Monday, December 13, 2010

India Episode #2

Ok,so far I've detailed up to Pushkar. What an amazing place! The fair is divided into 3 sections, horses, cattle, and camels.

We pulled up to the edge of the fair grounds a little too early for our hotel to be ready for us. Instead our local guides met us there and we walked through to the Pushkar Fort where we were to lodge in tents. Yes, I camped in India. Now, when I say we walked, weeeelllll, it was more like a hike through the desert. The road ended and we had to follow a little trail past homes made of sticks and small herds of goats. Finally we arrived to our "luxurious" tents.

We spent the next couple of days shooting a few models and the sights at the fair. Here is where I did the series on "Faces of India"

This is also the place where I had the worst experience of the whole trip. A fellow photographer flipped out on me and actually, physically assaulted me. I was stunned! As an adult I've never had a man put his hands on me in an aggressive manner. I've always said I'd hit the idiot back if a guy stepped out of line but I was on a moving camel cart and shocked. We rolled on and left that jerk, Adam, standing with his own group and that should have been it. Ya, no. I had a delayed reaction. I started bawling!! How embarrassing. I was so upset that I told the group I was going back to our rooms and jumped off the cart. I started marching through the herds of camels bawling like a baby. The guide caught up with me and told me I had to return that I didn't know the way. I knew exactly where I was going but he was worried for a blond woman walking alone among the tribes. I just kept crying and telling him no. Well, a woman crying in public in India is a very bad thing. I was drawing a crowd. Not pretty. I reluctantly went back to the group and I'm glad I did. I would have missed out on some fantastic shots. Besides, why should that moron ruin my opportunity? Thankfully, Adam Kazmierski, the abuser, was leaving that afternoon. It wasn't only me he had attacked either. He shoved Karen's camera right into her nose. Unbelievable behavior!!
From Pushkar we then travelled a full day on the horrid bus to Agra. It took us almost 12hrs to go 378km (236 miles). We only stopped for food and potty breaks. The speed limits are not the same and the traffic was abysmal. Just before Agra we stopped to see Fathehpur Sikri, a beautiful monument encompassing Indian, Persian, and Islamic architecture. It was a smoky day so the shots didn't turn out like I had hoped but you'll get the idea.

From there we found our hotel amid a massive downpour and hunkered down for the night. We left for the Taj at 6:30am. We wanted to be some of the first in so we could shoot without the crowds and get the good light. We were lucky. All though we were so early we had to wait in a line at least a block long. Surprisingly the security was intense. I got a full blown pat down. They missed nothing. Glad it was a woman doing the searching.

From here we traveled on to New Delhi for the final portion of the excursion. We stayed at a cute little boutique hotel called the Hotel Dolphin Grand. The only issue was the sewer smell through out the property. Ick!
We were able to go to a traditional Indian wrestling den and to the Delhi University.

That evening I boarded a plane for Canada. I had stops in Paris, Montreal, Ottawa and finally Alberta. Only took 36hrs. LOL! I was so glad to see a bed.
I have placed other pics on this blog

Monday, December 6, 2010


I've waited a while to post this entry for quite a few reasons. Mostly because I felt that I needed a week or so to process the happenings. It was totally overwhelming in so many ways. The trip there took 27hrs. When I landed I was surprisingly not tired. I gathered my luggage and went out to find the driver who was to take me to the hotel. A multitude of men was standing at a bar with signs in hand waiting for their parties. Not one of them was for me. I carefully read all of the hand written, computer printed and hastily scratched out and rewritten papers. Still nothing with my name or anything I recognized. I thought I'd better get out a few rupees at the bank machine in case I needed a taxi and then realized that I didn't even know the name of the hotel I was staying at. I had banked on the driver being there. 20 minutes and still nothing. I then realized that there were more drivers waiting outside the doors and made my way out into the smoggy, muggy, crowded outdoors. Again, I carefully walked up and down in front of a long line of waiting men with signs and found nothing. I was beginning to panic because I just realized that there were guards at the doors to get back into the airport and they were having people show their flight itineraries to get back inside. Did I have one? Nope. I began to get a little teary eyed and approached the guard to explain the situation only to find that he spoke no English. Crap!! Luckily the other guard understood that I wanted to go back inside and see if the driver had shown up yet. As I yet again set out to parade myself in front of these men I saw a sign with a faded black and white peacock and the word "Indialypse" Oh! A word I recognized. I signaled that I was who he was looking for (no English) and he grabbed my bag and took me to a battered little car where a man I'd met in Barcelona was waiting. Ok, things are looking up.
I've been to other countries with severe poverty but what I saw on the drive from the airport in Delhi to my upscale hotel was utterly shocking. (see picture with pigs)

After arriving and checking in we found the rest of our group and sat down for some lunch. I found that I was now utterly exhausted and crashed for the next 12hrs. We left bright and early the next morning for Jaipur. Again, the sights and smells overwhelmed me. People crowded into little taxis called Tuktuks. Cows everywhere! They were on the road, in the ditch, in the yards, next to the doors of stores. But the craziest experience was the traffic. Obeying the painted lanes was not something they seemed to understand. Whatever number of vehicles they could squeeze into the space of a lane was what was there. Since the cars were little there would be 2 to a lane. And no one signals to pass or change lanes. They just honk!!! One honk....coming up on you......two honks......passing. Constant noise!! The roads are very crowded with different speed limits for different classes of vehicles and I think this promotes congestion. But at least the vehicles were brightly adorned with tinsel, pom-poms, pink writing and across every bumper it read "please use horn". ARRGGGGG!
Jaipur is a lesson in extremes. The palaces and ancient architecture will thrill you but the abject poverty of the normal citizens will break your heart. There were people constantly begging. Villages of homeless people who lived under tarps seemed to be the norm on many a roadside. Here we toured the City Palace and the Amber Fort.

From here we traveled on to the Pushkar Cattle and Camel Fair. Totally crazy. Previously we had stayed in fairly nice hotels but this time we were in tents. Yup tents! They weren't too bad either. Two cots per tent and a toilet and sink in a separate section. So much to do and see. I wanted to shoot constantly. There were thousands of camels all over the place. It was divided into 3 areas. One for horses, one for cattle and another for camels. We did some model shooting here as well. Best part? I got to ride a camel!!!

There's just so very much to tell that I don't think I can get all of it into a post. After a couple of days we packed up and hit the road again making our way to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.

Ok, enough for today. I'll post the rest in a couple of days.

Mexican Food!!!!!

The one drawback to living in Canada is the difficulty of finding Doug's favorite food. Mexican!! While at work today the deli supervisor happened to talk about a local Tienda Latina. What a score!! Doug was all set to go as soon as I got off work LOL! We got his Mexican hot chocolate, corn tortillas, green salsa, and fabulous tortas. Sooooooo gooooooood!!! We asked the proprietor where the best Mexican food was or if there even was any. He told us about Don Antonio's. Truly Mexican!!! Tastes just like it should instead of the watered down version they try to feed Canadians. I had tacos al pastor. MMMMMMMMM!!!! We will be back!!