Sometimes all it takes is one glance to change all of your perspectives. It reaches out into the deep and shows you a reality you've never experienced before. It´s then and there that I know I want to share with the world what I am seeing, or at the very least safe keep that last drop of time for myself. That's the beauty that I wanna tell you all about today; the simple beauty of the simple life, that foreign, different and brutally real life.
This story starts with me having spent the last twelve years of my life working in the Chilean ad industry.
I studied advertising so I could dive into creative writing, which in turn took me on a tour through agencies such as BBDO, Porta and some other independent agencies.
I won a few creativity awards in local and international festival circuits. I became a creative director. I wrote radio campaigns, adds and commercials, which gave me first-hand experience with how media operates and the consolidation of the burgeoning mass consumption strategies that feed our current polemic and maladjusted beauty standards and our living expectations straight from a screen. All the while our country's current socio-economic landscape is light years away from being able to uphold said lifestyles.
The thing is, there are stories that are just not meant to last...
While all of this was happening in my day to day life, inside me a spark had started to ignite which would soon become a beacon that would guide my path. But not a path towards grand advertising projects with bulky budgets and taking pictures of local celebrities... The path that called to me was of a much humbler and quieter nature; Mine was a search for reality through a camera lens, for genuine meaningful glances, for real faces and all of those stories that require you to take your blindfold off and hit the streets with open eyes.
INDIA I arrived in New Delhi on the first of December. With me, I had my trusted camera, a couple of lenses, a pack on my back and my truest of companions, my old acoustic guitar at my side. As soon as I set foot on the ground I knew I was in the right place, and although the culture shock might be overwhelming and, well, shocking to most, I felt strangely at home.
The overpowering smell of incense mixed with the air pollution emanating from one of the most populated cities in the world, the deafening sounds of the city, the bundles of people pouring themselves into the streets at every second, the ´´tuk-tuk´s´´, the cows, the children running around, the women and their wonderful colors, the men coming and going, all coming together to form the sublime madness that is one of the planet´s richest and oldest cultures. And they were all welcoming me. Although at that time everything I was seeing and experiencing was new to me, something caught my eye right away; It was the people, their faces and the looks in their eyes. One could tell what they were about to say and what they were thinking by just looking at them in the eye.
I noticed this not just in New Delhi, but also in Dharamsala (the land of the Dalai Lama in exile), Rishikesh, Amritsar, and Calcutta as well as every other city and town I made my way through. Perhaps because despite being a nation of many contrasts, poverty being one of them, the true wealth of India is found in its people and their culture which they carry with them everywhere. Many may be lacking in the material sense, but their spiritual connection makes up for whatever else they may be lacking. One of the things that impressed me the most was the people´s enormous capacity for differentiating poverty from misery and absence of happiness. This is a rare and magical gift they have, and although just like everywhere else not everyone's a saint, my personal experience brought me in contact with this innate kindness in a profound way. Religions in India have more in common with philosophy than with stories like we see in the West.
People in India live their lives every day under the law of Kharma. It´s a distant cry from celebrating your gods on schedule once a week and most of the times just going through the motions, as it happens in so many other cultures. Most people there act in consideration of their fellow human beings, like if them and they are part of the same conscience.. My journey through India was marked by magical moments, not just because of its breathtaking geography and nature, like its sacred rivers (Ganges), its heavenly mountains (The Himalayas), shades of colors I've never seen anywhere before or since, and vast history. But because of the people who inhabit that boundless territory. I listened intently and respectfully about their veritable cornucopia of gods, about the sacred trinity that makes up all of creation, about the holy men high on the mountains, the enlightened ones, and the supreme beings. I also witnessed how people by the hundreds of thousands offered themselves in service and volunteered in temples, schools, hospitals and dozens of other places. By cooking, washing dishes, peeling vegetables, teaching, building, healing, listening and/or by making themselves available to others. There I met the Gods of India of whom I write today. People who are changing the world, or if you prefer, their own world.
There I found the greatest force that rules this universe, which is love in its more unconditional and selfless state, the love for each other, through the outstanding strength of human willpower, and the unmeasurable worth of the people who inhabit a country as long and as wide as a continent, the carriers of ancient wisdom while at the same time an overwhelming austerity. That what we search for in the unknown, most of the times is right in front of us. I was truly the lucky one to find myself with my eyes wide open and walking amongst the Gods of India. Namaste.
More pictures in www.claudiography.com/the-gods-of-india