Tuesday, February 9, 2010


"You can't come home until you leave home."

An interesting concept in today's world; where I've spent not 4 days straight without at least some access to the internet. The world is now so small- you can fly, ignoring layovers, around the entire world that contains every human being in the universe in under 72 hours. Three days out of my 80 year lifespan and I can be anywhere a human being can ever live.

It makes me wonder: have I left home?
I check my e-mail regularly, update my blog, glance at facebook, keep in contact with friends... sometimes, I feel like I've hardly stepped out of the door.
Though as I stare out into the streets of Jaipur, Bangkok, Agra and Alwar, It seems like I am on a different planet. The sounds, the language, the signs, the customs, the smells, the food, the cars, the very life itself is so different. So different from my home, under 20 hours away. From my front lawn, my three pet dogs, my clean street and toilet paper.

This separation is so horribly confusing! on one hand I want to go back to the comforts of my life, as I know it's so close, so easily obtainable- and I find myself reaching for western foods, western mannerisms and language. Though on the other hand I am so terribly intrigued by the absolute strangeness I've encountered not even a day's travel from my front door I feel compelled to keep going! to travel! to see what lies a full 48 hours away from home! what could it be? India and Thailand have surpassed my (not yet wildest) dreams. What could possibly lay in store for me as I continue? Will it be something I cannot even imagine? Will I encounter a 'bizzaro' world, so similar, but skewed just enough? Will the languages be similar? Will the food be strange?

all off these questions and hundreds more push and push me forward, driving me onward into the unknown. Towards Africa, Norway, urging me to go farther- to those corners of the world not accessible, where the human face is a startling visage! To hear the song of the shifting floes! To feel the wind through the boughs of an unclimbed tree! "Go" they say, "discover the hidden", they whisper. I am powerless to refuse!

How do you turn from the siren song of the whales, or the promise in the wind on the leaves? How do you resist the taste of a foreign syllable on your tongue?! maybe others do not hear it as I do. Maybe others are stronger than I. But my curiosity is too much, I live to learn...to discover. Out! to the most gnarled, moss-ridden, magnificent tree; to the welcome mat on my very doorstep, I am propelled.

And I am never far from home.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Of Medication and Sleeper Trains

I've spent the last week or so in a haze of being sick and feverish- when I woke up I found myself in New Delhi, India. Now, I thought Bangkok was crazy, but compared to India, Bangkok is the most ordered place on earth. Here there are no rules, cars drive wherever they will fit, and the night is NEVER silent from the constant bleating of horns. I was awake at about 4 in the morning and a motorcyclist was cruising down an empty street, laying on his horn like he was pushing through a crowd- I'm starting to think it's impossible for anyone here (except Burun, an awesomely chill TukTuk driver) to drive without a horn on. That being said, we spent two days in New Delhi- in which I got to see alot of the local life--especially by getting lost in some alleyways. Fortunately a kind young man helped mike and I find our way back to the hotel, Mike all the while being attacked and almost tripped by "bad children". There were no real sights to see (or at least easily accessible) in Delhi, and we spent most of the time there adjusting to the country.

India is possibly the toughest country I have spent time in so-far. The poverty is so rampant, and the city is so polluted it makes you question alot of things you thought were certain. Children will beg you for food, not just money, but food. You are constantly accosted by vendors trying to make a living any way they can (including trying to sell you fake 5 dollar bills, the best trick I've seen yet).

Still shaken from the culture shock, the group arrived in Agra, where we sat on the rooftop of hour hotel with a view of the Taj Mahal. It was spectacular. The air was still dirty, and the pollution just the same, but here was something completely breathtaking. The first sight we visited, however, was not the Taj but the Red Fort (or fort of Agra). This to me was more spectacular than the Taj, which when you get down to it is a big crypt, beautiful though it is. The red fort was absolutely spectacular. it was HUGE, dwarfing whatever size my imagination could produce- the blocks which made it up were taller than me and easily much longer. more than that it kept going! there were courtyards upon courtyards! you could tell it used to be a functional castle, with a town inside, places for the people to pray, and sectors for the rich and the poor. The walls were set up for archery defense, and a large (though now empty) moat surrounded the whole thing. Walking though it was mind-numbing- the fact that I was where, a thousand years ago, people lived and fought and hoped and dreamed. The Taj was beautiful and breathtaking, but the red fort of Agra was absolutely an experience.

The next several days would take me into a national park, another bout of fever (thank goodness for Cipro) and finally ending up here in Jaipur, where the group leaves on a train in about 30 minutes to go to the woodstock school to teach classes on the ecosystems. I'm looking forward most of all to staying in the same place more than one night.

Time to pack up again.