844 days, 20,256 hours, 1,215,360 minutes, or 72,921,600 seconds. That is the approximate duration of my world tour. I never wanted it to end and now, in a manner of speaking, I suppose it never has to. If you wish to go by country do so by clicking on one above. They are numbered in the order I visited them, more or less. If you enjoy reading about it even a tenth as much as I enjoyed living it then you will not have wasted your time. Grab a refreshing beverage, settle in a comfortable chair, and make a journey across the world, experiencing it as I did. Then get off your ass and check it out for yourself. You're not getting any younger.

Dhaka & Didion (Dhaka, Bangladesh)

Jan 12th, 2010 - Can I be frank? Dhaka is not the nicest city I’ve ever visited. Not really the place for a pied-a-terre.  To be perfectly honest the words ‘hell’ and hole’ come to mind when summing up my experience so far. Too harsh? Perhaps, but I feel I should highlight the ‘walk a mile in a man’s shoes’ adage.  Pack 13 million people into a fairly small area and see what happens. Too many people. Too many vehicles. Too much refuse in the street. Sprinkle a layer of dust over everything, apply chaos theory, and you have the makings of a charming Asian city. At least it’s flat. Still, getting from one area of the city to the next is a nightmarish mix of vertigo and asphyxiation, at least from the viewpoint of a CNG (autorickshaw). My advice: Find an area with everything you need within walking distance and settle. Want to blend in? Forget it, at least if you are a 6’4’’ white guy with a long head.

Folks (as in men, women, and children) are constantly hacking and spitting with such intensity that I sometimes mistake the sound for that of a jetliner during takeoff.  Not a real surprise considering all the crap floating in the air. It is unavoidable. Trust me I know.  But they do not screw around. It happens everywhere (streets, restaurants, public places, etc) and is often so pronounced that you think folks are attempting to be funny. The other a day a gentleman, while staring me directly in the eye as I passed, scrounged up a monster in his mouth, swished it around a bit, and then pelted the ground to his side. Up until he let loose he never broke eye contact. I honestly believed he was about to spit on me. I am fairly easy going but that would have most likely provoked a negative response from me. It may have taken physical form.  Luckily, for both of us, expectorating is such a normal part of everyone’s life here it is often done unconsciously. In this instance it was merely combined with the usual ‘foreigner gawking’ that is such a part of my everyday experience.

If you want to escape the crowds good luck. That goes for pretty much the whole country. Imagine if half the population of America moved to Iowa or if all the folks in France and Germany decided to head for the United Kingdom. And when you consider that B’desh is basically just one giant floodplain with endless networks of rivers and streams you realize real estate is tight. If not for the people being so friendly I think I would have giddy-upped on outta here right after the Sundarbans. 

So what next? Not sure. I still have tiger fever and feel I should make one more attempt at getting quality time with a few of those furry bastards.  But it ain’t so easy, at least not without the guided tour option. My recent excursion was excellent but I doubt a repeat would get me any closer to my goal. Chance can be a capricious little floozy and I’d rather find another way of flirting with her. I sent a few e-mails to the Sundarbans Tiger Project hoping to do a bit of volunteer work with them but they are far to overwhelmed with work to accommodate Curious George.

So what? Well, the Lonely Planet hints at a fledgling tourism industry in the western region of the Sundarbans (a village known as Munshigonj). Supposedly, it is possible to hire a local boat for day trips. That is all the information given. I am not sure how to get there, how to hire a boat when I do, or where I can stay when I arrive. Sounds lovely. The LP does state that ‘organizing the trip promises to be quite an adventure’. What a coincidence! I just happen to be looking for one. The western area also happens to be where the majority of the man-eaters dwell. Although it is not the season (April to June) I am hoping to meet a few maualis (honey gatherers) for it is these intrepid fellows that are the most vulnerable to attack and, from what I have read, constitute a steady part of Mr. Shere Khans diet. I am not that concerned because in all likelihood I’ll never even get close but then again…..

Random Mental Swirlings
This is a repository for ponderings, pontifications, tangents, rants, epiphanies, and any other sorts of profound or maybe not so profound musings. This is where I try to pin down some of the capricious and sometimes obtuse machinations of a mind permeated by the random.

For the past week I have been doing nothing but walking from my hotel to this restaurant, screwing around with my blog for about nine hours (they have wifi), and then returning to the hotel.  In part I do it because of the need to write things down before they are forgotten, part of it comes from the pleasure I derive from the creative enterprise, and another part arises out the need to hang out for a while and just relax (encouraged in no small measure by the excellent food and modern feel of this joint).  

However, there is more to it, much, much more. The truth is every moment I spend on the blog could be spent exploring, experience….living. Why put so much time into this? After all, not that many people even see it and I am surely not making any money from the enterprise. If my sole goal was to record and remember it would be quite easy to do so with a much smaller time commitment. So why? I am not sure even I know the answer to that.

Does any writer really know? Maybe. Maybe not. I do know this: As I sit here writing, pondering, creating,  I feel real, substantial, like the me that is supposed to be.  In other words, I feel awake. It is the same type of sensation I receive from the experiences that have flooded through me this past year. And by writing them down I get to experience them again, and then once more when I go back and reread them (“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect- Anais Nini).  I do not claim to be talented, gifted or anything of the sort. Self -promotion has always been a bit of an Achilles Heel for me. I would not know how to convince anyone they should follow my blog. Why spend your time doing this as opposed to the million and one other ways you could occupy yourself? I cannot answer that. 

I won’t lie. Knowing there is a group out there, however small, that enjoys reading my words does provide fuel for the proverbial fire. It inspires and fills my creative juice tank. But in the end it would not be enough, even if millions of folks hung on my every word. In the end you must do it for yourself or no one at all. 

When I write I am more me than I have ever truly been….I think. That is not to say that I am all the way there yet. In truth, journeys of self discovery take a lifetime (longer if you subscribe to the rebirth spiel). Feels good to just be me, cause you see, when a soul is not free, yourself you cannot be (Maybe I’ve been reading a little too much Dr. Suess lately).  Confucius was right when he wrote, ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’  Of course, ‘job’ implies income I suppose, and as of yet my only reward is purely intangible. But I am certain that I could easily spend the rest of my life doing whatever the hell it is I am doing. Never have I been able to sit in front of a computer screen for nine consecutive hours for five days straight without blinking (figuratively, of course). I suppose it would seem fairly obvious but I just fully realized why that is: I love this shit.

Why do I write? I like Joan Didion’s answer in her essay Why I Write, a title she stole (intentionally without malice aforethought) from George Orwell: ‘During those years I was traveling on what I knew to be a very shaky passport, forged papers: I knew that I was no legitimate resident in any world of ideas. I knew I couldn’t think. All I knew then was what I couldn’t do. All I knew then was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was. Which was a writer. By which I mean not a “good” writer or a “bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper. Had my credentials been in order I would never have become a writer. Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want to what I fear.’


No applicable context for this. I just like what the dude has to say. Food for thought:

"In an earlier stage of our development most human groups held to a tribal ethic. Members of the tribe were protected, but people of other tribes could be robbed or killed as one pleased. Gradually the circle of protection expanded, but as recently as 150 years ago we did not include blacks. So African human beings could be captured, shipped to America, and sold. In Australia white settlers regarded Aborigines as a pest and hunted them down, much as kangaroos are hunted down today. Just as we have progressed beyond the blatantly racist ethic of the era of slavery and colonialism, so we must now progress beyond the speciesist ethic of the era of factory farming, of the use of animals as mere research tools, of whaling, seal hunting, kangaroo slaughter, and the destruction of wilderness. We must take the final step in expanding the circle of ethics."
Peter Singer, philosopher, professor of bioethics (b. 1946) 

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'Love me or hate me, but spare me your indifference.' -- Libbie Fudim