Smoked Out

Thoughts & Reflections 3 Comments »

I have mentioned a few times how traveling throughout the world often feels like time-travel. Some places in India and Thailand had little to no signs of the modern world where they work and farm using the same tools and living in the same shelters as they have for hundreds, maybe thousands of years.

Even in Europe, I sometimes feel as if I’ve traveled back in time. Most often it’s a trip to the early 1980’s, when I was almost too young to remember what it was like sitting in a smoky restaurant or in a cloudy waiting room.

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Lighter Load

Germany, Thoughts & Reflections 1 Comment »

As part of my efforts to seek exposure for writing and photography, I spent the last week tuning this website up. It should load faster and have less distracting stale information now. There are more posts on the homepage now too.

All the fun stuff on the map is still there and I added some one sentence stories for each location. Go click “Where Else Have I Been” and explore around a bit. Make sure to note the controls that show up beneath the map.

My mom will surely be letting me know about all the typos, but if you find anything else amuck..please let me know!

Honk Honk!

Thoughts & Reflections No Comments »

On the crowded walkway escalators in international airports, there are always some people who do not obey the rule “stand on the right, pass on the left”. I must say, it’s usually Americans. We’re the only ones who don’t commonly walk on escalators. Why would we walk when we can stand still?

Anyway, there are always pilots and crew in a rush for a flight who come careening onto the escalator muttering out the rules with attitude. Recently I was walking briskly behind a wad of about fifteen people, when we all came to a stumbling halt because two women were engrossed in conversation and oblivious to the rules and the crowd of people coming towards them.

Of course a pilot came up behind me. He tapped my shoulder and started talking some business to me as if I didn’t know the rules. Did he actually think me and the fifteen other people were just parked there enjoying the free indoor breeze?

He probably honks in traffic.

Travel Fatigue

Spain, Thoughts & Reflections 4 Comments »

For those of you who have been following my travels closely, I suppose it’s fair to keep you abreast of my relevant moods and ideas. As you may have noticed from recent posts (or lack thereof), I’m getting a bit of travel fatigue. Considering I’ve been moving around for about five months now, maybe it is to be expected. Sure, there were times I’ve spent a couple of weeks on the same bed (Bangkok, McLeod Ganj and Paris), but I think being in one place for awhile without having had plans to stay there, still feels transient.

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Impressions

India, Thoughts & Reflections 1 Comment »

The other day I realized that the majority of my posts had been pointing out things that stunk (mostly literally) about India. These were all written a week or so ago when I had no internet connection. The pollution, poverty, lack of personal space and pestering by touts made it hard to see the good and amazing this country has to offer. That’s culture shock for me. It’s my inability to enjoy the positive because I’m so blinded by the negative. Negative of course being relative.

Now that a couple weeks have past, the uncomfortable things have become less of a shock and thus less of a distraction. It’s been easier for me to appreciate the beautiful and bright fashion, the diversity of spicy and sweet foods, the outward curiosity and friendliness of strangers, the widespread and intense devotion to Hinduism and so much more I’ve experienced but haven’t written about yet. Whether good or bad, the dirty kitchen, the lingering smell of sewage and the begging children have now become the background, leaving my mind open to experience the great things.

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Degenerative Languagitis & Accentes Contagiosum

India, Thoughts & Reflections No Comments »

When speaking with people who have limited English I tend to thin my statements down to things like “me food”, “time now” and “many hot”, makes me sound like a cave man, but it’s undoubtedly more effective. Common words are the most useful and I’ve had to forget using slang all together. I’ve also replaced many words with physical movements. Sometimes when I meet a person who can speak decent English, I catch myself playing charades more than talking.

I’ve also got a habit of picking up other peoples accents. In the past couple weeks, some of my English has taken ona German flavor. I’m rolling my r’s now too. “Where you come from?” “Amerdrdrdica!” “What your name?” “John Mordrdrdgan!”

Reading and writing helps me from completely succumbing to these afflictions.

The Eastern Pooping Position

Thoughts & Reflections 2 Comments »

I’ve got somewhat of a theory here. In the countries I’ve seen in the East, people seem more comfortable sitting on the floor than I see at home. They use chairs most of the time; I’m just saying it looks more natural when they’re on the ground. They look comfortable. It’s like their legs are more flexible or something, which if they’ve been doing it their whole life, I suppose would be. In addition to this, I’ve noticed quite a few people sitting in a position I’ve never seen people comfortably sit in before. While waiting for the bus, hanging out with friends or wherever, I’ve seen people crouched down low, knees bent all the way, sitting on their heels and balanced by sticking their locked arms far out in front. I always think “Man that can’t be comfortable for more than a minute.”

And you know what? It’s not! The other night, after a few minutes of steady activity at my only option for a toilet at the Labanya Lodge in Konark, my knees started to burn. Right then and there, hovering over the hole, it all started to make sense. One of my all time favorite seats is the western toilet. I can put a solid thirty minutes in on one of them before any aching starts. If I had assumed the Eastern pooping position for just as long, I’m sure I could rock it while waiting in line at the grocery store and find it pretty darn comfy.

If you want to pretend you’re traveling with me, then I’ve got something you can try. On your next time-to-yourself-break at work, get your feet up on the bowl and go like the other half of the world does. Be careful not to slip and wet your shoe. That’s no fun. I’ve been there and I wear flip flops.

Indian’s Don’t Nod

India, Thoughts & Reflections 5 Comments »

Let me explain this little cultural difference that took a few days to catch on to. Indian’s don’t nod. They shake their head to say yes. Try that out for a day. It’s a lot more awkward than it sounds.

Ok, it’s not a full on no-shake; they throw a little cock in the head. It’s kind of like a shrug of the shoulder mixed with a no-shake, but the shoulder doesn’t rise up. If they going for a full on yes-nod, as opposed to just your typical OK sure-nod, then they really get the head moving. You know those little animals or sports figures that cool people put in the back window of their car, with the head that that wobbles around when they hit the brakes. I think maybe they call them weebles? Well, it’s like that. Just like that.

At first I kept thinking everyone was saying “maybe, I guess”, “no not really”, or “I don’t know”. I thought maybe my charades technique was fading. I’d ask people a question and they’d wobble their head, so I’d ask them again. I’d rephrase and they’d wobble. Rephrase. Wobble. Rephrase. Wobble.

Now that I’ve got the wobble down, communicating has gotten a little easier.

Farts & Fires

Singapore, Thoughts & Reflections 1 Comment »

This morning I noticed the soft rustle of plastic bags around the room sounded like small fires burning. The knock of hands against bed posts, added pops and cracks.

The zip of zippers distracted me from visualizing this, until I found them to sound like farts. Quick, squeaky ones. Slow, deep ones.

I made images in my mind of the farts and fires around me.

Lowest Ground

Singapore, Thoughts & Reflections 4 Comments »

At The Inn-Crowd Hostel, the row of five new shower stalls have clean, grey tile floors that pitch slightly towards the back wall. The water from each shower runs into a gutter of sorts, which pitches to the left carrying all the runoff from each shower away. A modern reproduction of a medieval drainage system. Last night I mistakingly chose the shower at lowest ground.

As many showered at once, the single drain could not handle the dirt, sweat, hair and extra’s that flowed with the water, so we began to have a little backing up issue in my stall. Not long after that, someone did the liquid nasty. My first means of perception was olfactory. I thought sweat, I thought toilet. Then the color came. And it was dark. Even diluted in the dirty shower water of three or four; it was dark.

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