India is impossible to fully understand. Alive with contradiction and sacrificing any semblance of order for an intoxicating sense of possibility, here neighbouring communities feel worlds apart and normality means very little indeed.
Aware that India would be equal parts confronting and mesmeric, I read all I could before travelling, falling for the poetic brilliance of Arundhati Roy, getting swept up in the drama of Gregory David Roberts and encountering Indian creativity with Tara Books. For good measure I even gave up days to Bollywood classics. But nothing quite prepares you for the moment you hit the ground – the noise, colour and chaos. As a writer I strive to avoid cliches but with India you simply can’t. This country is everything. All at once. The living, somehow-functioning embodiment of ‘feast for the senses’.
And so I quickly discovered that India is beyond comprehension – it’s far too focused on revelling in its own complexities – but that’s part of its allure. For instead of trying to grasp it, you give yourself over to the moment, experiencing everything as it unfolds and getting swept up in the romance of it all.
People talk about coming to India to find themselves but after my month in Rajasthan I wonder instead if this is where you come to lose yourself. Surrounded by passion and life, you don’t feel like a single entity, but rather like you’re part of a wonderfully mad story where no one really worries about the plot.
Which is where Polaroids and rose-tinted glasses prove handy. Firmly rooting you in the analogue world, this camera forces you to consider every shot, talk to your subjects and work with the setting at hand. Essentially, be present and accept imperfection. And India couldn’t be a better subject. Diverse and brilliantly bonkers, it can never be fully captured and so you let go and just embrace it, savouring your photographic memories and those lingering traces of its unique frantic energy long after a holiday’s end.