Monday, August 18, 2008

Our final blog: Assam

Mia and Chanda rinse their feet in the smallest of three parallel rivers.
Women hand pick the perfect leaves off chai plants so that you can have a refreshing alternative to coffee at Starbucks.
Chanda responds to one of Mia's serious questions with a fart. "Damn girl! You NASTY!"
Mia and the hour old duckling are mutually thrilled to be spending time together. 

Is this a public service announcement, or an add for axes and saws? 

Joe and Mia are draped in ceremonial scarves for photos despite the sweltering heat and their soaring fevers. When the photo session was finished, Joe crawled into the bed and tried not to die.

Chanda's house was like a farm!

Joe and Santosh. What women want.

Joe: Still making village children cry after all these months. I also have one photo of it screaming harder and one of it being led away from me by it's mother.

Storm clouds gather over the rice paddies.

Village women congregate by the road on the way to see a snake. Everyone in town loved to see a snake. 

We nicknamed this guy Greenshirt. He spent the whole time we were hanging out alternately explaining to me how dirty his village was and cutting his loogies into tiny globs with his teeth before spitting them on the ground in rapid fire bursts. Anywhere he goes is dirty. Greenshirt.

Next time you are sitting down to a meal of rice, you can call Joe up and thank him for helping put it on your table. 

Out for a cycle ride. Santosh takes his cycling very seriously. It took half an hour to convince him to let me take my own bike to town instead of riding on the back of his. 

Two people waiting to use the rice mill tell their kid, "Unbutton your shirt and practice your modelling poses as long as you are just standing around."

Two people sweep their unshucked rice into a pile to be milled after Joe ruined their first pile with a Canonball! Joe was later banned from the mill during working hours due to a different incident.

A crowd of gawkers gathers to stare open mouthed at a snake someone has tied to a post. When I got this close to get the perfect shot the snake hissed and everyone gasped. I winked at them and grinned a little grin. It isn't dangerous everyone! It's tied to a post!

Locals hard at relaxing. I watched the guy on the right eat a sandwich and smoke a cigarette at the same time. He would blow the smoke out through his nose as he chewed. Then he mushed the cigarette into the last bite of his sandwich so it caught on fire and he ate that too. 

Two crabs which Santosh caught and Joe ate, whole. They were too small to peel so they heated them up and Joe just had to crunch them down, shells and all. It was cool until we had more for dinner.

The girls stand on the roadside, getting ready for a sunset walk.

A man and his grandkids.

Rice paddy.

A nature photo brightens up the wall of the Rangia train station.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The sweltering deserts of Rajasthan

Local women drag Mia into a holy desert oasis. The scene is reminiscent of a middle school pool party.

Mia's cries of, "These are my only dry clothes!" are cut off as questionable water is splashed into her mouth from above. If Joe's post-Ganges experience is any indicator, Mia's skin can expect some bad times ahead.

Look how many plates this waiter bussed off the tables with his BARE HANDS!

A sandstone desert home boasts some of the finest carvings we have ever seen. All houses built more than 80 years ago have an elephant door in the front. All homes built after have a garage.

A bell.

A Rajasthani man wears all black in the desert. We decided to give him a makeover. This was the BEFORE picture.

This is the AFTER shot. You can see we have trimmed his beard, given him some lighter, summer clothes and used a 5 action whitening cream on his skin.

Joe holds on tightly to his backpack full of cheese in the RAT TEMPLE! Millions of rats everywhere! Is that your HAND in my POCKET? no? YAAAAAAA! Its a RAT!

We were lucky enough to find the one white rat in the temple. However, our true quest was to save the princess locked deep inside.

There she is! Oh no wait... its just an old lady in another room full of rats.

Mia leans out of a shot so that Stephane and Isabelle can have the limelight.

Atop the golden city fort at sunset.

This is what the sun looked like. AWESOME! Like the grille of the Nightrider car. "Sheeeww shewww. Micheal, look out. Someone is trying to sneak up behind you and sell you a camel hair scarf while you watch the sunset. Sheeeeww."

Two women.

Mia sits atop her camel, 'Little Babaloo'. Little Babaloo was a friendly soul. Docile and with a big heart.

The two of them faced anything that came their way with confidence and serenity.

This is Joe and 'Big Babaloo'. They handled life differently.


As we rode by a herd of antelope I couldn't help but wonder if a camel had ever eaten one. Look at those teeth.

Desert Safari.

A desert woman poses in her doorway with her conservatively dressed family.

Women return to town from the oasis well nearby.

Camel shadow.

This is a sculpture of Mia that Joe did in the dunes.

Three friends grit their teeth as the 100th child who has followed our camel tracks into the dunes says, "Hey! Pepsi? Chips? You are AMERICAN! You eat 2 or 3!"

To whom it may concern,
My COMEX brand lock recently ceased opening while locked on my bag. The only thing I was able to gain access to was my REVLON brand nail clippers, which made quick work of your lock. Thanks for your commitment to excellence.

Mia relaxes and watches American TV in our swanky, all stone, palace-style room.

Trek through Ledakh

Our trek begins. Mia sets out across the barren wasteland of Ledakh.

Joe tries to take a shortcut but with only minimal luck.

Crossing a broken bridge.

Joe shows off one of the many ways to wear the Cambodian krama. Pictured here: the scarf.

Mountain village.

Mia admires a shelf full of brass pots. When she strolls over to touch them her hand is slapped away.

These pots are not for guests. Please return to your seat and drink your tea from your Donald Duck sippy-cup.

A little boy poses on his doorstep. His toes wriggle in his own pee.


Paper-mached sheep skulls rot on a gate.

An old man spins a prayer wheel. Most of the men who are too old to work spend their days praying and focusing, hoping to secure a higher reincarnation in the next life.

Balls of yarn wait for the long winter months when nobody can leave the house and sewing is the only pass-time.


A devil child.

Mia points to where a herd of sheep is not. The herd of sheep is down beneath her in the ravine.

Joe pets a donkey. He loves animals.


Mia points the way for Stephane.

Joe, at 16000 feet, is too tire to stand up straight for his photo.

The top of the world.

Edible berries decorate a landscape that is hauntingly Arizonan.

Joe, back in thick air, strikes a pose.

YEEEEESSSS. Huuuurrryy to the hhhhhouse. Wheeeen we get there you can pooooooop in the yaaaaard.

Stephane and Isabelle haul themselves across a raging river in a man powered cable car.

Then they stroll in a valley of apricot trees.