Trying to define India is probably the most difficult challenge that can be given to any writer or storyteller. I look at it like trying to answer the “what is the meaning of life” question. A question that I asked myself plenty of times whenever I ate street food, or comprehended a little more about Hinduism, or saw the cremation ghats in Varanasi, or even when I spoke to a Sadhu.

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I have never experience such a rooted connection to the place that I am visiting as I did in India. Everyone says that travel changes your perspective of the world, and that India is probably the most intense place that you will ever visit…Let me say that all of it true…

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I define India as the colours, the Hindus, the naked feet, the Portuguese Heritage, the 25% Muslim population, the noise, the wonderfully variety of spicy food,  the people that are born on the streets and die on the streets, the Bollywood action scenes, the worshiping of Lord Shiva, the unbelievable unprecedented migraine inducing bureaucracy, the overcrowded streets, the overcrowded trains, the overcrowded buses, the Mughal 16th century coins that you buy on the street for 50 rupees, the constant noise, the luxury hotels, the multi billions of the new generations of Indians, the Indian headshake, the lawless driving, the way every Hindu Indian interprets Hinduism in his/her own way, the street dentists, the pepper vodka cocktails, the constant blaring of the traffic horns, the chanting of mantras in the early morning, the friendliness of the Indians, the dead heritage buildings all over India, the garbage on the street, the 330 million gods, the moustaches, the holy dip in the Ganges, the haggling with the cashmere shop owners, the panners and the parathas, the Punjabi jokes,  the cows who lay on the middle of the road and cause major traffic jams, the chewing of the pan leaf and spitting the red residue everywhere, the kingfisher beer and the kingfisher bird, the whole culture of death being just a passage to another life until ultimately reaching nirvana, the Delhi Belly, the eating with the hands, the Hanuman God telemarketing channel, the  Sadhus, the complicated process of learning how to put on saree, the stepping on cow dung and praying for luck, the hope of the ones who have a bicycle to have a motorbike to have a car to have two cars to sending their kids abroad for their studies to hire more staff to build a bigger house to help more the ones in need, the festival posters where the elephants are the main attractions not the rock/pop stars, the chapattis, the Lungi dance, the messy overhanging wires in the Delhi downtown, the Ayurveda medicine and drinking hot drinks in 38º heat, the washing of the laundry next to the cremation ghats in Varanasi, the decoration of the India trucks that should be declared UNESCO World Heritage, the monkeys that break into your room and steal your food, smiles of the kids who play on the streets, the almost getting run over by a cycle rickshaw while trying to cross an intersection, the Kerala Sunsets, getting a bindi everywhere you go, the panoply of colour and embroiderment of the silk sarees, the happy holly throw colour in each other’s face festival,  the getting wasted in palm toddy, the flower necklaces,  the eating rice for breakfast every day, the Oberoi Hotel chain, the 15 people who actually fit inside a motor rickshaw, the Jain religion and the not brushing the teeth to prevent killing bacteria, the hilarious matrimonial Sunday section in the times of India, drinking street chai while cursing Starbucks and their shit coffee, the squatting as a resting position instead of seating, the recycling and using of every item until it has can’t be recycled again, the getting back home and realizing that your India trip has just begun…

This Define India sentence has been inspired by the words of Jeremy Atiyah and his “sense of well-being and life worth living” article.

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Nelson Carvalheiro

I am just a guy with a camera, trying to make sense of it all...

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I am an award-winning filmmaker and content creator that loves to create meaningful and inspiring films uniquely tailored for each client and their story. I am based in Lisbon and travel to destinations worldwide.
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