STORIES

“The Morning Ritual All Day Long”

How many truly memorable still life photographs have you seen that both tell a story and inspire you to deeper thoughts about your own identity?

My goal as a still life photographer is to take pictures that inspire people to tune in to their own beauty, which will in turn give them a greater understanding of their dharma (the Sanskrit term for “life’s purpose”) and compel them to love who they actually are.

Benares Chai

“The Morning Ritual All Day Long”
It was almost 5 a.m. when the bells started ringing. I was in one of the most intense places on the planet… Varanasi, India, aka Benares, or Kashi. The temperature was hot, around 85 degrees Fahrenheit, only to rise to over 100 degrees by 9 a.m. This morning—like every morning for thousands of years—the prayers had begun on the banks of the river Ganges. The jet lag and excitement of this journey I was on was an apparent contributor to the morning haze I was experiencing. I stood up, threw on my camera bag, and then headed towards the river just about 500 feet from my door. As I made my way to the chai stand I would bear witness to the discarded souls of this neighborhood and street vendors making their way to the opening of a new day. I found my place in line for what was the best cup of chai I had yet to drink in all of my travels thus far.

A pile of loosely formed bricks with a metal grate held the fire that heated this delicious indulgence. I could hardly wait for my cup. The chai wallah (or barista, very loosely translated) spoke to me with a huge grin—“Namaste, sir!” and handed me my cup. My fingers gripped the clay cup with excitement. I remember thinking how great and “green” this was: to have a cup made of the earth that would be given back to the earth when I was finished with it.

I sat down on the steps leading into the river and meditated inside the sunrise, hardly believing how beautiful it was. I had never seen colors like this. Then my skepticism kicked in and I thought maybe it was the pollution painting this scene with colors so subtle, yet vibrant and inlaid with a silvery tone. I must have died because I am in heaven. I thought. There isn’t another thing I will ever need as long as I live on this planet. This is perfection! and I sipped my tea until it was gone and I was rooted deeply into myself. I would have one more refill before I left that spot and paid the wallah with a few rupees and a smile.

This is one of many experiences that have enamored me with contentment over a cup of tea though out my life. I am looking forward to enjoying a nice cup of this experience together in the studio! See you soon…

In all conscience,
Derek