When I received the invitation to India, I was not sure what to expect. My knowledge about this part of the world was based on information I got from other people who already went there and a few TV documentaries. I did not research and I did not plan like I usually would do before any trip. I just went “with the flow”.
I had preconceived ideas of how things would be. Like everyone else, I was influenced by my environment and my upbringing. But as soon as I got out of that plane, everything changed. This not only made me learn and realize many things but also ask myself many questions too:
- I am a slave to my habits.
Every time I had to get in a car, I would go to the wrong side. EVERY TIME. I learned driving 10 years ago and I always took for granted that the driver was on the left… But it’s not the case in India. My friends would laugh and remind me of the difference… in vain!
- Patience is a virtue
I used to cursed traffic and driving in Lebanon. I will no more… Not after I experienced the traffic in India. By the way, did you know that most cars have no mirrors? You can choose between theft and reckless driving!
- Don’t be opinionated. Do not judge. It’s all about perception and there is always another way to do the same things.
When I landed in India, I could not help myself but realize how many values were in common with our middle-eastern culture. But later, I had to realize how different it was from it too. From the bathrooms to the restaurants to the way of doing business. I observed and compared.
- Poverty is everywhere. What are we doing to solve this problem?
I saw people sleeping on the highway separators and on the sidewalks trying to protect their faces from the 42C burning sun with a woolen cloth. I saw an old woman picking up the cigarette that a man smoked and threw on the floor and try smoking whatever was left herself. I saw men and women peeing and defecate on the sidewalk next to the highway with “no shame”. I saw people living in unspeakable conditions in unspeakable places and I saw shops that looked more like a desperate initiative to sell anything.
- Being able to secure a steady income is a luxury.
This woman is trying to make a living by working in a 1 m2 shop with no door, no a/c, no nothing.
This man is shaving another man’s beard on the street.
These people are moving excessively heavy weights.
- Not everyone has access to running water.
This woman is washing clothes on the street.
- Not everyone has access to electricity.
This man is ironing clothes with coal on the street.
- While safety may be an obsession to some, others just don’t care. Where are the standards and who is watching?
This man is wearing a helmet for a trip on a cycle rickshaw.
This man is risking his life in order to reach his destination.
These jeeps can fit 10 people. It was reported that one of them who had a fatal accident causing the death of 10 actually had 40 people on/over board. Drivers are looking for means to make more money faster disregarding people’s safety.
- Many children are made to work dangerous jobs at night. What are we doing to keep them safe?
This young boy is working at night lifting a heavy lamp wired to a generator for more than 30 minutes.
- Love is universal.
I went to India to attend a friend’s wedding. I had no idea that I would have a special bond with the family. They made me feel home; more than that they made me feel as a member of the family. In less than a week, total strangers became people I really care about, love and think about everyday!
I’m definitely never going to take anything for granted anymore. It was one unforgettable experience!
More pictures from my India collection can be found on Flickr!