In August I spent two weeks in India, dividing my time between Bangalore and Mysore. It was my first time in the country but, more than other places I've been, the cities were mostly as I expected them to be: dusty, bustling, a mix of grand and garish. If you quizzed me ahead of time, I couldn't have told you what Bangalore's newfangled Orion mall would look like, but upon seeing it the sensation was, "That's about right." I'm sure many Indians, at home and abroad, see a distorted image of their country in foreign media, but I think the cumulative effect of this abundant press coverage is a gut familiarity that renders the place less alien. This might be a buzzkill for those in search of the exotic - the Eat, Pray, Love set - but it should be some consolation for those tired of being exoticized.
This is not to say the novelty of the place was diminished; I had a pretty good idea what Rome would be like before I visited and yet it somehow didn't detract from the romance of its piazzas or the awesomeness of the Coliseum. Similarly, I knew India's old marketplaces would be charmingly dilapidated, but I was still charmed. And I knew the place would be soaked in color, from its saris to its snack stands, and I marveled at it nonetheless. As a photographer friend joked, in India, you could shoot a roll of Tri-x and it'd develop in color. I'm sure the novelty wears after a while, but this profusion of color seems to cast the most mundane activities, from carrying a bundle of sticks to waiting for the bus, in a beautiful light. Especially if there's beautiful light. I don't quite get why Westerners go to India seeking spiritual enlightenment, but I know why photographers move there: it's one photogenic place.
Here are a few pics I took:
You can see a few more in my Flickr photostream.