There’s something about India thats mere mention makes any travel discussion a whole lot more interesting- I’m yet to meet someone who has been to India and not come back with a fun or deeply insightful story!
Growing up in the 80s British Asians had very limited coverage in prime time media on anything about Asia let alone Bangladesh (where my parents originate) so I remember how our family would rush home early and have the (now extinct) VHS ready to record if they read on the Radio Times that there would be a documentary on Bangladesh that day.
These video tapes would be watched repeatedly and attentively by my parents to remind them of home- by me, my brother and sister to educate us a bit more about our heritage in a manner which was more understandable to us and of course was the talking point of any social gatherings for weeks to come.
However these documentaries were scarce- maybe airing once every year or two so it wasn’t an especially available medium but we’d see India on TV a couple of times a year (especially after the huge surge in box office collections from ‘Bollywood’ movies in the UK) so naturally looked to these as an insight and partly cultural nourishment too as it was the nearest neighbour to Bangladesh.
Bollywood films were instrumental in growing up while maintaining both my asian & islamic values- praying was an almost alien act to my peers in school, rarely seen on TV/ films/ books so watching films where protagonists would pray with their families, not be glamourising alcoholism or womanising was both refreshing and reassuring- I was not an Alien!
In fact growing up I watched so many Indian movies that my ability to speak and understand the various Indian dialects is a LOT better rehearsed than my Bangla- something my mum has been not so pleased about let me assure you!
As you can imagine I have been fascinated by India all my life and early last year I had the opportunity to visit Mumbai (the home of Indian cinema) as well as a few days in Delhi which I’ve known has some of the best monuments in the world.
If your an observant person then you absolutely cannot walk down the street in India without learning something new about the culture- whether its the etiquette in queuing up for tickets at the train station or knowing the expected dress codes for the hip & happening lounges in Delhi, or simply learning how to keep yourself safe eating street food in one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
I could go on about how I was mistaken for a Bollywood art director when I was photographing the Gateway of India, or how I nearly bumped into Saif Ali Khan if my flight was delayed by 2 more hours or how I nearly got robbed by a rogue dressed as a taxi driver if I hadn’t spotted him signalling his friends that he’s found his latest victim- sooo many stories, I lived it and I loved it- but I’d rather you see the street photography images I took of India instead and hopefully visit for yourself!
I am going to Bangladesh this summer for the first time in 21 years and there is something about these photos and trip which have really given me a boost and got me excited for my visit in August. Enjoy