Where’s that pause button…

Life – it’s so fast! We always seem to be chasing something. Wishing days away, not enjoying each moment. Forgetting awesome experiences in our past, as there’s so much automatic focus on things gone bad in the past. I must remind myself to pause, slow down and remember.

Today, I am remembering a time when I was fortunate enough to visit India. Yes, really! INDIA! This may not be on many people’s bucket lists and had I not needed to travel there for work purposes, I don’t think I would have thought of it as a travel destination.

I travelled to India in 2011. That’s 7 years ago & I still dream about my time there. I visited Pune, Agra, Aurangabad, Delhi & passed through Mumbai very briefly. What do I remember most?

The people! Warm, welcoming and so very humble. I’ve made lifelong friends there & had the pleasure of hosting one of them in my hometown – Cape Town. Even while visiting me, they wanted to do everything for me! It’s hard to spoil Indians 😊 There are so many people in India, streets are busy, everywhere you go is always busy. And, yes… TRAFFIC is absolutely crazy, yet it works! I was a passenger on a motorbike & scooter (those folks have street skill on another level!) and I jumped in a few rickshaws.

The food! WOW! Think you’ve eaten the best Indian food from your favourite spot around the corner? Think again! But, I did cheat & have Chinese food & McDonalds while there – ha-ha! Although, they don’t serve beef (as the cow is a sacred animal in the Indian culture) so it was a McChicken something. I ordered a mutton dish and was warned – this is actually goat. I was a bit of a chicken … and chose chicken instead! As I walked the streets, accompanied by someone who is now a lifelong friend (and calls me her South African sister), I saw vendors selling sugar cane from contraptions I’ve never seen before. I drank ginger tea from another vendor, who served it in a plastic bag! It was definitely a learning experience, drinking tea from a bag. Here’s a pic of my first breakfast in India.

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The sights! The very first morning after arriving, having travelled for about 12 hours, I was brave enough to join a group of locals for a river rafting trip. They fetched me at 5am… I almost changed my mind – so glad I did not! It was a bus trip through a very rural landscape, with one of the most beautiful sunrises of my life. We stopped somewhere along the way for breakfast. This was my first culture shock! No coffee? Only tea. Fresh fruit, cereal or fry up breakfast – nope! Curried something. Which, of course I tried & loved! (above breakfast pic)

Once we arrived at the river, the riverbed was dry! There was some miscommunication, as we waited hours for the flood gates to be opened for the water to run through. I was so hot & thirsty, I went into a rural village, desperate for a drink of water. I was given water from a bucket, I gulped it down before hearing one of my hosts caution me to only sip! It was river water, not the freshest or safest. It must have been given to me with a good heart, I survived to tell the tale 😊 Eventually, we could experience the river rafting & after all the rapids, we arrived to a calm location, close to where a dinner was planned for the group. Everyone started jumping out of their rafts & I was so nervous – I cannot swim LOL I remember so clearly, thinking: “when will you ever get another chance to do this” and I jumped! With a life jacket, but I jumped! & floated along with everyone, who by then had nicknamed me “Cape Town” 😀 I should remember this experience more often. I jumped! And I survived & actually loved it. Hmmm, a life lesson perhaps?

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Of course, you cannot visit India without going to the Taj Mahal. What an amazing experience. What an amazing history! I even loved wearing the mandatory shoe covers. I visited many temples & forts, a beautiful garden called Koregaon Park, in Pune. At the theme park, Chokhi Dhani, I watched traditional Indian dancers & rope walkers, sat with a potter as he taught me to make my own clay pot, but the one thing I will never forget, is riding the “Ferris wheel” Once we got on, three boys started jumping in sequence to move the wheel! I thought certainly this was a joke, but it was not! It was a human powered Ferris wheel. Definitely a first for me & I actually felt guilty having fun on it, but they laughed along as they went about their synchronized business.

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Plenty of first time experiences & loads of memories that still make me smile.

Thank you for joining me on this trip down memory lane. A lovely feeling taking time to pause & remember happiness.

I’d love to hear from you, if you’ve travelled to India, what your experiences have been – or perhaps it is on your bucket list.

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A moment missed…

I was extremely sluggish this morning… more so than usual. I’m a selective morning person, by this I mean when something exciting is happening – like an early morning beach swim, hike, road trip, something with a purpose other than “going to the office” I’m up at the crack of dawn!

So off I go, wiping my weary eyes, going through the motions. Then, while driving, I felt my insides awakened by a gorgeous sunrise. I could literally feel my eyes open wider. Now, I live in Cape Town, so our sunrises and sunsets are absolutely stunning! But this morning, as I came to the top of a bridge, my first instinct was… “Stop the car, get your camera & capture this!!” I had such an internal struggle because I really wanted to, but because I was running late & didn’t want to “look bad” walking into the office 10 minutes late (micro-managed under an iron thumb!) – I didn’t stop.

I can still picture what I saw this morning, with sadness in my heavy heart 😦 No two sunrises or sunsets are the same. So my chance has passed. I won’t dwell on this, what could have been or what isn’t. I just needed to get it out of my head-space – so I can concentrate on my 12-Tab Excel sheet I’m (supposed to be) working on 😉

The lesson I take from this experience is, when you have an opportunity to do something which excites you, awakens your grumbly insides, or just makes you smile… you must grab said opportunity!

So will I stop next time? Keep an eye on ‘My Pics’ page 🙂

What did I take away from listening to Jon Reid – travel photographer

If I could walk out of my 8-5 desk job, I would be a travel photographer. I’ve always known this. Simply because I am curious, love exploring, being absorbed by a new culture, making new connections & I know there is so much out there – waiting for me.

Last night I attended a talk at the Cape Town School of Photography . The speaker was Jon Reid of Nomadic Vision. A teacher turned travel photographer.

I must say, I hung on every word! It was as if I was the only person in the room & he was having a chat with me…then some random voices popped up asking questions. But, what I took from this experience is a lot of what I already knew & more of what I didn’t even think of!

When you hear “travel photographer” you think… Wow! Imagine travelling the world, taking photographs of your journey & being paid for it. What I know is – its hard work. Your success is determined by your effort, more so than your talent. Jon spoke about exactly this. Saying, his shots are not the ones that would necessarily get 1000’s of likes on Instagram, but he is gripping you with the emotion of the shot, opening your imagination & drawing you into that far away land. I absolutely identify with this!

He touched on how & where he started. It’s taken him 10 years to get where he is today. (Reminder to self: Success is not achieved overnight. Check!) Jon spoke about travel challenges, imagine your flight is cancelled & you have to be somewhere because this is your job! How does he overcome these challenges? With a little creativity – he calls it creative problem solving. I love that 🙂 The preconception is that all photographers must be creatives, after all their work is art, right? Well, no… Creativity comes in many different forms. And as he explained, solving problems for the challenges he faces, is his creativity.

Aside from getting to-and-fro challenges, there are countries rules & regulations you need to get past. Needing permits for locations & permission from authorities for all sorts of things. And with that, come costs. Researching your destination ahead of time, interpreting & understanding the brief you’ve been given by your client. Jet lag, acclimatizing, being fit enough to handle walking for hours with your gear, having back up equipment or available funds to replace if your gear is damaged, stolen or lost. These are some of the things I never thought of. And now my eyes have been opened.

I like that Jon spoke to us about his business as a travel photographer. He shared tips, insights & good advice overall.

I left the talk feeling motivated, awe inspired & a bit emotional – because it hit home. There’s nothing stopping me, but myself. I did not leave feeling deterred by those challenges. Life is full of challenges. If you are doing something you are passionate about, you will go the extra mile and beyond.