I’d never been to India before and I was by myself, but going on the coat-tails of another devotee who knew the ropes. In December 2010 I travelled to India to Bangalore in the South. I spent two weeks at Puttaparthi on Sai Baba’s ashram and joined the International Choir to learn 15 Christmas songs from over the world to open the Christmas Festivities there. There were 67 nationalities in the choir of 750, 500 women and 250 men and a 25 piece band of whoever turned up with an instrument.
We practised morning and afternoon sitting on the floor in 27 degree heat and would go to darshan after that for Sai Baba’s blessing. The open air temple holds 20,000 souls and was always packed, morning and evening. This was 4 months before he passed on.
After Christmas I flew to Delhi and joined a tour group. We went on the overnight train to Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India, the ancient city which the Ganges flows through. Every devout Hindu wants to have their funeral rites there and their ashes scattered in the Ganges.
It’s not culturally sensitive to photograph this. Instead, I have pictures of everyday life at Varanasi University, one of FOUR universities there.
The entrance to one of the universities in Varanasi, India. The temple behind it which we were going to see was closed and the grounds cleared because of a bomb threat while we were there.
I am having myself sketched by an art student at a university in Varanasi, India. The students spread their work out over the grounds hoping for a buyer. I wore Indian clothes all the time I was there and back in New Zealand afterwards too as they are so comfortable and practical.