Am I a Rock Star or a Comedian?

I don’t know, but I had a ball yesterday. James and I rode out to this big empty square. I remembered it being very quiet there one Sunday when we were looking for a beach, so it seemed like a good place to try my hand at riding the motorcycle myself. James has been driving everywhere we go. He has a ton of experience riding motorcycles and he picked up the rhythm of Indian traffic very quickly. Since he doesn’t have to think about operating the motorcycle, he was able to focus on getting used to the much more dangerous part. Me, I rode a 50cc motorcycle when I was around 10 years old. I remember enjoying it to a certain extent, but I was already too big for it and preferred the go-cart, the tractor, or – if Dad felt like giving me a lesson – the truck. I remembered the feeling of letting off the clutch and twisting the throttle. I remembered how the motorcycle seemed to want to jump out from under me. That was one of the things I had learned on the little bike – how to really sit on it and ride with it. When I first tried riding the Bullet we have now, I felt the same thing. I was standing so firmly on the ground that I almost didn’t move when the bike started rolling. It came back to me suddenly, in that moment, how it felt to ride a motorcycle. Way fun! But I didn’t really get any practice. I just got going, tried out the gears, and turned around in circles. This was in an empty festival yard – a big open area with some pitted spots, some gravel, and some grass. My newly-healed ankle whined at me with even[…]

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‘The Eyes and Ears of the Local Universe’

Imagine, just for a second trying to accurately describe one second in the life of our universe, our galaxy, solar system, world, country, city, the very place you are standing right now… In one second the smell of the 2000 automobiles in front of me violently rushes past into the next second… The sound of a city that I can not speak the language of barks a cacophonous monosyllable… The warmth of a sun that is 149476000 kilometers away from my skin gently stimulates my melanin and bombards my heart with a trillion neutrinos… The motorcycle rider that is next to me but doesn’t see me turns into me, touches my left foot with his right and then anonymously disappears into the next second that some of us actually survive.

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New Routine

Our usual lunch guys did us an accidental favor. When the flood happened, around the 20th, they closed down.  I assumed it had something to do with the unsanitary nature of serving food while ankle deep in ditch water, but I was wrong.  Turns out that they close down for a few weeks every year at this time. Thrown on our own resources, we wouldn’t have starved, but we wouldn’t have been very happy either.  Rather than eat our own cooking for lunch and dinner, we rode the motorcycle into Thampanoor pretty much every day for lunch.  This sucked a bit for two reasons: 1) It’s a little ways off and poor James had to go from deep in the story he’s writing to ultra-aware of the traffic.  2) The places in Thampanoor are roughly twice as expensive as we’ve gotten used to paying. So Saturday came and the power went out.  It went out at about 9:30 and was still out at 11:30 when we lost patience for waiting to be able to work.  To distract us, I suggested that we take action – do something that I’d been thinking about for a while.  We know our main street pretty well, but Trivandrum (like much of India) is busy everywhere, not just on the main drags.  So we thought we’d go exploring. My ulterior motive in selecting a direction was simple.  I wanted to find a veg-only restaurant within walking distance of the house. Six months ago, there were no vegetarian restaurants within an hour drive.  A year ago, the closest vegetarian restaurant was a raw food place that served tasty but heavy food.  And we just made our options work for us at any restaurant that sounded good. In India, we’ve eaten at few restaurants that also serve[…]

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Hitting the road…

So, on Monday the 27 of October in 2008 in Trivandrum, Kerala, India the rain just stopped, kaput! It was like someone just turned the faucet off. On Tuesday the 28th the sun came out and Dena and I hit the road on our Royal Enfield Bullet headed for the confluence of the Arabian Sea to the west, the Indian Ocean to the south and the Bay of Bengal to the east, the sangam of the three great bodies of water that feed the Indian Subcontinent. The two of us will use pretty much any reason to just up-n-travel but this time, being our tenth wedding anniversary, the official end of the North East Monsoon and of course the Indian Festival of Light, Diwali, we had our reasons stacked up like a Dravidian temple so off to Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India we went! We packed light because Dena has to carry the bulk of our load alone on her back while I drive. Two changes of light clothes each, our swimming gear, some water, our travel logs, books and that’s about it. I carried my camera bag around my neck and shoulder and rested it on the gas tank as I drove comfortably enough. Although the roads are riddled with treacherous pot holes the Bullet with two people weighing it down is a pretty stable and slow ride so we took our sweet time and stopped where ever we saw fit to shake off the road and shoot a photo or two. It was a beautiful 80km drive through some breathtaking country side. Unlike most of the U.S. when you go from state to state in India you are going into another culture and language altogether. Tamil Nadu is no exception to that rule and we quickly found that out[…]

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