Journals from India: Arusha to Delhi

The following are my unedited personal memoirs written during the time of my traveling from Arusha to Delhi. Though written in instances of mental and emotional strain, perhaps vulgar and short-sighted at times, I feel that they are a measurement of personal growth of which there was plenty. This is part 1 of 6.

November 12, 2015

Arusha, Tanzania

So tired of writing, but I know I need to get this down.

I think I’m the happiest I’ve ever been now. I’m just living with no anxieties, in the eye of a hurricane. Today we went to the hot springs again. Blue water, shattered sunlight falling through the leaves, and my best friends maneuvering through the streams; heaven was close.

I’ve been so busy trying to wrap everything up before I go. Proposal things, recording with the kids, goodbye’s to people I’ve shared the best part of my life with, and closure with the ones I love.

I will forever remember the rains in Africa by the night I spent on the concrete floor of the orphanage cafeteria, laying in with the kids and talking through my heart.

The kids… I said goodbye to them tonight. I played for as long as they would listen and sang every song with everything I had in me. Every one of them is like a sibling who had been there for me in the best and worst times of my life.DSCN0444

When I knew it was time to go I got up to hug them all and I really thought I was going to make it through without crying, but then I saw Alloise and Gifty. Then I wept. I wept as I embraced them. I wept as I walked across the soccer field, then I looked up at the stars, the same stars from my first night here, but so different somehow.DSCN0481

How quiet will the dining room be on tomorrow night? I’ve played every night for them for months, and all of a sudden there will be a silence. That’s a silence that haunts.

I stared at the bonfire that the other volunteers made for me for my last night, I saw within the power and importance of love. I will miss all of my friends, there’s too many to name.

I’ve given way to analyzing how I am different from the Quincy Godwin that arrived in Arusha. I found some important things here. I’m convinced that I’m the most alive any person has ever been.

Leaving shares feelings of polar opposites. The past and the future are too heavy to bear at this moment. I know these next couple of weeks will eat me alive, but I can help but smile. Tomorrow – India.

November 13, 2015

Layover in Zanzibar

Earlier today I had everything, and now I wander.

I am in Zanzibar. I made it here after all, even if I am contained to 3 square feet and a walkway inside of a metal tube.

I woke up and said goodbye to Stefan, Maddie, and the two other Swedish girls. I went to the orphanage first thing to wash dishes, but the aunties weren’t there, so I stepped over to the school and found all the students in an assembly. Then Mr. Peter insisted I give a goodbye speech to the whole student body, so I managed to bring 400 dear relationships to a close before breakfast.

I walked away feeling sort of satisfied at how well it went. I started to pack and said goodbye to Nelson and Adam before I went for my final run down the backstreets of Ngusero. Nelson is the coolest guy I’ve ever met and I’ll miss him. He knows the way to live.

When I returned from the run I found Milla on the couch looking real upset about my departure. She helped me pack and then I gave her the remainder of my shillings to buy as much fruit as she could for the kids, and I told her to sing songs with them tonight.

The ride to the airport was quiet. Iddi really took it hard. He was the driving force through most of the rough parts. I love that guy.

How will this transition affect me? It just feels numb right now.

Now I’m waiting for the long ride over the Arabian Ocean to Qatar. I think about my first thoughts of Tanzania, and I know that misconceptions of India already litter my brain.

November 14, 2015

New Delhi, India

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I haven’t been to sleep yet. I came in to Delhi early this morning and took a taxi to try to get a hostel, but he took me to one of the fake travel information centers and tried to scam me. And then another guy took me to another one and tried to scam me. Eventually I made it to a cheap motel by insisting to a rickshaw puller that I knew a cop in Delhi. I was preparing for sleep when someone knocked on my door.

Two Americans.

One from NC.

They told me they saw my Nationality in the address book downstairs and wanted to meet me. Their names were Kyle and Ben, and we talked about our itineraries for the country. They left today, but before we had lunch. They had a friend in Delhi who took us to get street food in an alleyway behind an office building. Chickpea curry with Naan. My first meal in India.

Holy shit… I’m in India. First impression? Kinda like Arusha, except not near as laid back. It’s like a weird offspring of First and Third world – like if Arusha’s lack of organization met New York or Tokyo’s bustling intensity.

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I know when I wake up tomorrow I’m going to be like, “Where the hell am I?!”

No way to prepare for that. Tomorrow I think I should plan my train itinerary.

November 15, 2015

New Delhi

I met Greg earlier today, and he gave me some insight on life in India. I had a really great day. Kyle and Ben’s friend, Dillip, took me to his home where we ate omelet sandwiches that his wife made and I got to meet his kid. I’m really glad that I got to see an actual family’s home in Delhi, which was essentially just a concrete room with a bed and a counter. It made me think a lot of Saumu.

I didn’t think I complained very much in the States, but seeing these living quarters made every ill word I’ve ever spoken about the things I have clot my throat and choke the admittance of ridiculous privilege out of me.

After breakfast he dropped me off at the Indian equivalent of the ‘National Mall’ where the political buildings and museums line the boundaries of huge strips of lawn. I explored the parliament, the president’s house, the surrounding gardens (where there are a ton of hawks just flying around for some reason), and the Indian gate.

At the gate, a guy approached me asking for a photo and at first I was like, “Yeah, of course I will take a photo for you!” but then he handed his camera to his friend and wrapped his shoulder around mine with a big smile and a thumbs up, so I did the same. This happened several times before I managed to wade through the crowd.

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Then I played cricket with some guys on the lawn beside the gate. I really sucked at bowling… balling… boolling… uh throwing the ball, but they all smiled at me and took pictures with me anyway.

I took a rickshaw to Hauz Khas village after cricket. It was so cool. It was like Franklin Street folded over on top of itself several times and was placed right next to the remains of a 16th century temple overlooking a huge pond.IMG_20151107_150810536 I walked through and started looking around the temple ruins first, which was a labyrinth of broken stone. There were young people laughing and lovers doing lover things. The falling sun came in through the archways and cut planes of light into the foggy air above the murky water, a graveyard of mossy and decaying rowboats.

I lot of people wanted photos there as well. I told a guy by the water that I was from America and I could tell that he felt like he was in the presence of a celebrity. He told me he loved Eminem and gave me his sunglasses.

I climbed back through the ruins and to the village and met Greg at a place for tea.

After our talk I ate momos at a restaurant and had a beer on a balcony bar overlooking the village entrance below. I feel an implication of loneliness in the depths of me. I miss home, and I’m not really sure what I mean by that anymore.

I came back to the hostel with an autorickshaw, and I’m pretty sure that you’re required to meet a quota of sociopathy to drive one in Delhi. Not a professional requirement, but like a moral one, because a normal person couldn’t handle the emotional strain required to commit the abominations that they do so fluently. They truly are working class heroes, though. It’s easy to become upset at their persistence, but they’re just doing what it takes to make it to the end of the day with a couple bills in their pockets.

November 17, 2015

New Delhi

With my face pressed up against the oily glass of the crowded New Delhi Metro, I looked out onto the platform – and we speed away. I watched as thousands of people blurred together into a single line, featureless upon my vision and I wondered if I preferred this to interaction, or if it was the same either way.

I explored the city all day. Saw some crazy shit, some disgusting shit, some intriguing shit, some beautiful shit, and some literal shit.

I got lost in Delhi near the Red Fort this morning so I juDSCN0517st toured it for a little while. There were families who’d traveled from other parts of India to see the fortress, and there was a film crew making a documentary I’m guessing. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the sunny day. Then I went to the Railway station and got my train tickets for my trip down the length of India. I’m kinda nervous because I’ve heard a lot of different things about the train, but psyched to do it nonetheless.

 

I met a lady from LA while waiting in line for the Lotus Temple, and I asked her all about California. People seem to be surprised to find out that I’m American and haven’t seen anything west of the Appalachian mountains. I think it’s funny that I saw more of Tanzania than I have the States. When I walked into the temple I felt an immense presence of peace, and my mind involuntarily relaxed under the high ceiling and empty air.

As much as I thought I’d be I’m not lonely, I feel like I’m just experiencing a private existence. I’m just enjoying myself for only myself. I’m also getting a better grasp on where I am intellectually. I wonder where my life will go with the capital I possess. Is it too meager to be great?

I also went to the Bazaar in Pahar Ganj,

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and a night market lit up by floodlights that went for miles today. The Ikscon Temple was so sick. They had an underground video expo that was an introduction to the religion. Honestly, it was kinda terrifying.

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November 19, 2015

New Delhi

I feel like Holden Caulfield, just walking through the city having conversations with myself, but instead of New York, New Delhi.

I went to one of the biggest Hindu temples in India today, Akshardham. I appreciated the beauty and intricacy of it all, but the carvings of the building and the silence of the shrines made my head swim, grabbing at an influenza-fueled nightmare from my childhood. I feel no fear for the unknown, however. I feel peace and joy at my potential to understand.

I tried to go to the Delhi Zoo, but I found that my Metro stop was near an International trade fair that comes to town for just a couple of days annually so I figured that I’ve been to many zoos but never an Indian trade exposition. I just spent hours roaming around this huge convention, looking at the shops and admiring entrepreneur’s stands. I was impressed by how many start-ups for sustainable development there were – the future definitely holds improvement for the environmental situation of India.

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The zoo was closed by the time I made it through, unfortunately, but the Old Fort was just across the river from it though, so I went there instead. Walking through the dark tunnels and climbing the ruins in the sunset was my favorite part of the day. Even more people wanted pictures with the white kid parkouring around the ancient ruins. I think I’m in about 30 family portraits by now.

Travelling alone is really incredible, but also very straining. I’m the happiest I’ve been since my youth, but as happy as I am and as many vivid experiences as I’m getting I know it would be far, far better if a friend was here to share it with. I’m realizing that a friend is like this journal – it provides credibility, but the benefit of a friend is that they can project their own story onto the screen of your perception. They bring something that I could never achieve alone. I think that’s the point of life – the purpose for which we were made this way; to share. There are so many things to be appreciated.

November 20, 2015

New Delhi

I think that when you live around so many people that it’s real easy to get sad because all you get is the bad part of people over and over, hundreds of times a day. You experience these humans with all their defenses up and yours up as well, completely bypassing their smiles, their humor, their tone of voice when they speak of their passion, and the warmness of their embrace. Apprehension is inevitable.

Of course it’s important to be cautious, because there are bad intentions out there, but most people just want to be made happy by someone else. They want to share. They are just you under a little different circumstances.

I’ve been getting upset by people staring at me, pointing at me, and laughing at my expense, but now I think that I shouldn’t. I’m an alien in a world of very little diversity, so being flamboyantly blond and pale and lanky is just like being a dog walking through the train station on two legs and asking for directions in English. Of course people are going to react to such a foreign object. Should I expect them to accept me? Am I even supposed to be here? America has taught me to accept diversity, to promote diversity. I see that acceptance as the only way of life, and of course I become rattled when it’s not widely observed by the society I find myself in. It’s a foundation of mine. But is it right? Am I overthinking it? I don’t know what to think about these things. The world is a portrait in grayscale.

I went to the Qutab Minar today just as the sunlight was beginning to ripen into opacity. The ancient structures were beautiful, and it was sort of jarring when an airplane flew just overhead to land in the nearby airport. I felt lost in time.

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I walked for a couple hours afterwards. New Delhi is amazing, and overwhelmingly huge. Despite all the bad that people have to say about it and although it has polluted my lungs, it has also charmed my soul. Tomorrow I will say goodbye to it. I leave for Agra at 5:30 a.m.

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Shravankumar

Hinduism is a particularly charming way of explaining the way our heads are put together, and how our souls have found these bodies made of star corpses that we carry through the plane of existence with a ball of dirt as our vehicle and the cosmos our byway. Hindu’s are the essence of India, filling it with radical exhibits of life and accentuating its weirdness. I found a magnetism about this religion and the people who’ve laid it as the foundation of their days – it captivated me with its bold approach to benevolence. I found myself asking everyone with their 3rd eye marked about its history, testimonies, and anecdotes. As I found out more about it I found that the emphasis put on the importance of family within its philosophy has caused me to reexamine some things in my own life.

One story belonging to these that I received from an especially zealous young Ukrainian woman on the train from Delhi to Agra, (who I found out was actually a publisher of Hindu texts in Sanskrit and Ukrainian) was about a boy named Shravan. This dude’s parents told him that they wished to visit forty places of pilgrimage in their old age as to purify their souls. Without the means to afford transportation for them, Shravan put each parent in a basket and tied them to the ends of a bamboo pole, which he hoisted upon his shoulders, and thus the pilgrimage began. He carried his parents throughout the world.

This story punched a hole in my chest. I pondered…

What the hell have I done for my parents? Have I even justified them having birthed and raised me? I’ve certainly had opportunities to give back, but have I? Would my back break from lack of use if I attempted to carry them now?

I admit with heavy reluctance that I wish I’d done much more and much better with the time I’ve had. Reading about M K Gandhi’s humble service and unhesitating honesty regarding his parents in his autobiography, “The Story of My Experiments with Truth” further nourished my laments. Even in childhood M K Gandhi showed greatness by being a spotless example of what a son should be for his parents.

Being away from them for some time now and having gained a lot of perspective on the situation I left behind, I see that there’s a lot of regret to be had. I regret every time that I didn’t do as they said, every time my trust in their competence or benevolent will for me faltered. They were right in every respect that I couldn’t see at the time. I regret every meal that I didn’t eat with them at the dinner table, and every time I took all that they did for me for granted – it digs at me that I’m still ignorant to how much that is, and that they’re ignorant to how eager I am to appreciate their efforts.

But through a different lens I have carried my parents. I actually brought them here to India with me. I carry them, not in a yoke on my back, but in a colorful cardboard sleeve. I take them out, blow the dust off, place them carefully on the turntable, and wait for the cue to drop the needle.

A difficult decision arises – that’s the signal to begin.

“Use everything you have and keep your eyes open, son,” says Dad.

I’m walking down a seedy street at night when track 2 starts – this one’s called ‘Leave Your Money at Home and a Knife in Your Back Pocket’ by Dad. Sometimes I sit and listen to Dad all the way through, from the overplayed singles like ‘Behave Yourself’ to the deep tracks like ‘Money and Budgeting’, ‘Outdoor Survival’, and ‘The Important Things in Life.’

When I’m getting bored with the routine I’ve established and decide it’s time for a night out I flip the split to Side B and hear Mom make sure I’m using my time wisely. Again I go through the tracklist:

Health and Hygeine – Mom

                Take Your Medicine – Mom ft. Lynny

                Be Careful – Mom

                Wash Your Clothes – Mom

And my favorite one of all: We Believe in You – Mom & Dad ft. the Entire Family

Every once in a while it seems like the record breaks because the same phrase or lesson is repeated over and over then over again, but I’ve learned that this is just the particular aesthetic of the artists as to achieve a particular effect on the listener.

Sometimes with no prompting at all the needle drops itself and their dialogue stubbornly situates itself in my ear demanding thoughtfulness and practicality.

Within this vessel of my mind, from whence the playback of my parents’ words emanate, I carry them.

But is that true?

I cannot honestly think that I carry them if it’s no real burden to me, can I? I cannot say that I carry them if they bear no weight but make me lighter instead.

Does an eagle carry his own wings?

Here I stand still, halfway through my journey; looking forward at the way to go, back at the way I came – at the beauty of it all. I wonder. Who was it that cut this path for me? Who was it that put boots on my feet and then gave me the strength to lift them? Not nearly enough – to walk with them? Ha! To run with them! To climb mountains with them! To tread on any naysayer that says, “Life is limited, boy!”

I feel the fire pumping through the chambers of my heart burning me alive and replacing my obstacles with rubble and ash, but who is the arsonist?

This is who: My beautiful mother. My hard working father. The ones I love the most. These are the culprits. These two made me – everything I am, everything I can be and I wish now to publicly state, (but never publicly enough) that I love them for it. I know not all the endeavors of sacrifice taken by them for my sake but I need not to be sure that I owe them everything.

This is my experiment with truth: as much as I wish to be like M K Gandhi, with his inexhaustible reverence to the ones that provided his life – as much as I wish to be like Shravan who devoted himself fully to the service of his parents by carrying them across the world, I know surely that I am not.

For how can I say that I carry my parents when they are the ones that carry me?

I love you, Mom and Dad. I am nothing without you.

Impressions of India and the Kalypso Family

IMG_20151109_113828151  I would say that the moment I stepped off of the plane to India I knew I was in for a killer ride, but actually it was many weeks before in my research of this extremely economic use of space that I was hit with the notion that my trip would be intensely jovial, dismally depressing, spellbindingly euphoric, and everything betwixt these polar adversaries. However, I refused to give. My naivety made it possible to refuse to believe the seemingly over-the-top claims of LonelyPlanet and the many India travel blogs and forums that you could find me fanatically poring over in the weeks adjacent to my departure. In my mind’s eye, I had constructed a corpse of impossibility as the manifestation of what I held as India. It took seeing it with my own eyes to make India come to life, and come to life it did, bringing me to life with it. This is why stepping off the plane firmly rooted the vision of a hectic time to come. No amount of preparation can truly prepare you for what India holds.

I’ll begin where my adventure began: in Delhi. Walking through the alleys was like walking through a kaleidoscope of people, food, and culture. Crossing the street was like trying to thread a moving needle with a ski rope, except the consequence to failure is becoming a finished tube of toothpaste on the highway. The sights and monuments DSCN0489were compelling to no limit. The food was incredible (I stand beside that statement regardless of what my digestive tract has to say about it.) The people that I managed to divert out of the cascading river of pedestrians were friendly and helpful

After four days in Delhi I transitioned to Agra. On the train ride over I sat beside an amazing young lady from Ukraine wearing traditional Hindu garments. We talked about her profession and she introduced me to the Hindu faith. She is a publisher for the religious texts in Sanskrit and Ukrainian. The way she spoke so passionately about her beliefs captivated me.

There is surely an abundance of virtue here in India.

This was made even more abundantly clear when, just a few hours after meeting this lady, I witnessed the Taj Mahal. There’s no explanation for its beauty. I’m consistently overwhelmed by the thought that I stood in the archway embellished with the floral pattern of eternal paradise along with hundreds of others experiencing the same tranquility as I.

The next days flew by in a blur. Jaipur, Mumbai, and Goa with bright visuals, great people and culture, tasty food, and incredible experiences sinuated in each. The trains between each destination were an awesome way to meet people. The rails are like a social network, forcing very different people to ebb their defenses and seek shelter from impending boredom within one another’s facets of life.IMG_20151110_071430130

In my train journeys I’ve met some really admirable people: A man recently retired from the Indian Navy, going to school to coach cricket as his next career; a boy my age finishing up his Computer Science degree from the University of Mumbai, with aspirations to work at IBM in California; a Spanish traveler who has completed the circuit of the world on several different occasions for years at a time usually, and who also is a faithfully practicing Buddhist; a surfer from New York living in India for years who does photography work for several big magazines and corporations, amongst a multitude of others.

I was starving for conversation, and this was a buffet.

By the time I arrived in Kochi I was drowning blissfully in an ocean of conversed wisdom and friendship. The train ride from Goa to Kochi was by far my favorite. The early hours of the morning provided a striking sun illuminating the bright green beauty of the Kerala countryside. Tea and rice fields flew by as I sucked in the fresh air, filling my lungs to capacity with the aroma of a fresh rain.

Arriving at Kalypso was another highlight of the journey. I was warmly welcomed by everyone at the headquarters. None of them would rest until they were assured that I was safe in my travels, and that I had a great time exploring their beloved country. Beckoned forward by Vishal, I was embraced and immediately I felt myself part of the Kalypso family.

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This welcome has allowed me to expect a great 2 months here at Kalypso. Hopefully I can aid the company in their social media efforts with my skills in media and resourcefulness. In the period that I’m here I wish to gain practical knowledge on the inner workings and organization of an adventure-based company. Marketing is also something that I would enjoy to learn about while I’m here, because I think it will be useful in deciding how I would like my academic and professional career to develop.

I thank Kalypso with all the strength of my heart for their kind welcome and for taking a chance on me as an intern. I will do my best to make them relish their decision.

Mother from Mother Africa

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She stops in the doorway of the kitchen and breaths in the familiar odor of cut carrots and friendly things. She sits down to her work with a smile supporting her sun-darkened cheeks, the pressure of her eagerness bursting within her pockets of happiness that gush over her parched spirit. Her callous hand, greasy with cooking oil, reach straight into the frying pan to flip the sizzling meat, which has by now succeeded in smiting every nose and stomach in the house. Although cooking utensils litter the counter behind her she deems them unnecessary. I suppose that long ago she forsaked the spatula as an artist forsakes his brush when he finds that he’s become the tool of his tool and to be more intimate with his passion he uses his own skin as the instrument for portraying his will. Fresh ingredients her palette, the stove her medium, and our increasing appetites her vision, Saumu is extraordinarily passionate with her art form. Mom always said that she stuck her ear in it when she made a delicious meal.

Saumu stuck her soul in it.

From the moment I met Saumu, I knew that she was everything good about the universe. My heart, raw from being detached so abruptly from my own mother, immediately latched to this angel and she more than adequately filled the vacancy with maternal sincerity. Saumu is the cook and housekeeper of the volunteer house where I lived in Tanzania, and I’m wounded by the realization that I have to live with the thought that most people will never be introduced to her, and therefore never know how beautiful the world can be. It’s not my inability to mold the language to explain her to you, it’s the lack of raw material required to accomplish it. I can’t believe my luck in chancing across the two greatest mothers in the world, and rightfully being able to call them so.

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As dinnertime nears, all the occupants of the volunteer house look at the door of the kitchen with as much longing as when Romeo looked toward yonder window. Although I’m sure Saumu was great at breaking hearts with her looks in her younger days, it seems that now she prefers to break stomachs with her aromas. I’m convinced that she receives commission from the Stomachbreak Hotel, where lost souls go to weep over the intoxicating odors with the likes of Smellvis.

Saumu has unintentionally dug a hole deep into my heart and properly excavated a couple of items that were formerly unknown to me. Though I know I face inevitable defeat, here I will attempt to provide you with the experience of Saumu’s charm through a story.

One late Tuesday morning, not long after my arrival in Tanzania, I found myself dangling on the increasingly slack cable of hunger and sorrow between the light poles of a meager breakfast and a thin lunch.

I resolved to beat the insensitive complaints of my very privileged tummy by going for a walk.

I stepped out of my room into a gray, windy morning, the steely ceiling of clouds above me reflecting my every emotion, like a great pensive mirror. I was hungry, homesick, and still trying to find the way to fulfill my role at the school.

I trudged onto the dirt road from the orphanage looking for a snack and a purpose. Past the puddles of dusty water reflecting the white sky and lone street dogs searching for shelter from the biting wind, I walked.

Nearing the end of the street where I knew I could find a pub, I began to think that things were beginning to improve for me, until the extreme of my abnormally large clown foot found a rock, then in slow motion I comically tripped and fell into a pile of trash in the roadside ditch.

As I lay dying in a heap of dirty plastic bottles and road sludge I became lucidly aware of Charlie Brown’s place at the base of my branch on my family tree, and decided that today was not an event that wanted my participation any longer, so I called off the search for food and began to retract beck into the shell of my room.

The way back found my head hung low and my heart trembling with grief. The abyss of sadness loomed near, and though I am now an adult and the time is long past that I could admit it with grace, I really wanted my mommy.

If I ever need a mother’s side it was then, so the moment was stapled glorious when I got exactly that. From the depths of this emotional concave I was found by the intent of redemption of Saumu, who stepped out of an alleyway like walking allegory for everything joyous and dove down to pluck me from the great divide.

When she called out for me the clouds parted, when she put her arm over my shoulders my eyes lifted, when she walked me over to her humble home and insisted I stay for lunch I felt my spirit break and weep like Alexander when there were no more worlds, and when she consoled my woes my rigid heart split and divided for her to cleanly sever and mend. Imagine a near 200 pound and 6’2’’ long pink baby being cradled and supported by a small African lady, and you have a pretty accurate depiction of what was occurring.

I didn’t question the coincidence, I held it as one holds something fragile and precious, without looking too hard at it for fear that it would dissipate under the weight of my glance. All that I was aware of in this moment was a dull feeling of wonder trickling down my back. This was the moment that I truly fell in love with Saumu.

Her home, where she lived with her two kids, was a concrete box 12’ by 12’ by 8’ complete with a couch, a table, a bed, and a cabinet. The moment I drew back the lace curtain hung over the doorframe to enter I was seized at the heart by the thick layer of love rolling off of every single item in the tiny abode. The items surrounded and welcomed me like old friends waiting for me to return from some long journey.IMG_20151104_093617522.jpg

I greeted them as so with the hello of a single footstep from the doorframe to the couch and, at the request of Saumu, sunk into the simmering layer of love-ooze of the small, hard sofa. Another step and a shuffle around the coffee table and I would have been laying in her bed.

Saumu chose the step-shuffle route to sit across from me on the bed and she began to cut the meat, and I to clean the rice. The currents of our conversation swelled and diminished, and swept from the small coast of ‘How are you?’s to the mighty shore of family history and life lessons.

I asked about her children, because her son BaIMG_20151104_093642559 (1)cari, my star
pupil, held the soft part of me tight within his gentle, small clutches. I found out that he had a little sister, equally capable of cardiac robbery.

The subject relayed to siblings and she began speaking passionately about her 3 brothers: the Swahili movie star, the hotel chef, and the secondary school teacher, and as she spoke, her joy became my joy. After 3 movie trailers from her phone, a few secret formulas revealed, and a discussion comparing high school experiences between my own country and hers, I felt like her brothers were my own. Then she started about her parents from the village, who worked their youth away to put their 4 children through to the other side with an education and who loved their grandchildren with the value of every breath breathed by humanity.

I anticipated that the assembly of the person that she is would be under great circumstances and among great people, but as she wove the great curtain that framed the stage of her life in front of me, I began to understand that my initial engagement of thought, that she was everything good about the universe, was far more true than I could ever hope to see.

Behind every human façade is a swirling ocean of inconsistent storms and changing tides, and as I realize this I will give up hope of ever completely knowing one, even my own self, or of justly judging my brothers and sisters. That does not mean, however, that I will not hoist my sail, grit my teeth, pay heed to my father, and scour the seas as the passion of my uncompromising life.

As much as I’d love to see the Atlantic, the Saumu Ocean holds my greatest voyage, for then Saumu dropped something on me that I’ll never be capable of removing from myself for as long as I last.

“Quince… Home is… Home is something we create for ourselves. My children are my home, my soul reaching out into the world, just as my thoughts, feelings, and speech to you are. Love and home are twins, so wherever love can be mustered and cultivated, even in the darkest corners, a home can bloom and flourish. Know it like you know that the sun will rise again that you have a home here.”

By this time I was bound and hanged by a noose of heartstrings and no tool that I had, not ignorance nor could refusal loosen these bonds or sever these chords.

These words reached out from Saumu and into me, grabbing something of me that I had long forgotten about. She was meddling with a part of me that I had not the courage to disturb. I would look in, receive a healthy shock of vertigo, and back away, but Saumu leapt first, and gave me the courage to follow. The formerly raging ocean of my soul was as glass in this moment. Unable to let her see what was inevitably surfacing to my expression I embraced her with all the strength in my bones and thanked her for lunch before I departed…

For home.

I left Saumu’s house that day without her ever knowing how much it meant to me. A single conversation, a few words of kindness swept, mopped and waxed the linoleum lining the inside of my body and mind. She cleaned out all the grime and muck that was burdening me and I left like a great new man with a great new chest, a great new brain, and great new feelings and thoughts to fill them, respectively.

And delicious food to fill my great new stomach.

Saumu is a person that has caused me to reexamine humanity on a level of sustenance. What sustains a human? Particularly yours truly, this human putting spirit to bone to flesh to pen to paper, trying his best to explain the way he feels? Does it take just food, water, and shelter? Are we animals? No. It takes more, because we are more. We are intelligent creatures with a huge flaw in our autonomy: we need sustenance beyond the physical realm. But this flaw is a Goldilocks ecosystem, from which springs all the joy we as people have ever known. We are beautiful, like gods, and according to Elbert Hubbard we are gods– in the chrysalis. Love is our ambrosia, conversations our manna, let us grow strong and let us feed the multitudes by being kind, by opening our hearts and doors to those without their bearings. A drop in the ocean creates ripples that turn to waves, just so your acts reach distant shores that you’ll never know of. Saumu did well in the way she passed and she mended a wound far beyond my own capabilities to plaster, so my lesson is to follow her example and bring a little light to a world growing dim.

I was so sure that I didn’t need anybody, before my soul was broken down and crying out, “anybody?” Saumu is a great teacher on the curriculum of life, and although I’ve brushed upon this subject with brevity in former grades this time I learned it well.

I thought you all needed a course refresher as well, so here it is: Be kind. Be great.

Byproducts of Bliss

The following are the songs with the lyrics that I created with the help of the children at the school. I hold these pieces and the voices that bring them to life very dear to my soul. I hope you enjoy.

Mambo:

We are leaving so goodbye/ I had a very fun time/ I learned a lot of useful things/ to help me have a good life/ Mambo, mambo/ Asante sana for everything/ Poa, poa/ you make me want to dance and sing/ Mambo, mambo/ Asante sana for everything/ Poa, poa/ you make me want to dance and sing/ I love Mr. Peter a lot/ I love all the teachers, too/ before we say farewell/ we want to say we love you/ Goodbye, goodbye/ Thank you very much for everything/ Badae, badae/ you make me want to dance and sing/ Mambo, mambo/ Asante sana for everything/ Poa, poa/ you make me want to dance and sing

Good Hope (Shikamo):

The student body of Good Hope is great and strong/ With a skeleton of friendship and muscles of song/ Sote tunafaraha moyoni/ Amani imetawala/ Tumezungu kwa na upendo/ Amani imetawala/ Shikamo, woah/ The day is bright and I love you so/ Si Jambo, woah/ This song we wrote, I hope it gives you/ It gives you Good Hope/ The blood of love beats hard against skin tight as a drum/ And every time I come to school it gives my heartstrings a strum/ Sote tunafaraha moyoni/ Amani imetawala/ Tumezungu kwa na upendo/ Amani imetawala/ Shikamo, woah/ The day is bright and I love you so/ Si Jambo, woah/ This song we wrote, I hope it gives you/ It gives you Good Hope/ I hope it gives you Good Hope/ I hope it gives you Good Hope/ I hope it gives you Good Hope/ 1, 2, 3, 4/ Rock n’ roll, woah/ The day is bright and I love you so/ Rock n’ roll, woah/ This song we wrote, I hope it gives you/ It gives you Good Hope/ I hope it gives you Good Hope

*Bonus*

A rough cover of Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece! I love this song, and so did the kids so we decided to give it a go.

These songs are the byproduct of my ethereal experience with the good people in Arusha, Tanzania. Their effect on me will be sustained in the essence of who I am for as long as I breath. Enjoy!

Better than Freebird (catch-up)

 

If I awake before 8 am on a Saturday morning it usually means that I’m expecting an amusement park, a huge breakfast forged at the hand of a master (e.g. Dad), Dragonball reruns, or an equally pleasurable experience. Incredibly seldom is it that I will disturb myself from my bed for something as dismal as an academic assembly at such hours. So rare indeed that I can only recall three times that I have gone through a similar trouble in the past half a decade.

Once as a graduation marshal for the Hertford County High School graduating class of 2014 – once more as a graduate of the Hertford County High School graduating class of 2015 – and finally as an esteemed music teacher at Good Hope Primary School and Orphanage in the beautiful foreign country of Tanzania performing a critically acclaimed original song with the graduating 7th class where I was praised as an honored guest and hand-fed cake alongside a great feast of other delicacies.

For some reason I got out of bed slightly less begrudgingly for the latter of the aforementioned processions. It occurred this past Saturday.

The sunlight stood stagnant in the air like great pools, and I felt that if I wasn’t careful then I’d be in danger of drowning in the nostalgia of a bright fall day from my childhood.

I walked across the dusty field with my morning cup of tea, and looked out over the white canvas tents and brightly colored plastic chairs. The audio equipment was being assembled nearby while I peeked into the dormitory where the 7th class was preparing themselves for the recognition of their achievements.

With a sad smile I looked into all the faces of the kids that were looking up to me with an unhesitating admiration. Each face was a bullet wound of spirit plastered by a glare of love that dug a little deeper into my heart with each one that caught my glance. They looked stunning in their fresh robes and hoods. These were the kids that welcomed me into this new world with such intense warmness and appreciation that the only transition I felt from the U.S. to Africa was one that a child might feel when going from home to grandma’s house.

I had spent nearly every day of the past 2 months with these young people, getting to know how they each were shaped, appraising their virtues, and predicting the beauty that they would lend to the world. Now I had to say good-bye.

But not before the performance of a lifetime.

Quincy PLays Guitar

Our song, composed in simplistic verse-chorus-verse-chorus-chorus format, was the grand finale to the extensive graduation process which in contrast was composed of complex and planned chaos, like a God’s fire Beethoven symphony, and a few of the first chairs of the orchestra were late.

They weren’t aware of that, though.

You see, African time is perceived a little differently that the folks back home are used to. To administer some understanding, if you want to, say, meet somebody, or catch a bus, or have a huge milestone life event of paramount importance, then you decide a time that’s good for you… and then add an –ish to it.

The graduation began at 10-ish.

Classes 1 through 6 had been present since the early hours of the morning. I was astounded at the iron discipline of the hundreds of children as young as 3 years old that sat obediently in their designated seats under the tents for over 6 hours. I attempted my best to imagine American primary school students doing the same, but the image refused to assemble.

Halfway through, even my own patience was fatigued, and the child in me (or more appropriately that I am), was already fidgeting heavily with a 100 shilling piece and trying to clot the outward expression of my overflowing enthusiasm for the 8th speech of the day that was delivered in flawless Swahili.

Despite my inability to understand the language, I was captivated.

Each class had a special routine dedicated to their departing friends, all leading up to class 7’s performance and diploma ceremony. It was touching to see the conviction and solemnity with which they regarded their final goodbye to their comrades. The Good Hope student body is great and strong, with skin as tight as a drum and the blood of love beating hard against it.

After ages of watching the different ages, it was our turn to perform. We took the stage the way we had rehearsed, and I looked at them standing there in the hot afternoon sun with bittersweet contention.

I struck the first chord and they each allowed themselves to be illuminated by a network of fiery passion and from the depth of their chests, up through the gates of their tongues and lips marched a grand symphony of triumph, melancholy regard for the past, and hope for everything beautiful in the future.

My legs trembled. My fingers couldn’t find the strings. I was made weak by some force pressing down on my lungs. I had to forfeit my emotional regard for that moment, in that moment, in order to embellish it with my participation. I composed myself with a deep breath and a clench of my jaw.

The kids performed with excellency, precision, and compassion. My pride felt not like a vice, but like a sincere prayer. Our song, called “Mambo” (the equivalent to ‘what’s up’ in Swahili), was the highlight of the ceremony and just as we finished the crowd burst into cheers as gasoline bursts into flames. As a result I can’t walk anywhere on campus without hearing someone, student, teacher, auntie, or even headmaster, humming the tune or shouting the lyrics of our creation, and be it the first or millionth time I’ve heard it my heart liquefies and trickles down into my stomach.

Everyone absolutely loved it.

Quincy and Kids

When the song was performed and the crowd settled once more, a small bit of confusion ensued, for the kids and I remained center stage. The impression was made that the climax had been reached and I could see everyone preparing to slump back into their chairs and to guard themselves once more from the onslaught of meticulousness with automatically induced sloth.

I was obliged to satiate the obvious hunger for contrariety.

Until this point, I had been relentlessly working on a secret song with the kids that no one except the headmaster, class 7, and I knew about. This was the moment of the grand reveal. I felt that this song’s meaning was situated just in the cusp of relevancy, and that I was constrained by my morality to have it played here. What song was it, you ask?

Enlighten yourself by asking this single question, *Van Zant voice* “What song is it you wanna hear?!”

The appropriate response is “FREEBIRD!” followed by forcibly removing your flannel shirt and smashing the nearest glass object.

Yeah, we played Freebird.

Six chords and nearly 4 minutes of dense bliss followed, sans guitar solo for the sake of sparing the ceremony an additional hour in length. In my mind everything went perfectly and at the end I felt like a champion, but it wasn’t until the disappointingly meager response from the crowd that I considered the idea that maybe Freebird didn’t quite reach the state of legend and infamy in Tanzania as it did in the States.

They would have rather heard ‘Mambo’ again, so I guess from certain perspectives our song is a better song than Freebird.

Blasphemy, or far-reaching insight on the power of perspective?

This was the question I was pondering as cake was shoved into my mouth.

After all the students received their certificates and gifts, the feast was initiated by the guests being hand fed cake by the students, and I, being a guest, was fed nearly an entire cake one bite at a time by different hands, respectively.

I thought of it as a delicious form of bonding.

Afterwards, my ruined appetite found new life as we tucked in to a bounty of culinary doubloons.

I am ashamed to say that I fell for the stereotype and received the impression that I wouldn’t be eating as much in Africa. To my great pleasure I was proved to be an idiot. Some of the best meals I’ve ever had have occurred here in Tanzania, and I’m sure I’ve put on a stone.

I will conclude my relay of events as the actual event concluded: with a happy scene of high cholesterol and lethargy. Once the feast was done everyone was eager to dip out as fast as their newly conceived food babies would allow them. I hugged all of my class 7 with great respect to the moment, and with great hopes that I would see them again soon. When I pulled away from our final embrace it felt as if my heart clung so closely to them that it was ripped from my chest as a honeybee is ripped apart after its sting.

Bacari and Moses, my star pupils who had become quite adept at guitar and piano each, approached me at this point.

“You were my favorite teacher,” Bacari said with a simple smile. “I’ll miss you very, very much,” said Moses. That one hit me deep. Simple though these statements were, I couldn’t find the justification to do so if you asked me to trade them for a second life.

I’d love to credit my success to teaching expertise and general good-nature, but hindsight tells me that they loved my class for the lack of structure and my lenience which allowed them to do whatever they wanted. Either way, we both had a good time.

I walked back to my room with the crown of my head towards the heavens, with the aching hole in my abdomen freely bleeding emotion, and with assurance of my importance in at least a few lives.

I love you, Class 7. I hope the best for you, and I know that whatever you do, you’ll do it big.

Original Publication Date: November 2, 2015

Original Publication Site: http://globalgap.unc.edu/2015/11/02/better-than-freebird/

Three Perfect Hours: A Night of Tanzanian Reggae (catch-up)

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Sometimes I find the things that actually happen to me a bit hard to believe. It’s pretty difficult to relay a course of events when the prose for such is too perfect, or similarly outlandish.

My life has become a thick stew of perfect and outlandish.

I feel like the little brother that rushes in mid-conversation to brag about a deed whose shimmering façade forsakes the truth of the effort, and who everyone disregards without grasping the weight of what was really accomplished.

Following the theme of disregard, I’ll disregard the skepticism that I assume is already crashing against whatever monitor that you’re viewing this blog on, with enough force to shatter it. Hopefully you have a screen protector because your doubt is unwarranted. This really happened, I promise, and if you don’t believe me then perhaps the photographic evidence can convince you.

Okay, I feel like that was a pretty effective build-up to what I’m about to say next. Here goes: I’m a Tanzanian rockstar.

No, seriously guys.

Well reggae star if you want to be technical, but still… pretty cool, right? I’m like if Tom Morello was one of the Wailers, but in Africa, and also a white kid.

To appropriately quote the late Bob Marley, “Me jammin.”

Let me explain my claims.

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This past Saturday night I was invited to play lead guitar for an assembly of musicians properly known as Warriors of the East at a club in the town center of Arusha. Now, of course, it was no Madison Square Garden, but as any struggling, mediocre musician (like myself) would know, playing any downtown on a Saturday night is reliably sweet.

I was requested to join this performance by Warriors of the East’s frontman, Ras, whom before Saturday night I had known as Mr. Magare, the other music teacher at Good Hope.

If you were a fan of the spontaneity of my previous wedding adventure, then you’ll be thrilled to learn that I was told about this event the day of, and that I practiced with the band a total of zero hours and zero minutes before showtime.

Showtime.

“Okay, everybody ready?” said Magare as the band took their places on stage and seemed prepared enough to dig in.

“Um, where’s my guitar?” was my way of letting him down.

The lack of rehearsal was criminal. The leader of the band would lean away from the microphone seconds before the four-count to shout chords at me, in desperate hope that my musical competency was proactive enough to find the scale and pull something decently fitting from thin air.

No one cut my line, so I’d like to assume that I didn’t disappoint.

At the beginning of the show there were 5 people on the minute stage, including 2 guitarists, a singer, a bassist, and a drummer. I was not uncomfortable at that point, for I have played far smaller stages with far more people and equipment, and I was cozy in the back corner that I secured for myself. It should be obvious from my melancholic tone, though, that the comfort didn’t last.

As the hour grew larger in number, so too did the musicians on stage. To our prestigious collection we added not only another guitarist, a keyboardist, and a Masai tribesman on vocals, but a man who looked as if he had witnessed and even perhaps had a hand in the creation of the earth.

Naturally on the bongos.

His tired skin clung to his bones like a weary lover, and his colorless dreadlocks rested on the floor when he sat at his instrument. An obvious master at his trade, his reputation and aura demonstrated his skill before he even stepped over the threshold of the venue. Regardless, when he joined in with the others and me, I was captivated by his performance. His hands moved with the fluidity of an attacking predator, and the grace with which he approached the music told me that he has been one with his instrument for much longer than my age.

I was honored to play beside him.

I didn’t catch his name before he stepped back out into the night as mysteriously as he had arrived, where I assumed that he fell into a pile of dust that was swept away by the breeze, taking him to reassemble at the next gig that needed his presence.

By the end there were 9 people on stage, making the Warriors of the East more like the Army of the East.

We performed for all of 3 hours, and though my shoulder ached from carrying the weight of the guitar, and my legs burned with fatigue, I wore a tenacious grin; product of the rejuvenation of spirit familiar to any musician after a solid set.

The experience was superbly rewarding. If I didn’t get anything else from it, at least I can say that I played with a legitimate reggae band in Africa, and feel free to bring me to justice if I’m out of line, but that’s badass.

I am proud of the intricate web of paths taken that I recall as my life that has led up to the paramount moment that I took the stage.

I can conclude with no anxiety that my debut performance on the African music scene went well.

Original Publication Date: October 22, 2015

Original Publication Site: http://globalgap.unc.edu/2015/10/22/three-perfect-hours-a-night-of-tanzanian-reggae/

A Story I’ll Tell for the Rest of My Life (catch-up)

Having just gotten settled in to the orphanage within the past few days and already having several things occur worth blogging about (e.g. getting lost in the city and miraculously stumbling across the orphanage office by pure coincidence), I sort of expected a night to chill out, blog a little, and to get my things unpacked.

I should have learned by then that the expected is not what happens in Tanzania.
The thing that happened next was surely nothing other than African matrimony.

That’s right. I was invited to a friend’s wedding by the founder of the orphanage, Momma Asha, 5 minutes before the ceremony commenced. It happened like this: I was playing music for the kids in the dining room, it was evening, when Gifty, the youngest and most bubbly one, sprinted into the scene and said this: “Aren’t you going to the wedding?”

I was dumbfounded, without an answer. Why an orphan would be telling me about a wedding at 9 o’clock at night in Africa was beyond my realm of comprehension. “Aren’t you going to the wedding,” is truly the last thing that I ever expected to hear from anyone at any point in my gap year, but especially from little Gifty in Tanzania. I was speechless.

I eventually achieved the incredible feat of, “Huh?”

In good time, I was explained to like a child (by children) that a friend’s wedding was taking place a short ways away, and if I was going then I needed to hurry up and get dressed.

Being the opportunist that I am, I shouted, “Of course I’m going!” as soon as I managed to wrap my dizzy mind around what was being offered to me. Perhaps a bit too enthusiastically I ran off to put on the best clothes that I had.

Now, I’d like to think that I was a pretty sharp dresser back in the States, but I didn’t plan to have to be snazzy on my gap year. The best that I could coax out of my suitcase was a white button down and a pair of jeans. Boy, was I underdressed.

When we arrived, I was dazzled by the bounty of color being offered to my sight. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Women were dressed head to toe in beautiful traditional shawls of every hue and pattern imaginable. The men wore flamboyant and elegant suits made of fine silk and leather. It was straight from a fairy tale.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Looking back now, I still can’t believe that it took place in my own life. Growing up in rural North Carolina, I wondered many times what the future held for me, but never once did I imagine that I would spend a night at a wedding in Africa. Knowing full well that you’re in the middle of a story that you will tell for the rest of your life is a weird thing.

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I’ll save myself the embarrassment of attempting to describe the ceremony and traditions that took place under the stars that night, because I know that they carry a freight that of which I can’t understand, but I will say that what I witnessed was beautiful.

When I went up front to take pictures for this blog post I heard the word ‘mzungu’ amongst a Swahili discourse coming from the overhead speaker.

“Uh oh,” was my reaction.

You see, the word ‘mzungu’ means “white friend” in Swahili, and being the only person of my skin color at this particular event, I had a hunch that I was being referred to by this statement.

I was utterly correct.

I turned to find myself as a spectacle deserving laughter from every single person at the wedding. I gathered that whatever was said was hilarious, so I grinned in the spotlight, and laughed along, too. When the hilarity of the moment had passed, and the laughter died down, I ducked out of the spotlight and ran back to my seat beside my friend, Halima, embarrassed as all hell.

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She told me that the Master of Ceremonies had made a joke about my hair. I couldn’t help but feeling like I had walked straight in to that one. Not to be vulgar, but after a day of work and without regular showers available, my hair was ascending to all new heights; stuck up with dirt, sweat, and grime. I looked like if an Anime character had joined Guns N’ Roses.

When it was all over, we came back home. I had the experience of a lifetime. I’m obligated to feel like the luckiest man alive. My conclusion is that the best things in life are taken opportunities. All that you have to do is just put yourself out here, and you’ll see. Within the first week here I’ve gotten lost and found in Arusha, hiked around Lake Duluti, taught the kids an original song, joined a reggae band, made tons of new friends, and attended an African wedding. Of course, I expected great things, but my expectations are being exceeded everyday by reality.

I’ve never been happier.

Original Publication Date: September 17, 2015

Original Publication Site: http://globalgap.unc.edu/2015/09/17/a-story-ill-tell-for-the-rest-of-my-life/

The Experience of a Lifetime (catch-up)

 

Stepping onto the plane took a lot out of me. A lot more than expected, anyway. For the entirety of the few weeks leading up to my departure, I just casually toyed with the idea of going on an adventure to Africa with lighthearted amusement, in an ‘it’ll be cool’ kind of way, completely forgetting to give thought to the feelings that may accompany such a dramatic transition. It wasn’t until my mom started crying at the airport that its effect became apparent. I hit a brick wall of emotion.

“Be safe,” sobbed my mom.

“Watch your back,” warned my dad.

“… be careful… I love you…,” said mom.

“… keep your head down… take your medicine…,” said dad.

As hard as I tried, I couldn’t grasp a single word that was being said to me, I was trying to get a grip on myself. Turning away from my family was difficult, and I remember having a moment of paralyzing fear when I thought about an entire year away from everything I’ve ever known.

“This isn’t right for me,” said my fear.

But I took the deepest breath I could manage and felt for my strength…

“There it is…”

And went forward.

Charlotte to Philadelphia. Philadelphia to Doha. Doha to Arusha. Each moment taking me miles and miles away from home.

There was a vice grip on my chest that was squeezing and squeezing, and then finally, halfway across the Atlantic, I felt a sudden release.

I smiled.

Everything was okay.

I drank in the experience of a lifetime. I felt the power of opportunity, of endless hypotheticals, and let it give me strength. I was assured with every moment that I was, and am, living my life to the fullest, and I don’t think that there is any greater happiness than that. I am in love with the way that my life is unfolding.

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The view from my Tanzanian doorstep

Everything that I’m perceiving is new, and every perception is having a deeper impact on me. I’d like to say that I arrived at Kilimanjaro International Airport prepared for the adversity ahead, but I thought the same things when I arrived at Charlotte Douglas Airport in North Carolina. I guess there is no ‘sure.’

Original Publication Date: September 8, 2015

Original Publication Site: http://globalgap.unc.edu/2015/09/08/miles-away-from-home-living-life-to-the-fullest/

Searching for the Metaphorical Cheesesteak (catch-up)

As I found myself barreling down I-95 on the outskirts of Philadelphia at 4 in the morning on the 4th of July, savoring a genuine Philly cheesesteak and mentally preparing myself for the long journey back home, I asked myself, Was the cheesesteak really worth it?

Was it really worth the 10+ hours spent driving?
Was it really worth close to $60 in gas and tolls?
Was it really worth the caffeine-fueled all-nighters?
Was it really worth having to drive through Virginia?

My answers were as follows: absolutely, without dispute, totally, and this cheesesteak is delicious.

I began to draw parallels between my Philly trek and my gap year endeavor. I began to ask myself, will it be worth it?

What did I expect to gain from impulsively driving to Philadelphia? What do I expect to gain from traveling to Tanzania, India, and Thailand?

Some of the things that I expected from the Philly trip did not happen, yet others things did. There was a whole spectrum of circumstance that made the trip substantially better than I could have hoped – the unexpected. The things that weren’t planned really made it all worthwhile. The cheesesteak was not planned; I was supposed to be at the National Mall watching fireworks over the Washington monument, yet I found more satisfaction in a single bite of meat, bread, and cheese than any display of light in the sky could have given me. I surrendered to the moment and was rewarded beautifully.

DC is great. But Philly has cheesesteaks.

So then, figuratively speaking, in what form will my Tanzanian cheesesteak appear? Indian cheesesteak, anybody? A Thailand cheesesteak actually sounds pretty good. Regardless, I think that my experience taught me to always be on the lookout for an opportunity to squeeze value out of. Always be ready to say yes.

I feel nervous about leaving the country, but it’s not a bad nervous. More like the kind of nervous that you feel while you’re trying to work up the courage to kiss a girl for the first time. Excruciating anticipation. All there is left is to take a deep breath and do it.

Original Publication Date: July 21, 2015

Original Publication Site: http://globalgap.unc.edu/2015/07/21/searching-for-the-metaphorical-cheesesteak/