life, travel

On leaving India…


I love being a silent observer: watching people move through their lives, bearing witness, yet devoid of the need to participate.

And I love having the freedom to move through life without plans or destinations in mind.

But I had a plan: a plan to be in India for 12 months, but for reasons difficult to explain my time in India ended, and despite the trials of getting there, leaving is something I am incredibly thankful for.

Rather than try to understand why it was not be, it can simply be said that I chose to follow my heart and release the weight placed upon me whilst being in India.

My decision to leave was made quite swiftly and within hours of doing so, I was ascending through the clouds on a Thai Smiles aircraft, leaving India and my unsettled feelings far behind.

The higher we climbed, the more elevated I felt.

I’ve always been one to follow my ‘gut’ and from the moment I stepped on Indian soil I felt an indescribable need to flee.  I also felt confusion for I have travelled extensively through 3rd world countries without ever feeling such an intense need to leave.

I had hoped on arrival at the Animal sanctuary where I was to work, those feelings would melt into the love I could share with the animals. And although the love for the many beautiful beings who called the sanctuary home intensified, unfortunately so did my feelings of dread.  All I wanted to do was run, I don’t know why and I cannot explain, in the end, I simply followed my instincts.

Trouble is, we broadcast our lives across the pages of social media: I do it, as do many others.  It is not for ‘likes’ or acceptance, it has simply become a way of life. More so for me as a writer and photographer, as I find the opportunity to document fulfilling.

However the dark side of social media can often raise its venomous head. The need to portray one’s life as perfect –  a life portrayed on the pages can sometimes be quite different from reality. And I probably fell victim to that, for behind the smiles and happy images, in reality I was filled with sadness and dread.

There were a few exceptions, I did absolutely ADORE Buff the water buffalo – he was simply divine! And I also felt peace with the beautiful Indian family who had warmly welcomed me into their home.

Their kindness is something I shall never forget: Sagar & Sahill you are truly gems – you made me laugh so much. A post entirely on your comings & goings and funny ways is sure to be in the making.

But despite my adopted Indian family, as the days lingered, my feelings of dread intensified and I knew in my heart I had to act. But where would I go?

A number of years ago, I was travelling through Europe and one afternoon whilst strolling through Paris without a destination in mind, I decided to follow the ‘little green man’.

To explain, when stopped at an intersection, I would simply walk in the direction of the flashing green man ‘walk’ sign. In doing so, I found myself wandering along side streets devoid of tourists, where Parisians adorned bars and cafes with their usual nonchalance and style.

However not having a little green man to follow in India, I chose the next best thing: Skyscanner’s ‘everywhere’ button.  Once having typed a departure city, Skyscanner gives the option of choosing Everywhere, which brings up countless flights from cheapest to most expensive. And that’s how I ended up in Bangkok – it was cheap and easy to get there and having flown there often as airline crew, I knew it was the hub for numerous other destinations. Once there I used Skyscanner’s ‘everywhere’ again and found myself booked on a flight to Bali.

And by simply following my heart again, I stayed at the beautiful and tranquil Sarinbuana Eco Lodge, free of charge. In exchange for an incredible villa and meals I simply shot images for their website and social media pages.

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HammerPhotography @ Sarinbuana Eco Lodge, Bali

 

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HammerPhotography @ Sarinbuana Eco Lodge, Bali

Tomorrow I head to a villa in Canguu where I shall be spending a couple of weeks dog-sitting 3 fur-babes whilst their Mum heads overseas.

How is this is all possible?  Through a site called Workaway, I wont go into detail, but click on the link to get more info.  In a nutshell, you do a few hours work a day and in return, you are given accomodation and food.  For me it is not about travelling on the cheap (although it certainly is that) moreover, it’s about having the opportunity to travel and be immersed with local people.

Unfortunately I will have to leave Bali by 18 Feb as I made a massive faux pas at the airport regarding my visa, but hey, maybe that’s the little green man making my decisions for me.

Stay tuned…

yoga1
@HammerPhotography
life

A bittersweet arrival…


As the aircraft descended through a haze of pollution, my first glimpses of Udaipur came into view.  White stucco – like buildings dotted the landscape, and the lakes synonymous with the city, sparkled in the early morning light.

Purchasing a pre-paid taxi ticket inside the clean, modern airport, I exited to find drivers waiting to be called to take the fare: a site contrary to what I’d expected. In a very orderly manner, one fellow (who may have been the supervisor) took my ticket then gestured to one of the many drivers.  My designated driver nodded respectfully, took my case and motioned for me to follow.

On the 40 minute drive to Animal Aid, the India I had expected presented itself. Horns blared, cows mooched and people jostled with cars, bikes and truck for the same piece of space on roads and paths. It was manic, yet not frightening or confronting. It was India.

After passing through the small city, winding roads that carved through small hills deposited us at the gates of Animal Aid, where a cacophony of animal voices alerted me to the fact we had indeed arrived.

Dogs, donkeys, goats and cows all milled about, some oblivious to my arrival, whilst others inquisitive: sniffing, smooching and seemingly quite interested in finding out just who I was.

A little later in the day, after being warmly welcomed by the family, I wandered around the shelter meeting the many animals whose lives have been transformed by Animal Aid.

Helping to feed a group of calves, I felt a gentle but firm nudge on my left thigh.  Expecting to see one of the numerous donkeys who were milling about, I was surprised to find at my side Buff, a baby water buffalo.  Roughly the same size as a small cow, Buff was determined to have my attention and let it be known by continually nudging my arm whenever I stopped scratching behind his ear.

Who would have thought after leaving Australia feeling excited and also a little sad at the thought of leaving my beloved family that 48 hours later I would be making friends with a water buffalo?

Afterward as we sat in the garden drinking chilled Pinot Grigio and dining on a delicious lentil curry at twilight serenaded by the sounds of animals, I felt content.

Similar to my departure, my arrival was bittersweet.  I do feel content and happy, yet also wish I could share this contentment with my best friends: Stanley, Oscar, Simon & Eddie.

Yes, a bittersweet arrival indeed….

 

 

 

life

Be angry or be chilled…?


Okay, so when things don’t go to plan you can do one of two things. Be angry or be chilled.

Although I have every right to be angry, it serves no purpose, so I’ve chosen the latter: to be chilled and accept that my elusive Indian visa will arrive in due course.

I’m a firm believer in fate: everything happens for a reason. I’m not here to question the reason, only to live by the hand fate has dealt.

So I remain in Australia with my departure date to India now visible only through the eyes of the Indian consulate.

But I have faith… stay tuned…

 

photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections


Christmas. Brightly coloured baubles, twinkling lights, festivity and friends.

And Stanley…

stanley28©jenhammerstanley27©jenhammer