A few years ago, I could never have imagined being able to write the things I’m about to write. I was a “FOB” or “Fresh Off the Boat,” I knew nothing of American culture and I had conservative Indian parents. This meant being able to just assimilate was quite hard as they wanted to me to just focus on school and nothing else, so don’t bother with making friends or learning about the latest trends or trying to see the world. This caused me to have a fairly dismal outlook on life. I thought I would go no where and do nothing besides school and the prescribes jobs that my parents had in mind. This however was not my fate, as after coming to America I picked up a camera and fell in love with photography. I decided not to conform and go the route my parents had chosen for me, instead developing a passion for the arts.
With the start of college, I decided to persue photography seriously buying my first digital SLR, a Canon 20D which I still own and use and a Canon EF 50mm F1.8 lens. During my second semester as a freshman at University of Florida, I met a photographer that worked at one of the local newspapers “The Independent Alligator” at which point I started freelancing for them. My first ever published photo was that of a Dominoes Pizza delivery guy, delivering pizza. It ran for a story on how Dominoes was introducing a new online tracking system for customers who had ordered pizza’s online. While not the best photo I’ve taken, it was my first widely published photo. I remembered going and picking up quite a few issues of the paper the next day that had my image in it to keep for memories sake. Since then, I’ve made leaps and bounds and have shot various assignments from step shows, press conferences, political rallies, sports, portraits, weddings, and performances.
In May of 2008 I applied and was accepted for a study abroad opportunity in Tokyo with Temple University based in Philadelphia for Spring 2009 furfilling a dream I had to visit Japan since I was twelve years old. On January 7th, 2009 at 6:52 AM I boarded a plane for the second time in my life, the first being when my parents moved from Guyana to America, to Narita, Tokyo, Japan. This was my first time leaving America, first time leaving the state of Florida, and first time traveling on my own, as one can assume, I was both nervous and excited. After roughly 18 hours in the air I landed at Narita Airport in Tokyo Japan. This brought about massive changes to who I am and my world views. During my time in Japan I lived and learned in a culture and city that was completely unlike anything I had been in before. The worlds largest metropolis, the worlds busiest metro system, the most high tech, cutting edge, fast pace place on earth and a society that was steeped in traditions thousands of years old while embracing the future head on. A culture which valued harmony amongst the group, more than the individual. This was truly a learning experience and a test of my ability to adapt. I had to learn how to come to grips with one of the hardest languages on earth, how to navigate the largest city in the world, how to act, even how to bow. With all of this, I showed my self that no matter the challenge, I had the resolve to overcome it. With this I decided to do a three month solo tour of Southeast Asia and East Asia including the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
After my time in Tokyo was up I decided to start my world wind tour through Asia, first by venturing down to the south of Japan, via the bullet train and then by flying to Manila, Philippines. While scared at first, I mean I would be traveling through an entire continent with all of my camera gear, laptop, hard drives, and clothes, I soon forgot my fear and dove into it and I’m happy I did it. Through out my travels I met amazing people, from a woman in Germany who decided she would take a year off to travel around the world on her own before starting her new job back in Germany to a Japanese man who was biking around the world. I was also able to see and do utterly amazing things including:
- Watching Sakura or Cherry Blossoms snow to the ground in Shinjuku, Japan
- A 200mph trip on the Japanese Shinkansen or Bullet train
- Visiting temples and shrines in historic Kyoto
- Feeling overwhelmed by the skyscrapers in Central, Hong Kong
- Riding the Star Ferry in Victoria Bay, Hong Kong
- Going to the Peak and watching the sunset over Hong Kong
- Eating freshly made Pho from a street vendor in Saigon, Vietnam
- Seeing the still visible battle scars from the Vietnam War in Hue, Vietnam
- Scuba diving in the pacific ocean near Nha Trang, Vietnam
- A tour through Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
- Meditating with Thai Buddhist monks in Chang Mai, Thailand
- Trekking through the Jungles of Thailand
- Riding on an Elephants back
- Riding at the time worlds fastest elevator in then worlds tallest building Taipei 101.
- Watching the sun set 390 meters up in Taipei 101 and hearing the wind howl against the metal barricade
- Going to a Taiwanese night market
- Riding the Alishan railway and seeing conditions change from tropical to sub tropical to finally temperate as the elevation rose.
- Watching the sun rise above the clouds 2,500 meters above sea level on Mount Ali in Taiwan.
- Seeing 3,000 year old giant Taiwanese Red Cypress
- and most importantly meeting, talking, traveling, and bonding with people from all walks of life
One thing that traveling has left me with is to always be willing to try new things even if it seems like if you won’t enjoy it and to try and approach things with an take things with an open mind.