it's been 483 days since i left new york city and i find myself in a highly recognizable position - unemployed with commitments of passion. one year ago this week, i was working my way across india. in a weird twist of fate, one year ago i was out of money wondering how i'd make it back to the united states.
now it's time to batten down the hatches and figure out two things - how do i process 53 hours worth of video footage and how do i make a children's book... now is the time to do something interesting... in the meantime, watch this awesome remix.
Locations: Ahmedabad, India
Tags: citizen journalism, video volunteers, DRISHTI Media, Arts & Human Rights , stalin k, jessica mayberry, kavita das gupta, siddharth chadha, community media, participatory culture
Music: leaving you behind, Hermann & Kleine
About: the journey into understanding participatory culture doesn't start with digital technology. the study of participatory culture should arise from the understanding that one shoe doesn't fit all. since my time in ahmedabad, i've come to see drishti and video volunteers as the premier example of interactivity between online/offline, between old media/new media, between bitching and getting things done. the prime directive should not exist on earth. if we truly care about a participatory society, we must embrace tools as forms of technology and work hard to impart their use among all.
i hope you check out more of video volunteers work.
around the time of my departure, CC Chapman asked me a bunch of questions. while his questions were always on my to-do list, i found myself pushing them aside. then on my last day in delhi, i found myself without power, in the middle of a gnarly rainstorm and without a penny to my name.
while i love CC's enthusiasm, there's a story that you might hear in my voice. when i started the two most recent interviews (jetset & cc's podcast) i was sitting in ashish's apartment, running around trying to understand my own space and my own workflow. too boot, i discovered that didn't have any money to make further travel plans. stuck in delhi i fretted about how to move forward.
so i was depressed, pissed, and concerned... after a few twitters and a few hours later, i discovered who where the real supporters of this adventure...
thank you all!
your enthusiasm has carried me around the world! i'm really lucky to know that my dreams are not just something one can conjure from random blog posts... my dreams are not alone. my dreams are wrapped in a never ending global conversation of hope and opportunity.
THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!!!
so i've arrived in sydney! it's my last town in the global south for a little over a month. for the past two nights, i was in the delightful company of ben balbo, simon roberts and a slew of other melbourne geeks who's time was fleeting but memorable. it's truly remarkable how a the drop of a hat we can chat and see a networked world of opportunity. thanks gang!
(btw, if you're looking for my ugly mug in sydney... find me tomorrow morning at Coffee Mornings)
Recorded: 7 - 13 Sept 2007
Locations: india - mumbai, delhi, noida, gurgaon
Tags: barcamp, bloggers, interviews, heart capital, civicrm, open source projects, india, delhi, prashant singh, ideafarms, delhi bloggers
Music: April (don't care at all mix) by prashant singh, Abhishek Baxi, amit gupta (the one in nyc and the one in delhi), kurund jalmi, kaustubh srikanth, Kanika Anand, daksh sharma, neha viswanathan, gogesh dobriyal, priyanka sachar, ashish chopra, Kinshuk Sunil, Vineet Agrawal
"keep it light enough to travel. don't let it all unravel!!" - the be good tanyas
things you should note.
- i got inked in the hindustan times! (noel is standing up and dancing the mashpotato!)
- tonight, i'm going to dinner with bangalore bloggers! many thanks to Thej who's spearheaded this gastronomical adventure.
- if you find yourself in bangalore, you MUST meet manju, his wife and their library. cradled down the street from a picturesque street lined with scooters and bicycles, this library (aka my couch) is a welcome retreat. once again it's humbling to find a large piece of humble pie.
- when i was in delhi, abby (the microsoft kidnapper) interrogated me and in my belligerent state i answered them.
- nora younis is keeping her twitter feed updated with news on the Egyptian textile workers strike. background, eight strikers were arrested for striking.
- my thai drupal buddies have laid out an impressive set of travel plans. if you know thai, please translate them for me. :)
- in the continuing world of home spun media - synchronis.tv is kicking out the jams with 35, a live sitcom in NYC. i've downloaded a few episodes and once again am amazed in the creative talent compressed within the confines of our networked boxes (ie computers!)
- around american in 2.0 is a young man's journey across the USA. back in july, matt and i first met in brooklyn and we are now on the road thinking of linking our conversations. we've debate some type of dual and i can only think of gastronomical contests. how do you think we should link our projects? (leave a comment)
- the internet is too slow for me to upload any new photos or videos. so it looks like you'll be stuck within the print! :P
"Let us endeavor to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." -Mark Twain
last night was a blast. my brain is still a little hazy in the number of txt messages sent to friends in the US. luckily, i didn't badger on twitter or any other digital connections for you to follow. while i might be lacking a proper internet connection to upload photos, it hasn't stopped prashanth!
i have to profusely thank everyone who came out. it was a treat to see filmmakers, programmers, and advertising folk all in the same room. i'm just itching to upload all of my photos and feel the flickr love reign in...
tonight is my last night in india.
tonight is also my last night i can stay in india.
it's incredible to think that i landed three weeks ago, fought off delhi/dary belly, resumed consuming dairy, and even ventured into eating bangalore street food. while each step and conversation begs me not to leave, my waistline and bust say it's time to lay down the nan and move on.
while it's hard to have a proper retrospective before departing, i can only sit in bewilderment in the beauty and joy every contact has given me. when i landed, i was at a loss for what would come next. thank you india!
day 80. current travel plans for india, bangkok, cambodia, singapore, australia & hawaii (working on new zealand & US west coast
while a detailed set of interviewees are forth coming, i have planned the following flights for india, bangkok, cambodia, singapore, australia and hawaii. all travel times are local. if you know of anyone who's up for a road trip in Austrailia or when I'm back in the USA, hook a brother up! over the next week, i'm going to detail my heart's desire for my great American journey. like tommy, you're all welcome to join me!
depart mumbai, india on 25 sept at 7.30
arrive bangalore, india on 25 sept at 9.00
note, geek dinner on the 26 sept
depart bangalore, india on 28 sept at 3.35
arrive bangkok, thailand on 28 sept at 9.10
my home slices in thailand are hooking me up with some crazy plans. while i don't know exactly what they have in store, it looks fantastic! apparently, i'll be flying to Price of Songkla University and might have a TV interview lined up.
depart bangkok, thailand on 1 oct at 14.50
arrive phnom penh, cambodia on 1 oct at 16.00
interview KhmerOS guys and explore.
depart back to bangkok, thailand on 4 oct at 16.30; arrive at 17.40
since i'll depart the following day at 14h, i'll need a place to stay close to the airport.
depart for darwin on 5 oct at 14.05. depart singapore at 20.20 and arrive in darwin, australia at 2.35 (in the ass crack of morning)
i'll need a place to crash and then i'd like to start a road trip from darwin to sidney. who's game? i want to see the inner part of australia, rural communities and their internet/mobile access. in sidney, i'm still looking for subjects to interview, and hopefully drop by one of the friday night blogger dinners (thanks Emily Reed).
if time allots, i hope to make new zealand to interview some e-gov folks and donald lobo from CiviCRM. in the meantime, hook me up with geek dinners, NGOs and couchsurfers!
depart for hawaii on 20 oct at 18.00 and arrive on the 20 oct at 7.45.
it will be weird traveling through time! sometime on the 25 - 27th i'll depart back to the mainland. it is so weird to think that i'll be back in the US before the end of october, but(instructions on turning your university degree into a paper airplane and photo by flickr user davekellam.)
last night, boy was there a fight.
after taking an eight hour bus from Naski to Mumbai, i found my way through the monsoon laden streets to yashish's company of friends. after commandeering two cell phones for directions, i found a small hotel with three restaurants. nestled in down a dark road stood, my destination was within aqua.
as i sat in an overly sterile environment, i found warmth in the company of nine indians. glued to a flat panel, we watched the semi-finals of the world's first T20 cricket match.
for those of you (like my self) who don't pay attention to cricket, let me enlighten you about a few things... first, the world over has found cricket to be a total bore. second, the world of cricket has a new shortened version. it's kinda like two innings with a pitcher throwing no more than 20 pitches. third, cricket is a fanatical sport. forth, india and Pakistan will play each-other in the world series T20 final. fifth, they are arch rivals.
as i've traveled around india, i see a sense of nationalism unlike any other. there's almost a hell bent attitude that india is ready to take over the world. maybe it's their position as one of the world's fastest growing economies. maybe it's their position as the largest democracy in the world. maybe it's their diversity. maybe it's their position as one of the worlds largest english speaking countries. maybe it's because of their diverse history and willingness to compromise to make things equal. maybe it's because they see beyond the horizon and see a world where their footprint will dominate the globe.
one can not overlook the impact india has on the globe. one can not overlook the pride indians have for their country, diversity, and history. the world can not overlook india.
today, i made a little journey. after last night's jaunt, i woke up with three agenda items... 1. get a new SIM card (btw, i'm writing up a long overdue review of SIM purchases for MobileVoices) 2. hang out with yashesh. 3. find a way to see shreya, a college student whom i met while at digital bridge camp.
the first two were quite easy to accomplish. yashesh is a geek, and despite his maxed out metered ADSL, has his geek connections. ten mins away from his house sits a train station. surrounding the train station sits a local market. as we passed by airtel, hutch, reliance, vodaphone advertisements, i wondered which provider would clam me as their next victim.
as i first attempted in egypt, i selected vodaphone as my vampire of choice. to my surprise, vodaphone gave me a kickass deal, 10 times better than airtel. i kinda felt like a schmuck after the kind booth-man handed me my pre-paid packet and i wooted out-loud.
after a 15 minute interlude of names, phone numbers, addresses, passport and visa numbers, i sent my first text message to shreya. who immediately informed me her younger sister was in town and plans would have to be "family" oriented. in my mind, that meant MOVIE NIGHT!
after my night at movies with omar, i am now hell bent on catching as many movies as possible. you really don't know a culture until you know how they experience movies. despite the whole concept of sitting in a dark room with the lights out, movies are highly social and provide a rare glimpse into the banality of life.
i arrived and immediately qued up to start my bewilderment. the man behind me, stood so close that his belly touched my back. every step forward endured another oppressive re-acquaintance with this discomforted. after two quick steps and a quarter turn to my right, i experienced his dirty fake italian shoe on top of my foot. not to mention his big-assed belly pushing my arm. fed-up with his physical comport, i created a force field with my elbows. in india, physical space is one of those things you create or deal. i took it to the next level and pretty much built the taj mahal between us.
after a bit of slow-going, i was in-front of an attendant with two options - sliver seats (300 rps / 7.50 usd) or regular (90 rps / 2.50 usd). confused, intrigued, bewildered and excited, i pulled out 1000 rps, felt like a millionaire and purchased three tickets.
when shreya and her sister arrived the movie was just about to start and my excitement was about to boil over. somewhere above my head sat three leather lazy boys with our names. walking though security was not a breeze. since isreal, every mall's entrance has a guard, metal detector and bag search. after loading up my pockets with an ipod, cell phone and camera, i set off more alarms than an that crazy old farmer who drove his tracker into washington monument.
apparently, cameras are allowed but not their batteries. cell phones, while allowed, are closely monitored. after a bit of my belligerence demanding to know where my battery would be kept, we dashed up four flights of stairs to one of the most amazing theaters in the world.
there was no opulence, just glutney. the concession stand was to the right. to the left stood seven or so booths for any tasty delight of your choice. hot dogs, ice cream, starbucks, sorbet, cell phones, books, credit cards... there was a booth for them all... not only was this theater in a mall, but there was a mall within the theater.
tucked away somewhere, i assumed there was another smaller theater, but couldn't find it. maybe it was on the half-level below me and i just missed it.
in the theater, we were quickly shown our seats - three fat lazy boys with electronic adjusters to recline. each one came with a soft pillow and a warm blanket. as i pondered when was the last time the blanket was washed, my naked wet legs found warmth. comfortably adjusted a mile apart from each other, the three of us sat in a row to watch "loins of punjab." (spoilers precede this statement. LOP was not entirely a flop, and i might see it again... so now you've been warned.)
the movie had it's moments and more importantly had it's defining moment at the tail end. unlike a majority of the attendants, the three of us arrived too late to stand for the Indian national anthem. well guess what happens at the end? the white guy who's vying for desi idol sings the national anthem. AND in spite of the Indian-American demand for no one to stand up... the entire audience stood up...
the three of us just kinda looked at each other, tossed some popcorn in our gullet and waited for everyone to sit down.
then something hit me harder than bars of soap on the fat guy in full metal jacket... ireguardless of the stereo type portrayed in American pop culture, this country is going to bite us in the ass. we might think of them as a little democratic brother, but india has a shit load of natural and mental resources unyet tapped.
the Japanese economic fright of the 80's is nothing compared to unsmoked resources of Goa. in more ways than one, i've got my money on india!
my life is now a stream of thoughts, words, notes, images and video. all of these things are tied to a machine. this mechanica is unlike any other. i believe has it's own personality, and out of all of my previous traveling companions. he enjoys work.
together we have customized each other. from my frequent browsing around to resizing of photos, the touchpad's texture is warn smooth. the case, once rubbery, is now oily soft. where my watch band rests, light scratches. from 110 to 220, we've basked in the glory of sun to permanently destroy the battery.
internally, i've increased his belly to deal with all of my poor attempts of photography and made many customizations via Pathfinder, iPhotoBuddy and countless free and/or open source software. externally, the world sees him tattooed with the cross of a shotgun and a surange obscuring a corporate logo associated with the apathy of hipster love.
at fourteen months old, we've seen a lot. i'm proud to have tyrone as my travel companion.
for the past few years, i've tied myself to a blog editor named ecto, and it was good.
i'm one of those guys who like to mess with things visually. i like getting my hands greasy with GUIs. more importantly, i'm one of those guys who's finds grammar a tedious chore and spelling a figment of imagination. therefore, marsedit's "hardcore" HTML editing too minimalist.
while i've loved using ecto, i find my head filled with thoughts hard to categorize and suitable for a blog post. while i have several moleskins for random thoughts and journaling. my attachment to tyrone's fast and flexible keyboard drives me to type non-stop.
because, i can tag thoughts, publish vis-a-vis xmlrpc, and keep track of video and audio thoughts through tags, i downloaded Journler. now it's up to me and "j" to hammer out our HTML production. if it doesn't work.... and you're a software programmer... i need something like pages, but kicks out xml-rpc. maybe i'm already using the best editor and don't know it. tomorrow, i'll try marsedit.
(notes to journler's programmer. i use drupal and frequently use multiple categories. under this current version, i can not tag a post with more than one category. also, my edit within "blog" mode seem to be lost in a binary wasteland. finally, the xhtml seems to be specific for journler and my local machine and therefore not for the web. thanks for your hard work, but it looks like i have to find another blog solution. btw, i did try to use it and this was posted with journaler...)
it's day 77 and with the wings of mercury, i've hit 15 countries, taped 31 hours of video, and visited the only lasting ancient wonder of the world. despite my rants of trying to breaking bad habits, i am having a blast.
today, i received two refreshing emails... the first came from my mother who said "...do not misplace your faith" and the second came from an old friend who said "consider this your great adventure. don't start planning for another until you've finished this. experience this while you're living it. don't experience it in retrospect."
both emails came as a nice pleasant blow to my mental state of annoyance. maybe it's my present location that's affecting my head. the guest house where DigitalBridgeCamp is located is a former home for shell shocked WW I & II solders. it would be easy to dismiss my distraught thoughts on the ghost stories of war veterans, but my reality is that i'm trying to understand a gap that's enveloped me. i'm looking for a bridge to ride my painted pony into the 21 century.
today also contained another seminal moment. shortly after lunch, i found myself reiterating a presentation i made two days ago. with the help of a bottle of wine, some country liquor, and a good night of sleep, i sounded more like a scratchy record than fresh fruit juice. lucky for me, a few people disagreed with my viewpoint and it fired up my hungover brain cells into something tangible.
from DOTsub, rocketboom, alive in baghdad, make weekend projects, galacticast, jetset, the burg.tv - to - my name is bill, the tuxedo travelers, the yes men, not an alternative, drishti, video volunteers... i spent an hour or so talking about media and the power of making our own media.
with a camera, an idea, an internet connection and a tool kit, we can tell our own story. in the hands of underrepresented communities, the true face of the world comes into focus. just look at video volunteers and you will stare into the face of the global future.
(ed note, alive in baghdad is right now the creme de la creme of community video units. it's just so sad to watch.)
the following are just small list of organizations, projects and resources. i know my knowledge is limited. if you have any addendum, leave a comment.
video resources for social change
- witness - using video to document human rights
- global voices - a global perspective of online conversations
- drishti - an indian based video advocacy shop
- video volunteers - an exelent example of building local rural media outlets
- dot sub - translate your video into any language
- tactical tech (NGO in-a-box kits) - free tool kits
- ashoka asia
- taproot foundation's - non profit technology listing
- Ideallist.org - tools for fundraising
NGO resources to understand digital technology
- tactical tech - best practices & tool kits for change
- NPO Groups - Rider's News & Rider's Tech
- mobileactive - social engagement with mobile phones
- NTEN - nonprofit technology network
- DotOrganize's report on non-profit's and NGOs
- tech soup - tools, forums and resources
- personal democracy fourm - online political engagement
i'm still having a hard time letting go of things that i should have given up long ago. somehow i've found away to convince myself that my concerns are valid and important. yet, it's funny to think that when i started this trip, i was convinced that a small group of bloggers would have taken a look at this trip and supported it by taking it to the hinterlands of the internet.
instead, i look at my list of supporters and see list of memories - some fun and some pain. i see friends who have stood by me through thick and thin. i see brothers and sisters of battles long passed. i see allies of a battle we all fight in our hearts.
yet, every morning i wake up thinking that i can find that tipping point within the voices of a few. other times, i debate who's really profiting from this endeavor. if i go around the world supporting open concepts and only receive tung and cheek support from community leaders.... i wonder who am i really supporting.
(ok, the other-side of me laughs at the stupidity of this post... i'm on the other-side of the world. i'm venturing to places i've only dreamed. i am further from home than i've ever been. i'm in rural india being eaten by mosquitos and helping out rural NGOs understand the internet. i am in a dream!)
yet, i thought today would be a good idea to dust off my RSS reader and start reading people i stopped reading months ago. it was a mistake. i knew it was a mistake. yet, i did it anyway. after a bit of clicking around, started reading "the a and b list blogger" role and almost vomited.
before i left nyc, i planted many seeds and advocated many more... yet after reading the "west" coast perspective on some of my work, i felt dejected. painfully, i found people harvesting a bland copy of the crop... promoting it and then thinking of it as gold...
when i think of coworking in nyc, i think of many sleepless nights brewing who could help, locations to use and business plans. when beka and i started hosting people, it was a raw space and the idea sound. from meeting to meeting, we advocated a different world - service, *camps, coworking, open source...
now that i'm on the road, i see that i have to let go of many things. yet, i am stuck. i'm stuck in my own head wondering why i seek acceptance from a small group of people whom i don't understand...
so... thank you to all who have contributed and those of you who have contributed multiple times. thank you to all who have taken the leap of faith in attempting to help understand me and the seven topics.
i want to especially thank Doug & Frankie Wheeler. "brother, through thick and thin i see your name in my inbox and i shed a tear. why can't the world have more people like you?"
since my stint in U.A.E., i've found my self engulfed with The Life of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fischer. sure it's may seem a bit madding to jump from the 1960's armed struggle of the Black Panther party to the peaceful man of Mahatma Gandhi, but i've found it quite useful. both books have rekindled a flame long ago extinguished.
back in high school i use to volunteer at a battered woman's shelter and would devote a weekend every other month helping out at a Mormon store house packaging goods for those in need. when i graduated, i found a new world of sex, drugs, rock and roll, travel and employment. fueled by many desires, i never found time to help out those less fortunate. well, except for an annual token donation to a random charity of choice.
as my path moved from one east cost city to the next, i never forgot about the long nights cooped up on a secure floor of the YWCA in Dayton. when 2003 rolled around, i thought long and hard about my actions and decided to do something. five years later and a few thousand miles from home, i can't can not stop listing reading about the struggle for basic human rights that has plagued this planet since it's inception.
doubtful this world will ever see a day where poverty is eliminated. i can't help but to find my mind reciting the words of civil rights leaders long gone...
i too have a dream. somewhere in my head resides the acknowledgment that my past (genetic & historical) has brought me to a point where i can no longer pass by others less fortunate and not give a damn. i've thought long about our relationship with technology, progress and commerce. i've thought long about structures in society that say one thing without resolve. frankly, i can no longer think of technology without it's connotation with our soul.
we now stand at a time where consumerism is more powerful and socialism & more powerful than capitalism. yet, the tools we long for are being designed to connect us but yet somehow a good portion of society sees novelty than utility.
a camera is more powerful than a gun.
a cell phone is more powerful than a loudspeaker.
a text message is more powerful than poster.
a phone call is more powerful than chant.
we continue to struggle using these basic tools. yet, we bask in the rays of commerce while gleefully paying bills and saying "thank you" for the utility.
i can no longer see my self stepping back to a world where conversations placate our ability to change the world. frankly, i can also no longer accept a world where others determine charity, governance and media. we have the tools. we have the brains. we have the network. we need capacity and focus.
yesterday, i found myself siting with a man who embodied his name. i do not mean in any derogatory remark, but as a frank observation after spending twenty mins with one of the world's enlightened visionaries. Stalin K. started his professional career as an actor (a meme i think) and has since found himself as a leader of humanity.
about 15 years ago Stalin started making movies. 10 years ago he found himself helping build radio stations. now Stalin and his coworkers take basic consumer tools (cameras, computers and transmitters) into impoverished communities and builds local media outlets.
"of the people, for the people, by the people" is Drishti's motto. wherever they drive, communities learn the capacity to use digital tools to tell their story and build their own media outlets. primarly working in rural communities, who barely have clean water and a doctor, Drishti empowers communities to tell their story. i only wish i could have spent more time understanding how they do it. from the few hours i had to learn, i see a well thought-out, educated team planning campaigns most political campaigns dream.
here's to you Drishti! here's to the future of technology and social media! it was an honor coming to Ahmedabad.
for Drishti to do a better job, they are constantly looking for people who understand social media to help them turn their mediocre online presence into a formative platform for good. they also need open source tools translated into local regional indian languages. while they don't mind "using" commercial software, then NEED an open source video solution.
i'm sorry that i haven't posted more photos. my internet connection has been limited to email and txt. despite my sorrow for only spending a brief time in delhi and a shorter time with the wonderful people, i am off to interview drishti.
Drishti is a leading human rights and development organization that uses media, communications and the arts to strengthen India's social movements and organizations, in order to extend their reach and to increase the participation of marginalized communities.
thank you Delhi for the past few days! i'm excited to see what happens with the delhi blogger project.
thank you ashish for your couch.
thank you new contributors - Jeffrey Taylor, Troy Rutter, Whitney Hoffman, Chris Breshears, Michael Cerda, Emily Reed, Steve Woolf, Melissa Clarke, katharine michelle perras, Mark Kuznicki, Ryan Coleman, Rohan Jayasekera!!!
auto-rickshaw photo by flickr user pinreader
first, let me put this post into context... my friends here in delhi (ok, it's really the National Capital Region) have welcomed me with open arms, fed me, housed me and have acted as translators and security. they have refused to accept any payment but gifts of gratuitous thanks. in my hour of depleted funds, they are finding new ways to entertain my soul through pleasant company, extend every rupee and provide countless indian history lessons.
i'm building so much dharma debt i will never forget.
thank you, Prashant, Daksh, Amit, Neha, Ashish, Abby, Naveena, Yogesh, Priyanka, Kinshuk, Kanika, Sunil...
PS - the photo is from priyanka, aka twilight fairy on flickr. you should check out her work!
speaking of rupees, remember my last post?
last night's twitter banter has netted $359.43 USD! i now have enough cash to purchase a plane ticket from mumbai to bangalore to bangkok. thank you to those who contributed! i now need $2800 USD to reach $7,777 USD. i'll tell you more about my fundraising exploits below.
btw, i think my stomach has finally succumbed to a certain level of lactose intolerance. i now find my self howling as my stomach curdles in agony demanding a refund on a meal long ago purchased. some might call it "delhi belly" but i'm fairly sure it's "dairy belly."
as for avoiding dairy in dehli, it is as futile as avoiding flies, mosquitos, over zealous drivers with their horns and the stench of raw sewage...
ok, dehi isn't that bad... so let's get to brass tax (or is it brass tacks). the past few days have been crazy. since monday, i've been in perpetual motion running all over the national capital region. (NCR is like the washington dc area, except you'll find 22 some odd million. there is also a major problem with suburban sprawl and rapid development.)
from nodia to gurgaou to new delhi to south delhi, i've seen the inside of a countless radio cabs (aka with free A/C), hailed cabs (A/C is extra), rickshaws (pedal bike where air is free and so is the BO), autorickshaws (scooter based contraptions running on CNG), a few private cars that operated as taxi cabs, and a few privately own cars.... sadly, no motorcycles nor scooters...
spending the past few nights in the out flung burros, i've been able to compare the wealth of central delhi to the poverty and squaller that is interwoven on every street, creek and alley. one can not help but see rickshaws advertising .coms sitting next to naked children.
through out all of my conversations, i seek to understand one question - "how do indians see their future..."
my friends, students whom i met, hosts, and interview subjects see two worlds - one is a digital world filled with interloping ideas of a modern digital oasis. the second contains the rest of india - 70% of the population and must not be left behind nor taken for-granted.
sunday, after two night's with Prashant Singh, i moved my stuff to daksh sharma's grandmother's house. ambiguous in schedule and sleeping locations, daksh said that his uncle would take care of me. fearful of a schedule that would conflict with mine, i patiently waited to see what was in store.
in an ironic twist of humor, i thought my third night would take me closer to central delhi. instead i found my self further away. despite the fact that daksh lives in Delhi, he and his family graciously put me into a guest house. once my distance was located on a tattered hotel map, i knew my stay would be short.
as the room cooled with a jerryrigged A/C unit in the window and two vigorous rotors attached to the ceiling, i fought to keep a million mosquitos at bay. after a million and one calls sorting out a schedule, i stood underneath a spicket spewing luke warm water and washed the one of my three sets of clothing. by the time i was done, the brownish water was black. my green nylon columbia sportswear fishing pants victoriously lasted one month without a single inkling of soap - from the streets of jerusalem, to the beach in tel aviv, the 13 hour bus ride to egypt, all the grime in cairo, and the long journey to india - these pants have armored my legs through the tick and tin.
after a dasterious night of limited REM operations, i awoke monday morning to the bell hop ring my phone 15 mins before i had scheduled my alarm. tired, confused and wondering where in the hell i left my lens cap, i stuffed my bags and turned off the air circulating apparatus installed in room 105.
upon checkout, i was greeted with a bill for 1350 rupees. dismayed on the thought i was getting scammed i franticly called daksh's uncle who's phone was turned off. after paying, sheephisly (i actually said "this is baaaaad") i climbed into a small TATA and speed off south to meet Ashish.
on monday, there were two important things i needed to do...
1. find away to purchase a super discounted ticket from sydney to hawaii.
2. prepare for a presentation at one of india's prestigious colleges' - Shri Ram College of Commerce.
with a weekend of dispatches sent to my parents. i called up my father and chatted about the trip, my ideas and my delema. after a brief discussion on solutions, he was willing to purchase my airfare from sydney to hawaii (so i can at least make it back to the USA, albeit it's the furthest state in the union) and loan me some money incase i found myself up shit creek.
comically, my old man sat in puerto rico at his parents house on a dial up connection cursing the heat, humidity and slow internet. it got even more entertaining when he forgot his paypal username and we spent two hours in an attempt to hammer a solution.
around 14h00, i found myself researching the exact cost of the next four months but found myself interrupted by a cab waiting for me outside.
let's rewind a bit, on the last day of OSS camp i sat in the small break out room with it's own separate A/C. as i wielded my magic wand looking for airfares, contacts and avenues of income, a clean cut young man walked up to me and introduced himself as kinshuk sunil. polightly he apologized for not attending my "session" on saturday, but wanted to invite me to chat with his class of MBA students. without any hesitation, i said "yes."
since shri ram is actually on the other side of delhi (ie on the north side, close to the jet engine hotel) i had to leave two hours before my little blub. despite our treck (radio cab) through dirt roads and dense traffic, my arrival was early.
with kinshuk sunil greeting me at the main gate, we walked, talked, and since the school wasn't picking up the taxi fare, he bought me a small meal. as kinshuk described my awaiting audience, i thought about what i would say... to be honest, kinshuk wanted me to talk about my observations on my seven topics of selection, but instead i knew i would end up rehashing the basis of this trip, the personal story of why i started this journey and the exploration of the space within the world.
some how i found my thoughts circling this statement "my theoretical thesis that predicated this trip is no different than its' reality."
i know it sounds a bit queer to hear but i'm going to quote the rockman (this rockman fairies from harry nilsson's the point if you don't know the story, check it)... in the album, oblio is a boy who has no point and his dog arrow is his sole companion. they both live in the land of the point where everyone has a point. according to the laws of the land, everyone in the point must have a point. after a harmless tussle with the count's son, finds himself banished to the pointless forest.
on their journey they meet a lovely cast of characters, and one of them is the pot smoking, rasta named the rockman. graciously the rockman has to set oblio straight on the term "pointless" and asks oblio, "have you ever been to paris? have you ever been to new delhi?" (now i can say i have)
oblio responds "No!"
rockman replies, "you hear what you want to hear and see what you want to see..."
...and with that oblio learns that the "pointless forest" is not pointless but filled with a billion and one points...
with that little quote echoing though my brain like the car horns on the street's of cairo, i took to the stage and spoke for an two hours. i told them about the sevens, how this trip started, i told them about hearbreak, frustration, and why i see the world in this special way.
i told them as future leaders of the world's largest democracy, they have the power to change any problem they see infront of them. tomorrow's world is at their fingertips.
as the hour moved forth and my story ended, they started to ask questions like, why focus on digital communications? why the number seven? why aren't more people traveling? why do people become "enlightened?" what do you have in your backpack?
then came my turn, i asked them about their fears, future job prospects, and more importantly how they see india.
their answers amazed me... to this group of young leaders, india is an merging superpower, but not filled with arrogance and pomp. since so much of the country resides in poverty, it is their obligation to insure that poverty in india is squelched and tradition is respected...
after a confusing exit/lockin... a small group of us made our way to the brandspankingnew delhi metro (aka subway), went through metal detectors and hopped on modern wonderment. while i was on my way, i got a txt from Abhishek Baxi (aka abby) to meet up in south delhi at a ruby tuesdays.
(food joints here in india are a bit of a bit of bewilderment. they look like your americans joints but with one striking difference... the service! the food is the same mediocre quality, english menus, uniforms etc... BUT the quality of service is astronomical. if your napkin falls, they've got it. if you need a light, they've got it. if you're about to finish your beer, drink, or water.... THEY'VE got it!)
as i sat waiting for abby to show up, i wondered how india would emerge as a superpower...
the next 24 hours would enlighten my perspective... spurred by the global network of ideas, abby found Jelly (the coworking thing i featured in episode 3) and is now looking to set up his own... after carrying on the conversation into the early hours of the morning, abby, naveena (his girlfriend) and i headed back to their apartment and i crashed on their floor.
waking later than i wanted... (ahem, thanks for all the beers!!!) i departed for my first formal interview of the trip. arranged by Dask, i found myself in an awesome conversation with Sunil Malhotra, founder president & CEO of ideafarms. we conversed about the meaning of employment, consultancy and the term "heart capital." impressively, his thoughts are no different that what many within the barcamp/coworking/freelance community have espoused.
for a while we talked about living out ideals instead of evangelizing them... (to be honest, this is something i hate, but has to be done... honestly i see my self as a modest person. i've never wanted press or notoriety, but now i'm on this oxymoronic trip and need press for money, exposure for contacts and notoriety for leverage.... ok, i really don't want notarity, i just want you to know about how the world is changing...) then, we spoke about our friends who seem notable and how our confluence of ideas can change the world...
after a very cheesy lunch (ie dairy), i headed out to meet kanika anand, a fellow couchsurfer and dreamer. we bantered, exchanged gifts whilst sipping frapps (ie more dairy). after our delightful conversation, departed south to meet up with my host, ashish and other delhi bloggers who are considering setting up an alt.art.foodie.delhi blog....
here's sort a video from the evening...
a very special thank you is sent to following who have answered the call and contributed a few bones....
Erica O'Grady, Justin Stockton, Eric Skiff, Heath Row, Lawrence Halff, Abhay Kumar, jonathan berger, nick bollweg, Jeff Ledoux, Richard Weait, Jeffrey Sass, Samuel Gluskin, Oliver Hoerold, Alexandra Deschamps, Ellen Moore, Joe Cronin, Gavin Heaton