Blue City

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Camel Safari

India 2 Comments »

I’d never seen a camel in real life before. They stunk, which was fitting I thought. The sounds they made were loud and abrupt, a deep gargled whine that sounded almost human, but unearthly. The only mental connection I could make was the Star Wars character Chewbacca. My camel was docile, but Linda’s was manic. The way they’re controlled is a steel spike is driven through the bridge of their nose, to which ropes are tied. The sound of their cries, wincing of their eyes and blood from their wounds made me uneasy. For lively hood, an animal’s pain is acceptable, but I’m becoming uncomfortable with trading it for tourism.

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Snippets from Siem Reap

Audio & Video, India 2 Comments »

I’’ve had these clips sitting on my computer for awhile, waiting for me to add voice-overs. I’m accepting the fact that video takes too much time to make it as good as I’d like, so I promise I’m going to start uploading more footage. I have got hours and hours. It’ll be mostly straight stuff, with little information, so if you have any questions, ask me or my friend.

These clips are from Siem Reap, Cambodia. It starts with a buffet dinner Stacey and I went to, where there was some Cambodian dancing. Then some footage Stacey took of us doing a little bit of walking in Angkor Wat, where we pass some street musicians and little kids trying to sell us stuff.

Out of Reach

India, Plans & Itineraries No Comments »

I’m currently attending a retreat at the Tushita Meditation Center in the Tibetan exile city of McLeod Ganj, India. There I am learning about the philosophies of Buddhism and the practice of meditation. The retreat started on April 20th and lasts ten days. I will not be reachable during this time, but pre-written posts should show up almost daily. Notification emails won’t be sent, so you’ll have to come back on your own!

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Bush Country

India 1 Comment »

It was late, probably too late, but I love the beach at night. Somehow not being able to see the horizon makes it so much more infinite. I walked down the steep broken steps on the cliff in Varkala and made my way across the sand and sat myself down.

I’d been practicing meditation with little success and thought such a peaceful spot might help me along. Surveying the beach, I saw it was empty from me to the pitch blackness that sat beyond the edge of a giant spotlight’s beam. I closed my eyes and thought that with the sound of the waves, I might not hear someone coming, but I then remembered reading when meditating one should actually be more conscious of what’s going on around them.

That would have been nice if I could actually meditate. I opened my eyes thinking I heard someone in the distance and saw a single line of fresh footprints passing inches in front of me. I followed them and found a young kid walking away. He looked back past me. Turning that way I saw his three friends walking towards me. They approached looking, but talking only to each other. On the giant empty beach, they passed close by me.

“What are you doing?” one asked.

“Actually, nothing” I said.

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John Means Heart

India 1 Comment »

Look at this picture. When I first saw this view from the roof of my hotel in Jodhpur; I was searching for a fort above the line of blue houses, but couldn’t find it. If you don’t see it right away, then look a little less closely. After a few minutes of scanning the horizon of homes, I realized the entire mountain before me was actually the fort. Its size was an exciting surprise. I had been mostly interested to see the blue of the city in Jodhpur, but now I couldn’t wait to see the fort.

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Not in Delhi Yet

India 1 Comment »

In case anyone was watching the news, I’m not in Delhi yet. They’re not targeting tourists in India; it seems to be a Hindu vs Muslim thing. I’m pretty templed-out, so I probably won’t be hanging around too many religous sites anyway.

I’m in Puskar now. It’s a pretty nice small town with lake, a hill and lots of colorful shops in between. Many travelers get stuck here for weeks and months, since it’s so quaint and cheap. However, I’m leaving in two days on a train through Delhi up to the meditation retreat in the Himalayans.

The Line of Fire

India 1 Comment »

Last night after brushing my teeth, I spit a stream of foam out my 4th floor window, onto the roof of a single story building next door. There are no sinks here at my hotel in Mumbai, so it was either that or a walk up stairs to spit in a toilet. Upon leaving the window I heard some noises I thought sounded human. I came back to look. The streets were empty. Nobody was there.

This morning while brushing my teeth at the window, I looked down below and saw on the roof a row of three messy beddings. I spit out the other window and wondered about last night, but didn’t remember the noises.

Tonight while brushing my teeth I leaned out the window and looked down below. I let my eyes adjust from the bright streets to the dark rooftop and saw three men sleeping in a neat row on their backs. They were right in the line of fire. I remembered the noises.

Friends in Mumbai

India 1 Comment »

Being the financial center of the country, I expected Mumbai to be clean and modern, but the parts I saw were still very much like the rest of cities in India. Relative to Kolkata, Mumbai seemed neat and new, but up against most western cities, it’s still pretty run down and dirty. It’s very feasible I just missed the parts I imagined existed, but in any case as usual in India the people and culture make up for it. I quickly made some great friends and had an awesome two days there.

After fending off some desperate taxi drivers, I took the local train from the main station to the area I wanted to stay in. All the cars were packed, but in one I spotted an open seat. Quickly, I jumped on and grabbed it. My bag was heavy from all the books I’d read recently, so it was a struggle removing it. After placing it on the floor, I looked up to find everyone watching me. Actually, I found they were staring at me. I looked behind me and everyone there was staring too.

“What’s everybody looking at?” I wondered.

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Varkala by Chance

India No Comments »

When Andre and I got off the boat at the end our trip through the backwaters, the sun had just set. It was getting dark, but it we weren’t far from our destination. Or so we thought.

The German had mistakenly assumed the backwaters went east and we’d be minutes from Periyar Wildlife Preserve. Upon looking at the map, I realized the backwaters actually went south and simple geometry had actually taken us almost twice as far as we’d thought we were. The only train back north was leaving in thirty minutes. We buckled under the pressure and decided to stay the night in that town, then head north the morrow. We’d waste a day for not looking at the map, but no worries.

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