Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Video Note: Please excuse the quality of this video. It is by no means a professionally done piece. I'd like to try something new so I shot this with a flip cam and edited on my laptop.
So I've been here for almost three weeks now, and no matter how I look at India, it is to me, a land of contradictions, of darkness and beauty, pain and reward--to those who call her home and those who come here to seek a profound understanding of the world upon her shores.
This is my fourth assignment in India in less than three years--and every time I'm here, I am forced to become someone I am not, someone who--in the midst of trials and tribulations on everyday life, some how, finds it extremely difficult to survive in India being the person that I am groomed to be. The clothing I wear, the hue of my skin--and even the whiteness of my teeth makes me different. The way I walk, eat, sleep, and look at people clearly dictates that I am an outsider. The fact that I am a photographer pointing an unknown object in people's faces is only a fragment of what divides me and India. And to me, it makes me uncomfortable.
I am always one to believe that the world is one. A mere microcosm of our universe abundant with people and beings that define the very essence of our planet. And no matter how unique or different we are from one another, I believe that our dreams are many, yet our goals are one--and because of that, I keep telling myself that the discomfort I am feeling is merely a phase and as the days go by, with every sunset and and sunrise, that feeling would slowly dissipate.
Sadly, after three weeks, it hasn't.
Being here takes your breath away--literally and metaphorically. The sights and sounds of everyday life here is enough to wake your senses--but the poverty and struggle of most Indians that live in the most sordid conditions is enough to wish you were only dreaming. With every one thing beautiful includes an equal amount of a reality that holds no mercy on what is opposite to beauty.
The divide is unmeasurable. The rich and poor, the new and old, the normal and the paranormal all collide in a sea of unforgiving truth that speaks a language I cannot understand.
I am here for one more week to finalize my assignment--upon which I will be heading back to Haiti for my second tour. I hope this finds you well and I apologize for not having the chance to write more often. Lately, my days have been starting early and ending late--but I do manage to update via Facebook with a few lines ever so often. Please feel free to join me and follow me via Facebook.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
We've come a long, long way, momma--from fear and starvation to hope and happiness. And through it all, it is because of you--because you refused to let go, to be blinded by war and wreckage, hatred and evil. You see what others overlook. You feel when so many cannot--which is why, momma, in a world of kings, you are my queen.
I'm writing to you, momma, 9000 miles away--but no matter the distance, no matter the oceans or islands that keep us apart, no matter the time or tides that divide us, I am yours and you are mine. I breathe because of you. I walk upon this earth because you are my guide--at every turn and every corner, land, sea or air, you are there for me. And I promise, momma, that when you shall need me, I will be there for you, too.
Through the years, you've shaped me to become the man I am today. You've molded me to be not like you in face and figure--but in thought and theory to challenge like you, to defy those that cannot define the difference between right and wrong--and to prove to so many that, like you, small yet strong, odds can be beaten. Momma, you are my hero.
Your smile makes me smile in my time of need. Your voice--even though at times I cannot hear, resonates within me everywhere I go, telling me how much you care. And because of that, I keep pushing forward--knowing that whatever I do, where ever I go or how lost I get, in the end, I will always find you. That, momma, is more than any son can ever ask for.
Momma, on this day and everyday, know that I love you with every beat of my heart--and I thank you for all that you are and all that you've given to me--and the world.
Your son, always,
Blogger Note: I am currently on foreign assignment in Mumbai, India. I will update soon.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Living life on foreign assignment is no ordinary task. It takes planning—lots of planning! So much so that it ultimately takes priority over many facets of my life. The more I plan, the better I am prepared for the unknown.
In 2009, I traveled to 17 countries within twelve months. 279 days of my life was spent traveling. In total, I circumvented the globe 4 times. A few readers have asked several times how I do it. How do I jump from one country to another and stay safe, healthy, and organized? Today, I reveal to you how I prepare for each and every assignment—and how I manage to adapt to the many facets that shape my life, and my career.
The War Room:
Tucked deep in my unfinished basement is an area where I call “The War Room.”
I know it sounds cliché, but believe me, I approach a lot of my scenarios the same way a soldier would in the field. Maybe it’s because I’ve been trained by the military—or maybe it’s simply the fact that I have a lot of respect for the men and women that defend our nation. It’s both. They know how to get things done—and they’re good at it!
Organization is key. After spending hours of research about a country or geography, I’d make a mental note of what I need to bring, how I’m going to survive, and what challenges I might face. Then, I head downstairs to the war room. In it, is a collection of gear that I’ve purchased in bulk and kept in stock for quick access and replenishing. From clothing to first-aid, personal care items to knives, toothbrushes to flashlights, I have everything labeled and neatly categorized. Sometimes, my assignments are back-to-back with only quick pit-stops at home before heading out again to another country—so being organized and well stocked with supplies saves me time from having to go shopping and allows me to rest in between assignments. For instance, I never have to worry if I’ve got enough toothpaste or power bars in between my assignments from India to Haiti. I’d rather rest and get my bearings in the 48 hours I have before heading out again.
Hot and Cold
On the right side of the room is Cold Gear. On the left is Hot Gear. Doing this allows me to quickly identify what clothing and equipment I need--depending on the destination I am going to and the temperatures I’ll be facing. Socks and underwear, base layers, mids, and outer shells are all separated for specific weather conditions. Footwear, rain gear, sleeping bags, tents and even cooking supplies are all taken into consideration with weather. It’s an important element that I constantly keep in mind.
For those that know me, know that I am one of those guys who buy fours of everything I own. Sometimes even five or six of everything. This allows me to pre-pack before going on assignments back-to-back.
Sometimes, I’d have three to four backpacks fully stuffed and ready to go before leaving for my first destination. When I return for my pit stop, I simply grab the next backpack in line and take off again.
I spend a lot of time making sure my first aid kit is always up to date. I’m a big fan of assembling my own first aid kit and avoid buying pre-packed kits. Most of the kits you see on the camping store shelf is designed to look like you’re getting a lot for your money, when in actuality, most of the things in there will never be used. My kit is basic and kept simple for 1 reason: In an emergency situation, I need to know where everything is and what it’s used for.
When preparing for any foreign assignment, I put together two kits: 1 for trauma and 1 for basic cuts and bruises that I carry with me at all times. The kits include the following:
2x C-A-T Combat Application Tourniquets (For arterial bleeds)
2x Latex Gloves
2x QuickClot Gauze and Hemostatic Bandage
2x Emergency Trauma Dressing (4inch).
1x Roll of medical tape
Planning Makes Perfect
Again, I can’t reiterate enough about the importance of planning in what I do. If you intend to do this type of work/travel for a living, learn to keep yourself organized and stay ontop of your game by being prepared.
If you have any specific questions, please feel free to email me or message me on Facebook.