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When I was living in Berlin I received an exciting call from Smriti Keshari. The short documentary that turned into a full length documentary which she had started working on 3 years earlier, right at the moment we had first met in NYC, was going to premiere at the Berlinale - Berlin's International Film Festival. And even better a big part of the Food Chains film ( was coming over, including another close friend Forest Woodward.

The experience of having my friends over for their premiere was an intense and wonderful one, but at times also exhausting from high energy, sensory overload that came with the parties, the screenings and finally being able to spend time with close friends again. During this week I was introduced to Sanjay Rawal, every time we talked there was a much welcomed sense of calmness and being in control of the situation coming from Sanjay.

Fast forward two years and there is finally a chance to meet Sanjay again, this time together with Ane. It was our first week in Tokyo, and both Ane and I were exhausted from the jet lag and from coming to terms with the fact that we actually started our three month Japan adventure. Sanjay had all rights to be even more exhausted as he had just finished an intense series of shoots for his new project 3100 (, but if it wasn’t for his stories we would not have noticed. He managed to once more radiate a sense of calmness and control, that helped Ane and I to ground in Japan and feel energized to start the Ane&Ivar project.

On our quest to find a restaurant in Ginza Sanjay stopped in front of a facade of thin bamboo slats and asked us what we thought of eating there. Ane and I admitted that we had no idea what kind of restaurant was waiting behind this bamboo wall as there weren’t any visible signs, other than a menu card in Japanese. Sanjay suggested that as the wall had such a great vibe we should go in and let ourselves be surprised.

Passing through a small door we left the busy Ginza streets behind and descended the narrow stairs into what felt like an oasis of peacefulness. We were invited to replace our shoes with slipper and brought to a secluded table where we once more, were faced with the inability to understand what type of restaurant this was, none of us was able to read the menu. Luckily the waitress knew a few words in English and we were able to order the chef's recommendation. What followed was a multi course dinner with a balance like any other I have ever experienced. Not only did each ingredient taste, colour, structure and smell perfectly align with the other ingredients, over the entire dinner there was a very delicate balance between the courses.

During this evening we discussed a wide range of topics but the one that stuck with me is the conversation that we had while Ane visited the restroom. I confided in Sanjay that while I was excited for our journey, I was also nervous and scared, traveling together with a partner for the first time as well as doing the project. Talking about this with Sanjay has helped me to give the fear for the unknown relationship challenges a place, a place where they did not interfere with being open for the good things that were even more likely to happen.

Those who have been following the Ane&Ivar project probably realise that this evening was the perfect reason to include Sanjay in our project. But the opportunity for a portrait didn't arise till we met again, this time in Kyoto, at the end of our three month trip when Sanjay and his crew had once more come back to Japan for their final shoot with the Japanese marathon monks. 

On their last night we joined Sanjay and his crew for dinner and then it became clear that Sanjay is not only a very talented director with an inspiring calmness over him, he is also a very talented recruiter as both the Food Chains and 3100 crew were made up of the most talented and kindest people you can find. 

To follow Sanjay's adventures I suggest that you check out his Instagram: