Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Some Pictures

Click on the links below for some pictures from India. It's hard to share many pictures due to the slow upload speed.


Monday, November 22, 2004

Still Here

"Look my shop!" the Goan woman shouts as I pass her makeshift 'shop' at the weekly Anjuna market. On Wednesday's, the tourists head to Anjuna for a flee-market that would leave my own mother in a state of awe. My head turns as I smell corn cooking on the barbeque. I hand the man 10 rupees (.25 cents), and continue on my way. I pass another smell of something distinctly Indian, which is about the best you can describe it. To my right, a UK couple is bargaining with a shop-owner-- "100 Rupees, no 80, 90 Ruppees, OK OK." Straight ahead and walking towards me approaches a bunch of Israeli hippies, which there seem to be a lot of. I quickly turn to the side and try to squeeze by a group of Indian tourists from Bombay and a pile of not-so-biodegradable trash thrown onto the floor.

Saturday's - Anjuna fleemarket. Wednesday's - Apora night market. Friday's, 9bar then Paradiso.

As each day passes, I find myself more and more drawn to this unique city of Goa. Today, while passing a restaurant I noticed several people playing backgammon. Excited, I approached and was soon wagering 100 Ruppee ($2.50) per game against a 15-year backgammoner and tournament player. After 8 games, we were tied and called it even.

Not far from my guest house lies the shack formally known as "Hangloose." The Goan owner, a 28 year old with a wife and two children, recently changed the name to "Joyston" as a combination of his two children's names. It's here that I've been spending most of my time, hanging out with a group of Goan's my age who practically live in the shack. They tell me they have the life. Why would they ever want to move somewhere else? Each day they meet new foreign girls.. Each day watch the sunset.. Each day eat fresh fish and prawn caught from the previous night. "Life is meant to enjoy, not be stressed" one of them comments.

Watching the Goan sunset each night brings a tranquility to everyone who witnesses it. The sun turns a bright red as it slowly sinks over the horizon. The waves crash onto the shore, trumping all other sounds with its thunderous power. Is this a commercial for a beer? Can this be real?

The broadband enabled cyber-cafe is within walking distance--life is good.

Tonight I passed a sign with small imprinted letters: English Book Store. Traveling is a great time to read good books (of course, some would say anytime is a good time to read good books). I picked up "The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams.. it sounded appropriate.

Tomorrow I will go see the "16th Exposition of the sacred relics of St Francis Xavier" (http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story.php?content_id=59380

I think I will stay here for a little longer.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Woah, Chess!

Not a proper update, but check out what I just learned of:

World Juniors/Girls U-20 Chess Championships (Kochi, India, 18 November-1 December 2004) have started.

108 chess players from different countries have started the participation in the 43rd World Junior and 21st World Junior Girls Championships at Hotel Casino, Cochin, India on Thursday, 18th November 2004 at 12 Noon.

This world mega event will be a 13 Round affair.


Kochin is really not that far from Goa, about a 12 hour train ride (if you look on a map it looks very close to Goa, but its actually quite a distance.)
I would really like to check it out, but I want to spend more time in Goa and heading directly to Kochin is out of the way. I haven't decided.. should I go? You can post a comment by clicking on the "Comments" link below. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Current Location: Goa, India

How to I begin to describe India? The words polluted, dirty, over populated and poor all come to mind.

I am sitting in a cybercafe in Goa, a city with a life and character of its own, related to India only by geographic location. As the tourist season approaches full steam, this place becomes packed with foreigners from around the world in search of sun, beer, and late night parties.

It seems as this trip has been a rollercoaster which continually increases in speed. I have been so emersed in the experience, that it was only today that I noticed large white patches in the back of my throat. I went to the doctor and was informed I have a bacterial infection and was put on antibiotics. I feel fine and have halted alcohol consumption..

Yesterday, I was fortunate to watch fisherman pull in a massive net of fish shortly before sunset. Fish that freed themselves from the net and swam the wrong way toward shore were caught by eagerly awaiting children with plastic bags in hand. I caught a fish, threw it back into the sea, and shouted "FREE YOURSELF." I don't think anyone understood.

Right now I am staying on one of the most populated beaches in Goa. Five days ago the place was nearly dead. This place has been nice, but in a few days I will travel to Bangalore, a city known for its highly developed IT tech industry. I met a traveller from Bangalore several days ago and I will meet up with him while I'm there, I even have a place to stay. From there, I will explore the backwaters of Kerala, an experience I was told I shouldn't miss.

Hope all is well with everyone. Keep sending emails, its good to hear from you.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

The Busy Traveller

Location: Urecht, Netherlands

With 6 months of time, why do I feel like I have none of it? It is because I am constantly occupied, my attention always turning to something new. Walking through the busy Utrecht streetwalk, I am approached by a man who is passing out leaflets to attend a Christian prayer group. I stopped, and began talking with him about life. I, trying to convince him that our lives we're just illusions-- in which we work, have babies, and die in a blink of eternal time. He, expressing God loves me. I thanked him for it and left.

Of course, these types of conversions are easy to have while traveling.

As I enter a small shop in Leiden (Netherlands), I overhear a discussion on the current state of world affairs by the storeowner from Surinam and a Canadian. Of course, I couldn't help myself from entering the conversation. We discussed how the terrorists are probably plotting attacks from a cybercafe, and more likely a cybercafe which is across the street from us then one in Afganastan or Iraq. It seems obvious to say that the terrorist threat is both global and philosphical, and certainly not one which can be defeated via groundtroops conducting midnight raids in Fallujah. However, I wonder how many Americans would agree?

As I write, I am torn between writing about what cities I went to and the sites I saw, or my true interest-- the people that I have met. To me, the churches in Leiden look similiar to the churches in the Hague. Of course, a Dutch would argue the Churches found in The Hague are Christian, and the ones found in Leiden are most likely Protestant. But honestly, do I really care?

What fascinates me are the people and the culture. I've had a lot of philosophical discussions during the short time I've been traveling-- and I must say, it is refreshing to hear someone explain their viewpoint on life. We, as a society, as humans, are so focused on our own lives and "realities" that its easy to lose focus on what's important. So, you might say, "All knowing Josh, what is important?" Well shit, this is just a blog. You can't expect to find the meaning of life here.
I am leaving for India tomorrow. I have heard there are many small 'tibetan villages' in which tourists can stay for a modest price, so I will seek those out as I travel. The thought of going to an Ashram has crossed my mind.

And one other thing I forgot to mention: President Bush won. Why do I wait till the end of an entry to post such a significant event? Well, in the spirit of Europeans and the rest of the world-- "Americans are idiots, what do you expect."

Monday, November 01, 2004

The Traveling Experience

Location: Amsterdam, cybercafe.

The traveling experience is like nothing else. It captures you, the way you think and who you are as a person. Today, while walking around a Dutch plaza, I came across a "big chess board", the ones you sometimes see in movies with the human sized pieces (ok, maybe this one was more like knee sized). As I approached, a serious match was progressing between two chess players-- in a few moves it was over and I approached the pale skilled winner. After talking about tournament play and analyzing the position, he invited me to a Dutch chess club where I spent most of the day.

As I sat there, thinking about my next moves, but also about life, I realized what an incredible experience this has become. I am in the heart of Amsterdam, with a Kenyan Rasta guy as my opponent, it felt like one of the most peaceful moments (ok you can stop thinking that I was just high). I had nothing to do all day long, I had no where to go, I had nothing to see or no one to meet; I was in a chess club, enjoying life.

I look outside at the neon signs that brighten the narrow streetwalk, as tourists wandering a playground of senses look around in wonder, and the focused Dutch confine their looks to a two foot radius. What an interesting land, a bunch of byclists hustling up and down bridges which seperate them from the engulfing sea. Yet what seperates the Dutch, is their amazing carefreeness. As if they are just living life itself and aren't concerned with other people's realities except when it interfers with them.

Tomorrow I watch elections, and would like to "wake up"at 4am (I think) to watch it, I don't have a TV in the bedroom and all the Dutch roommates will likely be sleeping. I will hear of the results in the morning, and either sigh with relief, or sigh with devestation. The latter isn't going to be much fun, as it will not only affect us as Americans, but will also affect our public image around thew world. To re-elect Bush is to stare ignorance at its face and enact the human emotion called faith. It is faith which has turned this country on its side, coming from all angles into politics. There is no rebuttle for an argument based on a declaration of religious faith, or a President who evokes it into politics.

On many levels, this will be the destruction of America if Bush is re-elected. It has confirmed history, as another great nation has fallen by its own accord. So as I write this, I wonder about us as Americans. Have we commited ourselves into something which we are not, or have we commited ourselves to something which we are. Time will only tell.

I'm getting a bit chilly as night falls and the darker side of the city begins to appear. The colored lights that flank the crowded streets are adjusting to the growing urge of naturalistic tedencies. Soon the night will turn on its head as the music fast forwards to a quicker beat. I take in a deep breath and wish for clarity for the American people.