Archive for August, 2009

Day one

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

I’m here in Delhi on day one, and I don’t have a backpack. So no change of clothes, no soap, no towel, no everything else I had in there. Luckily (thanks, mom) I have a little carry-on kit that packs some cleansers, a toothbrush and toothpaste. It also had a little face towel, about six inches by six inches square, which I am now using as my full body drying tool. Needless to say, I’m spending a few minutes after every “rinse” standing under the ceiling fan in my guesthouse room. It’s overpriced at 400 rupees (a little less than $10), but it has a private bathroom and a tv with some amazing stuff on it. So far the highlights have included copious amounts of cricket and Bollywood, along with a Hindi dub of Mortal Combat.

Yes, Air India lost my bag. I got a nice little taste of Indian bureaucracy as a result, though. After filling out some form in triplicate, I had to take a copy of it over to customs to have them verify that it was cool for me to leave the airport without the checked luggage I had already declared on a different form. After giving it a vigorous stamping (with a stamp, not his foot), the customs official handed it back to me somewhat derisively. I asked him politely if I now needed to take it back over to the Air India “baggage recovery” desk. In response, I got my first head wobble. Yes, that most infamous of Indian gestures. He dropped his head in the slightest of tilts to his left; a sort of curt, sideways nod. It felt like getting inducted into a club, and has pretty much made the whole experience worthwhile. Provided the bag shows up today, of course.

It’s hot here, hitting the high thirties by day, mid thirties at night. The humidex, the air pollution, and the even the noise make it worse. But I like it. This is what I came for. The heat and the insanity. No joke. The drive in from Indira Gandhi International was hilarious. At one point I could have easily reached out the window of my little Tata cab and not only touched the motorcyclist next to us, but I easily could have smacked the Indian Army jeep riding on his other side. All of this at 90 kilometers an hour. I can’t wait to get my motorbike.

Continuing to work backwards, my flights were mostly uneventful, if long. On the flight from Toronto to JFK, a young boy sitting next to his father got very excited. As we lifted off from the ground, he began to yammer uncontrollably: “We’re in the sky, dad! Wow! Look! We’re up in the sky! Whooaaahhh! Dad! We’re in the sky!” Dad (and everyone else) rolled his eyes. I was thinking, “Damn. We’re in the fucking sky. No shit.” I love flying, in a perverse, masochistic sort of way. Even though the whole procedure is really a pain, the whole “being in the sky” bit never gets old. Plus, as a bonus, we travel at 900 kilometers an hour. Rad. I got to India in less than 24 hours. Fucking India. Love it.

It reminds me of this Louis CK bit on Conan. I’ll leave you with the clip, take care ya’ll. Photos to come.

Two Years?

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

“So. Two years?”

“Yup.”

“Wow, like two years??”

“Heh, yeah.”

The funny thing about this conversation (which I’ve had a few times with a few of you) is that I don’t think I’ve accurately conceptualized traveling for two years. It’s like distances in space: we can talk about them in numbers, without actually having any clue how far Mars really is from Earth.

Now, that’s not saying two years is all that epic. I can remember two years ago, and it’s not even hard. Seriously.  I was away for two years last time. But the difference, I think, is that I won’t have a home or a job or a steady circle of friends for the entire period. I will, in essence, be nomadic. Weird.

I have, in honour of this thought, produced a little list of cons and pros to this lifestyle I’ve chosen. I like to call it:

Two years of:

  • drinking and brushing teeth with only bottled water
  • incredibly wrinkled clothing – every day
  • saying permanent goodbyes to friends less than a month after meeting them
  • arriving into town after town without knowing a soul
  • frustrating non-conversations thanks to language barriers
  • living out of a backpack
  • learning new languages then promptly forgetting them after moving on to a different region/country
  • eating questionable food from questionable sources
  • missing you

But, of course, the trip also means I get…

Two years of:

  • meeting adventurous people from all over the world
  • becoming really close with whatever is in my backpack
  • dreaming about quality tap water
  • eating some of the best food the world has to offer, at prices that will make you laugh
  • learning about the world I pretend to understand, but really don’t (yet)
  • having hilarious conversations with locals in broken English
  • trying to convince you to come out and meet me somewhere
  • glory. pure, pure glory.

Not an exhaustive list, by any means. I’m sure I’ll add to it later. But for now, it’s a good pre-emptive account of life on the road.

Goodbye.

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

I don’t know…

So the link above should play the White Stripes track, I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, which was apparently written by Burt Bacharach (nice). It’s been stuck in my head for a couple days now. And it sums up at least fifty percent of the reason I’m going traveling. I just don’t know what else to do with myself. So fuck it, I’m out.

But the last few weeks are making me question this decision. I’ve really, really had an amazing time with all of you. And even though my last post gives Toronto a lot of credit for being so damn cool – despite the naysayers across the country –  the real accolades should go to my friends and family.

It’s like going to a shitty bar but you’re there with a big group of amazing people so you don’t even notice the douchebags at the table next to you.  Not that Toronto is shitty, just the opposite, but you get the point. I’m lucky to have several circles of friends here, so whenever I get bored of one group, I can simply start hanging out with a different one. Kidding.

But seriously, this is a much harder exit then when I last left. When I went on my seven month excursion to South East Asia, I was leaving a life in Taiwan that I was done with. I was ready to move on, which made leaving easy. Here, not so much. I love you guys, and this is hard.

Thanks, by the way. This is clearly a good problem to have. So while I may not know what to do with myself, at least I know I can come home to you.

like a summer rose
needs the sun and rain
I need your sweet love
to beat love away

Goodbye.

Here’s another track, it’s Catherine Wheel’s Goodbye, perhaps a bit more appropriate than the White Stripes. Maybe a bit too sappy, but once you get a theme going it’s hard to slow the momentum. Especially when ’90s shoegazer rock enters the picture. Let the tears flow, it’s ok.

The funny thing about all the goodbyes and the sadness is that I’ll see all of you again, perhaps sooner than we expect. Feel like getting away for a few weeks or month? Look me up, maybe we can meet somewhere. Hell, there’s a significant chance I’ll get homesick and come home earlier than planned. You never know.

But, I know this: Goodbye.

it’s only love that stops you from walking out the door
tears fly somewhere close to remorse
and sometimes its easy
to all my friends I love
I still don’t find it easy
to all my friends I love

goodbye.