What the fuck am I doing in India? I am here now, I slept in, I ate a delicious breakfast in the hotel restaurant and now I’m tempted to hide out in my room the rest of day…I don’t have a plan. This is not what I expected–to feel stifled and anxious. It just hit me, I’m alone in a city of 10 million people and I don’t have a plan. It’s overwhelming. I could never tell my husband that I quit my good paying consulting job to launch my photography career and I choked. My “plan” was to come here, capture as many incredible images as possible, meet with the famous Gulabi Gang and interview Sampat Pal and use these images, and the story, to apply for a grant to get the ball rolling. Now that I’m here, I feel like a tiny fish in an ocean and I’m panicked.
Suck it up and go for it, right? Deep breath…and GO! I negotiated a trip through the hotel concierge to drive me around New Dehli (translation–I got totally ripped off for basically a taxi ride around but screw it, he’s got air conditioning and he speaks English). What I soon learn is that taxi drivers here have deals with all of their friends around town and they try to get you to buy shit you don’t want/need or ask for…it’s annoying. But I play along, it’s my first day. After at least 3 stops at places I didn’t want to visit, he took me to “The Red Fort” for a walk about. I finally take my camera out of the backpack and put it around my neck where it belongs. I was the only light haired woman for miles and probably the tallest so I was anything but discreet with my bulky camera and colossal zoom lens. But then, it happened, a lovely woman waved to me and smiled and told me I could photograph her and her children. I was buzzing with energy and so relieved I almost fainted. I immediately returned her smile and began shooting the group. She was ridiculously beautiful, I wondered if she was some Indian actress who I should know. Her kids were so photogenic and the women she was with were also amiable, though not as excited to be photographed (so I backed off). Then what happened was so funny to me, people began asking me if they could have a photo with me! I giggled and cringed (I much prefer to be behind the camera) and obliged everyone who asked with the agreement that they allowed me to shoot them in return. This was my in. It worked and I left with glorious megapixels of new faces! By the end of the day, my cheeks were as tired as they were on my wedding day from smiling and I finished the first day knowing this was going to be epic.
post script…I realized after shooting the first smiling/waving woman that I failed to check my camera settings–total rookie move–and found that I had about 10 grossly overexposed images that I can never use. You’ll never see them but I’ll always be grateful for her kindness.