Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Strange days in a place called India....

It's been a while I know since last posting of words and images, but the places I have been staying have not had any consistent internet connection which is probably a good thing no?

I spent a few days in India with intentions of going to Corbett National Park to film and photograph animal life including Bengal Tigers in the wild! We arrived in Delhi to be met by sweltering heat and a congestion of cars, bikes and people like I have never seen. My first impressions were those of awe and sorrow, if its possible to sum up so simply.

The city reeked of ancient and pollution filled every possible crevice in every possible place.
Car horns are the only thing one can count on in a place so devoid of reason it seems. Harsh description? Perhaps but India is harsh to people, especially for travellers settling into her ways.

The crew had all their gear delivered to our hotel after it had been lost on a long haul from Australia. We secured two cars and two drivers for the 8 hour jaunt to the mountains East of Delhi. The road were filled with poverty, animals and honking cars weaving inn and out of lanes. If there was a 2 lane road, that mean 4 lanes of traffic would be using the pavement. The only real rule was to honk every 2 seconds it seemed!

As arduous as the journey was, it was also beautiful and intoxicating to see the ornate temples and interesting faces lining the roads. The whole way there was like a backdrop to some exotic movie or a photoshoot waiting to happen. After about 1 hour, the feeling of fearing for your life subsides and you truly begin to see the beauty of a country which is overpopulated and undernourished in so many ways. Yet, the dark eyes of the burka-ed women spoke volumes to me of the history, spirituality and hardships endured daily in this places called India.

We finally arrived to our destination only to find out that our permits were bogus and would not allow us to film inside the reserve or anywhere near it. We went back and forth with many offices and ministers, but to no avail. The permission would not be granted and we would have to embark on our 8 hour journey back into Delhi first thing in the morning. Needless to say, the crew and I were gutted and a bit depressed about not being able to get some good footage for the show, let alone miss out on a good adventure in the wilds of Eastern India!

We lugged the gear into the cars in the morning and entered the fray of car horns and donkeys once again as we pulled into an open lane. We drove about 2 hours when something happened that I will not soon forget. The car in front of the car I was in held one of the and a ton of camera gear. The car I was in trailed it by about a mile. We were going through a small town when we saw the driver of the first car on the road with some policemen talking about a moped with a woman on it that had been hit and thrown to the ground. We looked and stopped to see what the deal was. Just as we did, the driver of the first car jumped into his car and sped off so we gave chase and followed it best we could. Next thing we know the driver of the first car is stopped again and walking toward a small car carrying four men; we pull to the side of the road. The driver is greeted by four policeman who get out of the car and start arguing with our hired driver. Then one hits the driver in the face, the others grab him and start to beat him as the driver pleads for mercy. Hugging the legs of the policemen, the driver begs for mercy and he is kicked and hit, beaten and shouted at. At one point a policeman grabbed the driver by the adams apple and he let out a proloned shriek that will stay with me for a long time I reckon. It sounded like fear, death, sorrow all wrapped up in one. This kafuffle went on for a while and it seemed to surreal to be watching it from a few feet away. I soon realized more than ever that I was a stranger in a strange land where human rights are much different to what we all take for granted in other parts of the world. The driver was finally put into the car and driven off as we watched his fear ridden face speed away. I never found out what fate that guy met, but I am sure he had a hard night at the very least.....

Below are some images from a day walking around Delhi before our departure that next evening from a place called India.

2 comments:

Allen said...

I experienced that exact honking rational in Egypt - and as no one pays any attention to anyone else's honking, the constant noise becomes the noise of the city. A harsh environment for the senses indeed—India is great perspective for the fantasy life we live here in the States!

Amazing, great photos! That kid diving in the water is jaw-dropping!!

morganne said...

Oh my goodness, that is heart-wrenching...