Nindya and Fajar

After 3 flights and a full 24 hours of travelling, I finally made it to Pontianak, Indonesia, where my friend Nindya was having her wedding over the weekend. As she picked up my friends and I (a few other members from the team had flown over as well), she explained that the wedding decorations were well in place -  every intricate detail carefully planned by her and Fajar. The first part of the celebrations, a religious ceremony, would occur on the Friday at Nindya's house while the second part would follow on Saturday at a traditional-styled hall. Both days would draw around 2000 guests that ranged from close family and friends to neighbours from years ago. Not to mention that Nindya herself had 15 bridesmaids while her future mother-in-law would have around 10 as well. 

I had met Nindya through a six month exchange program (Canada World Youth) that took us from the cold north of Canada to the islands of Indonesia. Three years later, during May 2017, I was fortunate to also visit Nindya in Leeds, UK while she was studying for her masters. Over this period of time, I came to know and love the cheery girl who hated vegetables but loved the colour pink, and to see her relationship with Fajar grow. Hence, as the first to get married out of our 20 person group, it was momentous to us all. It marked a bitter milestone -  beautiful in celebrating love but sad to know that we were all slowly becoming adults. Our group all knew this day would come but never thought it was this close before our eyes.

The wedding was a whirlwind. In between trying to visit the equator and getting my bridesmaid dress hemmed twice, we were lucky enough to share quiet breakfasts with the couple and to meet families from both sides. Nindya looked absolutely stunning -  her headpieces were quite heavy and yet she wore them as if they were merely feathers. The henna on her hands were undeniably symmetrical and carried fine lines that wove in and out of her fingers. She carried this grace that seemed as if she had done this a thousand times before, all the time making sure that we were constantly cared for. 

The two wedding days were very different in nature. Friday was a sacred occasion and had the couple dressed in white outfits. Fajar had to recite his vows that would officially marry Nindya, after countless prayers in both Indonesian and Arabic. It was also a "giving away" ceremony for Nindya's parents that drew tears from all the elders in the room. Fertility eggs were then given to the guests to symbolize future children for those who seeked it.

Saturday, however, was more festive and involved in flower decorations in every possible corner. The couple changed into traditional red attire (and Nindya had on her 14 cm heels!), and spent four hours at the front of the hall taking pictures with their guests. There was a live band that offered bapaks and ibus a chance to sing before we decided to open up the dance floor to the likes of Bruno Mars and John Legend. My friends and I tried to do our part by greeting guests as they left the hall but quickly abandoned the post as soon as we started sweating from the Southeast Asian heat. 

Returning back to Indonesia always bring this sensory nostalgia. Smells of delicious street food, the chaotic traffic to be avoided, and the familiar bahasa swirling around my ears makes me feel like I'm returning home. This would be my third time visiting and yet I always find something new to learn and love when I go back. And now adding to the constant pile of memories is this unforgettable experience for a wonderful friend. 

 

Sending love and congratulations to Nindya and Fajar,

May your marriage be constantly filled with good food, laughter, and companionship!

Back On the Road

8:36 pm, Toronto Pearson Airport, en route to London, England.

When people ask me why I travel, I always explain by namedropping my family. I tell them that through 3 generations on both sides of my family, there were endless stories of adventures. My paternal great-grandparents trained to Europe on numerous business trips (mind you, this is the mid to late 1800's) and eventually gave birth to my grandma in Soviet Russia. My maternal side didn't lack in the excitement either-my grandpa made it to Tibet and the base camp of Mount Everest before deciding that his heart wasn't up for the adventure (he was there for scientific research). When it came to my parents, they sought their own wanderlust by moving halfway across the world, and continuously road tripped and flew to new places. This explains why I had my first plane ride at 6 months.

Being a photographer now allows me to combine my love for travelling with photo documentation. I daydream about the places that my family has been to and yearn for all the cities that I still need to visit. I'm continuously looking for excuses to wander off again so I can capture more. And while I am not at home, I always feel like I'm at home being on the road. There is just something special about waking up in a foreign place.

This summer, much like last year, I'll be embarking on a 4 month backpacking trip. Armed with all my equipment, and some clothing, I'll be venturing to both familiar places as well as unfamiliar grounds (see below for an itinerary!). To be honest, I'm a littler nervous just because I am unsure of what to expect. Last year where Asia was my priority, I had a better grasp of it all since it was a region I travelled often to. This year, however, is a totally new ball game. There are so many aspects that I just don't have any idea about. 

But, maybe thats what makes it more exciting.

Everything experienced will be untainted and fresh and inspiring. Just enough to get the photo juices running again.

P.S. Make sure to keep checking back for blog posts and pictures on every leg of my journey. And comment! Would love to hear your thoughts and personal experiences on travel :)

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May 8-15 England ; May 16-24 Spain ;  May 24-June 4 Morocco ; June 4-7 Belgium ;  June 7-14 Netherlands ; June 14-July 32 Germany ; July 3-30 Israel ; July 30-Aug 7 Jordan ; Aug 7-23 Turkey

 Catching a sunrise mid-air

Catching a sunrise mid-air

welcome!

Hi. Hello. Welcome :)

Thanks for stopping by raw + rove where I share my perspective of the world around us. Hopefully you enjoy the pictures as much as I did while taking them; all of the images have been an accumulative result of travel, inspiration, and love.

I've been wanting to start a photo website for a long time but I never really mustered up the courage to do so. I was always too scared, too worried, too anxious...too something. But more than anything, I was mostly worried that I didn't have enough content to share. But along came 2017 and after more than 5 years of wanting for an online portfolio, I thought it was now or never. raw+rove was finally released on January 20th, 2017 after many months of curating.

Looking back now, I realize that it wasn't really the amount of content I was hesitant about but more so the quality. Hence, I'm continuously striving to make sure my material showcases the rich and vibrant life I witness when I'm on the road.

This project really would not have been possible without the numerous friends and colleagues that have helped me along the way. I would like to thank everyone that has been involved in the process-this website is only possible because of the dedication and support from all of them. And of course I owe gratitude to the many subjects in my photos, without their permission and their beauty, I would have nothing to work with.

So.

Take this website and do what you want with it: scroll, click, go back, go forth, comment, criticize, observe, critique, examine, investigate, google, question, exit, share, laugh, inspect, judge, compare, explain, skip. This is your platform as much as it is mine; we share this space and creation of people, places, and stories. 

Thank you and enjoy.

 

 

P.S. Be sure to check back every now and then for blog updates! Also follow on Instagram and Facebook to get the most current news about raw + rove!