My Holi End to India

This is my final post on the six weeks spent in India. It brings me up to the post I made on March 17th, written on the heels of what felt like at the time, a snap decision to flee India, cutting my trip in half, and cancelling my onward tour of Pakistan. Torn between “fight or flight,” I agonized over whether I could fight back the fears of an invisible disease and continue to enjoy an idyllic beach resort, waiting out what had to be just Continue reading

Meetup in Mysuru

I am determined to finish up this India series if it takes me all year. Here’s one more down on a rainy Tuesday, with one left to go…

I’ve known my friend John since 1993. As a colleague with American Express, he was one of the first people I met when I reported to duty as National Account Manager at the United Nations account. I had an office on the 19th floor of the UN Secretariat Building, and John’s office was across the street at UNICEF. We became “fox hole buddies” in Continue reading

All Aboard to Ooty on the Nilgiri Mountain Train

The thought of leaving the beach causes me pangs of regret, as I am not ready to leave yet. I have really enjoyed my early morning walks along the cliffside path, and my sunset swims in the gentle surf. I have made friends across the rooftop breakfast table at Debra’s guesthouse, had dinner with the couple I met in Alleppey, and met a “swimming friend” Piret, a lovely woman from Switzerland whom I met while swimming in the surf. We have taken to meeting up for conversation at the popular “Coffee Temple” along the cliffside path. Continue reading

Varkala, Om My!

Continuing on my “make it up as I go along” tour of South India, I was really wanting some beach time. While the beaches along Fort Kochi were beautiful, they just didn’t look clean to me. Too close to town with too much opportunity for “runoff.” Beaches in Alleppey looked a little cleaner, but they were still city beaches. So instead, I was looking for more of a beach resort vibe with hotels and guest houses right along the coastline, calm waves for swimming, and with a little luck, some semblance of a life guard since I would be swimming alone. Continue reading

Looking Back on the Backwaters of Kerala

My reason for wanting to visit India’s southern state was to experience Kerala’s “backwaters,” an intricate network of narrow canals, lakes, and waterways that run parallel to the Arabian Sea for hundreds of miles. I have long been intrigued by the romantic notion of plying these narrow waterways via houseboat, a very popular tourist attraction in the southern state. Continue reading

Cochin: Like China

Last October when I hit my 65th birthday, I decided it was time to re-prioritize the old bucket list. Looking back on the Medicare milestone, I realize now that many of the limitations I began feeling at the time were due to the constant barrage of AARP emails and well meaning newsletters preparing me for impending decrepitude. Around this time, I began to manifest aches and pains and imaginative scenarios that led me to think my physicality as I knew it was about to be over. So I had best “git to gittin’” as they say in the south.

I decided rather than my usual prioritization based on desire or geographical proximity, I would instead prioritize according to difficulty. Not just physical difficulty, but those destinations requiring a certain level of travel-savvy as well. I decided to tackle some of Continue reading

Was Bahrain as Boring as it Looks?

In order to get from Addis Ababa to my next destination, Cochin, India, I needed to make a connection somewhere across the Middle East. Where to connect was of course dependent on which airline I chose.

My one deciding factor on choosing Gulf Air connecting through Bahrain was their offer of a three day stopover package which included hotel, transfers via a private vehicle, and two sightseeing tours. But most importantly, it also included a Visa. The opportunity to extend my connection to include a few days exploring a country not yet visited seemed like time well spent. Continue reading

Reading Departure Signs: Addis Ababa

My favorite Jimmy Buffett song, “Changes in Latitudes” has a verse, “Reading departure signs in some big airport reminds me of the places I’ve been.” Only the opposite is true for me. Reading departure signs in some big airport has always reminded me of places I still would like to go… and perhaps none so much as Addis Ababa. Through years of travel through international airports, I have always stood in awe of this quirky sounding city appearing on departure signs, and hoped that one day I would get to visit such an exotic-sounding place. Continue reading

Utopia in Ethiopia?

Thanks to everyone for their support and kind words about my premature evacuation from India.  It’s only Day Six of my self-imposed quarantine, but it feels more like Day Twenty-Six.  Still, I am grateful to have a place as comfortable as 80 square feet can be.  At least unlike many, I have a free and secure place to park it, food to eat, internet to entertain me, and a solid 98.6° temperature. So for that, I am extremely grateful!

A good friend of mine who is in the mental health profession suggested we shift the term “social distancing” to instead “engaging in physical distancing but staying socially engaged.” I like that idea. Thanks to all my friends, family, and followers who continue to help me stay socially engaged.

Okay, so now it’s back to a much happier time in Ethiopia when the only things I had to worry about were severe dehydrating diarrhea, pick-pockets, and looking down the barrel of a Kalashnikov held by the roadside militia. Looking back, things seemed so much less scary then. Continue reading