Vanessa is a Spirited Pursuit frequent flier, whose local expert story on Miami gave us all a look into how she she lives in a vacation city. Vanessa's most recent trip saw her travel to India for work. While her venture into the bustling country was definitely a culture shock, her experience in Jaipur with the locals made her feel at home.
Re-introduce yourself! What have you been up to since your last feature on Spirited Pursuit?
I’m Vanessa, a photographer. Since my last feature on SP, I moved from Miami to New York City to pursue a career as a full time artist. I’ve been traveling and working with amazing brands. I’ve been so thankful.
How does photography influence the way you travel and see the world around you?
As a photographer, I see the world in sets of images; quick frozen moments in time. I’m attracted to unique color ways and compositions, I usually travel to places that are vibrant and full of life. That is what I like photographing the most.
What sparked your trip to India? Which cities/regions did you visit?
I was actually on a business trip for Away. I didn’t think I’d ever see India in my lifetime, so this was a dream come true. I visited Jaipur aka "The Pink City", which is a small but beautiful part of the country.
How did you approach to photography while in there? Did you generally strike up a conversation with people or just candidly capture the moment? How did locals react to being photographed?
My approach was to primarily capture the architecture and colors. The architecture in India is so unique and known world wide for their exquisite patterns and design. I rarely speak to people before I photograph them (i’m shy), I usually just smile and take the photo. The locals LOVE photos. They would laugh and pose anytime I took their photos, they even gave me options. Haha.
How was this travel experience different from past trips you’ve taken? What surprised you most?
My trip to India was probably the longest time I’ve ever been on a plane, 16 hours, it wasn’t easy but it was rewarding. India is an interesting country, the culture is so different compared to westernized parts of the world. The people surprised me the most, they’re just so happy. They love life and it was nice experiencing that.
What were some of your experiences ?
Waking up early to the sound of parrots flying and the warmth of the Indian sun was probably the best way to start the day. There was a fog every morning and I would sit on the roof and just stare out, it seemed so peaceful. Once you got to the middle of the city though, there was honking, yelling, people rushing, cars speeding, cows morning. It was intense.
What would you say has been the most challenging about your experience? The most gratifying?
Honestly, I’m not sure how people “find” themselves in India, its hectic. There's1 billion people living there and it’s not hard to notice. I found my senses overloaded to the max and at times it was anxiety inducing. I live in NY, so you can imagine. That was probably the hardest part for me, but once I found my relaxation, India is this magical place where monkeys roam, elephants are on the highways and camels are in every corner.
What recommendations do you have for future travelers interested in having a similar experience?
- Keep an open mind, and don’t be nervous when the locals stare at you. It’s all love haha.
- Spend the day at Jaipur fort and Amber fort. These places were breathtaking and really give you a sense of Indian architecture.
- Be careful with the food, but please drink the Indian tea (chai), it’s phenomenal.
- Go to the Flower Market early in the morning, there are vendors selling beautiful marigolds and the photo opportunities are endless.
- Walk around City Palace and go to a textile store and have them make you a custom shirt, pair of pants, a dress, or whatever! Affordable and beautiful.
What would surprise most people about India? What is your favorite/funniest memory from a trip?
I think people would be surprised at how friendly everyone is. My favorite memory was drinking and finding myself at a party late at night, dancing and laughing uncontrollably with the locals. We held each other in a circle and sang, drank and danced until our stomachs hurt from laughing so hard. It was pure joy.
What’s next for you? Any final thoughts or advice?
I’m heading to Cuba to connect with my roots. Put India on your travel list, it’s a magical country.
To keep up with Vanessa, her travels and photography, be sure to follow her @ohmynessa or visit her website
Photos Courtesy of Vanessa Granda