2020 In India
Namaste. I’ll get personal to start 2021.
Exactly 366 days ago I got on a 15-hour flight from Toronto to New Delhi. I was embarking on a 31-day trip that I had planned for at least 6 months after dreaming of India for years. I had initially thought that I was going to be traveling with my daughter and her husband. However, when our family was together at their home in Buenos Aires in October 2020 Mackenzie announced that she was pregnant. There went the family trip. I was now on my own.
I’d have to say that other than the birth of my granddaughter in June, that India was the highlight of 2020. I traveled from Delhi to a wedding in Jaipur to Udaipur’s lakes; Pushkar (where I did not think that sharing the often proffered marijuana milkshake was a good idea); mind-blowing holy Varanasi to the great crazy city of Mumbai and then back to Delhi. Because I had a plan to bring my ‘The People’ ethnographic photography series to India, I never felt like a pure tourist.
The highlights of my trip were the Jaipur wedding with my friends Nikhil Pandit and his wife (Nikhil has a highly recommended touring company); magnificent Udaipur (where on a lake boat I listened to the 4-year old girl behind me gently sing, Row Row Your Boat; Varanasi (I stayed wide-eyed in a hotel on the Ganges + the photo above is from one of the ghats) and cosmopolitan, and way complex Mumbai where my intro dinner with Satish Krishnamurthy of Sideways Consulting was like hanging out with an old friend.
Plus the highlight of highlights was my being invited to speak to college students at Mumbai’s ISDI School Of Communication and Delhi’s Sharda University.
Oh, oh, and eating everything on the streets. Everything.
Alone – Not
Three essential elements of the trip were not about my traveling alone aloneness. I had my three-city photography project, where, in addition to my two assistants, I was able to meet dozens of portrait subjects from tiny towns to cities. I got to leverage my global marketing network to meet new friends for meals in every city. I also talked with everyone I came in contact with. That is how the couple at the next table at the Colaba Social Bar invited me to visit a fashion shoot the next day.
Traveling alone has its advantages. It forces you out of your comfort zone.
My First Very Early Mask
A not so interesting, well in hindsight, a very interesting element of the trip was that I flew back from Delhi to Vancouver to Dallas on February 1. On both of these flights, I shared the cabin with a couple wearing the first N95 face masks I had ever seen. I asked, “What’s up with the masks?” and they said that there was this strange new virus in China. I thought, wow these people must really be paranoid. Who knew back in January what crazy shit was coming.
Last point. I met and hung out in Mumbai with my main man Mahatma Gandhi. Wild times. Watch him down below.
That’s my rather abbreviated story about India. If you want, ask me for more detail.
Since you are so, so! clued into my world right now, I’ll let you know that my 2021 plan is to get the fucking vaccine; write two new books (one an update of the best selling 2014 “The Levitan Pitch” that will include insights on how to present in the virtual world; work with my advertising clients; reinvigorate my Widelux photography – probably by going back to Selma, Alabama; and, most importantly, getting to Argentina to meet Lenina.
To y’all, all the best for a prosperous 2021.