My first trip to India this past month was pretty much what I had expected. Delicious, heart-wrenching, exhausting, shocking and magical.

Sure, when you first arrive to Mumbai, the intensity of the noise, pollution and the sheer number of humans moving about can be overwhelming. For me it was the richness of the cultures, flavors and people that acted as an anchor, and grounded me in those first few chaotic days. I had never seen such a deluge of humanity. I wanted to try to capture those emotions, with a whimsical hand and a loose street-photography style. I wanted to show the warmth of people but also the intensity I felt in my first 10 days in this country.

This confluence of emotion made me incredibly curious to know and understand more. To try and grasp the history, cultures, and politics of this massive country. How it came to be where it is today, from the Indo-Aryan people, to the rise of Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism through the massive empires and the onslaught of European and Russian conquests.

Riding Royal Enfields through the Munnar Region and Anamalai Tiger Reserve we spent 10 hour days on the motorcycle through a magical countryside that I can only describe as ‘Alice in Wonderland’ goes to Avatar’s Pandora. The escape from Mumbai was welcome and the temperate climate up-lifting. A heavy fog shrouded the hills in mystery and a light mist created a surreal glossy landscape with surprising colors.

Pulled over on the side of the road of day four. I was enduring an 11 hour ride on the motorcycle, and a case of ‘Indian belly’. I sloth-ily pulled over at 10am, already tired and beaten, looking for something warm to put in my stomach. He served me chai and sweet crackers roadside, which kept me going long enough until I had to pull over again to hurriedly fumble for my toilet paper. His charm came with an air of indifference, and a handsome confidence. His mustache haphazardly hanging on his upper lip.

Back in the streets of Mumbai, swerving through the oppressive heat, the pungent and delicious smells, the mass of humanity in a constant state of honking, yelling and selling was wonderfully exciting. Yet again it was the people that never failed to surprise and delight with smiles and charm.