The Tea Is to Die for, the Water Likely Survivable: Sampling the Old Delhi Spice Market

"Clear, pure, cold water." I was parched, it was 105 degrees out and the airborne spices of the Old Delhi spice market were starting to irritate my eyes and throat. I must have made some sort of subconscious assessment of the likelihood of the water before me being contaminated. I seemed to be thinking.....well, optimistically. A sign on the vendor's cart had a picture of plastic cups and even said "disposable cups." However, instead the street vendor handed me a 12 oz discolored glass (the fragile kind) full of water he had pumped from his own personal container of water. I drank it quickly, neglecting a conscious risk assessment with the ludicrous rationale that if I drank it really quickly I was less likely to get sick. I had already eaten some street food just prior, and since it was my last day in India, unofficially decided I would go all in and test the waters. This decision required repressing my memory of flying sick for 24 hrs after taking a ris

Mr. Thakur's Saloon

Snip snip snip snip snip snip snip....I counted roughly two snips per second consistently for at least 25 minutes. Mr. Thakur carved the hair on my head with precision. The cut itself was by-the-book...there was no stylistic creativity. He simply gave me a nearly flawless traditional men's haircut. The experience he provided, however, was art. Not the kind you hang on the wall and rarely, if ever, take the time to truly appreciate. But the type of art that comes and goes once. The kind that slips away if we don't allow ourselves to fully experience it. That type of art which can fundamentally change our perspective forever if we are present to witness it. Sachita Nand Thakur, originally from Darjeeling, India, has a one-man barber shop on a small paved residential alley toward the top of a Himalayan foothill. I'd seen his shop door open, the light on, but the shop had been empty every time I walked by on the way to my local home stay. One evening, I saw him swee

Duguma Hunde

A few of the few of you who read my blog nearly ten years ago may remember a post which mentioned Mr. Duguma Hunde, the owner of Ethiopian industrial conglomerate DH Geda. In short, I met Mr. Hunde who was in his 60s, and one of his board members in a Beijing train station. I can't remember for how long we spoke between that time and our exit in Shanghai, but he will forever remain with me.  I'll never forget the way Mr. Hunde made me feel as we sat next to each other in the station, talking quietly and calmly about the upcoming 2008 US presidential election and other things, as he held my hand gently between his hands. I could have never guessed that I'd be comfortable with another man holding my hand. I can't really describe what I felt, but the experience was something like the following.  He leaned toward me, was completely focused on what I said, and made me feel like I was important to him. His eyes and attention not once averted from me and our conversat

Making Music Again

From the new Blackberry phone ring the words of Lieber and Stoller sung by Sam Cooke, summoning feelings of nostalgia as I try to shake the jet-lag which has held unconsciousness captive since I re-crossed the Pacific 3 days ago. I'm lying on the floor of my cousin Laura's and friend Jamie's apartment in the southern coastal city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second largest and warmest. Despite the relatively warm weather year-round, most Kaohsiung apartments are chilly in the winter months as central heating is uncommon. I periodically open up a game of Texas Hold 'Em on the handheld and nearly mindlessly cycle through a few flops, nervously hoping to pick up a 3-of-a-kind or even a 2-pair to confidently yet inconspicuously swell the pot around the turn and into the river. There's no real money involved, but it seems like a fairly healthy way to feed this sleep-deprived anxious state. Hold 'Em originally captured my interest after naively inching toward an $11,000

Home Sweet Home

I'm currently in Columbus, Ohio, paying my family a surprise visit over the holidays and getting cleaned up and fed before returning to Taiwan on January 5th. I'll catch up with you then. Happy holidays.

Obama and The Economy, Or Not

"So have you taken any interest in the U.S. election?", I asked Duguma, the owner of DH (Duguma Hunde) Geda, an Ethiopian industrial conglomerate. Mr. Hunde pulled a wallet-size photo of Barack Obama from his pocket. "I'll see you at the inauguration", he replied, and he was serious. Mr. Hunde, one of his Board members and I were on the bullet train to Shanghai together, and our low-key dinner conversation quickly grew into a caucus of international businessmen debating foreign relations and discussing how Obama could potentially help to resolve the issues underlying many of the current conflicts around the world. One perspective came from Affi, the Pakistani owner of an import/export business. His opinion is that the U.S. must negotiate with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Another man suggested that a crucial step in putting to rest all conflicts in the Middle East is to forge an agreement between Israel and Palestine. I agree that nothing will get accomplished by co

Shitleg in Beijing

Our 4-bunk dorm room is home to 6 of us this week. Paul is my British travel mate. He's from Bristol, England, and his accent and his dry, yet rich and funloving sense of humor go together like "tea and crumpets". We met in Mongolia 3 weeks ago, and have become great friends. Tonight I will head south and Paul west. At 6'3", I call him the BFG (big, friendly giant), and we joke that the Chinese make way for him for fear of being eaten. Also in Mongolia, I met Magnus and Rasmus over a bottle of vodka. They are 20 year-old Swedish self-proclaimed "enjoyers of life" who love to "paaw-eee" (they were quick to adopt Paul's way of pronouncing "party"). Last night, the 3 of us played an impromptu gig at a Beijing bar, along with our other Swedish friend, Johannes. We call ourselves "Shitleg". See the following link to see a couple of songs from that night..haha. Might have to give it a few minutes to load: Shitleg in Beijing.