well, today marks my three month anniversary. three lonely months tasting the global fruit and discovering that the question i've set out to answer is no more of a mystery than a mexican diner smack dab on the other-side of the world.
accompanied by a spaniard, a chinese, a new zealander and an australian, this merry fruit basket swung off the FCC roof top terrace into a den of happy pizza joints and one mexican diner. to my own astonishment, i found out that "happy" pizza is not just some local chain store, but instead code for stoners pizza. somewhere between happy to super happy, you can hop on a rocket made of dough and disappear into a blissful wasteland of "no-income" locals. if i would have known that happy pizza was more than just a chain, i would have opted for a something a bit more experimental. my regret runs high.
the concept of mexican food is quite normal to me. hell, it's not normal, but a damn staple of every poor brooklyn moment. sandwiched between $1 USD tacos to $3 USD falafel's, my standard NYC meal-to-go is cheap and authentic. then when i meet a new zealander who's developed a hankering for a burrito, i really started to wonder what exactly is she craving.
my last foray into "real" mexican food + one ocean was bad. on a small street in northern france, i devoured something that looked like a fajita. then came ruby tuesday's in delhi. a nacho plate piled high with cheese, jalipanos and sour cream, my stomach churned butter into milk. scored by the bill and burned by the taste, i was quite leerily of an other mexican meal.
with my only other alternative a "happy" pizza, i rolled the dice and found a seven.
the chips home made. the avocado rich. the black beans and the beef a bit sweet. all-in-all, i found a mini-slice of north america delightfully yummy and close to home.
as our global conversation spanned from reintroduction to work accomplished to our futures, i debated my own situation.
two weeks till the journey's turning point, i've had many thoughts on what will come next. deep within my own kitchen, i am cooking up a plan to combine all the things i've touched, smelled and tasted. sometimes things ends up a bit more sweet; sometimes a bit more bitter. i see my own future baking the stories of today into the power of tomorrow.
my outlook on life has changed, i see this world as a big kitchen full of ingredients, spices, pots, pans, ladles, etc... it's up to us to cook up our own media, feed our minds, nourish our souls and make sure the whole family has a bite to eat. the menu might change, the ingredients will vary, but the global family is always the same and i know there's enough for everyone.
what are you cooking tonight?
"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
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.)
as i clean out my inbox, i'm noting a few things that one should check out...
- after six months abroad, bill boyles, fellow global traveler/vlogger/badass, is going on a drinking tour of the USA. download his revver podcasts vis-a-vis quicktime
- Sugree Phatanapherom, Patipat Susumpow and Isriya Paireepairit are preparing my Thailand itinerary to be a rocking adventure. when i land, they will ship me off to Price of Songkla University and find me a few subjects to interview for mobile active and might get me on http://www.duocore.tv/
- Handmade Nation, the rockin craft documentry profiled in episode 6, has a new teaser. they also reopened their ETSY shop.
- abby (abhishek baxi) , microsoft enthusiast and jelly delhi organizer, uploaded photos of our adventure to zoomr.
- chris penn thinks "luck of seven" is a good opportunity to pump up your linkage on search engines.
- sstrudeau wrote up the best damn reasons for you to contribute.
- beth went to cambodia bloggers summit, got sick on fried bugs and gave away geek shirts. HAWT!
- eddward hasbrouck, the practical nomad, will be testifying at a TSA hearing on the US's GOVT's latest proposals on surveillance, control and monitoring of travelers. apparently, the TSA is seeking to allow "government-compelled search and interrogation by unregulated, private, commercial third parties who would be 'free' to retain, use, publish, sell, rent, or disclose the records of our travels." if you get a chance check out his schedule.
- Siddharth, from Dristhi, has a blog where you'll find some of the work achieved by community video magazine makers.
- i've added a bunch of people who've blogged about the trip.
- finally, subscribe to jetset! their show rocks, the mix rules, and they are going to post an interview shortly.
Recoded: 1 - 9 aug 2007
Locations: istanbul, turkey
Tags: luck of seven, istanbul, turkey, big apple hostel
Music: (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding - elvis costello
About: after a month of bouncing around europe, i decided to cool my jets and regroup for a week in istanbul. many thanks go out to the following - the big apple hostel crew, öznur özkurt, memhmet irdel, canan irdel, hayal pozanti, matan kaminer, gokce gunel, kenan kilictepe, andrea barker, tomas saledo, eduard trinidad, stephen warren, larz (stephen's buddy), michael the brit, and keith the american
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
after yesterday's adventure in the wastelands of future hubbub, i arrived in mumbai. under the cover of darkness, i quietly roamed the halls of the international terminal.
greeted by a plainclothes custom's agent and without any questions, my passport was stamped and i walked into india. within 10 mins my bags were on a stroller and i was strolling into the humid night.
while my original plans were to spend the night in the terminal, things changed very quickly. on the day of my departure from cairo, former CiviCRM stunt man and current Drupaller, Yashesh Bhatia emailed me emphatically saying i should visit mumbai. upon telling him that i was just passing through, he told me that he would be at the airport dropping off his father and that he would be waiting for me.
in the hot sticky air, my bags and i stumbled out into the public waiting area squinting for a glimpse of a face i have only seen via email. tired, alone and without a working SIM, i quickly worked my way to get change and make a phone call.
after a bit of belligerence from a guy selling water, a young man wearing a hotel uniform pulled out his cell phone and offered to call yashesh. within a matter of minutes, chaos turned into peace. all of sudden, yashesh's friend/coworker (who's name escapes me at this moment) turned out of the crowed and ushered me to meet yashesh, his wife and three year old son.
driving though the crowed streets of mumbai, we talked about our geek history, the last 24 hours of travel, my time with the guys and gals of opencraft and my sadness leaving them. upon arrival at the Bhatia's family home, i was greeted by handshakes, a seat, a plate and a home cooked meal from heaven.
at 4.45 in the morning, yashesh and i drove to the airport. after a mad dash through the airport, i found myself watching the sunrise above the clouds.
dear mr. and mrs. india,
i know it seems a bit weird to be addressing the whole country of india, but seeing how i really don't know whom or what i'll encounter, i thought it would be polite to cast a wide net. after many days wondering close to GMT, i'm hoisting my sails, setting east and heading back to asia. after 36 hours of planes, trains, taxis and airports, i will beach my self in new delhi on the september 7th.
first, let me tell you about my little project... in my mind's eye it is a little project, but on the grand scheme of things it's a very large project. i hope you can help me... for the past two months, i've been traveling around the world - departed nyc on 7.7.07, slid through europe on a bar of soap, sped through jordan & threw stones in israel (asia), and created a dust storm in egypt (africa).
in all honesty, i trying to see the world through my own lens. i'm also trying to understand the worlds we inhabit - organic (pinch yourself) and digital (poke a friend on facebook) - i'm doing this by interviewing bloggers, political activists, covering open source technology projects, events and attending a protest or two. you can see what i've seen at < http://luckofseven.com >.
so back to how you can help...
on the 8th and 9th, i have plans to attend F/OSS camp new delhi. (that's free/open source software camp, not the teethey stuff). maybe attend a couchsurfer's going away party and hopefully catch an interview or two. afterward, i'm sailing to the taj majal, and then on to bangalore before hoping a flight to thailand.
after the 8th and 9th, my timetable is as flexible as tinfoil. my visa is for three weeks, but i really should not spend more than two. while i know i should stay more and say less, i can't help to express my upmost desire to see the entire country... from north to south - east to west, i hear you have a magical place. so, let's make a date with destiny, and schedule a time to meet...
8 / 9 Sept - Delhi, taken by F/OSS Camp and hosted by Prashant Singh
10 / 11 Sept - Delhi, hosted by Daksh Sharma
12 / 13 Sept - Akor, open
13 / 14 Sept - open |
15 / 16 Sept - open | <- any of these dates can be compounded into one location
17 / 18 Sept - open |
19 / 20 / 21 / 22 Sept - Bangalore, open
it's not really your traditional sense of "coworking" but once i mentioned the idea to omar, he passed it along to his boss and thought it would be a great idea... if you haven't heard about coworking, that's alright... most people haven't... it's a variable meme popularized by the independent and freelancer community... after attending a few of Amit and Luke's Jelly NYC sessions, i fell in love with the idea and with the help of beka from Not an Alternative, we crafted a little space...
the community actually defines "Coworking [as] a movement to create cafe-like community/collaboration spaces for developers, writers and independents."
-= back to cairo =-
after breakfast at the cairo equivalent of denny's, omar and i set out in one of the cities illustrious cabs. winding thought the dusty petroleum clouds, i wondered what was next. when i walked though the doors of OpenCraft, i clearly knew i would no longer need to worry. after meeting abdel karim (aka Mardini), a majority of the business staff and a few members of the tech team - it seems that OC's tech team is just like the US, late risers ;) - i was quietly given their conference room and a cup of turkish café.
to be honest, i'm really blessed to be connected with this community. i guess i should tell you why...
well, my original contact has turned out to be quite unreliable and a bit of a flake... within that void, a part of the cairo technical/political/drupal community... we at least omar, amr, khalid, alaa and manal have done what they can to help me find a place to sleep, locations for food and wifi, beers to drink, a quite location to work... and soon subjects to interview... and for that i'm completely and absolutely appreciative.
not only are they working hard promoting and exploring the world of open source, but they too are in a similar fight to find and protect the few remaining elements of freedom. amid a world of injustice, without a doubt, i know i am in the company of brothers and sisters...
PS - as i write this, i am encoding Dries' interview and see there is a new addition to the family!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
after a long slog emailing and coordinating this weeks activities. i got three wonderful phone calls.
the first came Alaa Abd El Fattah who promised to take me out drinking and throughly get me into trouble.
the second came from kareem el buckley who's promised to take me around cairo and show me the more sinful sites.
the third came from Omar Abdel Wahab, who works for OpenCraft a drupal development shop.
awesomely, omar and his friends/coworkers will host me for the rest of my time in cairo. too boot, Omar contacted his boss - Mardini, who in turn has opened up his office for me to produce episode 13. which is ironic because EP13 will be my interview with Dries, the founder of the drupal project.
actually i'd like to note, Khalid Baheyeldin made the call to Omar... which is perfect because they will be hosting a Drupal related workshop on saturday... AHHH.... can you feel the Drupal love?
it's been a month and a half since i left NYC and now i am in cairo!!
after a 15 hour bus ride from tel aviv, i have finally made it to africa. upon arrival and in the confines of the Sheraton Cairo business center, i discovered that i had no place to sleep. the super kind attendant, imat, hooked me up with an internet connection and offered a special hotel rate with the price tag of $260 USD. in all honesty, i thought about it... and decided to let my fingers to the walking.
twenty mins later, i discover a little hostel named Lialy. after a herroing taxi cab ride that ran three lights with one featuring a near head on collision, i "arrived" at 3am. with complete understanding of my situation, the midnight attendant shepherd me into freezing three bed room.
waking at 9am, i was presented with two options...
1. wait to see if a room is available.
2. make my own booking at another hostel.
in haste, and after looking at fellow blogger reviews, i have made arrangements at Meramees hostel but have also been told that there is no availably after tomorrow. so, if you are reading this and know someone in cairo... help a brudda out and have someone contact me via my american sim (+1.917.657.6999).
in the meantime, i'm going to find an egyptian sim, check into the meramees, find an internet connection and start pounding away in some IRC chat rooms.
well it appears that i have more night in the luxurious accommodations of midan talaat harb square. in a striking similarity to columbus circle in manhattan, cars, scooters, motorcycles, bicycle peddlers, street merchants, and pedestrians all vie for the right to pass. littered with parked cars, torn up sidewalks and air conditioning water droplets, the sidewalks wreak of mayhem.
there is one sad passing note that i should mention about the little hostel named lialy. when i went back to pick up my bags, the day attendant told me he now had a room for me. a little shocked, i told him that i already had found accommodations and that i would be moving on.
after already charging me a egyptian pound (EL) for one hour's worth of internet usage (25 US cents), he proceeded to ask for payment. despite the fact i had already paid him 50 EL (10 USD), he now wanted 150 EL (30 USD). full aware of this scam, i politely told him to check his records. after confirming my payment, he asked that i hurry up and clean my barely used room.
in the room, i was pleasantly surprised to discover the two other travelers whom i awoke at 3am. (btw, they also loved staying at the big apple hostel in istanbul.) in my departure i mentioned the small billing snafu, and they proceeded to tell me about another little shamble. apparently, while my roomies were eating their falafel breakfast, a group of three arrived. at 100 EL per person (twice the normal price), the three french started their negotiations to secure a room. after a few fleeting moments of delight, one of the day attendants noticed my roomies and ended negotiations.
note to fellow travelers in cairo, be armed with a big smile and distain for comical negoiations. don't be rude, but be prepared for the unexpected.
first - get a receipt!
two - once you have decided to move around, get to a hostel quickly. while many people might have great things to say about their experience, most of these places are on a first come first serve basis. while hostelworld.com really does not overtly tell you, the small deposit you are charged is just a shrewd formality for the possibility of a booking. hostels are not big chain hotels and are frequently owned and operated by a family or a few friends. things change at a moments notice.
three - always remember, get in good... get good service...
perched in the arid land of zionist deliverance, i mull over the next few hoops. from these mounds of sand, i move southwest into the land of the pharaohs. all along the way i am perplexed by my next journey. after visiting the river nile, i am to venture onward to india.
like an impatient child, i neglected to pick up a visa in new york, and with less time to waist, i ran away from the visa services line in paris. now i am faced with a dilemma. relinquish my passport to a travel bureau, wait 10 days bouncing up and down in israel and miss an opportunity to visit the occupied territories, or i can venture onward to egypt, re-negotiate my travel plans, and hope that i am not detained more than necessary.
i should note that within this predicament there is a silver lining. my original departure would have shuttled my soul before the full moon. now with a vague statement of 10 days to process my visa, i will be in forced to capture my second full moon on my second continent. oh the pain and agony of watching a bright and beautiful moon amongst the company of random strangers.
today, i venture into the unexpected.
from istanbul, i fly to amman jordan and hop on a bus to one of a handful border crossings into israel. while i could have taken a plane, my wit and fortune did not find a suitable route. after reading several other travelers entries, i do not fear the crossing nor the 6 hours or more to travel 50 miles across disputed territory.
after traveling through the west bank, i'll find my way through jerusalem to a train bound for tel aviv. by the days end, i will have traversed more security checkpoints in 24 hours than i've traversed in the past 34 days.
with my whole life wrapped around me in two bags, will i feel safe?
not one bit, i will always fear losing sight of my thoughts, dreams and tools. no dog, metal detector, security checkpoint, will make me feel safe in a world where the pursuit of liberty is masked in the search for next new phone, social tool, president, ipod, car, stove or relic.
freedom is not a tag. freedom is not a twittering digg or new application for you ponce over. freedom exists beyond the loose keys that sit beneath your fingers. freedom is what you find beyond the thunderdome most call the work place.
for the next few days, please take A photo and add it to the flickr group luck of seven and tag it "luck of seven."
the rule, you can only upload one image that best illustrates your perception of freedom. if you do not have a flickr account, point me to the URL or email me a copy of the photo...
see you in israel...
it's been two days since i've eaten a real meal. two nights ago, i headed out with hayal pozanti and her two friends, gokce and matan. after bouncing around from a street cafe, to an open air cafe, we climbed into an elevator to a roof top cafe for a taste of traditional turkish delights and anisette. covered in yogurt and rich sauces, we dinned in blissful content.
around 1am, we strung up our sails and departed to our abodes.
after a few hours of delightful dreams, i found my self in a place like none other. surround by unspeakable horror, i struggled to pull my self from the nightmare on elm street horror into the real world.
my eyes opened, my head swelled and my mouth filled. lucky, i was able to jimmy the door open, and rock my head toward what this hostel called a toilet. needless to say, you can put the rest together.
(warning, graphic content ahead... but like that night, if i don't get it out now... you might never make it to the plot...)
every thirty minutes or so, i found myself in another unpleasant world; desiring i was not shackled to a six room dorm room with five other unhappy, i managed to make it to the bathroom.
after the first hour, i howled every imaginable curse world and drank two liters of water.
after the second hour, i debated calling an ambulance and in between the dry heaves, munched four tablets of pepto and drank another liter of water.
during the third hour, i prayed, shat my pants and with all my might extruded the three or so liters that sat unpleasantly within my system.
somewhere among all those things. something worked. something unexplainable worked. for lack of a better term a miracle...
back in 1996, a similar incident happened, sans the alcohol part. for 48 hours, i convulsed in an american university dorm room. depleted of everything, i was rushed to the emergency room and placed under 24 hour supervision.
back in 1996, my father rushed from ohio to take care me...
alone. cold. rotting in hostel more apropo to a squat. i wondered what would take care of me this time...
one of the more interesting parts of this journey has been the discussion of faith. from the jewish quarter in prague, to a brief mash-up discussion on the streets of paris, to dries and an intimate conversation about baptism, to a punk rock bar in amsterdam drinking with three dutch jews and debating Mormonism, to openly debating religion in istanbul...
faith has become a current, but my faith does not have a title, name or singular belief. when i departed, i set out not knowing what i will find, but knowing what i will change me and embolden my faith....
... but if i was to discuss religion, what faith do i espouse?
... do i say i was a catholic, because my parents baptized me when i was born?
... am i mormon because i was raised in the mormon church and know it best?
... do i say i'm i a Buddhist, since i once studied it?
... i'm not just agnostic ...
BUT what i will say... faith comes in all different shapes and colors. don't be afraid of your passions, desires and most importantly your beliefs. refuse to take the world at it's face value... prove to yourself that mind is stronger than matter. if you want to change your world... take it by the horns and run!
what do you warn you about in amsterdam? the damn trolly tracks... it also didn't help that we had been bar hopping and my vision was impaired by many of the city's wonderful creatures.
after 30 mins of decompression, andy and i walked back to his humble abode. in the morning, i found a wonderful assortment of nicks, scrapes, and nearly severed thumb.
day 21's pain
day 22's pain