As a lot of you already know, I grew up in India and moved to the US when I was 18. I know, how unusual. I didn't ride an elephant to school or take baths with a spoon - most commonly asked questions - but I did live my life mostly barefoot, fully immersed in cross cultural mannerism. Visiting the US meant hamburgers, rugs in every room, and following the rules. I won't downplay the experience of living in-between two completely opposite cultures, as it was pretty hard especially in my teenage years (identity crisis to the extreme), but I wouldn't trade my experience for anything.
Growing up in a third world country has given me such a different perspective on life. The most common one is the realization that I am so insanely privileged in this world. Complaining doesn't really seem that fair, so I try to stay away from it (nobody is perfect though...). The other realization - and anyone who has been to India would be especially aware of this one - is that anything is possible and everything is negotiable. No problem (bobbling my head from side to side). There are a lot of things that India doesn't have, but determination, or creative thinking is not one of them. There is always a way. Growing up with this mindset has affected me more than I give it credit for. It's given me the confidence and determination to make my dreams a reality. If I know that there is a way, then I just have to find what works.
One of my dreams has been to do a shoot in India and have it look like nothing you'd expect India to be. There are a lot of assumptions about this hugely diverse country that are often localized to what the cities are like. Busy, smelly, colorful, everyone is dancing and drinking chai all day. But from the north to the south, east to west, the cultures are SO different. There are mountains, jungles, beaches, and lakes. They drink chai in the north, but coffee in the south, and you'd probably mistake someone from the east as being from a completely different country.
The region we were in for this shoot is called Rajasthan. It's a part of the country that is most famous for camels and brightly colored women in the desert. And then there's Udaipur - the city of lakes - a desert oasis full of palaces, restaurants right on the water, narrow streets and sunset boat rides. I had never been here before and was so blown away by how beautiful and unique it was compared to anywhere else I had been in India.
I met up with Sydney + Dexter at one of the palaces you could stay in and we bonded over experiencing India for the first time, something I have never been able to do with any other couple before. It's experiences like this - tying my love for photography and travel with such a huge part of my past - that make me feel something I've never felt before.