Trip to India

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by laz, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. laz

    laz Member

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    I'm in a bit of a quandary. We are going to India in December for a friend's wedding. We're very excited, India is a dream destination for us and to be the guests at a traditional Hindu wedding is an unbelievable honor!

    The problem is what camera to take? (The LF is out of the question) Considerations include the fact that after the wedding we'll be travelling a great deal and frankly we've been warned by our friends that theft is quite a problem in many places in India. There is also the fact that I am just not a camera around the neck type of traveler. Sure I'll want to take some camera jaunts and I do want to be prepared to capture things that strike my fancy but I don't like to have a camera between me and the world all the time.

    So, the candidates are:
    Bessa R2
    Nikkormat FT2
    N50
    Voigtlander Vito II
    Zeiss Ikon 6x9

    Looking at the list I'd say the N50 is the least important to me (I'd probably like it to be stolen!) The rest have their pluses and minuses. Of course I could always let this be an excuse to by another camera!

    So, any suggestions? Anyone have any camera experience in India?

    Thanks,
    -Bob
     
  2. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    If you have an excuse, use it! I think you ought to buy a new Hassy. Or maybe a Littman 4X5! Yeah, that's the ticket, you need a portable 4X5 or you just CAN'T go to India.
     
  3. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I have a Voigtlander Vito CLR, and would be likely to take that to India were it me going (along with my OM-1). It looks 'old' and is less likely to be 'lost'. I would also take the Zeiss, another old looking camera which will give superb results and is small enough to fit in your hand luggage.

    I have friends who visit India regularly (they have a bar in Goa). They say that theft is not a problem, the main problem is begging. It seems harsh but the best thing you can do is tell beggars a firm 'No.' If you don't you'll be swamped by them. They are mostly children working for adults, so don't feel bad by saying no.
     
  4. laz

    laz Member

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    This is the direction I'm headed. And funny you should mention the OM-1, if I were to buy any camera for this trip, it would be an OM-1, I've wanted one forever!

    Hey, you're talking to a New Yorker! (We don't call them beggers it's not politically correct)

    -Bob
     
  5. Ben Diss

    Ben Diss Member

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    I had a similar experience in '97. Two weeks after the Seinfeld backwards episode where they went to India for a wedding, I went to India for a wedding. George didn't pee the whole time he was there, and for good reason. Wait until you see some of the facilities.

    I tried to do some picture taking on my trip and didn't do well. I was part of a group of 40 people who made the trip. Being part of a group caused the most problems as I would tend to hold everyone up. Everyone was understanding, but it puts pressure on you and I didn't do well. I ended up with one good shot of the Taj and bunch of snaps.

    First, let me tell you about labor in India. It's cheap. Really cheap. I hired a guy to carry my heavy tripod bag for about 4 hours and overpaid him by giving him 50 cents. Really. And, you're obligated to do this. If you are seen carrying a bunch of stuff and not having someone help, you will be looked at as selfish. In India, you're rich even if you're poor here. Share your wealth by hiring people. Hire someone to carry your stuff. Hire someone to drive you. Hire someone to stand guard while you shoot. It'll cost you peanuts and will endear you to the locals. It is your obligation.

    Also, be prepared to bribe everyone. They see it as a right of their position to expect compensation for anything. I had to bribe the guys at the gate to the Taj to take my Pentax 67 inside. I think it was 5 bucks or so.

    Here is what I would do differently if I could go back.

    - Separate from the group for half or whole day outings.
    - Hire a car for the day and an assistant.
    - Get out into the country. There are beautiful fields everywhere.
    - Bring one big hard case with a small 4x5 and a couple of lenses.
    - Swing the Canon under my arm EVERYWHERE. There were so many times I got inspired and wanted to snap something but I was devoted to the big Pentax.
    - Keep a point-n-shoot in my pocket and ask others to snap a pic of me and the party. Remember to give them a few Rupees for doing so.

    IMPORTANT....

    - Get a script for Cipro before you go. Delhi belly is a microbial infestation and Cipro not only kills the little buggers, it prevents them ever infecting you.

    - Even with that, don't drink the water. Don't drink milk. Don't eat anything prepared by humans with their hands, such as cut fruit or vegs. If the food is fresh, you want to be able to prep it yourself like a banana. If it's cooked make sure it was cooked and served immediately. I tried to adhere to this and made it all the way to the 14th day before I got sick. When I came down with it, it was debilitating. We were in Jadpur and I suffered the whole long train trip back to Delhi. I improved enough to make the flight home and find a doctor that knew how to treat it, but another of our party was so sick she was not allowed on her connecting flight in London and spent three days in the hospital there before coming home.

    Don't worry to much about your stuff getting ripped off. One couple video taped everything the whole trip. On the cab ride home from the airport they lost the camcorder. **it happens. It's no worse there than NYC or Paris. Indians are absolutely wonderful people. They speak English and love Americans. You'll have a great time.

    -Ben
     
  6. gbroadbridge

    gbroadbridge Member

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    Forget the film, take toilet paper.

    You can buy film when you arrive


    Graham.
     
  7. laz

    laz Member

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    Fortunately, worrying about which camera to bring is almost my biggest worry. Our hosts are natives and as the only non-Indians invited to the wedding they are going out of their way to see to it we have a great time, we will not be with a group. They are making almost all of our solo travel arrangements in the first 1/2 of the trip while they are busy with post wedding family doings. We will be joining them at their home in Calcutta in the latter part of our trip. We will have a car and driver for most of the trip. We are going to spend a great deal of our time up in the Himalayan foot hills so I'm looking forward to some great landscapes. (we'll be visiting the Dali Lama's home in exile)

    I work in a infectious diseases department here; we'll be vaccinated up the wazoo and Cipro is already a part of my travel kit!

    (Gee, nobody has advised me to go out and get a pocket size digicam and leave the film at home! :smile: )
     
  8. Ben Diss

    Ben Diss Member

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    Agck! Don't count on getting film there and don't even dream about having any local place process it. But yes, a stash of your favorite ohh-so-soft toilet paper would be a good idea.

    Himalayans? You HAVE to bring the big camera. There will be so much there to inspire you, you'll kick yourself silly if you don't have it with you.

    I am so envious of you. Our trip to India was truely a life changing experience for us. When my kids are older we are going back, no question about it.

    -Ben
     
  9. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    I was in India in Feb (Mombaai and Pune) and film was freely available in the cities I was in (35mm and 120) although I did not buy any. Villages are a different matter.

    The locals were very accomadating and hospitable and I dont think theft is a high risk. I certainly never felt threatened. I would say the camera opened doors there and most people were very willing to have there pictures taken. Some people actually asking. It seemed that cameras were a novelty, as was being an european, once out of the city. The only exception to this were the 'illegal' couples (arranged marriages are the norm) trying not to be photographed together in the local park on the Saturday morning. No hostility, just mild evasion.

    Culturally there are endless differences which makes for lots of photo's.

    Good luck and happy shooting

    Phill
     
  10. laz

    laz Member

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    You all don't know how stupidly close I am to posting a WTB for a hassy. On the one hand this trip is costing us a ton of money and to buy a new camera would be almost irresponsible. On the other hand, yeah, what Ben said!
     
  11. laz

    laz Member

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    The wedding we are attending is an arranged marriage. The amazing thing is that both the bride and groom live and work in the U.S. He is a wall street computer programmer and she is a dentist. The grooms parents, who are our connection, live in Calcutta and are thoroughly modern and encouraged their son to date and find a "love match" The son said, "no mommy, you find me a wife"!

    We have been "adopted" by the whole family and it is a wonderful friendship.
    (FWIW, they are the ones who warned of thievery!)
     
  12. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    laz

    Depending on region, here's what to expect
     

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  13. laz

    laz Member

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    You are spot on with that pic, it will be a white horse. The groom's mom is my wife's graduate student so my beloved is learning a great deal about Hindu wedding planning!
     
  14. herb

    herb Subscriber

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    India

    I spent a month on a big trip to Nepal and India last year. I took a Mamiya 7II and three lenses. It was a bit much. i think I would take a 35mm with a really wide lens and a 100 mm and maybe some kinda zoom if you can manage the weight.
    Bring your own film: if you take it out of the plastic containers and put it all in a ziplok bag you can get it inspected by hand most places except don't take any 400 or 800 speed because you will lose the argument in one or another airport and they will xray it.

    I took facial tissues, not rolls of tp, it packs better.

    Don't take too many clothes.

    You will get sick, it is a very few that don't, but it's no big deal.

    If you must take a big camera take a 4x5 for outings only. Keep a 35 around your neck. They won't steal it.
     
  15. Ben Diss

    Ben Diss Member

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    This is a Jain wedding then? So was ours. We were met at the wedding hall (more like an arena) by two elephants saluting. The groom rode in on a white mare. The bride wore a dress so heavily adorned with jewels she needed help standing up. The ceremony lasted for hours.

    And then we danced ... and danced ... and it rained ... and we danced (did I mention this was outdoors?) ... and it rained some more. Ah, the memories.

    -Ben
     
  16. laz

    laz Member

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    Our friends are sikh. Wedding celebrations everywhere are more cultural than religeous. The basic structure of Wedding celebrations are basicly the same the world round. 1) Pre wedding ritual (think groom can't see the bride) 2) religeous ceremony performed by a "priest" of some sort 3) Big party!
    :smile: