Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dreaming of India: A Tale of Surrender

Shanta and Desha enjoying tea at the Twilight Tea Lounge
As featured on My Little Brattleboro, my weekly column on Brattleborolgy...

Yesterday, I  met up with Shanta Crowley at Twilight Tea Lounge to check out her beautiful images she shot while on a 5 month adventure in India. I love that Shanta had a dream, and even when she lost her job and her car died, she still pursued her heart's desire. The result- 12,000 pictures and a lot of surrendering. Here's to you, Shanta. We can't wait to see what's next for YOU!

1. Shanta, I learned about your adventure to India in an article in The Commons, and as a fellow lover of travel and culture, was intrigued by your decision to take off for 5 months to India.  What was the catalyst that drove you to actually go?

I lost my contract last May that I had for 2 years with the City of New Haven.  The same day my job ended my car died on the highway. It just seemed like a lot of stuff was coming to an end and it was time for a new beginning. I landed a consulting gig last summer and my husband (at the time) and I were also planning our wedding.  We decided that it was as good a time as any to go explore since we were both lacking full time work.  
Photo by Shanta Crowley
It is interesting because I guess one could say that I'd long been called by India.  I was deeply in love with the Taj Mahal and the story behind it; one of my favorite movies, Kama Sutra, A Story of Love had such amazing scenery and portrayed such beauty; there was also an author, Indu Sundaresan, who captured me with her portrayal of India during the Mughal empire.  I always wanted to travel and live abroad.  Back in 2007 I was lucky enough to be chosen by my job to represent them as a part of as a small delegation of two other individuals in Uganda, AfricaGoing felt scary, but staying home due to fear didn't feel right either, so I gave in to adventure! 
Photo by Shanta Crowley

2. You mention in the article that you had recently lost your job and both you and your newlywed husband were unemployed at the time you decided to venture to India. On a logistical note, how did you manage to pay for your adventure and how did you overcome the fear of going on a five month vacation knowing that you'd return without jobs in an uncertain economy?

I saved some money and we also received money as a wedding gift to help us on our way.  Between some previous savings and the gig that I had last summer, we were able to make the trip around India.

Photo by Shanta Crowley
Overcoming the fear?  Good question. Staying and struggling to look for work seemed just as risky and daunting as going.  It was more about which choice was going to be worth the story and worth the chance.  Anyone can stay and stick it out during a rough economy but leaving and taking a chance?  I must also say that I did turn down a job offer just before leaving, thinking that other prospects would turn up, but I also wanted to do something that would engage my heart.  I believe in calculated risks--- and deciding to go to India was one of them.

Also, we rented out our apartment while we were away and placed most of our items in storage, so it was not like we just left everything high and dry.  We put things in place so that when we returned we could have a home to return to at least.    
Photo by Shanta Crowley

The one thing I did not foresee happening, was that after returning from India, I lost my husband, as I am currently going through a divorce.  So in many ways, displaying my work has been medicine for my soul and a part of my healing during such time of transition.   Given the turn of events, I have asked myself lately if I would have gone to India knowing that this would have happened at some point upon returning--but it was well worth the trip.
4. While in India, you took 12,000 photos and the title of your current exhibit at Twilight Tea Lounge is "Surrender", what did you surrender to in India?

Well I should say I chose "surrender" because it was what I had to do to adjust to how life was changing before India, it perfectly describes my journey in India, and the many crazy changes post-India.

I had to surrender to so many things:  the lack of planning or constant change of plans, surrender to the culture, and any given moment whereby you might meet a Holy Man, hop aboard the wrong train, encounter the crazy driving that left me in shock many times, or just meet new friends that you might not have expected.  I also found myself just having to let go of expectations--things that I normally would not do or expect back home had to be suspended during the 5 month journey.  Surrendering and the letting go seemed to be so apt, especially now.

Photo by Shanta Crowley
Right now I am surrendering and grappling with the reality that I have had the opportunity of a lifetime, yet I have lost someone who is very near and dear to me who was involved in that trip.  Quite an interesting and fascinating time.

Learn more about Shanta's India adventure on her blog and check out her photos at the Twilight Tea Lounge, with new photos coming in September for Gallery Walk!

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