Relativity

We’ve only been here a week. We’ve established what we’re doing, where, how…got a dentist, found a tattoo artist…made some friends and been adopted by a wonderful family. This is Bijoy, Soumia, and their children, whom we’ve been directed to call Appu and Ammu. I’m wearing jasmine flowers from their front yard, tied together with a strip from a dried coconut palm leaf. Soumia pulled it from a tree in their yard and showed me how to make the garland. We’ve walked about 30 km. We’ve eaten some amazing food, and we’ve reintegrated ourselves as part of the community of Kerala. We’re sleeping full nights and we’re slowing down on the food, shedding the feeling that we have to eat everything we see because the opportunity might disappear. Since we met Prakash, it’s been in the back of our minds that going into business together could be a good thing. The most obvious thing from our point of view is boating. As we stated before, the industry of sailing is practically nonexistent on the West Coast of India south of Mumbai. There are major changes coming to Kerala with the international seaport they’re putting in at Vizhinjam and the new highway that’s passing through to hook those containers into the marketplace. We think it would be a wise investment to establish a recreational sailing community in this beautiful place. We don’t see any signs that there’s anyone more qualified to start a club than us. We’re excited about it, good at it, and the market is wide open. Maybe we could make a better boat club than this one. With all the terrible shit going on in the US, maybe it is time to start thinking outside the country in a more enduring way. For now, though, the primary concern[…]

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Our Dogs are Barking

To explain 5 days of travel is as tedious as the travel itself. We were in the middle of the airplane and, on the train, we had the only fogged up window and couldn’t see anything. We didn’t really experience the travel on that wide-eyed brilliance level. Just plane, train, boom. Of course, the day before we took off for all this travel, the Indian PM, Modi, recalled all the 500 and 1000 rupee bills. This created long lines at every single ATM and most of them ran out of hundreds and twenties before we hit the ground. We used our last $8 to tip the taxi driver in Mumbai. Good tip, except the hassle involved in changing it. We figured it was no big deal since the train ticket included food. Wrong. It seems that’s only on the Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains, not the Netravati. We didn’t find this out until we’d already eaten 6 meals and the porter came to us with a request for Rs. 685. Um. Sorry, dude, got no money. That was the wrong answer, of course, but he did us a solid and agreed to pay the fee himself if we paid him back once we arrived in Trivandrum (officially Thiruvananthapuram, but I’ll use the local version: TVM). Two empty bank machines later, we finally got him his money, got in Prakash’s car, and were whisked away to the not-quite home of our dreams. Prakash, who paid cash for this apartment in 2006 before it was built, intended it as an investment. The investment went tits up. The builder went broke, transferred construction to another company, which went broke twice before not quite finishing it. This is a 16-story building quite literally in the middle of nowhere planted on top of a blown-up rock.[…]

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The Harvest

We spent this summer aboard, as we do, while the world was coming apart at its logical seams. In 2012, when we took off on our big adventures,  my (James’) teeth started really hurting. All of a sudden it’s been 4 years, I’ve lost 4 teeth, and every time I get rid of one, another one starts hurting. All of my meals for the last 4 years have been focused on not-hurting, as opposed to enjoying. It sucks!! We got a quote of $25k to fix me in Groton, 3 years ago, that came with a bunch of loan paperwork and a “sign right here”. There was another quote that ranged between $27-35k, depending on severity. There was no way to fix this problem without selling my soul to the American medical-industrial complex. Problem-solving for this, we had a brain-gasm for what we should do with our winter. “Shit, we might as well just go back to India.” Where we know the quality of health care is amazing, where the costs are much lower, where we have friends and eat the best food on earth and write and soak in the joy of being in India. This sudden attack of logic was not only a rare event this past summer in this country, it also came at a time when we were enduring, once again, the hottest temperatures in the history of humans on the planet Earth. And we were feeling it! And we were completely rebuilding the electrical system on our boat, because we’d just gotten a whole bunch of new toys. And we were working. And we were planning a new book. So I (Dena) got online and focused. I found airfare discounters, I found Indian dentists, I researched implants and looked at train tickets and made multiple[…]

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