Monday January 12, 2015 - Udaipur, India
It's pitch black outside and I'm propped up in my bed at the Jawat Niwas Palace Hotel perched on the banks of Lake Pichola. Ellen, my roommate, is still asleep in the bed next to me, and I'm gazing at the lights from the luxury hotels across the way, glittering like diamonds in the Maharajas palace. The Call to Prayer is echoing across the water and I think I can actually hear it coming from several different sources. It's a sound that evokes a deeply mystical sensation from a land I've never experienced before. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I'm actually here. I had really vivid dreams this morning before I awoke; all taking place at home. Traveling to distant lands certainly throws the psyche into conflicting spaces: being fascinated by and loving the journey of exploration, and at the same time yearning for that which is familiar. (Although back home the temperatures are currently sub-zero, and I must admit no one in the group is missing that frigid climate!)
Today we leave at 9:00 a.m. to head north to Deogarh ( a half-way point on the road to Jodpuhr) and I'm ready for another day of traveling and experiencing a new set of vistas along the way. This brings me to another topic that Ellen felt I should address: I had promised to blog live from the road -- and I know that many people have been looking forward to sharing my travel experience in real time. If you can't get away, following along on someone else's adventure really is enriching.
Several days ago I attempted to post my first blog (Day One from Mumbai) when I encountered a glitch I hadn't planned for and am still frustrated trying to resolve. (Has anyone else noticed that traveling can challenge all your problem-solving skills?) I was fully able to log onto my blogger account and post the text I had written, but when I attempted to upload my first photo, the photo-editing technology at Huffington Post would not accept my image because it was simply titled "image-0012" and not given a specific name. This was a wrinkle I had never anticipated in all my planning for this trip! If I had thought this through more carefully and done a test before I left on my iPad, I would have realized this would be an issue and could have brought a laptop with a photo editing program. However, since I did NOT do that -- I'm now faced with this challenge.
I google-searched the problem to see what others have done to title a photo on an iPad and a few suggested the only way was to buy a certain app to make it work. I tried that and it still didn't work. I wracked my brain to come up with some other solution. I tried sending the photos to my husband to see if he could help title the photos and send them back. Then I encountered another challenge that's plagued us on this trip: horrible internet connections in our hotels! I couldn't send images back and forth easily and in fact, many of my emails were not even going through! All my "normal" means of making this problem disappear and finding a solution have fallen flat!
As the days have gone on and the amazing experiences keep building on each other (as well as the wealth of incredible images), I have come to realize that all of this frustration is taking away from my experience of enjoying "being here now" and after all -- isn't coming to India something that one should be fully present to? To experience fully the rich culture around me, I need all the resources I have in the present moment! So I have made the decision, sadly, to wait until I get home to post my daily missives about this trip. By doing this, I will be able to include all the powerful images I've been able to gather and not compromise the quality of the images in any way. I consider myself a visual storyteller, and my words and images go together to create the experience. So thank you for your patience and I look forward to bringing the fullness of this diverse culture to you in a few short weeks upon my return.
Mary Anne Erickson is an artist who has been documenting the demise of the American roadside culture for over 30 years in paintings and photography. Her work can be seen here.