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India

In December of 2017, I journeyed to northern India, the birthplace of my adopted sister, Molly.  It was the first time I had ever been there, and the first time she would return since leaving the country as a toddler. In fact, she turned three on the airplane flight home, hugging a strange white lady who was taking her away from the only place she had ever known. It was so hot in India that summer that she was covered in "summer boils," a condition which the orphanage said was quite normal. Two decades later (and visiting in winter), our time in India was full  of rickety tuk-tuk rides, spicy food, aromatic roadside tea shops, winking salesmen, and a dash or two of food poisoning to keep us humble. The following is an assortment of photos from that time, shot on Porta 400 film on my Pentax ME Super. 

Click on any photo to read more.

Markets

I think my favourite part of the whole trip were the markets. The friend of one of the families we were staying with showed me how to be a decisive and efficient haggler, which netted me lots of fantastic purchases throughout the duration of our trip. On the last day, I spotted a skirt I wanted, and approached the seller to ask the price. As it was the last day of our trip, I only had a small amount of rupees left, and he wanted more for the skirt than I had. I tried to negotiate down, but he was adamant. Oh well, I thought, it wasn't meant to be. 

I left his shop and was about three shops away when suddenly he came running after me, skirt in hand! "Wait!" he said, "Okay! Okay! The price is fine!" Delighted, I paid him and took the skirt, holding my prize to myself tightly. The shopkeeper of the third shop gave me a smile of approval and said sagely, "You did very well there." 

The Taj Mahal

One can hardly visit India and miss it. A friend of my parents arranged for us to have a guide that day, a man happy to cater to our every want; which, apparently, meant stopping to take "family photos" of us at every column, archway, or tastefully manicured shrub. He was a nice man, but this was tourist hell, and when the moment was appropriate I took the opportunity to slip away, and enjoy the Taj Mahal grounds on my own. The crowds tend to head straight to the reflecting pool, which provides that iconic postcard view, but head to the right or left and find yourself more or less alone in rather extensive garden grounds. 
 

As I walked, I looked up and saw this sight of the Taj Mahal peeking out of the trees, making it feel deceptively remote. I like to imagine that one future day, archaeologists will come across it in much the same way, looking up in surprise to see a beautiful ruin framed by a break in the foliage. 

The Bob

We couchsurfed with a young family in Varinassi, and walked with them one day to the Ganges. Their daughter has met so many foreigners from couchsurfing that she spoke fluent English, and loved to converse with us on all topics. She called us all by our correct names, except for my father she saved the dinstinction of adding a proper "the" to his title, and thus, he became The Bob. 

At the Ganges, she spotted this man selling cotton candy, and pleaded with her mom to buy a bag. I liked the way the cotton candy was displayed, and took this photo just as the man was looking over at me to see what I was doing.

Celebrations and getting chased by cows

When we arrived at the Ganges, we noticed that some sort of event was set up on the banks down below. At one point, a cow got loose and started chasing attendees. The coorindators of the event did not seem phased in the slightest that a cow was charging civilians. Meanwhile, those getting chased did not seem so lackadasical!