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Zen and the art of bowel maintenance

Friday, February 15th, 2008

Hey kids: Have you ever tried a shaking public squat toilet on an overcrowded train. It’s like an extreme sport! It makes all other comodes feel dull and boring! And hey parents… it’s actually more sanitary too! [read on]

Back to Bombay and Beyond

Friday, February 15th, 2008


So my fate brought me back to Mumbai, just a little early than anticipated.  I made my way through the uncharacteristic cold dawn air and mist on a local train towards Chembur.  A short time later I climbed the flight of steps to Ratnadeep’s door and rang the doorbell.  Surprise; I’m early!  He unexcpectedly but warmly welcomed me in, and for the next week I was at home again.     [read on]


Friday, February 8th, 2008

All sleeper tickets to Mumbai are booked for a solid week, but I must escape the magnetism of Gokarna before I become a permanent fixture in the wave kissed sand.  The beach of Arambol in Goa sounds like a nice stop on the way north, and it happens to be home to a reputable Tabla instructor, so I board a second class train headed there.  Even if people are packed in so tight that I’m left hanging out the door, it’s only a two hour trip so it shouldn’t be that bad.    [read on]

South Karnataka in a Day

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

As Kanako’s and my last encore together, we plan a hectic day of rapid-fire touristing through the southern part of Karnaraka.  Our train arrives in Mysore before noon and we quickly make our way to the Devaraja Market.  This brisk excursion into the Indian bazaar is a full on assault to the senses.  Hordes of vendors peddle colorful kumkum powder along side fruit-wallahs and fragrant flowers.  Here, I fall victim to a violent allergy attack and my sinus begin to flare so bad that it brings tears to my eyes.  We quickly escape and take an auto-rickshaw over to the Maharaja’s Palace.    [read on]

Welcome to India Part V: The Jones Experience

Monday, January 14th, 2008

After another restless night spent on a sleeper train, I awake at dawn. Light is pouring onto my face from the windows freshly opened across the aisle. As my eyes slowly adjust to the drastic change in contrast, I begin to notice the incredible scenery passing outside. I leap up and run to the open door of the coach to stare at the impressive landscape of Tamil Nadu. Under a baby blue sky patched with soft-pink clouds lie plains of vibrant green rice paddies, sparse palm trees, cobalt lakes, wind-power generators and distant rock protrusions. Words cannot describe the richness of color extending in all directions. The spirit of life overwhelms me and I step out the open door. The great rush of wind tries to loosen my hands from their tight grip on the ladder outside the train. But I hang on, resolutely determined to enjoy this rush of adrenaline and refreshing wake up call.    [read on]

Lazily seeping down into Kerala

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

One week into the New Year, I regretfully say farewell to Ratnadeep, his amazing family and the unprecedented hospitality they blessed me with. It has been a spectacular few weeks that will never fade from memory, but also a wake up call that life is meant to be lived. So without glancing back, I board another epic thirty-hour train bound for the southern state of Kerala.    [read on]

Enter the Big Boss

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

A long day of transport via motorcycle from Murud to Alibaug, a short hike to the bus station, bus to the jetty, catamaran to the Gateway of India, taxi to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, local train to Chembur and finally an auto-rickshaw to Ratnadeep’s home is only continued a few hours later with a car–ride to Madh Island and the beach cottage where we would celebrate the changing of the year. The day is mostly uneventful, yet unfortunately uncomfortable due to the return of my old arch-rival, the stomach bug which has plagued me since Nepal. It is on this fateful day that I come face to face with the Big Boss, king of all toilets! [read on]

The Big Boss’ Bodyguards

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

The last nine months of travel have thoroughly introduced me to squat toilets; from my first experiences in the relatively sterile Japanese karate dojo to the stinkiest shit-holes high in the Himalayas.  My earlier fears have long since past.  I can now see the benefits of sanitation and the fact that everything just comes out easier.  Still, as I draw deeper into the Indian subcontinent, I keep finding more and more standards to judge the worst toilets of the world.  I can already feel his presence, the Big Boss is near!     [read on]

The Highest Railroad in the World

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

It is sometime in the middle of the night.  I’m not exactly sure when.  The train’s clock has been flashing 20:35 since I boarded on Sunday, and I only know today is Tuesday.  I can’t seem to stay asleep for very long, and have awoken several times only to find the rest of the cabin in a deep slumber.  Maybe it’s the increasingly high altitude and thin air or maybe it’s the high pitched whizzing of the oxygen being artificially pumped into the train.  Maybe it’s just anticipation for the unique culture and breathtaking (literally) scenery I have yet to experience in Tibet.    [read on]

Ambushed on a train…

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

Today is Saturday.  I got on a train on Thursday and I’m still on board now.  The trip from Nanjing to Chengdu takes almost two days.  It is the longest continuous stream of transport I’ve endured so far.  At least no hard seat is involved.  Rather, I’m comfortably residing on the bottom of a three-tiered hard-sleeper bunk compartment with my journal, a copy of ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, deck of cards and the most excellent travel companion, Carrie.   [read on]