India is a country of sensory overload, I will do my best to give you just a taste of my experiences, I have decided to break it up into subjects as tying all the tales together would take more space than this page.
It's been said that India is the,
Yarn Salesman Varinassi
Yarn Salesman, So unlike the West all his customers are men
Binnbi Saleswoman Varanasi
Binndi Saleswoman, who incidentally doesn't seem to use her own product.

Friendly money changer
Here is my money changer guy, it was all very friendly and light hearted, till I tried to hand him my Dollars
with my left hand, shit got serious for a minute as it's very bad manners which I didn't know at the time,
but then we all laughed about it...

Brass objects for sale Varanasi
This guy was doing a roaring trade in little Brass objects to store the Holy Water of Mother Ganga (Ganges)
which where near by, as I was in the holy city of Varanasi

Smallest Stationers in the world
Probably the narrowest stationery shop in the world, not much wider than my friend Tezin's shoulders, the shopkeeper would climb up the shelving while sliding his back against the opposite wall to retrieve
the items you wanted to buy.
Statues for sale
It is amazing what you'll find if you look inside dark little shops, this guy was selling Statues & Plaques,
while his workers out front frantically chiseled stone.

(Not sure if He's a Grateful Dead Fan but I'm sure He's a Grateful Fan of the Dead)

Barber Deer Park
Tenzin wanted to have his head shaved at Deer Park, Sarnath, because it is the first place that the Buddha
taught after becoming enlightened and it was how he felt he could show the place the proper respect.
Barber Shop Sarnath

Spices Delhi
Forget buying those little plastic containers of spices, this is how you bring the heat in India

Chilli sales man
Here's a man that knows what all the lovely ladies of Delhi really want

Night Vegge Market Delhi
Shopping for dinner vegetables at the night market, probably on the way home from work

Vegetable market, Bo
With well over 1.2 Billion people in India and with a high percentage of them Vegetarians,
there are a lot of Greengrocers, this one in Bodh Gaya is typical of many, though not all have a lazy cow
chilling in the background

Chai Shop
This Lady supported her family with this Chai Stand that she literally scraped up out of the dirt,
We arranged to buy her a new table and a couple of benches so people had a place to sit.

General Store, Bodhgaya
A Convenience Store India style, all this guy needs is a gas pump out front,
and it would all make perfect sense...

Strip Mall Bohdgaya
The local strip mall outside the Burmese Vihara in Bodh Gaya that I was staying at the time,
It used to be the place to stay and I understand it has improved since I was last there.

Butcher Mcleod Ganj
Here's one of the best reasons to eat vegetarian while in India, many butcher's shops are open air
with no refrigeration, not so bad in winter in the the Himalaya, but Summer is another story.

While hiking in the foothills of the Dhauladhar to climb the upper Bhagsu Waterfall I stumble across this guy...

Even though the weather was still very cold and there were no tourists at the lower Bhagsu Waterfall,
let alone people like me venturing off the beaten track to climb as far up the falls till snow hindered progress,
this guy had set up shop halfway up the falls in his little corner of paradise.
I guess all it takes are Sticks, Tarps, a flattish space, some working capital and a ton of determination

Frozen Veg Mcleod Ganj
Are they Fresh or Frozen vegetables? Vendors selling their wares on the snow lines streets in McLeod Ganj

Young Entrepreneurs
Young Himachali Entrepreneurs work their small stall

Starbucks Mcleod Ganj
India's Answer to Starbucks...
SuperCuts Mcleod Ganj
& Supercuts

Where ever you can park and set up shop will do

this is real enterprise, lots of competition and no corporate bail-outs
No Good No Sale
& If your little stall doesn't deliver the goods you won't survive,

Kim shipping for Vegges
anyway, Kim was in vegetarian nirvana


Not everyone was selling veggies, here is a small Cobblers and Shoeshine outfit.

off the rack & tailored clothing
High fashion on the High Street, it just few passes of an antique Singer sewing machine away.

Tibetan Depot
It seems every square inch is dedicated to retail commerce...

Mall Rats
But no matter where you go there's always going to be Mall Rats...

Buying Fabric, Dharamsala
Not being much of a shopper, I did however decide to have some clothes made while in India,
first you've got to brave the fabric shop

My Tailor, Dharamsala
Then find a Tailor, here's mine he came highly recommended and he did a decent job.

The High street
The Main commercial street in Dharamsala with the Million Dollar View

India is swamped with Lawyers and Bureaucrats and they peddle their wares just like everyone else
The Lawyer
My friend Tim Nelson was getting married to Sonam, of course you need a Lawyer and Notary,
these guys had set up shop under a concrete staircase in a Government building

Reams of Paper
And they generate reams of paperwork as everything is in Triplicate, using carbon paper,
typewriters and usually include lots of amusing spelling mistakes

Of course you can't have Lawyers and Bureaucrats without pissing off a few people, in the World's Largest Democracy that means you will gain the attention of Protesters...

A few cutting chants from the ladies

Then the sit-in begins, anyone trying to cross their line will be seriously scolded and shooed away

Tibetan Goverment in Exile
I did have the opportunity to meet with the Central Tibetan Administration, they optimistically talked about the
actions that will taken when they return to Tibet even though it seems China has no intention of allowing true Tibetan self governance any time soon.

Not everyone in India has a Shop or Government Job that so many strive for...

This Potter uses this traditional wheel, taking the stick (bottom left) he'll insert it into one of the notches on the face of the wheel and crank it up to speed and with a light touch will churn out thousands of Butter Lamps and Chai Cups. Products like these are used in the Millions everyday in India and if they ever replace the Clay Chai Cup with Styrofoam or Butter with Battery Lamps it will be an ecological disaster

Ever wonder how those glass bangles that you find in every Import Shop are made, they may have even
been made by this guy and his charcoal hotplate.

Collecting Fodder McLeod Ganj

In the mountains of India you'll often see people up the trees and wonder what are they doing...?

Walking shubbery McLeod Ganj

If you wait long enough you'll discover they're making themselves a Shrub disguise? no actually they're
harvesting fodder for their livestock
Herders collecting feed
In the Mountains there is no hay bailing machinery, it is done by hand, and transported over the hills on the
backs of these women, because there are no roads to their villages...

hearders collecting feed

This woman has removed her shoes to gain a better purchase on the steep rock !

herders collecting feed

Break time over and they move on...

As they climb toward the snow line, I decide to go to the Waterfall Cafe.

Stonemason's labourer, McLeod Ganj

There is a long tradition of working with stone, especially in the Himalaya, it's abundant and cheap,
This Stonemason's Labourer doesn't have access to daycare
so her girl joins he on the jobsite.

Stonemason Delhi

And forget Safety Glasses, Boots or anything...

Stonemasons Delhi

Just some worn out tools and a deft hand...

Stone layer Mcleod Ganj

Retiring on a stone workers wages, probably never going to happen.

Stone Carving Varanasi

But there are those that get to do the more delicate work like these Headstones and Plaques....

Stone Lapping Delhi

& Lapping semi-precious stone to restore the inlay on the walls of this Mughal Palace inside the Red Fort.


It seems like every nook you look into there is somebody making something...

hawking crude fiddles

That often ends up being hawked out on the streets and can be had for just a few Rupees.

Yard maintainence

Here's a nice alternative to the noisy lawnmowers & leaf-blower we all curse on Sunday Mornings

Rickshaws at dusk Bohdgaya

But lets not forget the Transport Sector, Rickshaws line the road and compete for business

Rickshaw driver Bohdgaya
They work from Sun-up till Sundown on these rickety contraptions...

Handsome Cab India style

but for a more substantial ride, there's the Hansom Cab Indian style.

Mule Train  Nadi HP

Where the roads don't go and freight would break a human back, there are Mule Trains.
Threshing Gaya
Farm equipment tends to be rudimentary and well worn & I'm sure there are lots of work related injuries.
In this village it seemed everyone was working to process their Harvest well into dusk on the short days of
winter, failure to do so would be disastrous for this community of subsistence farmers.

Spinning Cotton Delhi

Mahatma Gandhi encouraged Indians to produce their own cotton, to break England's Imperial grip on
the Industries that relied so heavily on India's cheap raw materials, at Gandhi's memorial park in Delhi,
this woman demonstrates the portable spinning machine that was developed at his behest.

Snakecharmer Delhi
Snake charming, a very small part of the entertainment industry.
School Kids
Speaking of Spinning and Charming, this teacher does his best to educate, with no recourses and children
that traditionally would be learning the family business instead of attending school,
I'm thinking he's braver than a Lion Tamer.
Slackrope walker McLeoad Ganj
Otherwise children end up in the family business, if not, being theactual bread winner well before their
childhood years are over, like this impromptu Father-Daughter Slack Rope act that set up in the street,
in front of our Guesthouse.
With a population of 1.2 billion everywhere you look you'll see children...

This little guy followed me around for half a day asking for a Paise (.00016 of a US Dollar) in the most pathetic voice, It's a shame that he couldn't use his persistence for a more productive &/or profitable endeavours.

This little girls was a smooth operator, she would strategically skim the excess coins to make it appear
she hadn't made too much and was smart enough to target wealthy western women...

Wealthy but curious girl Calcutta
At first I found it disconcerting, kids in India didn't hide their curiosity , Rich or...

Poor but curious girl McLeod Ganj
Poor alike, even when you caught them staring...

Collecting Fuel Bohdgaya
The kids would find you fascinating, you would be light relief from mundane tasks like collecting dung for fuel.

Collecting Fodder McLeod Ganj
However some other kids just have to work way to hard to even notice you right in front of them.

Keeping Warm Varanasi
Kids are allowed to play with Fire in India, in fact it's a matter of survival for some...

Lighting Butterlamps Bohdgaya
& of great spiritual significance to others.

Girls School Pipe Band Delhi
The Bagpipe band of Khalsa Girls Senior Secondary School, pausing during a modest Maha Shivaratri Parade
in Chandni Chowk, Delhi

Girls School Pipe Band Delhi
Just a bit better looking than a Hairy Scottish Piper

Pinky Bohdgaya
In Bohdgaya there was a Man that made peanut butter in a little street stall where he sold his wares,
He also had daughters, His oldest Pinky, he offered to me to adopt and take Overseas to a better life,
as he explained that He'd never have enough money for the Dowry required for a good husband

Tibetan Boy waiting for Dalhi Lama Mcloed Ganj
This little guy was sporting the finest little Silk Chuba, as he waits in the street with parents for the glimpse
of the Dalai Lama as he leaves town.
Tibetan Tent Bohdgaya
I fact children are treated more like young adults than in the west, they are expected to feed themselves
and eat what the adults are eating at a very young age.
Young Monks Bohdgaya
Young Tibetan boys that are orphaned will often be taken in by Monasteries, they are expected to adhere to the same structured like as the Adult Monks with few exceptions.
Cheeky Village Kids Gaya
Even with he overwhelming poverty I could always get kids to smile if not laugh...

Making fun with sticks Gaya
& I often saw innovative spirit, like this boys toy cart made from four sticks and 3 worn out bearings.
Pre-School McLeod Ganj
Pre-school daycare in India is a matter of the bigger kids keeping an eye on the little ones...
School Gaya
School is often a similar arrangement, with classes made up of all ages and too big for
just one poorly paid teacher to manage by them self.
working in the streets
Many kids learn lifes lessons on the street...
Playing in the streets
The lucky ones get to play on the street after their school lessons...

& they get to ride dodgy carnival rides too.

My friend Tezin (Right) years before had befriended a couple street kids in Delhi, he had set them up with proper Shoeshine kits so they could make a living instead of begging and stealing, the year I got to meet them, the two brothers Raju & Mantu had just finished acting in the Bernardo Bertolucci Movie "Little Buddha"

Walking in the foothills McLeod GanjWalking in the foothills McLeod Ganj
I thought this was two girls from a distance, because it would be unremarkable to find children unsupervised...

Walking in the foothills McLeod GanjWalking in the foothills McLeod Ganj
But once we crossed paths I found that I had been mistaken.