I only got food poisoning once during my visit to India this time last year. I ate all the Indian food I could…street food included…and you know what got my guts all twisted and turned? Chinese delivery that my Indian hosts ordered in the night before.
My friend and wonderful host Annam had finally gotten a day off of work and so she had a car and driver ready to take us all over Kolkata so we could get in a full day of photography. Of course this full photo day also coincided with the day my body did not agree with the Chinese food I had eaten the night before.
I remember forcing myself out of bed that morning (knowing this was my only chance to get to shoot with Annam) and having an inner dialogue struggle with sick Marla wanting to stay in with a trash can at my bedside against photographer Marla wanting to take advantage of the only opportunity available to shoot with a friend in India.
Of course photographer Marla won the battle.
Annam sat in the front with our driver and I laid my suffering stomach down in the back. I remember sitting up at a stop light and seeing a street vendor with a bunch of bananas and asking Annam to buy the entire bunch for me…those bananas were my saving grace for the upcoming day of travel and shooting.
I spent the entire day feeling like death had invaded my body in the back of that car, forcing myself to eat a banana between every stop’n’shoot. The car would stop, Annam would look back towards me, I would grab my camera from my bag, take a drink of water and get out of the car with her…not knowing what I was about to shoot and honestly not caring. But as soon as I put my trustworthy camera to my eye, all of a sudden the food poisoning would subdue just enough to let me enjoy the art of photography. That camera is a magical device for sure. I dragged myself out of the car and into a street-side, early morning milk dispersing story. I remember smiling every time I put the camera to my eye, capturing the milk being scooped from one big bucket to another.
I would spy Annam in the background, finished shooting, and make a mental note to get just one more solid shot in before calling it quits for that current stop. And then back in the car I would go, marking/favoriting as many images as I could before I would have to force my concentration back to keeping my guts on the inside of my body.
The car would take off and jolt around the streets of Kolkata as I laid in the back seat, forcing down nibbles of bananas and desperately trying to keep everything down as we dodged rickshaws in between sudden stops as Indian traffic always forces you to…hating life the entire way.
Again the car would stop for a stretch of time, Annam would look back to me, I would pull out my camera, force a drink of water and out the car I drug myself again.
The car would stop, Annam would look, I would grab my camera, drink some water to push down the last nibble of banana I was able to eat and out the car I went…miserable until that camera touched my face.
It’s from that dreadful day that I snagged a gallery-spot winning photograph.
This was towards the end of the photoshoot food poisoning day. I wasn’t feeling any better than I did six hours earlier when I first woke up to face said day. Luckily, as usual, when I put the camera to my eye…all the gutteral garble and the retching reflexes came to a calm. My eye came alive and pushed all other senses to the sidelines.
It amazed me then and it amazes me to this day how that single instrument always brings a sense of self to the forefront. It’s always been my safety blanket, a cloak of sort that allows me to really see whats around me without any distractions (both internally and externally) getting in the way.
If you’re in the Denver area tomorrow afternoon (January 31st) and would like to see my winning image and other Coloradan winning images on display, feel free to stop by the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities on Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.
I promise I won’t order in or eat any Chinese food the night before.
….and if you can’t make the trip out, you can see all of my photography from that food poisoned day HERE.