Our Roughest Roads

Madagascar south of Maroantsetra – 2003

Recently, we were asked about the worst roads we had ever been on. Hmmm, there’s a post in that question, I suddenly thought to myself. Thomas and I sat down to reflect on the thousands of roads we had traveled – the breakdowns, the potholes, the drop-offs, the landslides, the dust, the terrifying drivers – and came up with a list of some of the most challenging stretches we had experienced. As with all such questions, the year we traveled these roads is also relevant because things change. Here’s a list of our roughest roads Continue…

Pir Dastgir Sahib Shrine Destroyed by Fire

Waking up this morning to a series of ┬ámessages from Kashmiris, we were devastated to discover that the Pir Dastgir Sahib, perhaps the most stunning Sufi shrine in Srinagar, Kashmir, had been destroyed by fire. This is a tragic loss for Kashmiris, who are mourning the destruction of one of their most beloved religious sites. It also represents a heartbreaking loss of world architectural and cultural heritage. It is being reported that holy relics from the shrine have been saved. Continue…

Two Years on the Road

Just Click a Thumbnail Above to Begin

Wow, two years! We can hardly believe it ourselves. It seems like we just set out from Berlin last week. From Germany to Hong Kong across China and Tibet to India via Nepal, year one saw a lot of movement. Our second year has been almost entirely spent on the Subcontinent. But as those who have followed along have seen, India is a world unto itself. To recall some of our adventures, we’ve put together an interactive gallery.

Passage OUT of India

This country is hard. No destination has ever challenged us in the way India has. While still in Nepal, travelers laughed hysterically at the idea of our spending a year here. “You’ll never manage a year there,” they ridiculed, “You’ll be lucky if you make it two weeks!”

Well, we’ve spent a total of 15 months here. So, do we like it? The question almost seems ridiculous. We hate the country, and we love it. Every day we find ourselves cursing this place and swearing we are going to leave. And then moments later, we discover something wondrous. We’ve never witnessed such cruelty, but somehow the moments of kindness seem all the more touching. The country is one massive contradiction, so it is not surprising that our responses should be contradictory.

Hindu gods? Or South Park characters?

After two days in India, our philosophy became “Let’s just see the whole damn country and get the hell out and never come back!” But now, somehow the idea of not returning to India seems terrifying. Why? Traveling here is such an intense experience. Somehow every single day seems like it is filled with major life lessons. Or, perhaps, we just have a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome.

So we are off to Bangkok to find some cheap tickets to the U.S. But don’t worry, our adventures aren’t over. They’ve only just begun!

Calcutta

A wild mixture of modern and traditional, poor and rich, ugly and beautiful, manic Calcutta is a dance of colorful characters. I’ve tried to capture this sensory overload in my latest video. Get ready to groove to the soundtrack of “Dancing with the Goddess” by Atman.

Power Outages and Mother Teresa

Like all cities in India, Calcutta is plagued with power outages. Sometimes there are two a day, sometimes there are ten. Having invested in a rather expensive air-conditioned room, these outages are especially annoying. However, after a year in India, we view them as just another daily annoyance.

Escaping our room during one of the outages, we decided to visit Mother House. Simply known as “Mother” in Calcutta, Mother Teresa is revered as a soon-to-be saint by Christians and a demi-god by Hindus. She is synonymous with Calcutta, and people of all religions love her here.

Although I am no great fan of organized religion, and I am quite aware of the controversy surrounding many of Mother Teresa’s beliefs, including her strict Continue…

Oh, Calcutta!

Thomas and I have made our way to Calcutta, the center of all that is chaotic and crazy in the world. Every second is pure insanity, my eyes can’t keep up with the movement. But like Mumbai, Calcutta is a colonial gem in the rough, and fans of that British colonial vibe, which is disappearing quickly around the world, will love this city, assuming they can learn to appreciate the chaos and the intense heat that comes with it.

During the white-hot day, I have the continual feeling that I’m going to drop over dead from heat stroke. It seems like we spend most of our time hiding from the sun. But at night, Calcutta is perhaps the greatest Continue…

Safari on the Subcontinent

Wildlife photography is hard! That is something we learned long ago. But it is also extremely challenging and incredibly fun. One of our goals here in South Asia has been to see and photograph as much of the wildlife as possible.

Over the last year and a half, we have explored some of the regions best natural attractions including national parks, reserves, and remote wilderness regions. The explorations have been made on foot as well as by jeep, canoe, kayak, camel and elephant.

To recall our adventures, we have put together a pictorial, a sort of photographic trophy wall to share a tiny bit of the regions diversity with you. All of the animals included were photographed by us in the wild. Since we do not have a 600 mm lens and a fifty pound tripod, that is much more challenging than it sounds. While the big game may seem the most impressive, one shot in particular should be considered our ultimate trophy, the photo of the two camouflaged nightjars. Believe it or not, they were actually spotted by our guide from a moving jeep!

Bodacious TATAs

Indians love their TATAs. Throughout the developing world, the national car of India is big business. Until recently, most of that business was focused on the huge TATA trucks used for hauling big loads on some of the world’s worst roads.

But starting this summer, TATA is reshaping itself with the release of the TATA Nano. Heralded throughout India as the one lakh car (see article on lakh), the slimmed down version of the ultra compact Nano, which retails for around $2000, will make the dream of owning an automobile reality for many middle-class Indians. To many Indians, the introduction of the “common man’s car” represents a huge step forward for India and a shortening of the gap between India and the West.

But anyone who has visited India will immediately recognize a HUGE problem Continue…