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