Sometimes when I'm home, I turn the camera on my family. They like to cheese it up in photos, but when their cheek muscles relax a bit and they get into their element, you can see the real smiles emerge.Read More
Haven't seen one of these in a while, huh? A video of the week or a webcam special. I finally got my act together! Enjoy.
Notes from this week's video:
I'm moving out of my parent's house for a month for some seclusion in my hometown.
I have four goals for the month of July.
Crank out stellar videos, images, and work for ProjectExplorer.org
Write personal travel narratives in hopes of publishing or at least having them for myself.
Learn how to cook basic vegetarian meals well. I don't know how veggies are supposed to taste. Sad.
Enjoy my hometown for the first summer in a decade and reap the benefits of relative seclusion from distraction.
It's time to reformat/redesign Nomadderwhere, just like I did last September. A lot has changed in my life and path, and my website needs to reflect that.
Who's this Johnny fellow, you say? Why our fearless Indy native whose name evokes terror in the minds of the Great Depression bank industry. Dillinger. John Dillinger.This dude was a quintessential 1930s gangster, a ruthless gunman and bank robber, and now the subject of Hollywood's newest action-thriller starring the ever-heartthrobby Johnny Depp: Public Enemies.
Why am I interested in this? Frankly, I'm not, but there's been talk that Indianapolis may try to capitalize on this potential moment for tourism, however miniscule that influx may be. And one of those spots sure to be on the "tour" would be the Noodle that is Slippery. Yes, my second hometown hot spot from my STA application video: The Slippery Noodle Inn. Remember the bullet holes in the wall from notorious Hoosier gangsters? Yup, Johnny Boy put those there when the same building was his hide-out.When I'm traveling, I love these moments where history and reality converge in my own perception. But when I'm at home, these moments rarely occur...either because I don't look for them or they just don't pop up in Indianapolis as easily as they could in NYC, Philadelphia or pretty much anywhere. I apologize, Indianapolis, for speaking a tad poorly of you. You know I don't mean it. I'm just excited we're a setting for something on the silver screen.
I remember the excitement in elementary school from making it on the local TV channel during our Indian and Pioneer reenactments; oh, what a thrill. However, today was infinitely cooler as I took a very “Alice in Wonderland” wide-eyed gaze around the WISHTV set. I was probably just projecting, but those anchors and backdrops looked crisper and more vibrant than the rest of the visible world (must be because they’re in High Def).
After speeding through Indianapolis on a Sunday morning (mistakenly wearing flip-flops out the door and having to meet my mom half-way back home for a shoe switch-a-roo), I went from the entrance to the set’s black couch in about 20 seconds flat. No preparation. No verbal briefing. No quick powdering of the nose.
I watched coverage of the swine flu and local weather forecasts from my dark corner of the set, amazed I had a reason for being there to contribute, and was eventually joined by an anchor who quickly went through the upcoming questions.
I didn’t know where to put my hands. I saw my dark silhouette in the crew’s monitor. The lights illuminated my formerly creepy corner and revealed a set as high tech as the rest of ‘em. My lips started twitching, but knowing that would definitely show up in HD, I looked at my interviewer and mentally checked out. Luckily, autopilot kicked in.
Eventually, the lights dimmed, and I was shaking hands in closing. Unless my mind regenerated a completely fictional last three minutes of life, I actually believe I didn’t mess up! Even my brother, the one most excited to tell me my flaws in a humorous manner, complimented my comfortable and clear dialogue.
Only regret: not wearing lipstick. Hello, No-Mouth.
I now interrupt this Big Journey travelogue to talk about my STA final video and upcoming web development. But fret not, because I will pick up with my travels in Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, and Hawaii upon the completion of this madness called the "final round".
The Indy Video
For those of you coming from other worldwide destinations, Indianapolis seems like a barely noticeable bump on the map. For those of us coming from towns of 13,000, it's a Mecca of development. We inhabitants often make fun of Indianapolis and its available opportunities, holding it up to the same light as NYC to point and laugh, but we also get very testy when people come down on this city that actually has a lot that keeps us completely content.
Given the objective to highlight a local spot in town and convince STA travelers to hit it up, I decided it was going to take more than a good eatery to make budget travelers flock to the Circle City. I took my cameras and traversed the entirety of the capital to find Indy's best, knowing fully well that I had in my back pocket my favorite spots and events that would cause any outsider to come a-running. And documenting just one of the three gems wouldn't be effective in letting people know how multi-faceted this place truly is. Crossroads, indeed.
Joe is my favorite cook in town. The day I asked for my staple B&B (black beans and caramelized, only to hear it was no longer available, was the day I lost hope in the culinary efforts of mankind. Luckily that dark period didn't last long, and my favorite is back on the blackboard menu.
My friends and I have envied the boys who work here for years, wishing we could get the chance to spoon out this fresh grub to the eclectic, young crowd of Broad Ripple and beyond. Unfortunately, those who grasp the opportunity to work with Joe never let it go, so turnover in this restaurant's roster doesn't often occur.
Cajun creole, freshly made each day, doesn't seem like a uniquely Indianapolis type of fare, but Indianapolis doesn't really have a food style. We are a blend of every nationality on this spinning ball, and every once in a while a local joint pops up that showcases the dedicated, sophisticated, and multi-cultural taste reflecting that fact.
The frequent diners at this establishment are truly appreciated by the staff and get the kind of special treatment neighbors give neighbors (not to be too down home and cliche). Everyone at this place calls me "Winnie", from the Wonder Years TV show, and they all say it as though they were the first to come up with this revelation every time. I guess it's flattering; she was the idolized girl-next-door. But man did she have some bad bangs!
The Slippery Noodle Inn
The superlatives: The oldest Bar in Indianapolis. One of the Best Blues bars in the Country.
What's this place actually like? Sit outside on the patio and enjoy the tasty bar food and drink while enjoying a part of downtown that feels more like a small town street corner. Sit inside and watch biker dudes smoke their Lucky Strikes, laugh about their daily trials, and smile at you when they realize you're filming them for a video segment. Feel the warm embrace of their toothy grins and further suggestions of awesome bars in Indianapolis. Harley guys are sweethearts.
John Dillinger was the typical 1930s bank robber/gangster, a notorious man who claimed Indianapolis as his hometown. He and his automatic-wielding posse used the west wall of this building for target practice; the slugs are still visible in the bricks today. During Prohibition, whiskey and beer were produced in the basement. The offices of today, on the bar's top floor, used to be the whorehouse for the patrons. Oh, such interesting and classy history.
Wandering the maze of hallways and hideaways on the bottom floor is an eerie experience when coupled with the thoughts of former slaves hiding where liquor bottles now stack. The Slippery Noodle, which shares parking lots with Union Station, was a part of the Underground Railroad. Gravel crunched under my feet as my waitress graciously showed me around, pointing out the original wooden doors that hid the worrying eyes from happenings during the Civil War.
Now, I love a good, frosty beer, but this whole package makes driving the half hour into downtown seem completely worthwhile.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
May is big in Indianapolis. Crazy people are out running around downtown in the nation's largest mini marathon. Others prefer to take on the hectic parking scene and the sometimes aggravating task of opening lawn chairs in order to be among the 300,000 spectators of a parade only trumped in grandeur by the Macy's Turkey Day and Rose Bull parades.
My kicks come from joining a group of friends and becoming one with a half million koozie-grasping, checkerboard-wearing sports fans on race day. The Indy 500 is the world's largest single-day sporting event (the single-day inclusion is to sidestep the shadow cast by the Olympics). If you've got a seat on Turn 1, never let it go. You may even find yourself in the background of an MTV Japan newscast or sitting next to the resident big shots in Indy.
People like me, though, are all about the infield. Be prepared with your sunscreen, cut-off jean shorts (a.k.a. "jorts"), and a cooler on wheels. The more checkerboard paraphernalia you have dripping from your sweaty frame, the better. ESPN2 has it all wrong; it's not about the cars going around in a circle, it's the cultural immersion into a fun-loving crowd of race fans on Indiana's biggest day of the year.
The New Website
In the coming weeks, I will be dropping my beloved blogspot for something more substantial. Nomadderwhere will wander on and find a new home elsewhere. The new site will include videos, blogs, photography, links, and maybe even additional information if the need calls for it. I tell you this because I like people who read. I like people who read my posts down to the bottom (you!). I like people who believe the world is bigger than the US of A...and like to read about that.
It is 1:40 a.m. in Indianapolis, Indiana. I have so few hours left in this house, in this state, and on this side of the globe. It's unfathomable, the intensity of these last few hours. I'm hardly nervous or even realizing what's going on.
Mom is asleep beside me, curled up like a cold little orphan girl...couldn't make it to her bed...couldn't last these last grueling hours awake before I need to be on my plane.
I said goodbye to the most darling of all feline creatures. I have no fear about her quality of life in the following seven months; I will miss dearly the fur on her nose and the feeling of her body flop onto my leg in the middle of the night. She's a big girl...she leaves quite an impression.
I feel sort of dead inside, completely emotionally exhausted from graduation day, but luckily meticulous planning for the last 18 months for this trip has provided me countless checklists, sorted piles, and firm ideas of what I need to do before the main event.
Eleven books are weighing down my day bag, a larger number than I'm even bringing in clothing options. Needless to say, I'm quite curious of where this "Big Journey" will take me.
Enjoy all of your summers and lovely fall seasons. I am off on a quest. See you in 205 days.
My transformation began with the first step off the gangway. The equatorial sun toughened my already sun-kissed skin, pollution darkened my nostrils, mosquitoes feasted on my leg, and the stench of the city penetrated deep into the fibers of my clothing. Any Westerner would experience this discomfort with a visit to Chennai, but this is not the transformation I am talking about Now I sit under a canopy with yellow spices under my fingernails, jasmine in my hair, red and yellow pigment on my forehead, seasoned air in my lungs, dirt covering my bare feet, and the sound of a thousand school children resonating in my ears. These sensations are by choice and this decorative lifestyle I once found tacky is gaining my appeal.
I shot one hundred and fifty photographs, and the best ones were those that the school children took when I let them push the shutter. Vivacious curiosity captured even through the numbing effect of the flash. This moment is beyond storybook…it's time travel. Instead of bringing popular inventions and artistic prints like Marco Polo, I can only offer my worldly stories and a deck of IU playing cards. A coconut just crashed to the hard dirt ground, splashing its milk onto nearby flowers…THAT moment was storybook.
Smiles from old man gardener make me comfortable, but his eventual hover over my writing does not…ok, he just left.
I'll never be further away from home as I am now (unless I follow Sally Ride's footsteps into space), and it just shows that physical proximity has nothing to do with proximity in the mind. Home is a constant thought, here, in the land of colorful gods and caste systems. I can only imagine that when I return, India will come back to me in vivid memories
How will I change when I go back to my SUV, my air-conditioned dream home, my wasteful lifestyle? Will I be a snob with a knowing smirk and exclusive adventures that no one wants to hear? Will I drop every modern convenience and result to an ascetic life?
Never mind my literary fluff because I know what will result from these priceless journeys…a mind that give me confidence to test and question. The old gardener just asked if I ate lunch with my hands…yes…and it was good. Earlier today, I followed a band of drummers, adorning a welcome lei and a bindi, and with the turn of a corner, one thousand girls and boys came into view, sitting "Indian style" facing 10 empty chairs. Ten Americans stood in disbelief before taking a seat of honor. I could imagine multiple SAS people who would laugh at the situation or find it ridiculous, but as these children sat meditating and praying in unison for the prosperity of the world, I found great pleasure being in their company and not the shipboard community.
These children are many and fill this country with humor as vibrant as their sarees. It could be wonderful to fill your days with smells of wet soil or the sweeter sound of classroom recitations in unison, like the old gardener (who just offered me a handful of freshly picked berries). I can always have that option later in life, but for now I will search for this feeling deep in the bowels of overstuffed and under-cultured Indy, where at least I can enjoy my own family instead of the idea of others. I'll take it as a sign that I just ate the last offering of flowers from the gardener.
Just putting my thoughts into words...what do you think? Do you ever have similar musings?
Now the countdown is T minus 2 days until we get Allison buzzed and set her on the plane for the family vacation preceding the grand voyage (pronounced with a faux-french accent). New news...I make wonderful banana pancakes (Jack Johnson would be proud) for my daughters and my sicky bio-mama, I have developed a lovely case of excited insomnia, and I can sit down and make 40 beaded bracelets for little girls around the world in one day (Mom and I had a 10 hour TV marathon today, impressive I know). Yeah...I've been busy. I'm not even mentioning my anal-retentive hobby of documenting everything I pack down to a vitamin, a bobby pin, and the 200 Q-tips. I want future SASers to know EXACTLY what they need to bring in order to stop worrying about the little stuff (like packing) and prepare themselves for the big stuff (like insomnia or world travel). It's fun to type when you can't feel your fingers (deja vous of tying balloons in rush...ye-ouch).
I just want to say I miss people already. I'll never find myself singing "Ain't that America" on deck looking at the Malaysian sunset, but I sure will understand the sentiment when I miss the lovely charms of the Mid-west, B-town, and the Nap.
Please keep the e-mails coming...and chiefly include the most mundane activity of the week. That's the stuff of life.
Man, when the girls from Wabash get together, mayhem ensues. When the Colts go to the Super Bowl, I lose my voice but keep going.
But when I babysit for two kids that have me pulling my hair out, my body finally takes a beating. And now I am drinking my food through a straw while watching a Rocky marathon in my basement. Super.
The amount of time I'm spending on my packing list is astronomical. I should put these research skills on my resume. I have eight more days of this wonderful sitting and preparing before we head off on a family vacation...makes me want to soak up all the depressing Indiana atmosphere I can. Hopefully this is the last time I'm sick like this until at least late May because that would be my definition of a tragedy...bed ridden in Rio. I'm already missing my 90 roommates and that beautiful B-town landscape.
Here's to T minus 8 days.
By the way, Rocky just knocked out Clubber Lang.
My days consist of checking the New York Times for any countries from my itinerary, watching previous SAS voyagers' videos on YouTube.com, researching trips and adventures online, and watching TV with my cat at night, soaking in the last morsels of home life before I sail away. There is no way to prepare myself for the multitude of experiences I am about to have, but in the meantime, it works to document every little finding and make the most detailed packing list a person can compile. All the most trivial points are highlighted when preparing for this trip, which oddly enough overshadow the incredible journey and the new perspective I will gain. Honestly, I am only "sort of" excited because no amount of travel plans or picture viewing can match the feeling I am going to get from standing next to a huge watercraft (even though they scare the be-jesus out of me) knowing the journey that is ahead of me.
Keeping in touch with all of you is going to be difficult, so I am going to utilize this website as a means to keep you informed. Hopefully, the upkeep of this blog and using the Internet won't be too hard, so expect documentation from each port of call unless I announce my incapability to do so. Each day of my voyage will be centered around capturing photo opportunities, whether the camera is Mom's D50 or my eye, so you can expect I will have thousands to show by day 100. However, I doubt even one picture will make it to the Internet before that final day approaches, seeing as each minute of Internet usage costs $.40 and moves at the speed of a barnacle. Don't pester me...you'll see pictures eventually. Mmkay?...ah, splendid.
16 days until the fam' departs for Nassau 21 days until Bon Voyage