I've taken two trips to India now, and kept a running diary in both. As I go, I try and hammer it out into some sort of shape, so it's less of a journal and more of a series of pieces -  you can jump in at any point. But in both series, if you start at the beginning, I think you'll find the experience similar to bumping along in a sweltering bus alongside me for nine or ten days (I do realize that this is also a downside to starting from the beginning, but it had to be said).

If you're just here for a taste, I recommend reading "The Gods Are Dead," in which I join 100,000 Indians at the festival of Durga Puja in Patna and accidentally find myself at the center of attention. If you like that and want to pick and choose some of the more interesting pieces, I recommend "The earth is not a cold, dead place," "Just...everything," and "The Peace Child" from the first trip, and "Fire Breathers and Bunk Beds," "Cold Truths," and "The Perils of Simplicity." 

Though if I'm being honest, pretty much everything from the second trip is better than anything from the first trip. I don't know what happened, but in less than a year I think I improved significantly as both a writer and a photographer (the latter certainly makes sense: my first trip was my first real experience as a combination videographer/photographer), and I think my understanding of what I was seeing was deepened by the relationships I developed with the staff in Patna my second time through.

I produced a video on both trips, the most recent one is part of my reel and can be watched here.

Otherwise, you can pick you way through these any way you like:

Trip One

Greetings from Delhi. I like it better than Newark so far. Those brief moments before landing in India for the first time, knowing things in my life are about to shift.

Greetings from the Taj Mahal, home of monuments and metaphors. Learning about value at the most expensive grave in the world.

Greetings from somewhere above India. It's too dark to tell where. Trying to pull myself together on a flight from Delhi to Hyderabad.

The earth is not a cold, dead place. Learning about salvation in a place where no one can be saved.

Bad stories. Working to understand the caste system while recovering from sunstroke.

Greetings from the Cool Club, where the Communists have not killed me yet. Discovering a faith and hope born out of dust.

"Just... everything." Trying to cling to my memories of India, and knowing that I'll fail.

The Peace Child. The struggles in understanding religion through culture.  

 

 

Trip Two

Day One: The Harsh Soft Light of Morning. Lying sleepless and haunted in an empty hotel lobby as the sun rises.

Day Two: White Marble and Legends. We are taken to the Taj Mahal by a Hindi interpreter more fluent in Swedish than English.

Day Three: Fire-Breathers and Bunk Beds. A pastor waits for a death that does not come.

Day Four: Cold Truths. Hunting for God is in the capital of India's poorest district.

Day Five: The Perils of Simplicity. Contemplating the reality that we are telling simple Bible stories to children who live their lives under the reality of rape and sexual abuse.

Day Six: The Gods Are Dead. Becoming a minor celebrity amidst the region's biggest religious festival.

Day Seven: Sunstroke. Curled up back at the hotel, feverish and angry at my self-pity.

Day Eight: Some Stories Are Real. Watching a life lived on a trash pile.

Day Nine: Where I Started. I don't know if I want to leave.

Day Ten: Out of Time. Wondering what it is God is doing, and why I can't see it.