For some reason it is harder/less intuitive to blog this trip than the India Excursion.
We are in Chicago right now, spending the night at an Air B ‘n’ B (or however the punctuation marks go) which is also a music venue… Maybe will update later, but it’s sort of turns out to be a whirlwind trip where we’re saving our phone ( & therefore blogging) power for map directions. So we are sorry for the lack of updates.
xx AKD, VP, CSamp
May 15th (Wednesday) - fly to Rhode Island (A)
May 16th (Thursday) - spend time with Chris’ family, drive to NYC (B)
May 17th (Friday) - drive to Chicago (C)
May 18th (Saturday) - spend the day in Chicago
May 19th (Sunday) - drive up to Wisconsin Dells (D)
May 20th (Monday) - drive to Rapid City, SD (E)
May 21st (Tuesday) - drive through the Black Hills, see Mt. Rushmore, Devils Postpile, spend the night outside Billings MT (F)
May 22nd (Wednesday) - drive the Beartooth Highway into Yellowstone (G)
May 23rd (Thursday) - Grand Tetons (H)
May 24th (Friday) - Drive to Portland, OR (I)
May 25th (Saturday) - Portland
May 26th (Sunday) - Drive south down the coast towards CA
May 27th (Monday) - Continue down the coast, arrive home in Oakland (J)!
I went to India in October - click for a Flickr set with 25 photos. I’ve been to a few places, but urban India is one of the most challenging photography environments. I shot with Rolleiflex (manual focus and exposure) and was frustrated most of the time; these cities demand a strong distraction filter, fast cameras, or both. It’s a perspective-altering place, one that requires time to adjust to.
Before going to a place like India, Japan or Sicily, I look around at photos, both recent and classic. Some people read history books before trips, this visual research gives me a mental list of elements to look for, cliches to embrace or avoid. It creates anticipation for the trip.
If you have any suggestions of more India-related photography, send me a note or an ask and I’ll update this post.
Here’s some of what I looked at:
All my books are packed up at the moment, but once I finish moving I must post my own ‘India library’ - both my photography books & my non-fiction. This list is just off the top of my head and I’ll add/expand in a few weeks…
- “Shiva’s Pigeons” photos by Stella Snead w/text by Rumer & Jon Godden
- “The Edge of Faith” photos by Prabuddha Dasgupta w/text by William Dalrymple
- “Henri Cartier-Bresson In India” photos by that famous French guy.
- Everything I can find by the aforementioned William Dalrymple
- Everything I can find by Mark Tully
- Everything I can find by the aforementioned Rumer or Jon Godden. Their books about India include: autobiographies (Two Under the Indian Sun, A Time to Dance No Time To Weep, & A House with Four Rooms), Kingfishers Catch Fire, Black Narcissus, Mooltiki, Rungli-Rungliot, The River (from which this blog takes its name)
- Everything I can find by Rudyard Kipling
- Delhi Noir, a collection of short noir mysteries all set in Delhi
- “A Passage to India” by E. M. Forster
- “Dek Ho!” a strange book I found at a used bookstore, written by the wife of a British officer
Not in the mood to comment tonight, just reposting…
This is a good little piece that weights the pros and cons of being a girl or boy traveller.
Vanessa and I travelled around India as two American 21 year old girls. The biggest price-saving advantage we had was being low-risk couch surfers. Not everyone wants to invite two guys in their early twenties to crash in their living room, but two girls? Sure. And since couchsurfing is made up of testimonials, we could pretty well suss out who would be the best and safest host.
We also experienced the skin color factor - Vanessa looking Chinese and me looking Scandinavian or British. And we did get treated differently - everyone wanted to take my picture, but they were all interested in where Vanessa “came from.”
The NYT article linked to former Frugal Traveller writer Daisann McLane, who has this great essay on her page:
One thought I’d like to add to Seth’s musings on the different ways that men and women travel. As I mentioned in our interview, I think that every traveler brings a different set of characteristics to the table—gender is only one of them. There are others, from our size, our race, our different abilities, sexual orientation, talents and interests. (The dean of living travel writers, Jan (formerly James) Morris, traveled as both a man AND a woman.)
The trick that we travelers, whatever size shape and skin we’re in, must learn is to use all of our personal characteristics to help us get the best out of our travels.
How do we do this? Well, I call it the Jazz of Travel.
I was a musician long before I ever traveled anywhere. And when I think about it, the skills I learned in music improvising are not so different from the skill set I bring to my travels. A great trip is like a terrific jazz solo.
At any given moment when you are traveling, you can turn right or left. You can speak, or not speak, to that stranger. You can sit down at that little cafe, or ignore it and try the one around the block. You can hop the bus, or hire a taxi. Every decision you make changes your experience of a place. Every choice changes where your travel story will go. Every time you choose to do one thing, and not another, your subsequent choices change, too. You open doors, close others.
A great traveler is like a virtuoso jazz cat who understands how to play the rhythm of choice.
How does gender play into the Jazz of Travel? Well, your gender is part of your instrument. Coltrane played sax, Mingus played bass, I play middle aged, 5 foot 9 tall, blonde female who speaks Cantonese. When you travel, you have to work with what you’ve got. That’s my starting point. Then I balance and riff in each situation I encounter, within the framework of each different culture and place, trying to anticipate where the melody is going. (Looking out for my own safety, of course, is part of this).
This all happens in a split second. Thanks to my many years Frugaling I’ve had a lot of practice. (c.f. Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule). Life, like music, doesn’t stop while you are planning your solo. You have to take your leap of faith, and run with it.
And in the end, when I’m in the thick of my travels, that’s what I do. I take a deep breath, and dance (boldly, and in my own rhythm) down that unknown street.
Vanessa and I play music very differently (and I know cause we were in a band), and we choose to experience the world differently. Vanessa was brilliant at making friends, and I suppose I was helpful in organizing. We each benefited from the other’s strengths and had an awesome adventure.