I made it to Amritsar extremely late at night after a long drive through the Himalayas and a long night train (night trains suck because sleeping in one is near impossible). The next day I headed out to the golden temple or as it’s locally known, Sri Harmandir Sahib. The golden temple is a Sikh gudwara (place of worship), in fact it’s the holiest place of worship for those of the Sikh religion and contains what the Sikhs call the Akal Takht, the temporary seat of God’s authority. The Sikh people are very open and hospitable to everyone, no matter what religion or background. The four entrances to the Golden temple complex represent that openness to all religions. They even have a free meal for anyone that I wish I knew about on the first day because it was really good when I went the second day I was there. The water around the temple is said to be the tank of nectar and immortality, and although I don’t think anyone is becoming immortal it’s amazing to see so many people taking a dip in the water. There are many things I’ve noticed about Sikhism that have similarities to Christianity and some historians even believe that Jesus visited India and taught the gospel in his ‘missing 30 years’, those historians believe that Sikhism is a slightly corrupted Christian teaching by the interactions with other religions during the time of it spreading (I’ve had some people get angry at me for that comment but don’t shoot the messenger, I just did some research on what historians thought). Some similarities are the monotheistic views and the use of baptism among others.

All in all this was the friendliest place I experienced in India and even though everyone stares at the white dude walking down the road they are quick to say hello, give a smile or even ask for a selfie.

The first blog post.

I decided it was time to start blogging a little. My Instagram (@bradenpaulphoto) during my India trip was essentially a photo based travel blog about the people, places and experience so I decided to bring it here. This blog will be focused on the work and stories of what I shoot, some personal experiences and thoughts, along with some factually based, written ‘articles’. The first few posts will be the same or very similar to some of my Instagram posts but I will occasionally blog about different personal projects and shoots for clients. This blog will be a very relaxed look at what I’m up to and provide a bit of background to some of my shots. Thanks for coming to hear a bit about my work, the people and places I shoot and whatever else goes through this crazy mind of mine. Here we go.

“India is a country of extremes. Extreme religious practice’s, extreme political structure, extreme wealth gap, extreme friendliness, extreme cultural differences and let’s not forget the extreme driving.

This photo captures the extremely poor. The wealth gap is intense and in your face, no holding back. You can look on one street and see a Maserati driving past a family living on the sidewalk using garbage to cook their tiny meals.

This place makes you think a lot about politics and economics and price of human life. India is one of a kind.”

Those words were the extent of my overwhelmed thoughts after the first day in India. Arriving in India can be a bit of a shock. I remember flying into Delhi at night and being so excited and amazed at what I was seeing. You could look out over the country and see thousands of small villages, there wasn’t much darkness in the countryside like you would see in Canada. There were pockets of light everywhere like a piece of bread with spots of mold overtaking the loaf. Then there was Delhi, a source of light that filled the horizon and sky and constant stream of movement in the darkness. It was a living, moving, glowing organism surrounded by smaller organisms of light everywhere. Flying in was exhilarating but going out the next day was completely overwhelming. There are people everywhere you look. Cars everywhere you look. Animals everywhere you look. It was a barrage of sights, sounds, smells, feelings and tastes. India literally kicks your five senses into overdrive and slams them into oblivion. It can still be hard to explain India and what it has done to me personally. India has made me confront issues that I otherwise wouldn’t have or wouldn’t have had to yet experience. The country has taught me a lot about myself as well as human nature, spirit, value etc. I continue to try and figure out what to say about India and I often come to the same phrase. “India is wild”.

A little more in depth information based on this photo:
India’s poverty line according to India Planning Commission is set at $2.40
India’s population according to the same Planning Commission that is living under the poverty line is 30%
A Pew Research Centre Report estimates that food consumption alone costs the average family over 50% of their budget.
According to a Mckinsey Global Institute Study, 56% of the Indian population lack the means to provide for their own basic needs.

A lot is being done by great organizations around the world and the Indian government to make those numbers better but there is still a long way to go.