Once in awhile I notice someone doing a particular task and wonder, “Why are they doing such a thing? Is it for monetary gain, self-fulfillment or something completely different?” These questions kept popping up prior to and following the TBEX ’11 conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada) this past summer.
For those of you not familiar with TBEX and their conferences – it is the Travel Blog Exchange and their conferences bring travel-related bloggers, writers and media professionals together – explaining how everyone can ‘up their game’. There is a wealth of information to be gained during the sessions, but it’s not always everyone’s cup of tea.
Lunch with our landlady was a nice experience. She lives outside the city of Moscow. Its about a 30 minute drive. You have to drive to a place called “Luxury Village”. This was not my first time visiting “luxury village”. I had the unusual experience before Christmas of teaching an Oligarch’s son near where our landlady lives in Luxury Village.
Yulia (Julia) lives in one of the many gated private villages that seem to be common here in and around Moscow. We have gated communities in Britain, but they are few and far between. I would not mind living in one, if I could afford it, they are safer and cleaner than regular housing estates.
Japanese people have mastered the camera pose. Crafted it into a fine art and bequeathed it unto their young in such a fashion that one might even begin to think it genetic, a biological imperative perhaps, an evolutionary tweak that has emerged along with the technology it is bonded to. Because in the mere instant one has to pose correctly for a photograph, the Japanese are already there, two fingers held aloft in a peace sign yelling, “cheezu!” Meanwhile, I’m blinking like a deer in headlights, stunned by the blast of camera flash.
Everyone knows that five dollars in your pocket in New York has a vastly differing real value compared to if you were in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The value of a dollar varies impressively throughout world economies, and has a powerful effect on entire continents.
The value of a currency is a powerful representation of the inequality and disparities in purchasing power across the world. It not only highlights the abstract notion of money itself through its huge variability in value but also underlines the struggle for developing countries with weak currencies to receive imports essential for development and growth.
I did some teaching at a mega rich Russian family a few weeks ago. A driver collected me and drove me to the house outside Moscow. After some forty minutes we arrived, I got out the Mercedes, was shown to a big metal front gate with security cameras on each side and I was led inside. I was met by two large security guards and asked to walk to the house. I made my way along a red winding brick path that cut through pine and silver birch trees through a silent landscaped garden. As I approached, I was met by a vast house rising out of the ground in between the trees.
At the urging of a couple books and online articles I’ve read in the past months, I finally started a Bucket List, or a list of things I want to do before I die. One of the reasons for starting this list was to re-energize; to remember that feeling of being a kid and wanting with abandon because it’s inspiring. There’s a certain amount of harm we cause ourselves always being grown up and tampering our desires with reality. That’s why most of us travel: to escape the everyday and feel like we’re checking off some of those things on our own Bucket Lists.
It’s been sort of a rough week for my head. It seems as though I’m not only losing my English but simultaneously sucking at Spanish. I guess the English started slipping over time and with such immersion, it’s only a matter of time before the grammar starts to go. According to my dad, my blogs are getting sloppier and sloppier. I now speak no language well.
Last week when I spent the afternoon at an estancia with my job, assisting Canadian tourists, I could see how my English was exaggerated and forced. It seemed like I was subconsciously speaking with a slight Spanish accent. But why?
There’s a street just around the corner and down the footpath from the Churchgate train station. I couldn’t tell you the address of this place, but I could describe it as bordering one of Mumbai’s several maidens, or grass malls, and housing a line of cheap clothing stalls. It doesn’t much matter the address, as Mumbaikers generally describe locations based on what they’re across from or next to. A result of being a city in two languages, I imagine. And I’m certain the families who live on this street – who’ve lived on this street, up against the surrounding fences and in the nearby gullies for the past 40 years – don’t have any need for an actual address.
You and your partner are finally taking your dream vacation. The only thing is, by the time you got around to taking that dream vacation it’s no longer just you and your partner; it’s you, your partner and the kids. It’s not the end of the world…
My husband and I made the decision this past October to cancel a trip to Spain and Morocco that I’d spent innumerable hours planning. It was a complicated trip – several legs, transportation utilizing planes, trains and automobiles; 12 days in foreign countries. Since it’s been a brutal winter for many of us and thoughts of summer travel are rampant daydreams, I thought I’d finally sit down and share a few hard-earned tips for you to remember when planning your next trip abroad.