Postcards From Asia

Nepal-17 compressed

Emails, blogs, and free websites hosting our prize-worthy travel photos are today’s postcards.  Rare is the time these days when a small card appears in our home’s mailbox, showing some exotic land on one side, a curious foreign stamp on the other, and a hastily written note to us – which says really nothing, but which we are quite happy to receive anyway.

As a child, I must have looked dozens of times at the collection of postcards tucked away in our extra bedroom.  Oddly, I can remember only one postcard – that of the Grand Coulee Dam, somewhere so far from Milwaukee it might as well have been a foreign country.  Was it that periodic ritual that engendered in me a desire to travel – the further the better?  Who knew that someday I would travel so far around the globe, that to travel further would be coming back home!

 

“Postcards From Asia” captures vignettes of my travel not only back to India and Nepal, but also to countries in Southeast Asia.  I do not tell you what the guide books do even better, so fear not.  You might even find, vicariously, that travel is not only challenging (the word comes from the same root as travail) but also rewarding when we are reflective on our misadventures, and view them as our soul work – indeed, as a modern pilgrimage.

Of course India and Nepal, and all of Asia, have changed over the past generation of time, but they are still simultaneously fascinating, frustrating, and inexplicably intriguing.

 

“Postcards” will be available in 2017.  Read excerpts below:

 

Holy River, Holy Men, and Holy Shit

Rishikesh. Lower Himalayas, India.

 

Eons ago, an Indian king petitioned the goddess Gunga to descend from the heavens and share her waters with humanity. Impressed by his many prayers and severe penances, she agreed. The force of her descent, however, would have destroyed the land had Lord Shiva not saved the day. He let her waters fall on his head and disperse through his matted hair, easing their way to earth and creating the five sacred rivers of India, of which the Gunga is primary.

The place where the Ganges tumbles out of the Himalayas and onto the populated plains is the area around Haridwar, one of Hinduism’s most holy cities, as well as a few miles upriver at Rishikesh, yoga and guru capital of the world. Many Westerners got their first glimpse of Rishikesh when TV cameras followed the Beatles there in the ‘60’s as they found their guru and pursued Transcendental Meditation.

Read more

 

Midnight in Delhi

(Quite unlike “Midnight in Paris”)

With few exceptions, all long-haul international flights arrive or depart Indira Gandhi International Airport between midnight and 3am. It has always been thus. Dunno why.

Knowing that making good travel decisions through bleary eyes and a jet-lagged mind at that hour is iffy, I had made arrangements online for my favorite hotel (great location, great rates) ahead of time. I walked briskly and with confidence through Immigration and the Green Channel (Nothing to Declare).

Outside I sailed past the hordes of independent taxi drivers and chose one from the queue of “airport certified” vehicles. “Certified” means that the airport keeps track of them, and you: your name and destination and the taxi number are recorded in the event something untoward should happen.

Read more