soulintraining

Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Experiencing the India you didn’t expect

In Philippine Star Column on March 8, 2013 at 1:05 pm

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India was never really at the top of my travel bucket list. Although renowned for being the birthplace of many spiritual practices that I subscribe to, there were just too many stories from other travelers that painted a rather unflattering picture of the place. Thankfully, times have changed, and although there are still the obvious dangers and inconveniences that still pepper many an India trip tale, I finally decided to really try something new and out of my comfort zone and booked a trip in January. On the plane ride over, I came to realize that not only was it a new year, it was the year of the Water Snake-symbolizing rebirth, and, the kundalini  (a powerful energy that sits dormant in one’s body until it’s awakened) is often represented in the shape of a snake. I took this all to mean that this trip could be highly transformative and that I should do things I would normally not do. All the negative voices prior to my trip from well-meaning friends of what to expect or be wary of, I cancelled out; if I was going into something already thinking of the worst that could happen, then I’d probably be inviting that kind of experience.

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Having this kind of attitude, I feel, is what made this trip far removed from  some of the horror stories I had been inundated with and I am grateful. Sure, not everything was seamless, I don’t think I will ever get used to the maniacal weaving and highly defensive driving on the streets, but that was, I learned to accept, all part of the flavor that was India. Delhi, the country’s capital, had both the old, the very, very old, and the new. There were massive malls, smaller shopping complexes with fabulous home accessories, fabrics and even food as well as open-air bazaars that consisted of a lot of bargaining and hours of cajoling, begging, and even minor flirtation to get a beautifully spun pashmina for less. I do not posses the fine art of making tawad so it was an exercise in patience for me to watch my friends stand their ground and slice prices away until they felt satisfied and happy with their purchases. My reward at the end of the day was a good meal, and Delhi did not disappoint. Although I wouldn’t recommend street food to the uninitiated, there are many reputable restaurants and cafes that serve authentic local cuisine and western cuisine (should your taste buds not run towards the hot and spicy).

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Two lovely Delhi discoveries: the whole of Good Earth in Kahn Market that had everything from clothes, accessories, beauty products, home interiors, fabrics and a beautifully decorated café on the top floor; and the very impressive Parliament Area where all the government institutions are situated. The latter is not the India you expect and is awesome in every way, from its architecture, its greenery and, well, its overall area size, stretching down almost until India Wall.

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The rest of the trip was more than just incredible, it was incredibly surprising. I stuck to my guns and tried something new every day, from a super-spicy Tamil-inspired chicken dish (so good, yet so painful to eat) that brought tears to my eyes in Udaipur to taking a stab at printing on cloth in a factory in Jaipur. There were close encounters of the animal kind with me sitting right alongside a snake charmer in Amber Fort in Agra and very tepidly bringing my hand to lightly brush the scales of the cobra as it hissed at me. A rather vertigo-inducing and bumpy elephant ride wedged in between other elephants in Jaipur (offering throat-clenching views) below was unforgettable, and a must for anyone, although I have to admit hearing some of the tourists scream so close to the edge of the road was very amusing. In between the tourist treasures and traps I got my fill of beautiful silk and cotton fabrics, Ayurvedic healing oils, artisanal crafts such as a marble table inlaid with crystals and delicately painted images set on camel bone. A local pastime that I was fortunate enough to experience twice was an Indian wedding, with proverbial bells, whistles, mountains of food and a groom in full regalia mounted on a white steed that seemed to be encrusted in the remains of a disco ball. Both weddings happened on the grounds of two different hotels in two different cities, one much grander than the other with revelry that went on all throughout the night. I imagined that the picture taking alongside the bride and groom must have filled a couple of hours. One couple was even on a stage on a couch and guests had to come up one by one (or in some cases, per family) to have their portraits professionally taken. To wax on about everything I saw, heard, smelled, tasted, touch would probably take way more space than this column allows, India is to be experienced, not just read about. It would be an injustice to simplify what this country can offer in mere words and images. IMG_2041 IMG_2146 IMG_2160 IMG_2171 IMG_2241 IMG_2266 IMG_2277 IMG_2421 IMG_2398

 

A trip to India is a trip to heighten the senses, all of them, sometimes all at the same time. There may be those who find this kind of intense stimulation invasive and abrasive, but for those who are ready to embrace it, this land of contrasts can make any other trip pale very much in comparison.

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Back to basics-rediscovering your roots

In Living a Life Off-Center on October 2, 2010 at 12:45 pm

A little reflection is always good. Looking back can’t hurt for as long as it’s not too long before you look forward again and move. The premise of this 30 min weekly TV show is all about a man rediscovering his roots in the Philippines. Paco Guerrero, an international photographer, decides to come back home to see what life here is all about. An interesting premise, and something worth taking a look at.

Check out the trailer! Two Stops Over Trailer

he premise is simple: An established international photographer, who has lived in the

U.S., Malaysia, London, and in the last decade, Spain, decides to fly back to The Philippines with his family in tow, to try and build a career in his native land. The series follows his journey as he reacquaints himself with his country and his people.

Two Stops Over is all about cutting edge photography, from the gear, the technical processes, and the intimate trade secrets behind taking them, to the production of the show, which was shot entirely on HD, using Canon’s latest EOS 5D Mark II and EOS 7D. From production to post, the show deals with the basics from a first-person perspective, giving us an entertaining, hands-on master class that’s filled with superior, powerful images.

Terno Recordings, the brainchild of Manila-based DJ Toti Dalmacion, provides the music for Two Stops Over; original Filipino music from: Popular Days, Hidden Nikki, Not Another Boy Band, The Charmes, Encounters With A Yeti, Musical O, Sleepwalk Circus, Radioactive Sago Project, and Up Dharma Down.

The show isn’t just about photography, it’s more of a journey, bringing up a debate that’s long-drawn: does the photographer change the subject or does the subject change the photographer? And it’s not just about Paco’s journey, but about the viewer’s as well. Two Stops Over aims to change our perspectives on life through the lens.

Two Stops Over will premiere this November over 2nd Avenue on Sundays, 7:30 pm

with a second run on Saturdays, 10:30 am.