Wanderlust

I am continually amazed at the beauty in this world. Whether standing on the shores of the ocean or observing man-made structures such as the Eiffel Tower, the view can be breathtaking. And while these experiences leave us snapping photos as quickly as we can, it is most often the people we encounter that make travel so enthralling. The talkative taxi driver, the friendly stranger that stops to explain something, the children staring a bit too long at how different you are – they are what makes travel so compelling. For while we are curious creatures, we are foremost social. And learning to love life starts with loving people.

A Close Encounter

Here we are, suddenly face to face. I’m not sure if I invaded his space or if he invaded mine, but we are definitely close. Is he black? Or white? He’s obviously both, but which is the primary? And why is he just staring at me? He’s small. Not tiny, but definitely diminutive. I wonder what he’s thinking of me? He is staring at me, isn’t he? It’s hard to tell exactly where he is looking. Those eyes protrude quite a bit now that I look at him. I’m not sure how long this staring has been going on, but it’s long enough that I can’t back down. I’m not looking away. There he goes! I knew he would give in, even though I’m in his territory. It was nice to meet you little guy. Wait, I meant to ask your name. Are you a Zebra fish? A striped Angelfish? Dang. He got away too quickly. You know, I don’t always wear these goggles. Well, I do when I’m here in the water, but not on land. He’s not listening. He’s long gone. I wonder if he remembers me and our little staring...

Partying with Papa Jack

I hope one day I learn to party like Papa Jack. I first met him as he thrust a glass of beer in my hand. “No, thank you,” I objected. “You must have a beer.” “But I don’t drink.” “Tonight you do.” With that he turned and walked away, back toward the party. We laughed. After all, we were here at his invitation. Sort of. We were the wedding crashers. The evening had started with dinner as we listened to the music from the band. Our curiosity eventually got the best of us and we wandered to the edge of the cliff to observe the revelry on the beach below. The setting was fantastic. Folks danced on the floor constructed in the center, surrounded by tables. The silver serving dishes from the buffet traced the edge of the party area. As we lurked from the cliff, one of the attendees looked up and waved for us to come down. “Come on!” he shouted. We hesitated for a bit, but eventually decided to go observe the party on the beach level. The bride joined the band and sang a song before calling the groom to the stage. One of the bride’s sisters also sang a song as the party moved onto the stage. It was just after this that the gentleman who had waved us down came over to greet us. This was Papa Jack – the father of the bride. Over the next half hour or so we got to meet Papa Jack’s beautiful wife, his three daughters, his new son in law and many other members of the...

The Handshake

I hear that walking is good for you. It strengthens your muscles and exercises your heart. It can do way more than that. I was just over 3 hours into my walk, quite tired and heading back to the hotel. My small point-and-shoot camera had snapped images that stood out to me, touches of India that I wanted to keep for later. My pace had quickened, heading the warning from my feet that I should bring the walk to a close. Chennai traffic demands that pedestrians be alert, but I will admit my attention was waning a bit. Perhaps that is why I was surprised by my encounter. A cart blocked my way, forcing me to walk further into the street than I might otherwise prefer. Traffic was lighter than usual, though, so I was not concerned. As I made my way around the cart I encountered a petite, elderly man. He wore a light colored shirt and a blue plaid lunghi. His shirt bore the stains of a few days wear. His lunghi was neatly tied, worn in the short style common for mid-day heat. His gray hair was barely a few centimeters long, but shone in the light against his dark brown head. I’m not sure of his age, but the lines on his face spoke of many years experience. His eyes widened as he saw me. As our eyes met I lowered my head and brought my hands together as if to say, “Namaste.” He responded by extending his hand for a handshake. I had barely extended my hand when took it with both of his....

My Friend Jack

I went for a walk today. This is perhaps my favorite activity in India. My family and friends are so far away, still sleeping at the moment. So I walk alone. It is hot. It is always hot in Chennai. My fair skin prepares for the scorching which the sun will undoubtably provide. My feet burn hot on the pavement. So here I am, a solitary traveler burning in the mid-day heat. I look for my friend Jack. He always comes to me. Or, perhaps more accurately, I come to him. As I turn from street to street, dodging taxis, dogs, people and bikes, I inevitably will see him and my entire body will respond with gratitude. Entire sections of the road are shaded with Jacaranda trees on each side. Ah! Jack is here, providing a brief respite from the sun. Yes, Jack is more than a tree. He is a true friend. For only a friend will give expecting nothing in return. Only a friend will absorb the heat with you, sheltering you whenever possible. My walks are always amazing. Amazing sites await at each turn. Amazing people introduce themselves and ask where I am from. But all this is made more enjoyable by my amazing friend Jack....

I Miss Fish

We recently returned from a few weeks in the Philippines and there are several things I miss. Certainly, I miss the friendships and sight-seeing, but lately I’ve been missing some fish. At Manila Ocean Park there is a fish spa where the fish eat the dead cells from your feet. Amazingly, it leaves your feet very smooth. Even though my feet are extremely ticklish, I managed to keep them in long enough to notice quite a difference. After only a little more than two weeks back home, I am ready for another session. I haven’t looked closely, but I’m sure if I even find a fish spa here it will cost me quite a bit for a session. So, for now, I’m missing fish....

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.

J. R. R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring

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