Friends, Romans, Countrymen – Lend Me Your Ears

The Persistence of Memory

“The Persistence of Memory” Salvador Dalí


Despite the clock-melting heat outside, it seems the hottest party is actually on Facebook. I posted a link to my blog just a few hours ago, and have already received a pretty spectacular turnout (with a low bounce rate, no less!).

So welcome, new readers! (Which means everyone but Nusha and Sam, the only two people who read this before.) Here’s your orientation kit:

Now if you’ll indulge me, I have a PSA to make to you lovely people:

Things I Think You Should Do With Your Life

Literally every single person I’ve mentioned this trip to has told me that they’re so jealous. That they want to do a similar trip. That I’m going to have a great time. That this is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. That they want to see pictures and blog posts and be sent postcards and locks of my hair and daily newspapers so they know I’m not taken hostage.

My response is pretty obvious: “So… join me!” (Two heads are harder to kidnap than one, right?)

While some have jumped at the opportunity, making plans to meet me in certain regions or countries, saving their dolla dolla billz for an off-season plane ticket to a priceless adventure, most people give me the same excuses:

  1. “It’s too expensive.”
  2. “I can’t take time off of work.”
  3. “I’m not an American citizen,” meaning they don’t have the same diplomatic relations with several of these countries.

I’m not an unrealistic woman. I know plane tickets and “real life” and “foreign diplomacy” are all obstacles to going overseas. But newsflash: so is the ocean, and (hu)man built boats and planes and blimps and rockets to overcome that problem! Your doorstep is a big impediment, but you manage to get over it (almost) every day!

It essentially comes down to this: do you have the Gypsy Spirit or not? Do you genuinely want to travel, or are you more entranced by the potentially of the future than the reality of the present? I have a response for everything (much to my parents’ annoyance), so to you excuse-wielding wall-hugging future-fearing compadres, here’s what I have to say:

  1. “It’s too expensive.” – Get a job. Make some money. It’s the summer. You can find $700 RT tickets to various European hubs in the off-season, and hostels, restaurants, and tourist attractions are far cheaper. There are ways to save, from CouchSurfing to Eurail passes to careful planning around religious or sports-related holidays. Scour Kayak and SkyScanner for cheap plane tickets, look at a map and choose a few locations that are relatively close together, find alternate transport, cook your own food or date a chef/bartender. It’s possible.
  2. “I can’t take time off of work.” – Yes. Yes, you can. Why do you work all the time anyway? To make money. Why do you make money? To do fun shit like taking two weeks off and pop-attacking your favorite Indian munchkin on her wacky world-tour. You might not be able to take time off today, but many places allow you to request time off in advance – and if you can’t, you should quit, because you’re probably working in an autocratic soul-crushing corporation. (America’s Foxconn.)
  3. “I’m not an American citizen.” – While you might not be able to go to certain countries depending on your nationality (Israelis in Lebanon, for example), the biggest impediment for any traveler is often just a matter of applying for a visa and receiving adequate health clearances. While the visa might be a bit more expensive, refer to Answer #1, which ultimately means I have empathy, but still think it’s a weak excuse.

I’ve been told that I’m very persuasive, so if you have any more clever excuses, please note them below in the comments box. It’s been a while since I’ve developed debate blocks, but it’s pretty fun and I will continue to do it until I return from my travels and have no selfish excuse to harass my friends (in this way).

© Vidya Kaipa – Yosemite, October 2011

Now that I’ve convinced you, choose your own adventure:

Here’s my tentative schedule with approximate dates:

While I figure out how best to collect data on who wants to go where and who wants to be updated about what, I have a simple request: please select all countries you think you might be able to visit, just so I have a better idea of who to keep up to date on what plans. For example, my friend Christine had mentioned that she might try to go to Greece, and even though the Groupon coupon that initially enticed her to the other side of the world has now expired, I’m going to do my damnedest to make sure she actually goes. Same for Nusha, who (probably regretfully now) has expressed interest in visiting Israel and possibly other regions in the Middle East with me. I’m not sure if it logs your name, so if you enter the poll, please also write your information in the comment box below – the poll is useful for gauging interest, but very likely not much else.

And  finally, a treat for all of you music lovers:

Since I have your attention, I’d like to direct you to my current obsessions. Some, like Norah Jones, Treehouse, and Mama Crow, are artists/ bands that I’ve loved for a while, but have been doing such awesome things lately that I need to give them repeat credit. Others, like Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux or Black Star’s Talib Kweli are mega-popular artists within their field (or in Cello Joe‘s case, are gaining well-deserved groundswells of support for his relentless touring and incredible talent). All of them are worth your attention.

Ana Tijoux

Talib Kweli

Norah Jones

Cello Joe

Treehouse Orchestra

Mama Crow