People don’t do this where I come from. They don’t go backpacking around South East Asia and they don’t go chasing lost civilisations across the atlas. The reasons for this are many and complex, to sum it up it is simply not in our culture.
Pic: At Huen Tsang Temple, Sun Moon lake, Nantou District, Taiwan
I have been living away from home for far too long and the novelty, maybe, of luxurious resorts and touristy locales have lost their charm to me. I wish I could say I did everything I ever wanted to do, but that would be untrue. I only got to fulfil a small fraction of the dreams I held, and in an ironic way, it seems that as I go about ticking things off my ‘bucket’ list, I add up more and more at its end. It is wonderfully addictive, in a very fulfilling, worthwhile sort of way! And although my ‘bucket list’ is now, four years later, much longer than when I started, that is because such experiences change you in your very core, teach you things about yourself, your abilities and desires you had no way of ever knowing before. I consider myself privileged and feel extremely thankful for everything that led me to the eye-opening experiences I had, the people I met and all the marvellously diverse things I learnt from them.
A photograph captures not only a snapshot in its best light, but it also captures memories of the grains that come off the temple walls on my fingertips as I trace the etchings, the Buddha face, the teeth of the Guardian Lion, how hot the sun felt as I climbed the steep and uneven rocks to capture a sunset. A photograph is all of that and more.
Pic: Apsara Dance at Siam Reap, Cambodia
The exquisite ancient sites litter our planet like treasure maps to our past. Be it the relics of temples on the Nile or in forests of Cambodia, their artworks, architecture and artefacts remind us about our humanity as well as our mortality. One of my personal favourites among the lost cities that I have travelled to is Petra in Jordan. This desert city flourished on frankincense, myrrh and spices until an earthquake destroyed its water system. It was lost to Western knowledge for 1000 years. Petra's architectural mix of Roman, Greek and native Nabatean buildings are carved into the hillside's red rock.
Pic: Hindu Mythology on wall of Angkor Bhat, Siam Reap, Cambodia
Pic: The Ruins of Luxor, Egypt
Pic: Facing HIstory at Petra, Jordan
One of the pleasures of my travel is meeting people and getting acquainted with different cultures. Many are alarmed by some of the countries I have visited. They only hear negative stories and stereotypes perpetuated by the mainstream media. And so, it bears repeating: traveling illustrates the inherent kindness in the world. Yes there are dangers out there, but the friends I met these past four years have welcomed me into their homes, and generously offered their time to share a piece of their culture with me. When I take candid shots of people from various cities of the world, they remind me of the generous hospitality I received in that country.
Pic: The Tatoo Guy of Vigan City, Ilacos Sur, Philipines
Pic: Walk on the Freat Wall, Balading, Beijing, China
Pic: The Terminal, Subarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok, Thailand
Pic: Early Morning at Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam
Pic: The Architectural Marvel, Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi
Pic: Supervision, Old Lady of Vigan City, Ilacos Sur, Philipines
Last but not the least; travel is not complete without the wonder of architectural splendour. Each country offers a variety of landmark monuments steeped in rich cultural heritage and also in trend setting modernity. From the mosques of the mid-eastern countries depicting the geometrical symmetry of Islamic architecture to the Zen like minimalism of clean lines and monochromes of modern buildings, travel shows us all.
Pic: Rolling Hills of Batan Island, Basco, Batanes, Philipies
Pic: View from the Top, Halong Bay, Vietnmam
Pic: Misty Morning at Sun Moon Lake, Nantou District, Taiwan
Travelling has taught me to respect how different our lives can be, but even more the shared commonalities. Travel made me look at each new conversation and experience as a chance to learn something new and carry home a nugget of wisdom or a nuance of culture from foreign shores.
Pic: Traditional Balinese Dancer, Bali, Indonesia
Story of Sanjoy, as penned by Sujata Sengupta