Whenever I travel, I enter a slight trance during the first twenty four hours. An awestruck haze, as if my surroundings were a surreal, mirage-like bubble in which I cannot firmly believe. With only ten days to spend in India, I had to get over this phase quickly. Everything in this country is so real, so raw.
In the Old Delhi market, I was unable to pass any of the booths without stopping to gaze at the ridiculous amount of spices and condiments each of them sold, the twinkling silk of beaded, hand-made saris, or the dedicated, knot-tying technique which ornaments every carpet down to its slightest detail.
A tingling dust forms part of the air, created by movement and chatter, exchanges and scents. Magnificent smells coming in all directions, from curry and cardamom seeds to the savoury and refreshing sugar cane sold in small, two-wheeled barrows on the streets.
Of course, the Taj Mahal is an unavoidable subject. Initially, I envisioned visiting the monument as the least of all the perks of my trip to India – I mostly just wanted to walk the streets and feel the cities.
Yet, walking through one of the four main doors of the thick wall surrounding the Indian gem was like walking through a pitch black, arc-like silhouette at the end of which it shone in the five a.m. dew and the first rays of the morning sun.
The cultural intake in this country amazed me. Despite being a tourist, I was never deprived of first-hand experience with real Indian culture. This is a country where, at every stop on the road along our way, we were offered tea, biscuits, stories and advice of every kind.
One of the most hard-hitting aspects of this country is, inevitably, the severe poverty that is encountered in everyday life. Although this had a significant impact on my trip, it contributed to the realism of my experience of India. Rarely have I been continuously thrown aback in amazement by my every encounter.
Photographs: Lara Santos