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  • chrisvollan

What the camera will never see:

So I was sitting in a hammock after dark listening to the waves of the Arabian Sea come crashing in.

Did I mention the Arabian Sea?? Holy shit, I’m sitting here with sand in my toes from a place I have always thought of as mostly mythical!

So ya, sitting here swinging in a hammock listing to the birds and looking at Instagram and I’m thinking about the experience that the camera can’t capture, and I’m calculating (as engineers do) that you can only record about 5%. The rest is all in my head!

Random India notes and mostly what the camera can not see or feel:

– All of the friendliness. Everyone smiles, so many people just want to try out their English on you and take selfies with you. Future Note: make sure you take your own selfie with them!

– The smells: spices (sooooo many spices) and fresh herbs and food and incense and flowers.

– The smells; burning garbage and diesel fumes and tuk tuk exhaust and dust.

– The colours: cars, buildings, food, flowers and a billion different and beautiful saris. India LOVES  colour!

– That lump in your throat EVERYTIME you pass a family of three or four on a moped, horns blaring, by mere centimeters.

– Same feeling when two trucks and a bus and a tuk tuk are all charging toward you with no sense of road lanes, but everybody moves (dances) the right way, and you get through.

– The body language, hand wave, meaningful glare and rhythm of the horn that goes with driving. The angry head bobble?

– Horns always, everywhere, all the time.

– The roadside stands in the “in-between”. Warning milk, cooking nuts and baked goods, selling flowers. Smells and sounds.

– The sound of ocean waves at night

– The sound of birds (or rats?) scurrying across the wooden roof of your room.

– The chatter: in Hindi, Tamil. Malayalam, Hinglish and the beautiful sound of French families having a blast (many French fams with young kids I’ve seen)

– The pride they ALL have in India and her history.

– Garbage: goes with smells, but India has a major garbage (mainly plastic) problem. I’m guessing it is tied to economics, but it is everywhere (other than the park reserves).

– The burn in your eyes from big city pollution.

– Individualization: 1,3 billion people and I bet there are a billion unique tuk tuks, tractors, bikes, carts and trucks with paintings, statues, real and plastic flowers. Anything and everything to make one’s vehicular their own. So ya, the camera can capture a small bit of that.

– Bollywood adds everywhere. India produces More than 1,000 movies a year.

– English signs everywhere.

– Big stuff being carried on bikes, mopeds and motorcycles: full families, tin milk jugs, pigs (max three seen), propane tanks (max four free hand), 20 foot long bushels of grass carried sideways (yes, so they take up a full-lane), rebar, 15 foot longPVC pipe, doors, full size panes of glass. Basically, anything that has to get from A to B.

– Max people crammed into one tuk tuk: 10, that I could actually see.

– The head bobble!

– “Ladies and gentlemen, boyz and girls, welcome to our flight today” domestic airline intro followed by crew introduction by name and Indian home town. Super cute!

– Security checks at all hotels and sites in the North.

– “What is your good name Sir?” Your first name.

– Everyone seems to have a selfie stick.

– Indians are, by far, the largest group of tourists everywhere I have been.

– Lots of Christian churches on the south (serving approx 20% of the population, moderate success after several hundred years of trying to convert the locals).

– That gurgle you get in your stomach telling you that you ate something you should not have…(again).

– Guys can and do pee anywhere.

– No graffiti

– Muslim prayer in the mornings across a mostly silent city

– The dumbfounded look on your face when the monkey steals your 7-up bottle and is 15 feet up a tree in 3 seconds flat. No time for an embarrassing selfie.

– The smell of a fresh picked banana

– The smells of mother Ganges

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