There are times when you experience something incredible. Something so unique, so overwhelming… Something that’s so different to your past experiences that it makes your body tingle and the hairs stand up on your neck as you watch on in awe. Your senses are so overwhelmed by what you’re experiencing that you become truly present in the moment. The experience you’re having is so intense that there’s no bandwidth left for mental commentary, judgment or contemplation… It’s just pure, raw experience.
These moments stay with you. They affect you in a deep and profound way, and even recalling them in memory brings back the wave of excitement, awe and emotion that you felt.
One such experience I had was the Hindu festival of Deepawali. This is a celebration of light over dark, good over evil. I walked the streets of Chennai, India during the festival as the city became a majestic fantasy land of light and sound.
All over the city, there were joyous flashes of bright white light that erupted with a sizzle and whir shooting up into the humid night sky. Around dark corners in shantytowns and villages, smiling faces glowed, wide-eyed around cascading fountains of sparks.
The sticky Chennai humidity mixed with gunpowder and smoke created a dense fog that draped the streets, giving the city a ghost-like feel. As I wandered with my camera in hand, the streets were empty of traffic and the fog only briefly pierced by the light of a passing rickshaw. The city felt like an eerie, happy, peaceful, war zone of light, sound, and fog.