Welcome to Roger's Travel Diary
Here you will find all sorts of (hopefully) interesting snippets collected from Roger's globe trotting Geofeat adventures. Be sure to check out the ever growing collection of photos too.
Where There is Light, There is Hope
Friday 9 February 2007
As the sun sets over the horizon at the end of each day, somewhere else, during the exact same moment, a new dawn begins, for the two are not independent of each other, but rather two parts of a whole. And so it was today for me, when I said good bye to Rajan, my host for these past few days. I will always remember the warmth and kindness he showed me, and his final reply as I thanked him for the last time:
"I am only the vessel."
And with these words, he turned to his driver, instructed him to take me wherever I needed to go, and then left for work.
An hour later, and on the other side of Delhi, we park opposite the Satyam Cinema, and wait until we are met by a young boy on his bike. From here, he guides us through the ever-narrowing side streets, until our car could travel no more. I say good bye (pronounced 'na-ma-ste' in Hindi) to Ali and we promise to keep in touch. The young boy and I walk a short distance along the cobbled pathway before we enter a set of gates to my new hosts' home. Ashok, my contact, is at work, however I am introduced to his extend family – parents, sister, nephews and grandparents, and then invited to lunch, before retiring to a small office where I have been given internet access. And as I switch on my computer, read my emails and start work, I am overwhelmed by the generosity that had been shown me.
Back home, I have tried to understand the importance of remaining in the present, not worrying about the past or future. But in the capital of India I witness how easily this most purest of practices is upheld by so many people, each and every moment. I recall a message under a picture I saw a few days ago:
"May hope light your path and guide you on your way."
New Delhi, India
Is There More to What we See?
Thursday 8 February 2007
The Indian Times newspaper is delivered to my room, and the first thing that catches my eye is the quote on the front page:
"The steady-minded, undeluded knower of Brahmin, being well established in Brahmin, neither rejoices on receiving the pleasant nor grieves on receiving the unpleasant." Bhagavad-Gita
The majority of today I spend at the Beauty Expo, revisiting new acquaintances I have recently made, and finalising a news article for a national magazine, which I'm told will go to print in next month's edition. Come 5:00pm, and I'm ready to put my feet up and enjoy a nice cup of Chai tea. However my host suggests that we take a slight detour on our way home, and visit the Iskcon Temple (Raja Dhirshain Marg, Sant Nagar, East of Kailash locality).
Upon arrival we leave our shoes in the car, and make our way up a flight of stairs to enter the temple. Inside, people are chanting Krishna, and majestic artwork adorns the walls. I am reminded of the quote in this morning's newspaper. We spend a while contemplating and meditating, then make our way downstairs to enjoy a hot meal of curried lentils before we leave. It is just after 8:00pm and there are young children playing and dancing in the large courtyard.
When I recall today's events in a future time and place, however, it will not be the day's visit to the temple that shall be foremost in my mind, notwithstanding the beauty and tranquility of this experience. I shall remember the drive home, when the car stopped at an intersection and we waited for the traffic to clear. An elderly man approached the car. His appearance was that of a typical Indian local - headband, shawl, and long grey beard. His right arm was missing at his elbow, and the look in his eyes told a tale of many an evening alone. As he approached the car window and stared in, Rajan looked straight into his eyes, and bowed his head and held his hands together in pray. The old man turned and left.
The traffic cleared and we continued our journey. A little further along we were met with another delay (a common occurrence here). It wasn't long before a young girl approached my window. Up until now, I have resisted handing money out to beggars, with the thought that I would only encourage further begging. To my surprise Rajan reached into a bag, and pulled out a cardboard box and gestured to me to unwind my window. He handed the girl the box, which, he told me later, contained the remains of his lunch. Our driver revved the engine to life once again, and we lurched forward.
I will always remember the look on the little girl's face, her lovely big smile, and the joy in her eyes as she accepted the meal box and ran into the dark night.
New Delhi, India
Connecting to the World via a Thread of Light
Wednesday 7 February 2007
Spent today at a local Internet Café. Hidden from the outside world, I spend the best part of the day hunched over a keyboard, tap, tap, tapping away. Reading emails and completing paperwork. I notice many nationalities of cyber visitors come and go, and, guess what, they too are reading emails, uploading photos, and checking local tourist site guides. It now seems a lifetime ago, when a tourist would carry around rolls of film, only to post them back to their hometown, ready for developing upon their return. With the internet everything now is so instant.
Later that afternoon, Ali, 'my driver' arrives on cue to take me home. I shudder to think how I'd cope finding my own way back!
New Delhi, India
Sights, Sounds and Smell of New Delhi
Tuesday 6 February 2007
Day One at the India Natural Beauty Expo, but more on that later. First, some news on the train trip. From Mumbai to New Delhi takes around 16 hours - non-stop. Sharing the compartment with me is an ex-banker from New Delhi, and a senior government employee, on his way to New Delhi for a meeting with the head of India Rail. He tells me that the government are planning to extend the rail track out of Mumbai (from two tracks to four). However this would require the relocation of many thousands of people who reside in the slums alongside the railway tracks. Their resistance to relocate to a newer 'government nominated' area is proving fruitless.
We continue talking on many varied topics, covering Indian politics, the education and health systems, the development of the IT industry in India, and of course cricket. Ricky Ponting is unanimously voted as the world's best player, and Steve Waugh is revered for his continued support of homeless Indian children. However, it's not long before the conversation moves towards all things Australian - what do we eat, what's the most popular car, and what do people drink etc. Soon the night porter arrives and makes up our beds, and I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.
I rise with the sun. Smoke fills the air, and a dusty red haze wafts across the morning sky. An Indian sunrise is like no other I have ever experienced.
I have formed a friendship with Rajan, the government accountant, and when we disembark at New Delhi station, his driver kindly takes me to the Expo Centre, saving me the inevitable headache of trying to communicate my destination to a local taxi driver. Once inside, it's not long before I add a new advertising member to the Geofeat directory - a soap manufacturing company from Indonesia. I've also arranged meetings with a few national magazine publications who have expressed an interest in running stories on Geofeat and my world trip.
New Delhi, India
A Day in Mumbai
Monday 5 February 2007
I awake pre dawn and make my way quietly to the hotel lobby, only to find the hotel manager sleeping at the front desk. It's 5:00am, and as I take a stroll through the local streets a few of the locals are stirring - what a contrast to last evening. I decide to make a call to TT, for an update. I'm standing on a street corner, with two large cows as company, and as Sarah fills me in on her morning's activities and the website developments, a rat scuttles past my feet and down a drain hole. It's hard to comprehend the culture differences, and it really feels like I'm standing in two different worlds at the same time.
Later in the morning I meet up with Ann, a lady whom I met on the flight from Darwin. We decide to spend the morning window shopping, and by lunch time we end up stumbling upon Leopold's Café for a bite to eat – a local institution in the Colaba district, and a hit with travellers alike. Later that afternoon we part ways and I catch a taxi to Mumbai Central and board the Rajdhani Express train to New Delhi. An interesting evening awaits!
A Special Welcome from India
Sunday 4 February 2007
Some 15 hours later I arrive in Mumbai, feeling quite refreshed and wide awake. Local time is 7:30pm, and as the taxi makes its way from the airport to my hotel, I catch a glimpse of this new city with fresh eyes. The traffic is utter mayhem, horns blast constantly as taxis swerve to avoid pedestrians. The traffic lights appear to serve no useful purpose at all. But despite all of the noise, rubble and apparent chaos, a sense of peace prevails. The taxi screams to a halt, and cuts the engine. A street festival consisting of 20 to 30 people dressed in brightly coloured clothes, sing and dance their way through the crowded streets. Just then I notice that the noise appears somewhat muted. It's as though I've been whisked away from the madding crowd, and protected from the outside world. We have stopped only a minute, maybe two, but the silence seems to last an eternity.
For that one moment I feel as though I'm sitting atop a mountain, meditating. Against the back drop of the uncontrolled smouldering of rubbish, the dull hum of taxi horns blasting in the distance, and a stray dog helplessly limping past, I feel I have been drawn into Mumbai's heart and soul, and a sense of bliss overwhelms me. No sooner have I lost myself, then the taxi starts up again, and we continue our journey to my hotel for the night.
Sydney – The City that Never Sleeps
Sunday 4 February 2007
Sydney - the harbour city, city of big lights, that bridge, and of course the Opera House. To me though, Sydney is the city that never sleeps. And at 4:00am in the morning, as I groan out of bed, and prepare to head to Kingsford Smith Airport to catch my early flight, it certainly feels like I’ve been partying all night.
The plane's engines roar, and thrust us into the sky. We make our way north to Darwin, via Brisbane, leaving the metropolis of Sydney and her Opera House behind. Once at cruising altitude, I look out the window and catch a glimpse of the sea water below. Fluffy white clouds, so pure in colour and texture, scatter themselves across the sky below just as ice sheets appear in the north pole. It truly is one of the world's most beautiful scenes – simplicity at its best.
And while I marvel at the beauty below, it reminds me of the vulnerability of the world's ecosystem. I personally acknowledge my own contribution is adding somewhat to the damage, and then give thanks that Geofeat has arranged to offset the carbon emissions from my trip. It's then that I notice that the inflight magazine is featuring a centre spread on green living, organic food, and renewable energy. Today is also the day that the media have run a story on the release of the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis). I take this as another sign that all will bode well for the trip. Maybe the message is finally getting out, and people are starting to listen.
Leaving Australia – The Big Day Arrives
Saturday 3 February 2007
Today is the first day of my Geofeat round-the-world trip. Planned for months, the big day arrives and it almost seems surreal walking out onto the tarmac towards the plane, knowing that once boarded, I'm leaving behind safety and comfort of cosy Tasmania, and spreading my wings to the world.
Over the next 42 days, I'll be visiting India, Germany, UK and the US, attending world trade shows and expos to promote Geofeat International, and along the way hoping to raise awareness of the global issues surrounding climate change, and the need for individuals to start taking responsibility for their actions.
I recline into seat 13D and engage myself in the customary game of sudoku as the cabin crew make their final checks and prepare for take off. My mind starts to think about what adventures are in store over the next few weeks and I'm shocked to discover that I've hardly made a start on my puzzle by the time we're airborne.