Pepper Harvest Trip • Days 9 - 12 • Rajasthan India

February 14, 2017

Jodhpur and Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. Days 9 -12

The main purpose of our trip was to see and photograph the pepper harvest in Kerala. But since this was Alan’s first time to India, we couldn’t travel all the way here without seeing a few different regions.

I set up the trip in three parts – Mumbai, Kerala and Rajasthan. Mumbai was a place to recuperate and find our bearings. With all the energy of the city, the colorful markets, the hustle and bustle of the workers on the streets, the honking traffic, we became energized.

The next stop was tropical, laid back Kerala where we met Mr. Divakar and traveled to the pepper harvest. We are putting together a small film to show you more about our experience there. Can’t wait to show you.

For the final leg, we flew back north to the state of Rajasthan. We visited the cities of Jodhpur and Udaipur, two smaller, colorful cities in the desert. A totally different vibe than Mumbai and Kerala.

Our agenda was simple. Walk the streets from dawn until dusk. See how people live. Connect with the locals. Walk a mile in their bare feet (so to speak).

These are places where you see men in bright colored turbans. Women in glowing turquoise, orange, pink and lime saris.

Everyone dresses nicely. Everyone. That includes women who are doing hard labor on the streets – digging ditches, sweeping and cleaning.

It also seems that everyone is an entrepreneur in Rajasthan. The streets are lined with tailors, jewelers, mechanics, pharmacists, and street food stalls.

The nice thing about walking around is that we never felt threatened or that we were in a bad area. I honestly feel safer walking the streets of India than I do in Chicago.

While the scenery is beautiful, I don’t want to sugar coat things either. The streets are often dirty. Sometimes filthy. You see poverty. Trash is everywhere. Animal manure too. You have to watch where you’re walking. Quickly look down to scan for poop. Straight ahead for oncoming motorbikes, auto rickshaws and cows. Behind for speeding motorbikes. And enjoy the scenery. It is often exhausting.

Rajasthan is an all-you-can-eat visual (and audio) buffet. There is a photo op every minute. Contrasts abound. Old vs. new. Colors drab and bright. Order and chaos. Plus, several religions coexisting in the same areas. Hindus, Muslims and Christians often live in the same places.

You can literally stand on a street corner for 10 or 15 minutes and not get bored. This is the people watching capital of the world.

I can’t tell you how genuinely warm we found everyone. However, you might find it difficult to tell from the photos. That’s because Indians don’t normally smile when having their photos taken.

The other confusing thing is that when an Indian is saying yes, they wag their head back and forth as if saying no.

We had to learn what all of this meant so we could take photos. Here’s how you do it. Once you find someone you’d like to photograph, you hold up your camera and shake your head at them to ask permission.

If the answer is yes, and 95% of the time it is, they shake their head back and forth in no fashion. You then translate to yes since you know what it means. Then the person invariably turns serious for the photo. You take the shot and say thank you. Then, most of the time, you will usually get the reward - a big warm smile.

Sure, you’ll come across people who don’t want their pictures taken and you move on. But you also come across people who actually want you to take their photos. They will ask you to come over to do it.

Can you imagine if someone from another country walked up to you on the street and asked to take your photo? It would seem so strange.

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All of the photos in this post were taken by my traveling buddy and pro photographer Alan Shortall. I’m so impressed with how he’s been able to capture the spirit of India. Looking at the shots makes me remember what it was like to visit India again for the first time.

Posts in the Pepper Harvest Trip Series:

The Pepper Harvest Trip Itinerary
Day 1 • Mumbai India • Arrival
Day 1 • Mumbai India
Day 2 • Mumbai India • Morning
Day 2 • Mumbai India • Afternoon
Day 3 • Mumbai India
Day 4, 5 • Visit Divakar • Kannur India
Day 5, 6 • The Pepper Harvest • Wayanad India
Day 7 • The Pepper Harvest • Wayanad India
Day 9 - 12 • Street Photography • Rajasthan India
Day 10 • Rajasthan India • Monkey Mayhem
India Wrap • Some Photos of My Own