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Archive for the ‘India’ Category

A rare occurrence in India: across the street from our hotel is a clean and well-groomed public park. We sit around a perfect little stone table, shuffle our deck and naively expect to play a few rounds of 3-card. We just about manage to sort our hand when a yellow shirted man, armed with a wooden stick, starts to disperse the crowd that is growing around us at an alarming rate. What seemed like an oasis of quiet and calm turns out to harbor innumerable, curious and animated young boys and men.

group of boys in India

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After a twenty-four hour journey, our friend Simon arrives in New Delhi. He spends the next day acquainting himself with India and picking up a few bits and bobs for his three week holiday. At 1 a.m, Simon boards a train to Patna,  delayed by two hours and scheduled to arrive at 3p.m.

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Some reflections and memories from my continued travels. A busride to Kuala Lumpur, truly luxurious, three seats to a row and a bunch of Punjabi tourists on their way to Malaysia. These wealthy Indians give us a window back into the chaotic, happy-go-lucky ways of privilege on the subcontinent. They tell us we are friends, siblings, in-laws. Laughs. Offering to sharing every food or drink. They proudly announce their religious diversity: Sikhs, Hindus.

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Caleb has proudly purchased a lungi, which is a skirt-like garment (usually plaid) that men wear in Bangladesh and parts of India. A simple rectangle of fabric, it is a truly magical garment: adjustable in length according to climate, loosely fitting (favored by rickshaw drivers and construction workers), and shrewdly addressing some fundamental logistical problems associated with using squat toilets. (more…)

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This is just a quick sketch of one out of countless weird situations we have experienced on our trip. From tribal Shillong, Meghalaya, we crossed into Bangladesh via Dawki, a small border town that is rarely visited by foreign travelers. To my chagrin, there were a couple moments along the way in which I thought it would be suggested, for convenience sake, that we become part of the problem — that is to say: pay a bribe.

Indian coal trucks waiting to cross into Bangladesh.

As we dropped into the local police station with our packs, in the dark, we were asked to take a seat. We needed to be there in order to procure permission to stay the night in the “Inspector’s Bungalow,” the only accommodation available for guests in Dawki, and we were unsure of what this process would require. (more…)

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Michele and I are constantly having conversations about our lives, about what we value and what lifestyle is the ideal way for us to find meaning in this world. Over the course of the past several months (really the past two years), a number of common threads have emerged to shine some insight on what each of us holds dear.

For me, improvisation is a value that is embedded in my heart; I deeply believe that life is most beautiful when I act in spontaneous dialogue with my surroundings. I think one reason our time in Sikkim resonated so well with me was that it seemed like an environment that rewarded this value. A whimsical decision to climb a small path on the roadside was rewarded with a spectacular view of mist rising from the valleys.

Our most dramatic day in Sikkim was spent on a 19km day trek from Yuksom to Tashiding, traversing mountains and valleys on stone-gripped footpaths without a map. We walked through small hamlets and cornfields, gesturing down the path to strangers while asking, “Tashiding?” through the unnatural smiles of tourists who are unable to communicate with the locals. (more…)

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Sikkim is more impacted by a newfound tourism bug, but the land and the lives we see in it are pretty incredible. I love the breeze, the dozens of prayer flags, the hilltop gompas, and the paths that lead off and upwards into unknown hideaways.

Michele and I ended up in Yuksom by accident, a fortuitous shared jeep appeared, so we went wherever it was going. The village is the trailhead for the trek toward Kangchenjunga, so it gets a particular brand of tourists that leave a specific mark. Most notably, children here ask for candy, so I must believe that someone is giving it to them. (more…)

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