It was a cold day when we landed in Delhi, and it was the day the emotions began to run high. Before I even got home, I found out that Nina’s bag had been opened at the airport and some lenses taken out. After a long trying day, she got them back but that was just the start. The trip saw almost everyone coming down with Delhi Belly, being homesick, Nick, Kajeera and Rebecca lost their cameras in an auto, Nick fell ill on his first LIIT and Shakun had her camera stolen. All of this in the space of five days! What was I doing? Helping! It was my hometown after all and I felt it was my duty to take care of everyone.
Though a lot of unfortunate events took place, it came with it’s good times. The city was different from what we had experienced in Mumbai. Gone were the locals asking for photos only to be replaced with stares from a distance, which wasn’t half as bad. It makes me wonder though. Mumbai is the fastest city in India. Close to Goa and home to Bollywood and the slums, it is a hub for international tourists, but Delhiites just handle being around tourists so much better. They were smarter too though. Gone were the nice, fair taxi men, only to be replaced by everyone trying to overcharge everyone. At one point, I was ready to shoot myself. Having said that, we Delhiites take hospitality very seriously and that is what my Australian friends found here. Whatever the problem, everyone wanted to help in every way possible. It was shocking really to see how much time one was willing to spare just to help. Big cultural difference right there!
Delhi, as Shakun so rightly described it is a monument, not just a city of monuments. With so much culture and history in one city, we were transported back in time as we roamed the streets and enjoys cold beers on spacious rooftop bars. Laid back and the city of the elite is how I have always thought of Delhi.
Here, we met students of VIPS, a media institute in Delhi. They were studying film and photography like us. What surprised me was that it was very different, the way we thought and went about the process of filming. While our course has always given us the creative freedom to do as we please and find our own style, the same was not true for them. They were taught rules and theories and were asked to function in a certain manner. The other thing was the lack of foresight. They did not think planning and pre-production to be as important as the production at all, which was where we had major problems later on, when we could not get enough footage. But, I noticed that Bollywood functions in a very similar way.
The thing about these students though was that they were the most accommodating people I have ever known and were very good with their technical knowledge. They were good at figuring things out, finding easy solutions or what we call in Hindi ‘Jugaad’. They were much better at the camerawork than me, and always took the lead on helping everyone through everything. They were shy at the start but we all warmed up to each other very quickly and it was tremendous fun working together. I personally felt like I had the best of both worlds.
The project I ended up working on, in India was on Prayas, a juvenile childrens’ NGO. The topic I chose was based on sex trafficking amongst the children and how Prayas was working to save them. This was another emotional journey we all went through together. It was hard. As I have mentioned before, being an Indian, I never paid any attention to the street children and on occasion have even been rude to them sadly. This trip, this project, being around friends who saw it differently, I was pulled under. I had to rethink everything I thought I had known in the past and I cried. I cried for them and I cried for me, the person I had been. It is crazy how much can change with a little change of perspective. Prayas was life changing, and I want to help change their lives…