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Stasha's Moment - India, A Photographer's Heaven

Stasha's Moment - Visiting India

We took an afternoon Goa express from Delhi to Agra this week. 

It was a hot and hazy day, not a drop of rain has fallen for days despite it being the heart of monsoon season. Only the second day into my six-year-old son's first visit to India,

the crowded platforms of the train station, the heat and the kind old ladies touching his forehead to offer blessings overwhelmed him a bit. As we said goodbye to our hotel escort and sat on our berth, he looked as though he was bidding farewell to the life as he knows it. I could tell he was not sharing my enthusiasm for the sights and sounds of India.

Our berth quickly filled up and by the time the train departed any chance of me sitting by the emergency window, the only one without bars offering an unobstructed view, was clearly

gone. The train slowly moved across the tracks, through the outskirts of the city, passing the slums bringing a faint scent of rubbish in a pleasant breeze that begun to cool us down. My son drifted off to sleep in my lap, his hand resting on my right arm.

I was in photographers heaven. The scenes passing in front of me were dreamy. The train was slow enough and the bars were wide enough to fit my lens through so I could take amazing photos for the next three hours. If I could only get to my camera without waking up my boy. For the next ten minutes I reached, I bent, I slid, I tried every move to grab the camera strap. Finally, as the student sitting across me asked if he can help me, I realized how pathetic I must look. Even if I got the camera, what was I to do? Lean over my child and squash him to get to the window? Move him aside to free my hand? I relaxed against the backrest, smiled at the student and thanked him and started to look out the window instead. 

The scenes were passing by: Women in colorful saris carrying bundles of hay across the greenfields, children bathing in muddy ponds, stray dogs chasing each other on piles of rubbish,ancient trees growing solo in vast fields with a lone man sitting under it minding his water buffaloes. Pink, blue, red, yellow houses, huts build of straw, makeshift homes build of cardboard and Bollywood posters, people sleeping on stairs, in grass, under bridges. Men having tea and gossiping, women carrying their babies, children in school uniforms returning home. People riding bicycles, rickshaws, motorcycles, horses. Boys playing cricket, women hanging up laundry, girl taking her goat for a graze, pigs in mud, cows roaming streets.

Children running behind train, gurus sitting on train station platforms, cranes standing still in endless fields of green. I framed thousands of photos with my mind, pressing my imaginary trigger and making sure they load in my memory. The only thing I held was a scarf across my sleeping child's face to protect his delicate skin from the scotching sun.

It was the most magical three hours of my life. Sure, a part of me still wishes I took photos but I am now convinced that I would not have seen nearly as much if I was looking through the viewfinder. 

I came here to give my son the gift of India. But as he slept peacefully, he gave me the gift of India instead.


words and photo by Stasha Becker

Kevin De Los Santos