View profile

📷 An Eye for Life: My Week Online 🇮🇳 #5

Thank you for joining me for the 5th issue of my weekly newsletter, this time about past travels in India and their current battle with COVID-19. I’m sharing love and support for the country and I hope you will find it worth your time to read.

The tagline is 'Incredible India' for a reason.
Hawa Mahal in Jaipur
Hawa Mahal in Jaipur
India has given us Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Ayurveda, shampoo, chess, chai, yoga - which is practiced the world over - and so much more. It’s the home of complex systems which have been written about before. By better writers than I. How dabbawalas in Mumbai deliver boxed lunches called dabbas by hand and by bicycle, every day all around the city - without the assistance of modern technology, making them the envy of corporate-owned services across the globe. The laundry, flower and pre-dawn newspaper delivery systems are similarly remarkable.
India also has cities that showcase how many shades of indigo can exist. So many! There are flaxen step wells. Plum-colored saris with gold embroidery. Emerald forests of trees in Sikkim and swaying palms in Goa. So many shades of salmon or sienna on fort walls, facades and bare earth. Thick strands of tangerine-tinted marigolds…
India is a celebration of the full spectrum of color on planet Earth.
Yet for every one image I’ve seen or taken like that, I close my eyes and see a dozen that are beautiful faces. 😁 The man in a Mumbai market who gave me a fragrant rose for no other reason than to be kind, the guide who took me to his local chai stand that tourists don’t usually visit, the female hot air balloon pilot safely navigating us over misty rivers at dawn, the enterprising young owner of an ancient family guest home, the GM of a resort who took the time to help us learn about Chaat and Pakora, the chic owner of a boutique in Panaji where I bought a necklace and a gold ring, the man in the blue shirt [below, middle] who asked me to take his photo and tell people that India loves visitors, the woman who created the embroidered pillow that I move with me from room to room - a reminder of the duality of life and of two places I love. ❤️
Welcoming, giving people. Who practice Atithi Devo Bhava or Guests are equivalent to God. Whose faces I see as I read headlines like:
‘The system has collapsed’: India’s descent into COVID hell
‘Death Is the Only Truth.’ Watching India’s Funeral Pyres Burn
'Horrible’ weeks ahead as India’s COVID catastrophe worsens
COVID is killing 120 people an hour in India, and it could stay “really grim” for months
Are they ok? Are their families ok?
So, I check in with those who are now friends… and they are not. They are not even close to ok. I weep as I read the replies, and later stories like this by Nivi Jaswal who makes an incredible point about us needing to have compassion with issues such as cremation in India.
Fixing the complex problems associated with COVID-19 in India may be incredibly difficult. It’s hard to even wrap my head around from my very privileged position in a country where the vaccine is free and so many people have gotten it or are acting like this is already all over. But I believe my friends who, this is affecting and. have communicated how bad it is. I also believe there are some small ways we can make a difference.
a few ideas:
  • The simplest: care about what’s happening.
  • Check in with your friends who have relatives in India.
  • My friend Prachi [top, middle in collage above] who owns Escape To shared a truly heartbreaking account with me of her family’s COVID experience and the difficulties they have faced. It really shook me. She asked me to share the idea that we can all try to order takeout or eat at Indian-owned restaurants in our communities if it’s safe, because they will send that money to help their relatives in India. 
  • We could purchase chai from Boston Chai Party, owned by two Indian guys who are donating all of their profits and giving money from their own pockets to on-the-ground medical resources.
  • We could support the women who have set up a Go Fund Me to survive the crisis as their Fair Trade work has been put on hold.
  • We could buy from Indian artisans like Dipti Mrinalini, IndiLocal and Jamini Design.
  • My friend Mariellen, who lives in Rishikesh, created this post that she is updating as new information emerges with so many more resources than I could fit in this newsletter.
  • Specifically choose to support the LGBTQ+ community in India.
  • Read this article by my friend Lily so you can understand why we need to prioritize global vaccine equity, which directly affects countries such as India. Call or write your leaders to get them on board. Just announced: the USA will support the waiver of IP protections on COVID-19 vaccines and actively participate in WTO negotiations for vaccine equity.
  • If you are vaccinated, you could volunteer to help with a vaccine education campaign on the ground in India in September. Apply here.
  • Search for opportunities like this one.
  • If you have the means, book travel to India in 2022 to support the tourism economy which employs so many. Look for flexible cancellation and get insurance. Hire a travel advisor to help you. Maybe you’d like one of these hotels in India.
  • I received these links from followers in India: Time To Act, a compilation on Google Docs, one on Wishboard.
I hope that together, we can give back some of the love that India has given to so many of us!
the entrance to a business in Jodhpur
the entrance to a business in Jodhpur
elsewhere online this week
I was made aware that May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I’m thinking about how I can support that by trying to pay better attention to what friends like Erica share. May is also designated as a month to raise awareness for Mental Health. Tuesday was #MayThe4thBeWithYou Day. I loved this and this plus this list which was new to me this week:
15 Star Wars filming locations around the world you can visit in real life
Did you hear about the Belgian farmer who accidentally moved the French border? This made me miss living in New York just a little:
Karen Gershowitz
I was the first one through the gates when @WaveHill last opened and, for a while, it felt as like this magical garden in the #Bronx was my own! The ground was covered in a blanket of intense blue glory-of-the snow flowers, mirroring the sky! #travelinginmyowntown #travelblogger
This made me chuckle because as a photographer I knew it was distortion caused by a wide angle lens in a tiny room [unwise but the photographer may not have had a choice]; the internet… just did. not. get it. - till photographers like Pete Souza helped out. And if you’re wondering what lenses are good for portraits, here’s a solid overview.
Brian Tyler Cohen
Aide 1:
Aide 2:
Aide 1:
Aide 2:
Aide 1:
Aide 2:
Aide 1: Okay Joe and Jill look huge—
Aide 2: HUGE.
And from this account, I found out that May 5 was National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls who are 5x more likely to experience violence. I hope this Day of Awareness, symbolized by a red dress, becomes more widely known. Here in California, murders of Indigenous women are 7 times less likely to be solved. 💔 [source: Sovereign Bodies Institute]
beautiful art by Alanah Jewell, Bear clan, Oneida Nation
beautiful art by Alanah Jewell, Bear clan, Oneida Nation
I acknowledge where I live as the home of Tongva people and I am trying to learn more about them. Understand where you are by checking Native Land, using this guide or learning how to take action.
I'll leave you with,
Thank you for reading! I hope to see you back here next Friday for the sixth edition of An Eye for Life. 💛 ✨
To let me know you enjoyed this issue, or anything else I create: you can share it with a friend, order a print, “buy me a coffee” or send me a note via that link or by just hitting ‘reply’.
Did you enjoy this issue? Yes No
Kirsten @kirstenalana

A periodic newsletter that helps you discover the work of creatives around the globe and ways you can help people + planet. Also includes notable online moments, photos, and an original short essay by Kirsten Alana.

Manage all your newsletter subscriptions here.
In order to unsubscribe, click here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Created with Revue by Twitter.
Los Angeles, CA 90046