31st of July

India and the Measure of a Man

After a long flight from Norway, I arrived safely and slightly brain fogged in New Delhi this morning (too much TV on the plane – and a little tip for you if you where considering watching G.I Joe retaliation – don’t!).

Arriving in India for the 7th time so far in my life, I was full of mixed emotions. Part of me was extremely excited to be on the road again, looking for adventure. Another part of me was feeling sad and guilty for leaving behind Michelle in Norway – I have just moved there a month ago, and now I am already hitting the road again! A third part of me was feeling nervous and anxious on how things would pan out in terms of photography.

Well once I stepped out of the plane, there was no turning back and the reality hit me – India is truly the place where you can only expect one thing – the unexpected. Having retrieved my luggage I excited the airport around 3AM and found myself a taxi driver – or so it would seem, but reality was rather that he found me! He asked me where I was going, and was unsure about the address so he asked for the phone number of the hotel I had booked and rang up the number for me. When I spoke to the hotel in the other end they where very sorry to inform me that my booking had been cancelled due to the ongoing festival.

I would later learn that this was in fact a very well organised scam – kudos for their execution – the first time I have ever been scammed on such an advanced level. The taxi driver entered the phone number, but apparently rang another number where his partner in crime with was pretending to be the hotel I had booked. However, as the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy states on the front page – DON’T PANIC. And I didn’t – six previous visits to India has taught me to expect the unexpected, and go with the flow.

At 4AM I was plenty awake to bargain hard, and I ended up checking into another hotel costing only a fraction of the prize for the one I had original booked online. So even if I feel slightly violated for being scammed, I still ended up saving a fair amount of money.

And this bring me to my point – India is a place where you are measured up for size constantly. There is no point in panicking about feeling violated, because trust me you will feel it a lot during your stay in India! More than a billion people live here, and the Indians are fierce tradesmen, with no time for messing about. And this is exactly one of the reasons I keep returning here. I like having to feel things again. Back home in Scandinavia everything is so organised and non-invasive. Life is very pleasant. Very easy. Very vanilla. In India your senses are constantly bombarded – ranging from the spicy food, to the spicy people, to the whole craziness of this massive society.

In a way it is ironic that I travelled to the other side of the world to test a tiny camera – the fuji x100s, which has been designed to be very unobtrusive and anonymous. Because the camera sure is exactly that. But the man carrying it is not. A white person is always more exposed to attention in India – for sure. But add 195cm height and 110kgs of body mass to the equation and there is nothing stealth about me here in India.

India is truly the place where you are measured up for size constantly

Now you might wonder why I bring up my body weight. Well I will have you know, that I was measured today – literally! During my walks on the street, taking some portraits, a crowd of people got interested in me. So sure this guy is white, and tall, and speaks a bit of Hindi, as if that was not interesting enough – let us weigh the poor guy! So some guy fetched a weighed and I was measured there and then on the street. 110kg. It did not make the locals any less curious about me.

Ahh India – I am happy being back and measured constantly. Expect to see me on your street shortly, with my tiny little camera. And for good measure here is the portrait that I was shooting that triggered the locals to decide to measure me:


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Categories:  India Photography Travel
29th of July

Why Do Things By Halve? Return to India

I guess one thing that I realised about myself in the past few years is that I don’t like to do things by halves. What this has to do with India? Well – I will get back to that shortly.

But let me start by saying, If I want to do something I go all in. It might be slightly obsessive, but I have come to accept it is part of who I am. If I want to climb a mountain I go all in with crazy training, and eating like a rabbit, if I want to learn a programming language I disappear from the surface of the earth and bury myself in front of my computer, if I want to learn how to print in the darkroom I order a mountain of chemicals and become the mad scientist (by the way crossing the border between England and France through the euro tunnel with a suitcase full of darkroom chemical makes for some very stressed looking border police – true story!)

This obsessive nature can be rather productive at times, but there is also another side of the coin when things do not work out as I want them to. After my mountain adventure last winter I have been struggling with some bad ass knee problems, also known as patellar tendonitis, which has hindered me from training as hard as I would have liked to. Two things has come out of that – firstly my mood has become darker and I flipped 100% in terms of diet – no more eating like a rabbit, more like eating like a pig (followed by a fair bit of weight gain), and secondly I have become greatly fascinated by anatomy. Again my obsessive nature has kicked in and I have been in “body debugging” mode, studying human anatomi, and training specifically to improve my knee situation (in my case ankle+hip mobility + strengthening my glute region – also known as the bum). I have become crazy flexible and my buns has become considerable stronger – slowly progress is being made to provide myself with a more healthy knee situation.

Another thing that I have become obsessive about the last few years has been becoming very mobile, and cutting my living footprint down to a minimum. Most of my things has been sold, given away or thrown out. I don’t own a TV – well I do but it is permanently lend to the wonderful couple Dorthe and Dennis, I only own a few boxes which also resides in the basement of Dorthe and Dennis, a computer and a bunch of outdoor stuff. This month I moved to Norway to live with the wonderful woman Michelle Ortiz. I love the fact that from the time I made the decision to move here, to it being a reality just took a little more than 3 weeks. Its a very freeing feeling to be able to do things like this on such a short notice.

One of the latest things I have been working on in this more mobile lifestyle is to make the move from bulky DSLR cameras to tiny mirrorless camera. The technology has been moving fast the last few years, and now some affordable solution exists which provide outstanding quality. Currently I am busy testing the Fuji x100s – an amazing cost efficient camera weighing only a little less than one pound. I love that such a tiny little camera can provide me with such amazing quality – it really brings back the joy in photography. It is a great tool that does not come in my way, it is light and well performing, and allows me to focus on the subject matter without worrying too much about technology. It is dead silent and very unobtrusive – ideal for my passion of photographing people.

Now you might ask what all this has to do with India, and not doing things by halves? Well the answer is quite simple really. I want to put this camera to the ultimate test, I want to put it through it paces and see how it works on the streets of incredible India. So tomorrow I will put myself on a plane and go to India during the monsoon to do nothing but photograph for two months. If it can take the abuse of two months of photography during the heavy monsoons I know I have found myself a real gem. Needless to say I am excited to be visiting India for the 7th time in my life, a land of startling contrasts. I am sure a lot of human stories are there waiting to be reported by my Fuji x100s.