As a photographer, I saw India as a prolific source of great photographic moments. Throughout my first visit to India during the winter of 2004- 2005, I was fascinated time and time againin every town I stopped, at every corner I turned, in every place I set my eyes and my camera's lens.
Although India has great natural and architectural splendour, it was her people who impressed me the most. The men, women, and children of the rural countryside, told me much more than any guidebook. Through their slender features, their genuine smiles, and the lush colours of their traditional costumes, I learned about their lifestyle, traditions, hardships, fears, and hopes.
After travelling throughout India, I developed a great respect for the Indian women in particular. Although some were fragile in appearance, I found them tough-spirited. It was shocking to learn from their personal accounts how much women in this country suffer: heinous stories like that of a young woman in Karnataka, South India, whose sari was set on fire just because her husband didn't want her anymore. Although she was the victim, she had to face the village court and was forced to go back to live with her husband. I also witnessed how hard women work in the villages. From dusk to dawn, they work in the paddy fields, tend to the farm animals, feed their children, and look after their husband's needs, leaving very little time for themselves in between. To make matters worse, statistics show that more women in this country are infected with HIV+AIDS than men, due in part to the lack of information provided to them.
As a western woman walking among the Indian women, I believe that their extreme resilience clearly shows that they hold more than half of the sky. In spite of harsh conditions and tremendous suffering, they still manage to smile, to show tenderness, and to teach their children to love. Here is a short walk to celebrate their powerful spirit.
Rajastan is perhaps the most eclectic state in India. The vivid colours of the women's clothing and personal ornaments such as silver bracelets and anklets particularly attracted me.
In the city of Jodhpur, I set aside time to visit the city's fort. In my personal opinion, it is by far the most exquisite and well-maintained fort in all India. The collection is in pristine condition, helping one to easily imagine how the kings and queens, locally know as Maharajas, lived and dressed before India's Independence. While enjoying an audio tour narrating the history of the former Royal family, I saw a bare-footed village woman, wearing a bright pink veil, gracefully climbing a set of steps. Behind her lay the beautiful architecture that Rajastan is distinguished for, brown buildings with elaborate details. In a quick second, I captured what my eyes were enjoying.
Later I learned that India's government is expanding the main highway and that women from the area's villages find themselves employed alongside the men to complete the task. Although it is hard manual labour, it was refreshing to know that women were also considered part of the labour force. During their day off, they pay a visit to the Fort, especially its temple.
In Jaisamer, another incredible town in Rajastan, venturing out into the Thar Desert is the thing to do. Along with a very charismatic group of camel drivers and foreign tourists, I enjoyed three days and two nights in the desert.
On the second day, we were taken to a very quiet and small village. There, we visited the relatives of one of our camel drivers. The honey coloured house was packed with curious children excited by our visit.
While sipping tea made of camel milk, I saw a woman in a far corner. She was absolutely engrossed in the making of a colourful quilt to bring relief during the cold desert nights. It amazed me that all the commotion created by the kids coupled with my aim to capture her did not disrupt her activity.
In the tranquil beaches of the southwest state of Karnataka, India, the ideal way to spend the day is sitting on the white sandy beach accompanied by a good book. However, the unique charm of Kuddlie Beach lies in the friendly locals.
Every day at sunrise, I saw a battalion of village women on their way to the town market. In an avid equilibrium, each one of them carried a basket full of fruit on top of her head. By sunset I saw them again; however, while going back to their homes after a long market day, they were a lot more cheerful. With an almost religious regularity, day after day, they walked right in front of me; sometimes they smiled, other times they waved.
In the sleepy but charming town of Orchha in Madhya Pradesh, India, beauty is all around. Walking through the town's ancient temples and palaces it literally feels as if one goes back in time. However, what makes this town most attractive is the warmth of its people, especially the children who are delighted by the sight of strange faces. Without warning I always wound up surrounded by them, especially the girls. They always showed extreme curiosity, wanting to touch my clothes, hold my hand, and, of course, get their photographs taken. One day I made friends with a chatty group of little girls, and was especially taken with the oldest of the bunch. Her deep hazel eyes seemed clear windows to her sweet innocence and simple beauty.
Bremelin Romero acquired a degree in journalism from the Hofstra University in 2003. While working as volunteer journalist in Kathmnadu, Nepal, her work appeared in The Kathmandu Post and in Kantipur, a Nepali language daily newspaper. Her photography caught the attention of the Netherlands Development Organization, an international non-governmental organization in Nepal that used her work for its national campaign on sustainable tourism in Nepal. Her complete portfolio can be view at www.bremelinromero.com
Misty Ericson holds a BA in English & Comparative Literature from San Jose State University, California, and an MA History of Art from University of Leeds, UK. In addition to her work on HerCircleEzine.com, which she founded in 2005, Misty enjoys painting in her studio and restoring her home in the English countryside.