Forget celebrities. These are the truly beautiful people. All of these photos were taken in the small village of Pratapura, Gujarat, India. It is the village where Yogi Amrit Desai spent the first 10 years of his life and why we are here.
The floors in the residences are made of hard-packed cow dung. They have this sort of swirl pattern in them, so they’re a little decorative. The buildings have hard packed clay walls, some made of bricks – it is a local industry and something the people of this village make. There is very little evidence of electricity other than the electrical poles and wires overhead. There are no paved roads. Our bus got stuck on a tree limb on the way in and we had to cut the limb to continue on. There are a handful of motorbikes and a rickshaw or two.
There is a school and a little store that sells dried, fried lentils and other Indian junk food, packaged much the way we’re used to seeing chips here in the US.
This village is a dichotomy of ancient and modern. The women and most teenage girls still dress in the colorful, traditional kirtis and saris, while the younger boys and men tend to more western attire. Men squat to make pottery, women squat to cook over an open flame. There are iPhones and iPads. They sweep the dust off the hard-packed dirt in front of their homes each day. They pray. They meditate. They glow.
There was such an inner light and ease about the people of this village. They were happy and curious to see us, much as we were to study them. They wanted to know about us. They would reach out to shake our hands and ask us the only question most of them knew in English.
“Where are you from?”
This was a typical call and response all over India. It is difficult for many Indian citizens to get a visa to leave the country so their exposure to other cultures and people relies heavily on visitations by others. We were to be taken in, investigated, remembered.
Of all the places I traveled in India, and it spanned from slums to 5 star hotels, this was one of the most special places. It is nearly impossible not to have your own light brightened by those whose lights shine so brightly.