Oct 30, 2011

Other people's stories - Tales of: Love

Welcome to my second installment of 'Other People's Stories'. Whilst I might not always be creating interesting experiences, I've had the benefit of meeting people with fascinating stories. In this edition I will be presenting stories of 'Love'.

'Love' is personal, complicated and inspiring, the foundation for some of the world's greatest stories and art. Personally when it comes to affairs of the heart I try to remain as neutral as possible when dealing with other people's relationships.
Human chemistry isn't an exact science and ultimately they will be the ones dealing with the consequences of the choices they make.

lisbon, wedding, bollywood Canadian S*
I hung out with Canadian S* and her sister in the early stages of my Lisboa experience. On their final night we hit the Docas party district where we were joined by an Australian ladyfriend they had traveled with after meeting in Sevilla. When I had met S* she mentioned befriending a server in a restaurant she had been frequenting, he also joined us. Mistakenly expecting a Portugese fellow I found the "friend" was actually a fellow Indian making a life in Portugal, the two were inseparable that evening,

We partied the night away, the Gentleman later joining us in our hostel. We all exchanged details, life went on. Months later via online chat, S* inquired about her companion in Portugal as I remained in Lisboa for a few weeks after they had departed. When I asked why, she explained that she had been "thinking about him and was pondering a return". I had nothing to report and gave her my best wishes but quietly thought it was impulsive and admirable.

Months later my Facebook news stream presented photos of their colourful wedding in Lisbon.

martin vunk, estonia football
Turkish H*
I rallied the 2 other guests staying in my Tartu Hostel for an evening of quiet drinks around town, the charming and down-to-earth Turkish H* being one of them. The perfunctory question "What brings you here?" was trotted out, it was quickly apparent she didn't have a typical story.

Month earlier the Estonian Football team were present at an Istanbul Hotel where she was performing some traditional music with her band. The team had been in Turkey playing an exhibition football match, H* spotted Estonian Midfielder Martin Vunk from across the room and fell in love.

Her infatuation brought her to Tartu, where Vunk had grown up and presumably "walked the very same streets". She had been in the Capital of Tallinn days earlier, waiting outside the Football grounds in freezing temperatures hoping to connect with him. She never got to meet Martin but was able to hand-deliver a letter via one of his teammates. She didn't get a response (yet).

beer googles, germany, drunkDrunken German
I was in the company of two students from America and Germany, they were visiting from Finland where they were studying. We were in the common room of our Tallinn hostel in deep conversation. It was approaching dawn when a drunk German (1 of a group of 12) joined us after a big night on the town:
Me: How was your night dude?
DG: I was talking to this girl...
Me: Cool!
DG: I have a girlfriend though, I've been with her for a year. I've never had a girlfriend for this long before. I've had 41 girlfriends and they've never lasted more than a week or a few nights...
Me: Oh!

DG: I was talking to this girl for 2 hours. We were getting along real well. I could talk to her so easily like I can when I'm with my girlfriend.

My friends were trying to separate us because they said she was ugly.
(crosstalk by the girls)
I'm really drunk!
I told her that if this is really true love then we should spend the night together - but y'know - no sex.

Me: W-w-wait, who mentioned the "true love" part. You or her?!
DG: Umm... I did. (pause) Yeeah you're right. It is kinda gay!
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Adventure
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Love
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Living the Dream
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Living in the moment

Oct 26, 2011

Bill Hicks' tribute night in Tartu, Estonia. "What's the point?"

bill hicks, comedy estonia
'Bill Hicks' tribute night in Tartu, Estonia
In Tartu, I enjoyed the Bill Hicks' Movie night hosted by 'Comedy Estonia'. In addition I was able to spend some time with co-founder Louis Zezeran after the gig as I had met him through mutual Comedy friends prior to my yearlong trip. We discussed the importance of "finding purpose", as it informed his decision to unexpectedly make a life in the country after Eurotripping in 2006.

A recurring theme of my time in Estonia has been "What's your point?".
Even before setting foot in the country, I was questioned by an Estonian "You're constantly meeting people, half you won't ever see again. What's the point?". After meeting many travelers in Tallinn who've been on the road indefinitely, some for as long as 16 years it's a question I've been pondering. Also due to my circular way of thinking and meandering way of speaking, people often interject, "Uhh, What's your point?".

Bill Hicks offers his take.

VIDEO: Bill Hicks - The Ride

Bill Hicks Lines, Revelations (1993)
Is there a point to all of this ? Let's find a point. Is there a point to my act? I would say there is. I have to.

The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think that it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills, and it's very brightly coloured, and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while.

Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question - is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us. They say 'Hey! Don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride.' And we...kill those people. Ha ha ha. 'Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride. SHUT HIM UP! Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and family. This just has to be real.'

It's just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn't matter because: it's just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings, and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourselves off.

The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here's what you can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defence each year, and instead spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.

A question answered with a quote: Latvia + Estonia edition

My compilation of quotes have traditionally been dedicated from one place, this new set is the first I've collected over two Countries since my maiden 'QAwaQ'.

The Baltic experience has been memorable for its incredible hospitality. My time in Latvia has been particularly unique in that its been entirely defined by CouchSurfing, it became a mission to make it 100% CS after completing consecutive days early on. Though CS has been a familiar theme in my travels, its still quite a novelty for me. If I had to describe Latvia in a word, I'd call it "neighbourly".

One quibble though, in the many conversations I've had about happiness we've all seemingly nominated "Ice Cream" as the analog for nirvana. In Latvia the "No eating" signs are depicted by Ice Cream being crossed out. What a bummer!

Find the collection of quotables here:
- A question answered with a quote: German + Italian edition
- A question answered with a quote: Spain edition
- A question answered with a quote: Portugal edition
- A question answered with a quote: Holland Edition
- A question answered with a quote: UK Edition
- A question answered with a quote: Lithuania Edition
- A question answered with a quote: Latvia + Estonia edition
- A question answered with a quote: England edition
- A question answered with a quote: Germany Revisited edition
- A question answered with a quote: Turkey edition
- Listen to my Podcast inspired by AQAwaQ: Lets's Get Real podcast

With that I present to you 'A question answered with a quote: Latvia + Estonia edition'

Use simple constructions

I like this moment where there is this gap of "why?" between someone

People are clever, People are good

I would say I'm in trouble

Once you get the ice cream you lose the passion for it

- Satisfaction isn't the greatest motivator
- I think "changes" are more memorable

You can forget facts but you can't forget understanding

You're illusion could be my reality

There are two sides to one truth

- We are the architects of our own lives
- You can simulate sex but you can't simulate stories

- I believe you meet everyone twice but you don't always know it
- We all have our missions

Happy people don't look at their watch

Let's see

- Without the tears of goodbye there wouldn't be the smiles of hello
- Scars decorate a man

Come on! We will remember it

There are things you can never put in frames

If it's cactus. All good

- Destiny is so rude
- You must go to the battlefield and Fight!

(after giving girl advice) When I'm in a relationship, I'm an expert.
When I'm not in one, I know nothing all over again.

Oct 18, 2011

Other people's stories - Tales of: Adventure

I haven't written much since my 8month recap, things continue to happen of course and there's always something to ruminate about but I guess I'm mostly just letting it all marinate.

A large part of my experience has been to step back and feed off other people's energies. I've heard some fascinating tales and been alongside some incredible people. Just like listening to a good podcast, I find that hearing other people's stories sometimes just as enlivening as experiencing them myself.

I will begin sharing my collection of other people's stories starting with 'Adventure', the following installment being 'Love'.

Dutch RS
I spent one night hanging with Dutch RS, watching a Lithuania basketball game in an outdoor pub in Klaipeda. We had drinks afterwards where I heard his zany stories, this was one of them. This isn't my story, so I will retell it the way I internalised it.
  • Dutch RS hitchhikes in Latvia
  • Picked up by a guy who drove quite fast
  • Gently suggested he slow down but decided it wasn't his place
  • Wakes up and realises he's in an ambulance
  • Paramedic explains he was in an accident and the driver is fine
  • Laments that he's missing out on the sightseeing. The medic pops open a window and the Ambulance driver takes a scenic route
  • After saying "He's thirsty", the medic reveals some vodka and pours a shot for herself and the patient
  • After inquiring about hostels, the medic offers her place for him to stay at
  • They decide its probably best not to go to the hospital (what with the alcohol and all) and assures him that he'll do just fine
American TG
I first met American TG in a Lisbon hostel. TG had been urban camping the past few days and checked into the hostel for some reprieve, to shower and lie on a comfortable bed. A seasoned photographer, TG spent his first evening sharing his stories and photos with fellow hostel guests. Whilst I was fascinated by his experience, it never occurred to me that I could have these adventures also. As I was leaving Lisboa, I had the epiphany of inviting myself to join him as a running mate.

I ended up roadtripping with Todd twice, first in Portugal then months later in England.
Find a selection of Todd's photos below. Go to his Flickr page here - TGeasland's photostream

Slovakian DK
I met DK as he was being co-hosted by a fellow adventurous CouchSurfer in Ventspils, Latvia. DK was traveling with a fellow Erasmus student from Estonia, both are studying in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius. They had only met a few times but the Estonian was drawn to his spirit and travel stories and she wanted to experience it for herself, Ego-tripping if you will.

DK's travels are sometimes documented by a talented running mate videographer, you can experience the adventures yourself with the video below. I will have the benefit of living it in 4D as an impromptu trip to Saaremaa in Estonia has just been drawn up.

VIDEO: Georgia, Armenia and Turkey (Summer 2010)

Update: DK and I reconnected weeks later for Island adventures in Saaremaa

- Other people's stories - Tales of: Adventure
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Love
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Living the Dream
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Living in the moment