THE TERRIBLE ATTACKS that occurred in Boston last week had a minor geographic sidenote — a startling number of Americans took to social media proclaiming that the bombing suspects were from the Czech Republic, confusing the country with the Russian region of Chechnya. The mistake was so widespread that the Czech ambassador issued a statement declaring that his country was not, in fact, Chechnya.
It was in the post office that I first ran up against the language barrier — something that up to this point had been an abstraction, but now presented itself in the very concrete form of a Peruvian postal employee who had no idea what I wanted from him.“Arriba,” he said, gesturing upward as though swatting a mosquito.
Of all the questions I’ve ever been asked about my Indian origin while living overseas, there’s one that stands out the most: “So, was your marriage arranged?”I have been asked by friends, coworkers, people I met for the first time, at dinner parties, at barbecues, at lunches. Everywhere. On any given occasion, when I have a conversation involving marriage and India, this question pops up.
Four metric tons of carbon. This is my personal contribution to climate change; the result of a roundtrip flight halfway around the world.I sigh heavily, tap my fingers on the tray table. The man next to me clears his throat, folds his newspaper into the seat pocket, and asks where I’m going. When I tell him I’m on my way to Doha for the United Nations climate change negotiations, he raises his eyebrows.
This photo essay was originally published at the author’s Matador Community blog.WHEN I LANDED in Pyongyang, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), I immediately had to hand in my mobile phone. From that moment on, we were always accompanied. No one was allowed to leave the hotel without a guide.
Sometimes, you just want to talk to a human being.This week, we’re rolling out some new services for prospective and current students in our travel writing and travel photography courses.Here’s a quick summary:Q&A SESSIONS:If you’re considering enrolling in MatadorU but you’re on the fence or have questions about the program, you can get answers during our weekly Q&A sessions for prospective students.
It’s a cold December day in Northern Syria, and the sun is about to reach the center of the sky. Nineteen-year-old Becker and I are walking through an empty alley in an ancient market of the Old City of Aleppo. Aleppo has been occupied by humans since 5000 BC. It was once conquered by Alexander the Great.
With his hard peaked blue cap and golden beard, Yehoshua November looks like he’s dressed as Van Gogh’s Postman for Purim.Purim is the Jewish carnival holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jews of Persia (Iran) by Queen Esther from the death decree of King Ahasuerus’s evil advisor, Haman. On this day, Jews don costumes and become other people, even non-Jews.
I chose a dramatic time to go home. After five years in Quebec and an adolescence in the States, I have been back in the place I was born — Prague, Czech Republic — for less than 48 hours. In another 48 hours, the country will be hosting its first democratic direct presidential election since the fall of communism.
The Toraja are an ethnic group indigenous to a mountainous region of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Their population is approximately 650,000, of which 450,000 still live in the regency of Tana Toraja (“Land of Toraja”). 1TongkonanTongkonan are the traditional Torajan houses. The word “tongkonan” comes from the Torajan tongkon (“to sit”).
“I’ll believe it when I see it.”Well, here it is. Visual evidence that the earth is warming; there can be no dispute. In 2007, professional photographer James Balog founded the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS). He and his team installed 28 cameras on 13 glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, the Nepalese Himalaya, Alaska, and the American Rocky Mountains.
When I moved to LA from Toronto in 1999, I looked forward to raucous parties, celebrity sightings, and 24/7 sun. I got all of these, plus the following added bonuses.1. Watching brain surgery on a nude car wreck victim from a viewing platform at LA County Hospital. My father had good intentions when he arranged this meeting between myself and a surgeon who’d gone to my high school, but I was eighteen, had no interest in medicine, and kind of wanted to cry.
I have been asked to bring something appropriate as a side dish, light and perhaps vegetal. Since some of the people joining us have mild lactose intolerances, I keep myself from making a dip of any kind or using cheese, and instead head to the local Sprouts to check out their salad bar. I am in luck: broccolini salad with some craisins and a lactose-free demi glaze.
If you find yourself towards the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere these days, this time of year brings with it a certain chill. My friends in Montreal speak of two-foot drifts of snow that you can barely bike through; as of this writing it’s -33C in Novosibirsk, and it’s rather cold in Nunavut (to be fair, it’s always rather cold in Nunavut.
Of all the ways to relax in the cultures around the world, Japan’s tradition of the onsen (温泉, hot spring bath) might be my favorite.As such a volcanically active country, Japan has thousands of hot springs. Where there’s a hot spring, there’s probably an onsen, and they come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and types.
The plane trembles somewhere over the Mediterranean Sea, shuddering gently, shaking the tray table, and I lean into you. You take one look at my face and hold out your hand. I close my eyes, comforted by the pressure of your fingers against mine. You pour two glasses of wine, holding up your glass in a toast, and I avert my eyes.
It’s February 3rd and it is cold. It will be cold for another five weeks and six days because yesterday it was decided so. It was not a meteorologist or a scientist of any kind who deemed the following six weeks to be extensions of winter. It was neither a god nor a powerful spirit of some kind. It was not Jack Frost.
Join the lottery for a chance to camp free for a night in a New York city park.IT’S THAT TIME of year again. For selected dates until August 27, the opportunity to camp free for a night in a park in one of New York’s boroughs is available. You just have to win the lottery. I tried it last year when I was in NYC for three months.
Not very many people live in the village of Horni Maxov (Upper Maxov) in the winter — at last count, the Czech census gave 138 permanent residents. The mail comes to the church, and to buy bread here, you have to either drive or ski a few kilometers to the bakery in the neighbouring village in the valley.
TAKING PICTURES IN A PRISON is a very sad experience. It is a cold place, with walls and doors everywhere.When I went into the first courtyard at La Distrital Prison in Bogotá, the prisoners jumped on me, asking if they could see some photos from the outside. The only freedom they got that day were the pictures I happened to have of my home garden.
The curandero knelt and dipped a dented tin cup into water. His heavy straw hat sloped down over his face, obscuring all but his lips which moved incessantly in some prayer or incantation I recognized as Quechua. Further back a family of men, women, and children circled a shrine consisting of swords and various odds and ends – vials full of liquids, sacred plants, pictures, and Christian symbols.