I live to travel. I travel to live.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

The Usual Suspects

The following are the short profiles of the people with who I am sharing my upcoming trip:

Hala Megahy

I met hala last spring when she couchsurfed at my apartment in Seattle with her roommate. They were on a roadtrip from Chicago across the northern US and then down to LA. She and I became friends immediately.

Perhaps the only person I have met with a passion to wander to match my own, Hala is terrific as a travel partner. When my pride prevents me from admitting to perfect strangers who I will never see again that I need directions, she has no problem in asking. Long bus rides are more enjoyable with endless ridiculous conversations held as if it we were talking about the weather. "If you could have 3 magical powers, what would they be?" "Could you take 40 squirrels in a battle to the death? What about a hyena? 30 4-foot tall penguins with 3-inch fangs?" The list goes on. I still think about writing a book including all the zany conversations and fun games we came up with to pass the time on the seemingly infinitely long travel times in India.

Hala arrived in India a month after I did, but when I left in March, she stayed to travel the rest of the country with a friend we met, Adam. They returned to the west (although still far from home for Hala) only yesterday, August 1st, when the flew back to London. I will meet Hala and Adam there and we will travel together to the Isle of Man for a one week backpacking tour around the small British Isle. Then Hala and I will fly to Egypt to spend a month relaxing at her villa on the Mediterranean in Alexandria, walking amongst the giants in Giza, and enjoying ourselves along the Nile and in Sinai.

Whats the Isle of Man you ask? Good question. See the link below for more details.

Adam Kendrick Kewley

Adam's and my friendship was dubious from the beginning. One critical issue divided us and I would have normally thought that it would be difficult to reconcile and remain friends. Adam hates traveling.

I know what you are thinking, "that doesn't make sense, Evan, you met him in Calcutta. That is in India, Evan! If he hates traveling, why was he in India!" I have no good answer for this. Just a few bad ones.

Adam is a Beatle maniac. He loves 'em. And deep down, I believe he wishes he were them. Or at least he tries to emulate them. Furthermore, Adam's Dad is a bhuddisht, and his brother a big hippy. And it is no coincidence that The Beatles, his father and his brother have all spent time in India.

The Manx man has spent a year in the Subcontinent and traveled with Hala and I from West Bengal, through Nepal and back down to Varanasi. When I left Hala in March, he has been by her side through their journey through the south of India, and back up to the far north into Jammu and Kashmir.

Also, Adam is a musician. A guitarist. And for a few weeks in Varanasi, a sitarist. He came to India for inspiration and has completed writing the music and lyrics to his album which he will now dedicate himself to produce and record. Formerly known as the Hundreth Monkey, he has since changed his name to something I can't remember. He is perhaps my only chance at having a claim to fame. He joked with Hala and me about naming his album my favorite Hindi phrase, mei chammach hu which means "I am a spoon" and we also flirted with starting our own band, Monkey's on Leashes, inspired by our walk through the Maiden park in Calcutta on the first day we met.

Adam makes his home on the Isle of Man, although he has also lived in London, and it is there we will travel together hopefully not for the last time. Despite his hatred.

Jerry Murphy

My father, Jerry Murphy, has been my father for as long as I can remember. And just slightly longer than that, we have gone out together hiking, backpacking, cycling, and climbing mountains and rocks. In 2000 we summited Mt. Rainier together. In 2002, we finished the Seattle to Portland bicycle ride. A broken attempt by us to backpack the 200+ mile John Muir Trail in California has been revenged as he has been dedicated to section together the entire Pacific Crest Trail running through the west from the borders of California and Mexico.

When I was in the mountains of Tibet, Nepal and India, I thought every day about how much my dad would love to be here. When I was growing up I never had a shortage of books on climbing in the Himalaya to read, as the pile my father had finished and saved for me constantly grew and grew. He knows every classic climb in detail and if he doesn't, he'll make something up. Good luck proving him wrong.

Finally when Hala and I took a short trek through the isolated region of Sikkim last winter- which means it was COLD- I thought that here is something that he couldn't miss. I spoke to my mom, Faith, about the idea of bringing my dad back to Nepal with me and for us to trek to Everest Base Camp together. She was incredibly supportive from the beginning, moreso than he was when I broached the topic. There are always a million little excuses not to do something, but I kept reminding him of the big reason to do it. "Mt. Everest, Dad. Mt. Freaking Everest." I rest my case.

Finally he agreed and is now as excited as I am to walk long distances through Sherpa villages, eat noodles, drink chai, and shiver in the cold all night for three weeks starting at the end of September.

Laura Zanzig

My girlfriend, Laura, and I met in a history class we took winter quarter of 2006. She immediately fell into my trap of being courted with food when she agreed to a weekly friendly get together at my place where I would cook. At least momentarily trapped by her love for my ability to chop a vegetable, saute it with a piece of frozen meat and tell her its gourmet, she will accompany me on the (probable) final leg of this journey. And I wish I could say it was my idea.

Laura loves playing softball but not so much coaching it. She has become very good friends with my roommates, Melissa and Danielle, which means she fits right in at my apartment. Laura never tires of taking me and picking me up from work, often after 1am, and although she gets antsy watching long movies (and hence has never seen the Lord of The Rings) she is always available to spoon feed me a scoop of humble pie by finishing my crossword puzzles when I get stuck.

Laura spent last Winter quarter studying in Rome and returned home almost as ready as I was to travel again. She looked at programs in South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam and questioned aloud the reasons that the programs in SE Asia were even more expensive than her time in Rome, especially since these are some of the cheapest countries to travel in the world.

Laura then considered taking the quarter off, as she would still be able to graduate in time the next June. It wasn't hard for her to talk me into coming along and I can't wait to bring out the most adventurous side of her.

Ashish, Deepa, and Vanya Arora

Ashish and his family manage the Himalayan Village resort at Sonapani which hosted our univeristy program for three months last fall. Thanks to the efforts of this gracious family and the hands working the resort, we all felt right at home and some of us never wanted to leave.

Ashish was a self-proclaimed slacker in college, attending one class in four years. This, however, didn't stop him from having the best grades of anyone in his graduating class. Now a successful business and family man, he is always thinking of sustainability, the environment and a chance to make a new friend for life. He has since began a company to sell chutneys made from fruit grown organically on the property and has supported the arts by producing a play in Mumbai. Proving to be immediately one of the gang, Ashish once claimed that he had to take his matress and sleep outside after staying up late and drinking with the students during a birthday party early in the program. Apparently, deepa had him "in the dog house."

Deepa is the perfect counterpoint to "The Don" as we affectionately referred to Ashish for his stature in the community. She and Ashish make incredibly caring and thoughtful parents to little Vanya. Always helpful with advice or even help with Hindi homework, the students adored Deepa's sweet nature. And the girls on the program also enjoyed the fact that she is a bit of an artist, and gave them henna tattoos on thier hands and arms. Rumor has it that Deepa is pregnant again.

In the running for the single cutest thing ever put on the planet, Vanya baby was a treat. Although she was at first daunted by 19 tall white strangers who didn't speak her first language, she warmed up to us slowly and by the end was hugging everyone and flaunting her English skills. The saddest part about my trip to India was watching Vanya scream and ball her eyes out in Ashish's arms as we said our goodbye's and headed down the trail on our walk to the jeep which would take most of us away forever. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to say that I will again walk up that trail, and see Vanya playing with her parents, two of the most authentic and genuine people in the world.


laura said...

i love the latest shirt. you're right, a little creepy but still good. i'm looking for pictures of me right now!

Anonymous said...