My wife Charlotte and I recently spent seven weeks touring Northern India. As independent travellers we followed a rather circuitous route through Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Sikkim.
I’d been to Nepal before so expected a fair degree of familiarity but I wasn’t prepared for what met us leaving Mumbai airport. Heat, hassle, noise, poverty and dirt. After the relative comfort of the plane and the airport, we found ourselves heading uncontrollably, or so it felt, into a sea of what looked like absolute chaos. It was human life in its entirety. Rich people, poor people, the infirm and feral animals all sharing the same space at the same time. To our eyes, the extremes were quite simply overwhelming.
I looked at Charlotte, as we travelled into the city, wondering why she hadn’t spoken for a while and saw she was in shock. She was staring open mouthed as she watched incredulously as our driver maneuvered around obstacles, vehicles and people. Organised chaos understates what it looked like and the cacophony of noise was overwhelming. Tuk tuks, cars honking and people shouting, beggars walking up to our vehicle, putting their heads inside, and asking for money; I think it was the first time we had ever arrived in a place and experienced instantaneous culture shock.
Acclimatising is always difficult but it happens. Within twenty-four hours we were navigating the city, eating street food and booking train tickets. Our big trip had started and we had once again left the trappings of home behind and become independent travellers. I can’t say it had become easy because it hadn’t but the big adventure had started and we were ready for our trip of a lifetime.
Photographs will be exhibited at the Millgate Arts Centre, Delph during the performance of ‘The Cracked Pot’ from 30th Jan to 6th Feb.
I hope the exhibition gives an insight into the wonderful culture and richness of life that makes India so special.
Photographs from the exhibition can be viewed at: http://www.stuartcolemanphotography.co.uk/documentary-photography-stuart-coleman/india-travel-photography/
Displayed along with the Indian photographs are photographs taken by Bob and Helen Conway whilst travelling through Burma and the arctic north.