Homeward Bound

Thinner and uglier, but a hell of a lot wiser

So this is it. Delhi was the last blast in a string of unfamiliar worlds. We’ve biked through these worlds and soaked up the landscapes and cultures, trying to let them change us. Yet all of them remain foreign, because each experience was fleeting. That’s the thing about a trip like this; the nature of a bike tour means that there’s no place to miss. All it is, really, is a lifestyle. We decided to live a certain way for six months. Almost every day we moved, and if a routine set in it didn’t last. Every day we woke up in a different place, and experienced a different world of people and climate and roads and hills and emotions and even the ‘change’ changed. Will we miss the lifestyle? Time will tell, but as our taxi lurched through the city on the way to the airport neither of us felt any qualms about saying goodbye. Strangely in a daze, we didn’t really feel anything at all. We’ve amassed a world of experience, and the proof might be in the photos, but the truth of it will only be felt by those who know us, because even we can’t identify if and how we’ve changed. In the end, that might be the only thing that matters. Continue reading

The other Cycle

Kolkata to Varanasi – 8 days

In India, one is faced with the realization that in order to survive here, you have to love human beings a lot more than the average westerner. Indians, possibly due to necessity, are blessed with an unconditional love for humanity that binds them together. There’s an affection between people here that simply doesn’t exist at home. Maybe that’s the great Indian mystery that everyone here seems to be searching for. But there’s a darker side that we would soon witness on the highway; the harsh realities of a massive population living in difficult conditions results in an almost fatalistic attitude toward death. Western cultures have an innate fear of death. In India, they embrace it. Our fear of dying means that death is hidden away, tucked neatly out of sight, forgotten. Not so in Varanasi, where bodies are publicly cremated on the bank’s of the Ganges, the sacred Mother River. And even less so on the roads, where dying becomes a public act, played out in front of the unsympathetic masses.

cremations on the Ganges

cremations on the Ganges

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Police State, China to Dhaka, a State of Insanity

Three crazy countries, three crazy cities, fifty million awesome people

In the past few weeks we’ve come from a world dominated by landscape, through a world defiled by human destruction and development, and now into a world that is defined, almost wholly, by the thickness of humanity itself. A place like this can only really be explained by its human relationships, and none of the other feelings we could describe (besides, perhaps, that of affection) actually matter. We recently biked away from Dhaka, by some accounts the densest city on earth, in a dazed state of reflection. I was still recovering from a high fever, and both of us suffered from the water. Happy to be on the road again and out of the chaos, but sad to be leaving our new friends and one of the most amazing cities that either of us has ever seen.

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