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MATTER family member and visual creative Mukul, a Delhi-based photographer who has worked with us since the beginning is on his way around the world. It’s his ‘first time to first world’, and we’ll be following him on this journey. Here is day one:

Delhi to Helsinki 

An extremely dramatic start, the Middle aged Indian employees of Finnair were not the most warmest people, my agent had not considered giving me an important information (my return ticket) and I didn’t have it. I booked one for morocco on the spot (without a visa to Morocco ).  The very entry was a reminder that am entering in a new zone beyond my reach, exciting, but if unprepared, scary. Managed a boarding pass, managed an Indian friend on the flight. The terrains of Afghanistan were exciting, i know I’ll be there someday. After crossing Kabul and a wine and an unexpectedly delicious airplane chicken, I finally slept for 4 hours after 2 days. 

Woke up to find myself in clean minimal aesthetics, I could see myself shooting a neat portrait at the vast, wide emptiness, the desaturated colours, the vast green patch beyond it. I was on the other side of the world, the reality crawled in, in a world I’ve seen in movies and in a space that’s not known and am actually there, a part of their reality. The little automobiles under me were different, the sky was different, I was different. I was still a little worried about not having a visa to Morocco but after a cold queue at the immigration, (it felt like jails in British movies) I suddenly entered into a room that was totally empty, no English sign. First fear, am I at the right place? There is nobody here, suddenly.

The electronic gate opened and I was relieved by the sheer fact that the Finnish airline girl was allowed to smile. Yayyy! People were talking again, nothing cold, and as I kept walking further into the airport, it got better. 

I was still looked at as some kind of brown exotic bear, and was too curious and excited to not not show it with my body language that it’s my first time to first world! The cynical grey haired white woman was not happy with my face, I could see fear and anger, but most were pretty much in themselves and that was comforting. It’s a colder world, they seem pretty robotic, talk only business or smile coz they have to, but it’s alright. As long as am chilling and safe, am fine. It was weird to find a 50 something woman cleaning the men’s washroom. She was friendly. Watching the dude in leather jacket drinking water off the tap at the toilet- I felt like a boring geek in a cool college. He gave me a yo, while I was simply surprised out of seeing someone drink water out of toilet tap. Interesting. My love for branding took me to duty free stores just to find that all the good expensive stuff back home in india costed half the price here. (Shocking) And basic stuff (like bananas I’d never eat at home) were like a million rupees. I mean a sandwich for 600 rupees while a bottle of Jacobs Creek Shiraz for like 3 euros? This world is not like mine. I like it. 

While spotting an Indian voice sounded sweet and homy initially, finding wifi did the trick- no more alienated. A hundred what’s app messages is all that I needed. 

After an hour of chilling at the airport, Indian kids behind me shouting and crying loudly, while their dad finds it too cool to travel in Europe with family, so the integrity of airport is ruined and he can’t care less - New Delhi railway station, right here in Helsinki. I feel no more alienated. Slowly, I like my new world better, am not the naive in this land, the visual content is more intelligent, am good here, I’ll be alright! 

I see now already why everyone I met pushed me to see Europe. It’s a whole new world, you can’t stare people to make conversation, my interactive skills don’t work here, I have to make new ways of ‘dealing’ with the world, it’s like shaking a reality and it’s exciting! Am here to make work, lots of it, and how Asia got simplified, this challenge is just what I needed. 

Am still a bit scared, but am pretty confident I’ll be great and I’ll make great new friends and great new art and learn newer ways of seeping into realities. Life’s good, next stop -Egles birthday party in Estonia. Time for a 5€ coffee and 1€ liquorice packet.