Piling into the back of a van we painted only a week earlier, with the creations of our imaginations. I have sat upon the roof, painted a moth with her wings outstretched, the night sky steaming past her as if in flight. I full heartedly feel like I am destined to take this journey. I prolong my stay in India by a meagre few days, but to me the opportunity to experience this place and time with these people is too strong of a pull to place the cost of a flight over. We often this of the places to visit in the world and yet the greatest moments, the memories are filled with people. Of smiles, of laughter or tears and heart wrenching pain. For good and for bad, I place my trust in those around me and set forth with my knees tucked under my chin at the back of a van destined to drive into the heart of India.
Along the way I can sense that everyone is making their own journey within. It is not just the experience of placing one foot in front of each other, or clocking the miles as we move closer to our target. I can see thoughts of the faces of my friends, my fellow travellers. I cannot and should not try to interpret them for myself but appreciate the moment and its impact for each of them. Now and then we all slip into silence, our deep thoughts and differences within a ‘motley crew’ that have come together from all across the globe. Some moments I am rolling my tongue in a harmonic exhilaration of whoops and calls, singing along with music on the bluetooth speaker that is been perched on the dashboard, and at other moments in reflection, trying to take it ll in, testing my memory to hold these moments forever with me.
We find ourselves climbing over boulders that do not seem as though they were created on this planet. Where did they come from and why are they here, sitting upon each other in a way that sometimes seem intentional and sometime haphazard? I have the internet at my fingertips and yet choose to live in the mystery, the magic of the unknown. Around bends we ride scooters to approach a lake that we long to bathe in escaping the heat. I swear to my friends that every corner has a warning not to swim in fear of crocodiles but they remind me that life is short. Between their reasoning and my bodies intolerable heat, I also push my body into the water. The sun is setting and we sit atop a large rock to watch the last moments of light. I lay in the stillness, watching no clouds pass, only the eternal blue above. I am not sure when I have ever felt so calm, exactly where I need to be. My friend places his hand on my forehead,I look up to see more than the blue that surrounds me. In that moment I feel cared for, connected, a part of something bigger.
The next few days feel like a lifetime. I try and breathe it all in, stick it down in my mind as though every moment is a photo I can place in a scrapbook. I question how it is possible to have so many incredible moments? How one experience filled with happiness and joy can roll into the next, without a pause without a lull in between? I grow close to my friend Sasha, as we connect on an artistic level and share our stories of the past. We become inseparable, rolling down hills together on a motorcycle with lights that choose by themselves when to turn on, laughing as we dance with children on the streets who are so filled with curiosity for our cameras I cannot but hope we have left them with a passion for photography. We meet Arame, a chai brewing restauranter in a little nearby village that cared for us, and patiently told us stories of Hanuaman the hindu monkey god and that life means more than money. We nod in agreement as we truly know the full truth of living life with joy unattached from material possessions. The days are spent drawing postcards in cafés, we meditate on the rocks to the sunrise and we play instruments alongside a fire to the full moon, we scream ‘hampi-ness forever’ as we ride around the countryside on the scooter and every moment feels like a gift.