I'm not entirely sure why I never dreamed of going to India. So many other places have inspired my wanderlust, and I've made a life of seeking out adventures all over the globe. But last year, my childhood friend announced he was getting married in his fiancée's hometown of Dehradun. Not one to pass up the opportunity to travel (and with best man duties to fulfil), I booked my tickets and gave myself almost a full month to explore northern India.
It's hard to avoid clichés when you talk about visiting India. The enormity of the country means that whatever experiences you have are simultaneously wholly unique but also universal among all travellers to this extraordinary country. Was it was hot? Yes. Was it crowded, hectic and polluted? Yes. But the wildness, pace and sense of perpetual movement that you read about in travel journals was also there.
I found myself drawn, in all the chaos and noise, to taking photographs of the confluence of modern-day India with historic India. There were quiet moments, through the lens of my camera, where the two worlds collided: when kids in t-shirts whooped and screamed as they chased pigeons through the rubble of an empty lot in Jodhpur. When a college student studying economics in Varanasi rowed me out into the Ganges to watch the cremation ceremonies in humble silence, the early morning air heavy with the weight of history and tradition, before he hopped on his motor scooter and zipped away to class.
I've been to India only once, but it seems to me that a country this rich in history, this fast, this enormous cannot be fully understood in any one lifetime. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to giving it another try: booking a plane ticket to another part of the country and muddling my way through, finding what draws my eye and using my camera to capture it so I can go back to those moments over and over, revelling in its beauty, mystery and the complexity.