An Alternative Route

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Tao of Travel, Paul Theroux

Author Paul Theroux identified ten items in his list, The Essential Tao of Travel, beginning with 1. Leave home and ending with 10. Make a friend.

I am following number eight because this trip needs an alternative route, a string to a balloon or a cloud or a seagull that lifts me, even if only my feet drag.
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Where the Rain is Born

Theroux suggested to “8. Read a novel that has no relation to the place you’re in,” and so, as I start a month-long visit to Chattanooga, I start reading¬†Where the Rain is Born, a collection of essays, fiction, poetry and images about Kerala, a region in southern India.
I bought the book in Kerala while staying a few nights in Varkala, a town above the Arabian Sea, and seven years later, I am reading it during my first visit to my hometown in three years.
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Varkala, cliff walk above Arabian Sea

A narrow mud path cliffside links the images of Varkala, Kerala that I remember: Waves crashing below the horizon, the sound one of many languages. Shiny vines over roads. Tasting the coarsely-ground spices in fish curry. Mosques, temples and shrines.  Large families standing and sitting along the shore at sunset. Sleeping in a small room in a white building between the jungle and sea. Women in turquoise saris slicing through feisty and crowded bushes, kids at a pep rally. Brown. Blue. Green.
I am reading to learn more about a place I want to revisit.
I am reading to be inspired by good travel writing.
I am also reading to be reminded of memories other than the ones everywhere now.
Driving to the grocery inevitably involves a resurrection of a high school night or a cousin or a conversation that had been tightly folded and packed away.
I am reading to bring back and ward off spirits of a place.

Travel Memory: Palolem Beach 2010

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Palolem, South Goa, India

When I learned yesterday was Independence Day in India, I thought it’s time to go back.

Near the end of Joseph’s and my trip to India in 2010, we stayed two days at Palolem Beach in South Goa, and we often saw this cow walking through crowds, lying on the beach, standing at a corner.

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Palolem, South Goa, India

Coming from the beach, you entered this street through designated gaps between seafood and curry restaurants where the sand and jungle blended, giving everyone at every place on ocean view.

On this street, there were scooter and cycle repair shops, yoga huts, woven stalls selling paperback books and rainbow fabrics and boxed groceries, barber shops and a juice bar (I think we checked our email there.)

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Palolem, South Goa, India

We stayed at a guesthouse whose owner gave us a downloaded bootleg copy of the Jim Carrey/Ewan McGregor film, I Love You Phillips Morris, when he learned that we were a couple. In the mornings, we ate omelets with other Western tourists at a long table on a balcony, and one morning, a truck with its bed packed with soda bottle crates parked underneath us.