One of the most enduring memories that I have of India is COLOR. Intense, outrageous, exhilarating color.
And that photo is straight out of the camera, folks. No enhancement, no adjustment. It's pure, saturated, living color.
That kind of color is everywhere you look -- fabrics, bangles, spices, fruits, everything! -- in every possible hue and texture. For someone who tends towards neutrals and timid earthy colors, it was thoroughly invigorating!
But here's the thing about cliches like "India is bursting with color." It captures the truth. It does. But it's not the whole truth. What's concealed by the cliche -- what you never see in artsy vacation photos and coffee table books -- is that, at least in the winter, the air pollution is so horrendous that everything is actually rather gray.
For example, take those famous blue-washed houses of Jodhpur. When you're close up, they do indeed looks beautifully and mysteriously blue. But here's what the overall view of the city looks like, through a haze of pollution:
Or the Taj Mahal ... which I remember when I first saw it in summer 1998 as a sparkling white monument against a beautiful blue sky. Here's what it looked like in winter 2009. It was mid-morning, and the sun should have been shining brightly, but it couldn't even break through the haze:
Delhi was even worse. I was very happy to be there and bask in the warm, wonderful glow of family. But outside, the air was cold and gray, dingy and oppressive.
When I finally arrive back to Phoenix, it was a breath of fresh air (literally) to walk outside and gaze up at green leaves and fresh grapefruits set against an azure sky.
This trip has really provoked thoughts for me on the nature of colorfulness. The colors here seem so simplistic compared to the saffrons, magentas, and turquoises of India, but I'm so grateful for getting to see them in this clear light.