Well, I’m back from our long awaited 3-week trip to India and it was everything I expected … and more. I expected dirt and found it. Delhi was incredibly dusty and dirty. Even the leaves on the trees were dusty and the airport experiences regular flight delays and cancellations due to the smog (they call it fog). Southern India was much cleaner. I expected poverty and found it almost everywhere, although the beggars (also expected) were most ubiquitous and aggressive in Delhi and Jaipur.
I also expected amazing color and found it, in the saris, in the fabric shops, in the vegetables (carrots are red, not orange) and countryside (yellow mustard fields, blue fishing nets). Beauty was everywhere: the people, the architecture (the Taj Mahal), the fabrics, the Bengal tiger we saw in Ranthambore.
Some other things we found but weren’t exactly expecting: except perhaps in Delhi, Indians are a very religious people (it’s a basic part of their daily lives). Indians are also remarkably resilient and resourceful. They manage to survive and thrive under the most extreme poverty imaginable. We saw laundry everywhere: the balconies of high rise apartment buildings, median strips in the middle of busy streets, along the riverbanks… And there was humor, in the Bollywood movies, street signs and in the social mores that make public displays of affection taboo yet allow men to relieve themselves in public whenever and wherever. Pervasive corruption and humor combined forces in the nickname given to government workers: sperm (out of 1 million, 1 works).
Amid all all we saw and did, I was surprised to find at the end of the trip that I had managed to make time to do eight quick watercolor sketches. Here are 6.
A woman walking past large terra cotta pots in Jaipur:
The riot of color in typical sidewalk shops:
The serene beauty of the Taj Mahal at dusk, seen from across the Yamuna River:
The reflections of the pilings of the Monsoon Palace:
Laundry by the riverside:
Chinese fishing nets in Kochi:
My challenge now is to take my memories, these sketches and the almost 4000 photos we took and turn them into a series of paintings.