Adventures of Clare in India.

2 weeks.
14 days.
13 flights. 
7 states. 

India was truly, incredible. 

Le Hulk Hubster and I got a chance to travel to India for a shoot. (Yes it was a business travel and not some honeymoon) Of course I jumped into the opportunity for the travel not knowing what lay ahead. Before the trip, Le Hulk Hubster and 'Von Tans' (my family) were preparing me mentally. They kept saying India was not going to be a country where I thought it would be. They were right, no matter how I prepped myself... I was NOT prepared at all. 

15th Feb 2015 (Mumbai) - Off we went to Mumbai. When the plane touched down, looking out the window my heart sank.. I saw squatters surrounding the airport. Something in me kept telling me, be prepared for more. On our way to our hotel, I heard someone knocking our window. I looked up and saw a young boy maybe at the age of 8 carrying a lil baby maybe about 1. Begging for money. We were advised to not give a single cent, because apparently some of them were syndicates and it was for our own safety too. I kept looking down at my hands and apologising to that boy, I secretly wept because well I have a soft heart for kids. 

We checked in Westin in Mumbai. I thought, great this is going to be a relaxing business trip. Boy, was I wrong. Looking out the window, the hustle and bustle of Mumbai was sinking in. We were all busy preparing for the shoot. And when I looked down I saw more squatter areas, right by the busy highway.. There were tents. Those were homes to some. That was when I realised, poverty in India was really bad, and I had to prepare myself emotionally. 

16th February 2015 (Mumbai) - 1st day of shoot. We shot with a famous Bollywood actor. (Can't tell you who just yet. But he is oh so damn dreamy!) I was honestly really impressed with the whole production team in Mumbai, we didn't even need to lift a finger! Everything was ready to roll. The shoot ended pretty quickly too in a few hours and it was a wrap!

In the evening, we packed our bags and left for Coimbatore. We reached Coimbatore at about 9 something and we had to take 1 hour car ride to Tirupur.

Before we travelled to Tirupur, we searched for dinner. And dinner gave me a heart attack. This is called Thali. One dish, with a heck load of variety of food. OMG! And this is a meal for one! HOW IS THIS A MEAL FOR ONE?! HOW?! And they are pure vegetarian in Coimbatore.

17th February 2015 (Tirupur) - 6.30am was our crew call. It was "chasing the sun" shots. With lack of sleep, we still pulled ourselves our from bed for work. What a beautiful sight, there is just something so beautiful about the sunrise in India. It is absolutely gorgeous, the colours of the sky and sun.

Oh and for the first time in my life. I witnessed public toilet in India. WHAT TOILET? By the roadside when we were getting some pick up shots. Oh sweet lord, there was poop. Not animal poop, or cow dung! HUMAN FAECES! You can imagine my disgust ok. And to witness someone actually pissing in public... OHMYGAWD!

18th February 2015 (Tirupur) - Next morning, our call time was at 8.30am. Did some pick up shots and had the best breakfast ever. Here, is the normal breakfast with Thosai, Idaly and porridge. It's porridge I know cause I checked.. It's NOT chutney. And it was oh so yummy!!

In Tirupur it's a small farm area and I think they don't always have shoots there so when people saw us with cameras and weird skin coloured people crowd gathers. Instant fame. Hahahahaha. Towards the evening, we were once again packing our bags..

I have to praise the security in India airports. They are bloody annoying, but for the safety of the country they have to do what they have to. Before we enter the airport we have to show the security our passports and air ticket then only we are allowed to enter. Upon entering we have to send our bags for a baggage scan. Of course we took sooooooo bloody long because all the camera equipments are with us. So the questioning sessions and inspection took forever. After we got our tickets when we checked in we had to go through another scan. OMFG! So in airports, women and men have different lines because for the women we have a female security to do a body check. We had to make sure that our bags had a tag and the security chop on it. That would allow us to pass the next security check. Even before we went into the plane we had another check. With all the heavy baggage, we were literally drained when we reached the airport. 

To make things worst. 

Air India. 

To anyone of you who are travelling in India for business or even if it's a holiday. DO NOT TAKE AIR INDIA! I repeat.. DO NOT TAKE AIR INDIA! I was literally furious with them. It was the eve of Chinese New Year I was looking forward to Skype with my family back home. BUT............ 

1. When we boarded the plane it started making weird sounds before taking off. So because of that we never took off.
2. BUT, we were all inside the plane for a good 45 minutes without air conditioning. The plane was full so obviously it was stuffy and started to get really annoying.
3. If the bloody plane could not lift off within that 5 minutes, you should bloody well check your damn plane! 
4. The captain decided to offload the passengers to allow the engineers to check the plane. So that of course delayed our flight. 
5. We were asked to enter the airport and go through that many rounds of security (AGAIN) 
6. Few minutes later, we were asked to board the same problematic plane. AND GUESS WHAT!!! 
7. The same shit happened!! The plane would not start and the sound was still there. 
8. Yet again, we were still stuck in the plane without air conditioning and ventilation. 

Thank GOD! The pilot said he refuse to fly the plane since there was still some technical difficulties. (After 2 tries) 

So this time, we were allowed into the airport (again) and go through the same security check (again) and we decided NOT to fly Air India and take another flight back to Mumbai. Thank God we managed to get the whole team on the next flight out. 

I on the other hand was really upset because I missed the reunion dinner with my family. But hugs always makes it better. Don't it? 

We reached Mumbai at night, we thought we could actually have a good reunion dinner together with the team but because by the time we arrived it was 10pm we ate at the hotel. It was mostly, pizza. And we didn't want to eat much cause it was way late.

Thank you Air India for ruining our reunion dinner.

19th February 2015 (Rajkot) - Slept for only and hour, and we had to catch the flight to Rajkot. We reached Rajkot at 6.00 am. Rajkot was cold, freezing! And early in the morning, I got a chance to see how people started their daily routine. Of course once again, poverty tore my heart. I saw the poor who slept on the streets in the cold. No house, just small clothes to cover themselves.

Of course we straight got to work when we arrived. But first and foremost, breakfast. We went to this row of shophouses that sold chai (tea) and we saw this dude making it the authentic way. Now you know where 'Teh Tarik' comes from. Hahahhaha.

We were advised not to simply drink water in India and eat roadside food. When you want to drink water, make sure you drink mineral bottled water. And NEVER eat roadside food. So they served this food to us. See the chilli? THEY EAT IT LIKE THAT! Do you have any idea how spicy it is? Well, I didn't eat it.. But don't it look spicy?!

20th February 2014 (Rajkot) - If you followed me on Instagram or Facebook, you would have seen me post the similar pictures right here. Using these pictures I decided to write 'love letters' to my lil brother, my cousins back home. I wanted them to learn about poverty in India.

We got to go to the famous flower market in Rajkot. The picture below is dear to my heart. This mother worked hard selling all her beautiful flowers so that she can feed her little boy. This little boy, innocent as he is, sat still never leaving his mother's side. They had nothing much but the smile that the mother gave me as I smiled at her, made me feel so warm.

Then there was also this picture. We got to go into this squatter houses, as I peeped down the window I saw this 2 kids caring for their pet goat. Parents cannot afford to send them to school, some are forced to work as shepherds to earn money. Kids these days always play with their iPads or modern technology. These 2 kids were just so engrossed with their goat and learning how to write.

Evening came, it was time to pack again. Flew back to Mumbai and 3 hours later, our flight to Delhi.

21st February 2015 (Delhi) - 12.00am we reached Delhi. Once again, damn bloody cold. So we immediately did our shoot of course. Tired, exhausted, women issues.. Oh I tell you, it was SO NOT my day!

But of course, I was yet again humbled with my surroundings. Trying not to let my personal issues affect me. Look at the buildings in Delhi, the rich can be really rich and the poor can be really poor. This building looks soooooo run down. BUT, they were still home to a family.

I was struggling with using the toilets in public, let me just say even the indian locals are embarrassed that the line producer was willing to get me a runner to bring me back to the hotel to use the toilet and back out again. 

22nd February 2015 (Delhi) - OH! I forgot to mention this. In India, when you drive.. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO HONK! I don't know for what?! But people horn! When they want to turn, stop, pass by.. Whatever la. People honk NON STOP IN INDIA! It was damn bloody annoying and pressuring. Really made my mood worst. 

Off we go again. This time Varanasi. 

23rd February 2015 (Varanasi) - The holiest place in the whole of India. The place I really wanted to see. Varanasi was known as the holiest place because of the Ganges River. 

Upon arrival at Varanasi, my nose started acting up. I turned to Le Hulk Hubster and said.. "I think my asthma will trigger here." True enough. I had my asthma attack, suffered majorly because the smell was so bad. I had to stay indoors. I could not get out, I was literally gasping for air. 

How many of you heard the stories told about the goddess Gangga? Cause I honestly know none. But it was such a beautiful view, so calming so peaceful. All I know about the Ganges is that some religion will throw the ashes into the Ganges River because it's sacred, some even float the dead body out to the river.

Some even shower in them because they believe the river is holy and can wash away all evil.

Sadly, this is one of the world's most polluted river. Right by the river banks there are so many temples. We even got to see the 'Pooja' a prayer to the river goddess Ganga.

I did my fair share at the river. I said my prayer, I let go of what I needed to let go. And being surrounded by the beauty of Gangga, I somehow started crying and getting emotional. I felt as if I finally let go of my unborns, I let go of my grandparents and relatives. I finally slowly parted with a heavy burden I carried all these years.

24th February 2015 (Varanasi) - Once again. Air india sucked! Seriously, I highly advice to NOT take Air India flights at all! Especially when you are in a hurry. So we had to transit from Varanasi to Delhi to Kolkata. Our flight was 1 hour delayed. So when our plane reached Delhi,  there were ground crews waiting for us and rushing us. Literally, RUSHING! "Hurry, plane no wait, plane go!" Well excuse me, you guys delayed the plane for an hour, it was not our faults so by hook or crook YOU SHOULD BLOODY WELL GROUND THE PLANE CAUSE OF YOUR OWN MISTAKES TILL WE GET ON BOARD!

Of course we still had to go through security check which was (excuse my french) F**ked Up! And again, because all the camera equipments were with us we had to take out every god damn lens and cameras to let them check. Which was seriously stupid and annoying la.

By the time we got to Kolkata, we just didn't have mood to do ANYTHING.

25th February 2015 (Kolkata) - We started shooting at 6 am. Sun is already out by then. Got loads of pick up shots, which I was happy.

Not sure if any of you remember Dr Bombay's Taxi Man song? I swear that song was playing at the back of my head because just everywhere in Kolkata is this yellow taxi.

26th February 2015 (Kolkata) - We finished our shoot in 1 day in Kolkata, and we decided to have a wrap party and the next day relax. Well technically we only had few hours to relax ourselves because in a few hours we were again boarding a plane back to Mumbai. (Thank God it was not Air India!)

27th February 2015 (Goa) - So the Malaysian team decided we deserved a 2 day break. And where did we decide to recuperate? Goa. After spending a night in Mumbai, off we went at 5 am the first flight out to Goa.

Goa was so welcoming! We checked into this hotel called Casa Anjuna. It is absolutely beautiful and gorgeous. So serene and peaceful we never left that place! Well we did la, to fill our tummy's but after that we all went straight back to the hotel. Chilled out by the pool and rested.

The staff there are extremely friendly. I am insanely in love with that place!

28th February 2015 (Goa) - Our last day in India. We had a feast, to thank everybody on the team. We went shopping, bought last minute goodies and all. We were ready to head back home. Goa made our India trip worth it.

1st March 2015 (Malaysia) - Time to head home. So from Goa first flight out to Mumbai and 5 hours later. We were on MAS back to Malaysia. Thank you Goa for making my trip worth while.

I think the best way to explore a country is when you do travel shoots. We literally travelled North, East, South and West of India. I am humbled by the experience because it was eye opening moment for me. And grateful for everything India has taught me. 

Whether or not I will travel India again. I don't know. But if you ever get the chance.. Why not? Because India is truly, INCREDIBLE INDIA. (Just don't take Air India cause it screws up everything!)