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Published: November 25th 2019
There are many advantages and drawbacks to solo travel, I love both solo travel and travel with just the right companions. I suppose it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out the perks of both types of travel, but some of the drawbacks may not be as obvious.
When you travel alone, there is this weird dynamic that you may never appear in any of your vacation photos. Of course, selfies are one way to solve the problem, but selfies only go so far, and let’s be honest anyone over the age of 35 feels slightly weird taking selfies. You want normal looking, not too posed and not too canned photos, but when traveling alone that can feel like you are asking for the moon.
Possibly one of the best solutions to this minor dilemma is to travel in India.
Indians love photos. I mean, LOVE photos. I already knew they loved taking photos of themselves with others as you can hardly go an hour in India without someone asking to take a selfie with you. But what I didn’t know is that Indians also love taking photos for you. It was
a phenomenon like I have never experienced.
In addition to the basic logistics of solo travel, I have two personal issues that already make vacation photos difficult. First of all, I get oddly uncomfortable when it’s time to take a photo and this usually results in me making some weird face, talking through the entire experience or doing something awkward with my hands or stance.
My other big personal problem is I hate asking anyone for anything. I mean ANYTHING. I don’t want even want to ask anyone to pass a dish when eating a family-style meal, so you can imagine the internal struggle it takes to ask someone to take a photo of me.
I feel like I am putting them out. I feel like I am asking too much. I feel like some sort of rabid narcissistic who wants a photo of themself. I feel like a socially awkward outcast who doesn’t even know how to stand for a photo.
The best way to overcome this big box of neurosis? Travel solo in India.
What I discovered is that Indians will more than
oblige your annoying request, in fact they act as though you are doing THEM a favor by asking. Sometimes you don’t even have to ask. If they see you taking a photo or struggling with a selfie, they may walk right over and offer. Aww, what relief.
All of this was a refreshing, but not an earth shattering discovery. Indians, after all, are caring and aware humans.
What I did not expect? The great care and detail and pride they took in their job as my amateur vacation photographer.
First of all, they did not take just one photo with one pose. They took multiple photos from multiple angles with varying use of light, flash and background.
Then there were the suggestions and coaching they provided me, the awkward subject. “Look this way ma’am.” “Be sure to smile ma’am. Your smile is key.” “Look in the other direction now.” “Turn your body the other way.” “Yes, this looks so good.”
I was so taken aback from the response and so relieved by the coaching, I just obliged obediently like some sort of fashion model at
Then there were the hotel and resort employees who took their job as photographer so seriously, they continued on professionally. After taking countless photos of me with certain backgrounds, they would say “where else should we go take some photos?”
Some of these photoshoots would end with us taking a selfie or the photographer showing me the photos that were deemed the best work or me getting some coaching for future photos. ”Be sure to smile. It is of the utmost importance.” I nodded like a good student and went on my way until the next shoot.
There was one photo taking moment that still makes me chuckle. A hotel employee saw me trying to take a photo, offered to take one with me in it and went above and beyond utilizing his skills. Afterwards, I made a joke about wishing I had run into this amateur photographer when I was actually dressed for dinner and wearing nicer clothes.
My joke was not taken lightly and when I stepped out for dinner, he found me and immediately went into a full on, professional level, detailed photo
shoot. Then he said, “do you want to go into a big room?” I stumbled for a response and had no idea what he meant. I know it sounds like a bad decision, but I said yes.
“You stay here. I will be right back.” He walked down the hall and went into a room. I am, of course, very confused about what is about to happen, but didn’t feel concerned.
A few seconds later, the door I am standing near opens up and the employee signals for me to enter quickly and quietly. I cannot help but to wonder what the hell is going on, but I go anyway.
I found myself in the biggest, swankiest suite I have ever seen in my life. I cannot help but wonder who in the world stays here. I also wonder how many rooms are actually in this dramatically decorated “big room.” But I am not afforded much time to let my thoughts and eyes wander because I am immediately being coached.
“Sit here. Look over there. Smile.”
”Move to this seat. Smile and sit still.”
“Stand by this door and smile.”
As quickly and stealthily as we entered the room, we begin to exit the room. The hotel employee leaned over to fluff a pillow and brush away an unseen wrinkle on a couch where I had been instructed to sit when I was given my last set of instructions, “do not tell anyone we did this and show no one these photos.”
My volunteer photographer handed me back my phone and told me he would be available every night to photograph me before dinner. He went back to work and I continued on to dinner with my head spinning.
Indians take the concept of Instagram Boyfriends to a whole new level.
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