Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Third Leg

My Dad has always said, “A life without change, is a life half lived.”

Mumbai… December….. I am rounding the corner in the 3rd leg of the race, which back in my 400-meter High School track days, always seemed like the most unexciting leg, but now in retrospect it is exactly the leg where everything starts to get difficult. It’s the beginning of the end; the turn where you are the farthest away, even though you are more than halfway to the finish line. The cheers are now faint or gone, all the excitement and speed of the first two legs are also gone as your thighs start to grow  into thick lead blocks, heavy as an elephant… your mind starts to chatter with blurry hesitation and the cool clean air that was entering your lungs has suddenly been replaced by thin prickly needles of defeat.

Of course, that does not accurately describe this trip at all… naturally, Mumbai doesn’t have cool clean air to begin with! Honestly though, this trip has proved to be a much harder race than I expected- in least in terms of finishing work on the book. I was prepared that it would again be a lot of waiting, texting, calling, waiting, texting, waiting, calling and more waiting. I mean, these last few actors that I would Love to have- actually, absolutely need present in the book are the biggest stars in the world and ridiculously busy, coy and generally hard to get in touch with!

All good things take time and luckily, but somehow unfortunately, I have no pressure from anyone other than myself, my toughest critic. Humbly however, my friends here have again proved to be Saints… such unending warmth, support and love; without them I wouldn’t be here or able to sustain life and sanity!

So, what have I been doing? Well, in the last 2 months, with my amble spare time I started taking Hindi classes, learning to read and write as well as speak. I felt that I needed to out of respect for the country that I have burrowed into and the culture that has resuscitated my creativity and purpose, plus I simply wanted to know the language for myself, my friends and conversing with all the many people here that don’t speak English. My goal is to be fluent for the book launch. I also started exercising again, watching films, even acting a little for friends and generally planting seeds here beyond my Living the Dream book, thinking ahead to a possible life here in India, at least part-time.

One big basic change on this trip is that I’ve been living alone the majority of the time in large very quiet 2-bedroom apartment… compared to last time where I was living with 3 amazing people, but never had a moment to myself and barely time to take a breath from my then ignorant immersion into ‘Bollywood!’

Now, I gratefully know tons of people, know my way around the city, have famous actors direct numbers in my cell-phone (not that they return my calls!) and yet, it’s just been a very different and I dare say, relatively lukewarm creative experience, something I never expected in the 93-degree heat and intensity of Mumbai. I simply have yet to click back into the hypnotic, ‘Bollywood’ heartbeat that gave me and everyone who has supported me here such a magical sense of accomplishment and connection. Having said that, I did return with 93% of the book already shot and there simply hasn’t been the same push to shoot everyday, like before. What can I say, change is and always will be inevitable.

So, for an official update on The Book… A few weeks after returning with a confirmed book deal, Penguin told me they had now decided that they would not be able to publish the book, that they were looking to move away from doing photography books altogether here in India. Deflating? Yes, a little, but they have a saying here… “If it works out Great, if not, Even Better!”

Truth is, as good as their banner is, I was secretly beginning to wonder if they might not actually be the right publisher for the book… that it actually needs to a broader global perspective. Europe already has an inferred knowledge and opinion about ‘Bollywood,’ it feels like that could be a better option, as to achieve more of the humanistic and sociological subtext that has been the seed of the book from the beginning.

With just one week left… and rethinking what this book is really about, the heart and soul of Living the Dream is and always will be… It’s a book about Community. People, Dreams and the Community that unites and divides them.

Now as this 3rd leg winds down I’m reminded of some of my favorite lyrics from the 80’s - The Psychedelic Furs, “…You can never win or lose if you don’t run the race.” Plus, a little something from Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin!”

Here’s to staying simple in complexity,


  1. May it all fall into place, well written, One can visually feel what you are going through! I pray God gives you the strength to run this last bit...I assure you once we reach the finishing line... The whole stadium is going to Stand and cheer....hear it baby....just close your eyes and hear it!

  2. Thanks for the update, Mark. I will send you a copy of The Writer's Workout (it could just as easily be called the photographer's workout) for your return. Same address? If not, shoot me a snail mail. Happy holidays! Travel safe.

  3. how fabulous that lap 3 has kept the blood in your thighs pumping and led you to the lap of the Hindi language (no pun intended). Here's to lap 4 and your return.

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