June 2007


We’ll be here tomorrow:

ATHENS (Reuters) – A heatwave has claimed two lives in Greece and killed six more people in Romania as temperatures soared to 46 degrees Celsius (114.8 Fahrenheit) in parts of southeast Europe.

Turkey and Cyprus also reported deaths blamed on the intense heat, while three people drowned in Bulgaria swimming in unsupervised dams and beaches at the weekend as temperatures climbed well above early summer averages.

Greece, which has seen some of the highest temperatures, is set to record its hottest ever June.

We’ll be here in three weeks:

BUCHAREST, Romania — A bear attacked a group of U.S. tourists on a remote trail in the Carpathian Mountains, killing a woman and injuring two other people, authorities said Sunday.

The group of six tourists chased off the bear when it tried to approach them near a cabin about 75 miles north of Bucharest, but the bear reappeared on a trail and attacked the group around 10 p.m. Saturday.

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Wish you were. Having a wonderful. Berlin has a nice. The buildings are very. The people are quite.

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Love and,

M&L

Anything that can be put in a nutshell should remain there.

– Bertrand Russell

The Enfield of India 350cc Bullet was a single-cylinder, four-stroke motorcycle, constructed to the plans of the original 1950s’ model of the British Royal Enfield. Renowned for its idiosyncratic handling as much as for its reliability and durability, the Bullet was a bike that demanded a relationship with its rider. That relationship involved tolerance, patience and understanding on the part of the rider. In exchange, the Bullet provided the kind of soaring, celestial, wind-weaving pleasure that birds must know, punctuated by not infrequent near-death experiences.

– Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram

The Green Man of antiquity is a sculpture or painting of a face leering out of a tree or wall of leaves, that often adorns medieval churches, especially in England and Ireland. He is a “pagan” representative of a culture subjugated by Catholicism: a last gasp, a finger in the eye of the giant that had subsumed the formerly dominant paradigm of Druidism and nature worship. Green Men have been found as far away as India.

In India, amongst the Vishnus and Parvatis and Ganeshas, I saw no Green Men. Nor were they among the other gargoyles and menacing, leering visages that bedeck the various temples of that amazing country. But soon after arriving in Germany I found – without really looking – a troop of Green Men in one place.

 

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Visiting friends in Trier, Germany’s oldest city and a repository of Roman and medieval architecture, we stumbled on multiple Green Men in the Dom in the city’s old square, a massive, ornate colossus of a church that traces its foundation to 250 AD.

Hey Folks,

Still posting about India and Nepal for a bit longer but we’ve been in Europe for almost a month. Some of you know that because you were here with us. We started in Germany, visited Flora and Ulli in Trier and Luxembourg, then split up to head to Greece (Lisa) and Amsterdam (Marc). Marc joined Lauren, Luke, Lavinia, John and Kevin in The Netherlands while Lisa met her sister Laura in Athens for some island-hopping. Then the whole crew, plus Rich and Keira, rendezvoused in Crete … Here are some early pictures, courtesy of Kevin.

More photos of white-sand beaches and goats to follow. Team Cretan has disbanded but its spirit lives on, and the two of us are still going strong. We’re headed for Berlin in a few hours where we’ll meet Marc’s brother Andrew and mother and uncle. From feta cheese and wine to sausage and beer! Woo-hoo!  

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JUSTIN-CREDIBLE! Verlander’s no-hitter first for Tigers since 1984

No-hitters come out of nowhere. They just build and build, like nothing else in baseball.

The way that Justin Verlander struck out the first two Milwaukee batters of the game Tuesday night, you could think: That would be no-hit stuff if he could sustain it for nine innings.

(photo by Julian H. Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press)

I dislike feeling at home when I’m abroad.

— George Bernard Shaw 

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s constitutional judges acquitted the Democrat Party on three of four charges that could see it disbanded and their leaders banned from politics.

After more than three hours of summing up the cases against the Democrats and the party of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the judges said the Democrats were not guilty of slandering Thaksin during an election campaign last year.

They also acquitted the Democrats, which boycotted the election, of bribing people to accuse Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party of hiring them to run, thus validating a poll requiring a sole candidate to get 20 percent of the vote.

 


Jaipur

The train lets out a long, low horn – not a whistle – and creeps forward, a bass-like thrum in its forward berths, the clack of track below. Gurgaon says the sign out the tinted window: we’re near Delhi station now. The outskirts, the suburbs, the slums.

Crumbling brick buildings. Burning debris. Mounds of plastic refuse.

Near train stations and railways has always been where the poorest of the poor live – where the noise is worst, where the smoke is worse still, where the offal from countless trains runs off and kills the already sparse vegetation and poisons the animals and children.

The dilapidated shanties of the poor greet us after a 19-hour journey from the desert of the northwest – just as they greeted us in Bangkok, just as they would in Chicago or Denver. Still, in India it feels worse. More permanent. Suffering that’s immutable, a crushing, undeniable, permanent fact of life for millions.

We hear about strikes but don’t see any: industry continues unabated, unabashed along the rail. Armies of men in collared shirts and pants stand squinting in the sun, shovels in hand and heads wrapped in rags, sweating through hard labor: the laying of another track, iron, concrete and rock: more track for more passengers, more freight. Evenly spaced rhombuses of granite rock broken small litter the railside: a lot of work to be done. India has a billion people or so the census estimates.

Alongside the men is another big production, more patient, women shaping and drying discs of manure in dirt yards, piling them high: towers and pyramids of shit. One resource that will never fail in a country that reveres cows.

We roll on. Bijwasan says the black-lettered yellow sign, but we don’t stop. This is an express train.

The shanties lean against one another in corrugated commiseration. The cows and dogs and pigs busy themselves foraging amid the rubble and rubbish. Shopkeepers and housekeepers shoo them away. Bricks fall from swung sledgehammers: constant reclamation.

Train travel is the way to see India and comprehend, maybe, partially, this state of flux. It is a country in the throes of change. There are visions of great beauty, and power, in places inaccessible to all but the rail.

Stopped randomly between remote stations, we watch a twilight cricket match, children running across a sandy pitch in the dusty dusk, and a sudden wicket! – Maybe. Followed by a celebration worthy of the World Cup. Later from our tinted window in the early morning we see a trio of women in bright salwar kameez: gauzy yellow, orange and white moving through tall grass in one of countless empty fields outside Delhi. In the train station when we finally disembark, stunned momentarily in the hazy buzz of the capital, a pair of peacocks strut by. The Urban Peacock.

The biggest Brahma bulls have brightly colored horns, and beads and painted haunches and necklaces. The best and tallest, the great white oxen with symmetric horns, long legs, and a proud bearing, pull carts down busy thoroughfares, their noses high. It’s good to be a cow here, except having to eat garbage.

After 19 hours we’re a little dazed. We lose our bearings and end up boarding another train. Five hours later we land in Haridwar, north of the capital, a holy city near the source of the Ganges River. It is night.

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