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.
"[...] 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."