By Yuri Andries
The decision to travel to Northern India (Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) with my girlfriend was a scary one. Everybody knows the stories of what is supposed to be the most intense part of India. Discomfort, lack of luxury, noise, chaos. We were looking for a completely different world and that is what we got. India overpowers you.
There are many clichés, like the warnings of being drugged on trains, or the ’peep-holes’ in hostels, the list goes on and on and is funny and scary at the same time. If there’s one thing I experienced, it is that these Indians are very curious. Imagine standing on the arrival deck of a train and seven men form half a circle around you and your girlfriend, staring at you. One of them was eating nuts. They did not seem to bother that I was filming them. That same day, I tried to withdraw money from an ATM with eight Indians in a cubicle of 3 metres squared and got so nervous that I didn’t manage to insert my card properly. How was I ever going to be able to capture good images in the middle of this overwhelming chaos?
After a while you get a sense of flow. You let it all go. You start to see the beauty in the chaos. Once you experience the kindness of these people and their spirituality deeply rooted in a culture of reincarnation, you become more confident. Time moves slower. Childless wondering turned the unknown surroundings into a more nuanced reality. I tried to look for stillness in the constant movement, for soft in the midst of all these sharp colors.
You know you are in one of the fastest growing countries amidst an unprecedented poverty. Majestic palaces and people living somewhere in a crack on the walls of the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur (Rajasthan). There lives Garima together with her two daughters and husband, 125m above the blue city. Every person a story, people everywhere. They have their own way of saying yes – and of growing moustaches. A moustache is a symbol of power and a high social class. It is these symbols and their meaning that you really learn to appreciate when you are out with food poisoning for five days, 6kgs-lighter It’s a gratifying experience to learn how nice it is to have healthy body.
India taught me that even the most unknown places hide something familiar. Cultures may be so different, but aren’t we all trying to express the same thing in a different way? Feeling home in a place like that makes you look differently at the world. Sometimes we are Kartiyeka and feel a need to travel the lands and seas; but just like Ghanesha, eventually we go back to our homes and our families, wherever they may be.
Not long ago, the shape and size of a man’s moustache was an indicator of social class. The lowest levels of society, the untouchables, were not permitted at all to grow a moustache, hence the reason why this thin strip of hair is taken very seriously even today.
Jodhpur, India. 2017.
Right: Drying clothes after holy dip, Rishikesh, India. 2017.
Holy cow in the streets of Jodhpur, India. 2017.
Vegetable vendor, Jodhpur, India. 2017.
Right: A sadhu smokes marijuana on a chillum (pipe). Pushkar, India. 2017.
Indian family on the shore of Pushkar Lake. Hindus believe the pond was formed by the tears of Lord Shiva. Rajasthan, India. 2017.
Rajasthani with Ravanahatha (ancestor of the violin). Pushkar, India. 2017.
Pushkar Lake. Rajasthan, India. 2017.
Haridwar, literally Gateway To God, is regarded as one of the seven holiest places to Hindus. Uttar Pradesh, India. 2017.
Hawa Mahal, Jaipur. Palace of the breeze. The original intention of the lattice was to allow royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below without being seen. Rajasthan, India. 2017.
Two kids playing in front of Jal Mahal that’s standing in the middle of Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur city, the capital of Rajasthan, India. 2017.
Somewhere on the walls of the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur (Rajasthan) lives Garima, along with her two daughters and husband. Mehrangarh Fort is one of the largest forts of India and is situated 125m above the Blue City. 2017.
The Ghent-based photographer documents life as it occurs around him, creating images characterised by a keen eye for harmonious colours and satisfying compositions that naturally occur. This series offers an insight into some of the many identities and environments of India. Describing his travel studies as ‘Observations’, Andries presents Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh through the eyes of a first time visitor, sharing a selection of awe-inspired moments. Alongside the photographs, Andries writes a diary-like narrative, forming a visual journal of his travels and experiences along the way.