is a hard place to be
when you’re nineteen and feeling free
but still unsure of the person who you want to be.

and india
is guaranteed
to create dissonance
between what you believe
and everything you see.

it’s a country overcrowded with bodies
but you won’t see a single person.

and all those little faces you saw on tv before you came,
housing big, pleading eyes
and hungry mouths,
well they aren’t as cute
when they follow you home,
amma, amma
and you have no change,
and change won’t change much,
and you’re sorry.

no, they aren’t as cute
when they come from behind
pin your arms to your sides
and their friends, all under ten
pick your pockets with well-trained hands.

it’s a really hard place to be
when you’re trying to decide
what school to go to in the fall
or what boy to date back home

and you’re still of the conviction that it matters
because you
you’re going to do big things.

it’s hard,
when nothing reminds you of home
but it’s all you can think of anyways.

india is a place you’ll want to forget
when you’re back in the states
trying to materialize your most basic dreams–
the ones you always felt you deserved–
of a house, a husband, a few kids, and enough to eat.

it’s a place that will make you hungrier for that dream
than you’ve ever been before

but india is a place
that will hide in the back of your mind and whisper,
maybe deserve
isn’t a real word
or at least not a word with real meaning.

. . . . . . .

It’s nearly been three years since I left for India to complete a field study on the local government of a small fishing village in Vizag, Andhra Pradesh. India is where I gained my love for photography. I bought my first camera a couple weeks before leaving, and once there I spent hours each day wandering my neighborhood, the village I researched in, and the nearby beach with my camera around my neck. I took portraits of hundreds of people– some who I didn’t know at all, others who I came to know well during my stay.

Chase and I are planning a trip to Europe and a few other places in the spring. I can’t wait.

Sarah Jensen - Ames, this is beautiful. I love, love, love your India stuff. What an amazing place to find a love for photography, especially of people. I’m sure that experience will always be a meaningful one in your life. Love you!

Elisabeth Lynn Williams - I just wanted you to know how beautiful this post is. The pictures are phenomenal, the words are exquisite. That’s all.

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