Story and photos by Barbara Angelakis

Faces of India

Faces and Places of India

On my first trip to India, I visited Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, just 2 of the current 34 and counting states that comprise the  sub-continent of India. Having been warned of the heat, the dirt, the  poverty, the strange practices, and most of all the crushing crowds, India had not been high on my list of luxury destinations to visit. But  if you have been put off by these negative impressions like I was, please continue reading and possibly you will re-think your desire to  visit India. Hopefully, like me, you will find India exotic and  addictive.

The sub-continent of India is home to one of the oldest civilizations on  our planet, but least you think it has been a homogeneous march through  the centuries, au contraire. Without boring you with names and dates of  conquerors and conquered, suffice it to say that India has been a player on the world scene since 2,500 B.C. suffering invasion after invasion,  from within and from without, until after a period of non-violent  protest led by Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, India gained independence from the British Empire in 1947.

Faces of India Hampi Sacred Center

Faces of India Mysore Palace at night

Faces of India Mysor Palace Gate

All those invasions have created a country rich in social variety and  brimming with cultural diversity in religion, language, customs, dress,  and attitude. There are about 9 practicing religions - although Hinduism is the largest - and 18 major languages with more than 1,000 dialects  spoken. Manners in dress for both men and women are dictated by the  region in which they reside - so too is the method of draping the sari,  the traditional costume for women, and the length of a man’s trousers -  but ornate jewelry as adornment is favored throughout the country with  the style and manner of decoration determined solely by financial  constraints. The things I found in common were the easy smiles and warm  and friendly greetings from everyone I encountered. The universal love  of color, music and art, and the joyful participation in festivals and  celebrations was a nice surprise and a real eye-opener. Indian weddings  are famous for their 3 to 5 day affairs of dancing, singing, eating and  socializing and many overlapping weddings put partygoers in the  difficult position of having to choose whose affair to attend on any  given day.

There is an unhurried momentum in the south, even in the cities, that puts  one at ease even in the crush of humanity. This makes it easy to view  the passing scene and note the variety of features, sizes, shades, and  manners of the surrounding multitudes. If you go to India and see  nothing of its many historical artifacts (which would be tragic) or its  modern accomplishments (another shame) but just with a camera or a  paintbrush immerse yourself in the contrasts and ironies that abound,  you will find the possibilities limitless and enthralling.

There are many luxury and ultra-luxury properties to be pampered in... I  actually stayed in the fabled royal residence of the Nizam Mahbub Ali  Khan, purported to be the richest and most powerful man in recorded  history and now an ultra-luxe hotel of the Taj Group - and methods of  air-conditioned travel can be arranged, but to experience the real  India, take the time to stroll the streets and markets with your camera  at the ready. India is a photographer’s dream and presents a photo  opportunity at every turn. I could not take my camera away from my eye  for fear I would lose the shot of a lifetime.

Here is a sampling of my impressions of India... close-up and personal.

Faces of India Women at Full Moon Festival1

Faces of India Fish Seller1

Faces of India Fakeer Tongue Out1

Faces of India Full moon festival Holy Man1

Faces of India Henna Tatoo1

Faces of India Dancer1

Faces of India Child at Halebid Temple

Faces of India Street Seller

Faces of India Decorated for full moon festival

Faces of India Pattadakal Temple

Faces of India Guide

Faces of India Taj welcome reception

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