card, I was so thrilled beyond words to discover that I did still have half of the original pictures left! I immediately busted open Lightroom and got to work so that I could share the final products with you all. My breath stops in my chest when I look at some of these. I like the analogy of our hearts being full of rubber bands that get caught on various people, places, and ideas throughout our life, and those things end up grounding our Selves and showing us what we value, and therefore, who we are. To say that one of my rubber bands is stuck in India is an understatement. The country, culture, and revelations I had while there have stuck with me like nothing else.

Underneath the images, you'll see snippets from the journal that I kept during my time there.

{Please do not use any of these images for any reason without my permission. Thanks!}

If you look closely at the sky in the image below, you'll see lots of little specs. Those are kites. This was taken during the Kite Festival in Jaipur.

 Meet Shiva, the snarky little camel who had me terrified throughout my entire ride. Her expression says it all.

Journal Snippets:

"[...] I feel that there is no way to capture a culture without capturing the people living with it. After all, it is they who form the culture. Landmarks are important, but nothing compares to photos that allow others to shamelessly gaze into the eyes of someone from a totally different lifestyle, religion, or financial situation."

"Now, as I look into her big, beautiful brown eyes staring back at me, it becomes even clearer that nothing tells of India as well as the eyes of its dwellers. These are eyes full of compassion, curiosity, strength, and a hunger for more. That hunger drives their rapid growth as a society and also speaks to their faith - that desire to be constantly, increasingly devoted to their god, or to reach the next level of spiritual wisdom."

"It has become my belief that people living in impoverished areas are closer to the heart of God than many of the wealthy. Jesus, Mother Theresa, and Ghandi all lived lives of deliberate poverty, performing their work with little more than the clothes on their backs. When you lack physically, you learn to rely on your spirituality and your social capital. These Indians in impoverished communities may live simply, but they are wealthy in relationships and community."

"India is a place that makes you face certain things about your Self."

"The women in India demand the respect of those around them. There is strength in their demeanors. They work hard to earn and maintain a good reputation for themselves and their families, and it is frequently the women who resist proposed changes in society and culture. Women are certainly not on top in this country, but just as in America, they are the anchors and glue that hold the culture together."

"I mean, where else in the world does an entire community rally around flying kites from their rooftops as a sport?"

"And for the first time in my entire life, I had to explain and analyze my own culture from an outsider's point of view. [...] Being an anthropologist (which every traveler should consider themselves) is not only about observing an analyzing other cultures, but it is also about being able to step back and do the same for your own culture."

"Now, being back in the states, the materialism blares like a siren. [...] I hear conversations around me about whatever drama is surfacing, and the extent to which I do not care is almost humorous. I experienced more culture shock coming back to the states than I ever did in India. [...] On the bus drive through Dehli, my India roommmates and I made a resolution to always 'keep it India' - we did not want to return to US and become desensitized to how much we take for granted."

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I'm Sarah Scott. I'm a freelance photographer, word&literature-lover, wife, dog-mom, and educator. Follow me on instagram, as well, @sarahmartinscott. Find my photography portfolio at
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