Category: Collections

The Last Notes

Notes on Getting Robbed in the Land of Gandhi
Notes on Getting Robbed in the Land of Gandhi

Robert Hirschfield finds no easy answers when robbed by poor villagers in India.I THOUGHT THEY were praying. What else would they be doing in rural West Bengal, hands pressed palm to palm in the moonlight? This was India, after all.But the row of men slung across the road left us no room to pass. I was too busy hoarding the night smells of ponds to be apprehensive at first.

Notes from Easter in Caceres
Notes from Easter in Caceres

Troy Nahumko finds unexpected ghosts are reborn in Spain every Easter.Photos by author.REVERBERATING from around the corner, drumbeats become people and people become a procession.Incense hangs down the adarve, the parapet into which wave after wave of people are crowding.Less than 10 feet of space from wall to wall, close enough to concentrate the eye-stinging smoke, close enough to realize that there are only two ways out, and both would mean climbing over hundreds.

Notes on Morning Darkness in Calcutta
Notes on Morning Darkness in Calcutta

Robert Hirschfield roams Calcutta at dawn where for once he finds himself almost alone.THE BOY gets up to groan open the hotel gate for me. The same boy works at every hotel I ever stayed at in India. Thin, brown, silent, his smile besieged by a muscular frown.I lean into the 5:30 darkness of a Calcutta morning.

Notes on a Pilgrimage to the Bodhi Tree
Notes on a Pilgrimage to the Bodhi Tree

Photo by Robert Hirschfield.Robert Hirschfield visits the Bodhi tree where “a man got it straight about suffering.”WHEN THE WIND MOVES through the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, more than the leaves move. Pilgrims sitting in contemplation beneath the tree chase after the leaves like mad hens.Sometimes monks will watch them and smile.

Notes on Ceremony and Nochebuena (Christmas Eve)
Notes on Ceremony and Nochebuena (Christmas Eve)

On Christmas Eve, David Miller ponders ceremonies, music, snow, and as usual, transcendence.NOCHEBUENA is the “good night” before Christmas.Here in Argentina it’s also when Santa comes–the kids staying up until 12 when it switches to actual Navidad and a family member dressed as Santa appears pillow-stuffed and possibly wine-drunk at the door.

Haiti earthquake update: donations list
Haiti earthquake update: donations list

Photo: SchnitkePlease donate to one of the following orgs to support disaster relief in Haiti.– UNICEF. Go online to unicefusa.org/haitiquake or call (800) 4UNICEF.– Red Cross. Go online to redcross.org, or call (800) REDCROSS.– Direct Relief International. Donate online at directrelief.org.– Mercy Corp.

Notes on the Ghosts of Anjuna, Goa
Notes on the Ghosts of Anjuna, Goa

Robert Hirschfield shows that even on beaches like Anjuna, Goa, with “bare European breasts peering up” at you, somebody has to remember the ghosts.She pointed to a spot in the sand. A spot like any other.“That’s where they found Scarlett Keeling’s body,” Aimee Ginsburg told me. Ginsburg has lived for almost a decade in Goa.

Notes on a Walk through Silent Jerusalem
Notes on a Walk through Silent Jerusalem

Robert Hirschfield walks through Jerusalem at first light.I enter the Old City after dawn. Quietly, like I want to steal it. I pass through the Zion Gate and head along the sand-colored walls to the Jewish Quarter. The shops selling sweets and holy books are closed.Beneath them are Roman columns that rise up from another Jerusalem.

Coming Home to Oaxaca By the Numbers
Coming Home to Oaxaca By the Numbers

Notebook editor Teresa Ponikvar breaks down her commitment to expat life by the numbersMinutes it took to decide to move to Oaxaca after husband lost his job in Hidalgo: 3All Photos: Ibis AlonsoProperties viewed: 12Properties with complete houses viewed: 1Properties with houses with the roof caved in viewed: 1Properties with unfinished houses viewed: 1Properties with unfinished houses purchased: 1Windows installed: 5Doors installed: 3Floors tiles installed: lotsSolar panels installed: 5Times I reminded myself to never, ever, think about “The Ring” while looking down the well: 27Trips to buy materials stalled by teacher protests in Oaxaca: 3Trips to buy materials stalled by burro-pulled carts making alfalfa deliveries in Tlacochahuaya: 8Building code inspections: 0Locally-owned businesses supported: 10Friends and family members who donated their expertise and labor: 8Round trips from Hidalgo to Oaxaca: 5Households slept in while waiting for house to be finished: 3Lots for sale nearby: 15Family members and friends who have expressed interest in buying one of these lots: 6Number of times I insisted to the neighbor that I didn’t want a puppy: 3Number of puppies given to me anyway: 1Sad, mangy dogs evicted from property after the arrival of said puppy: 3Money left in our bank account in US dollars: $53.

The Protector of Tophane
The Protector of Tophane

There had been a distinct increase in the occurrence of random ululating in my Istanbul neigbourhood earlier that week.My flatmate and I had written this off as seasonal declarations of random excitement, or perhaps a sudden arranged marriage or engagement. The women’s voices below rose and fell, their tongues creating a long, trilling, high-pitched sound like the howl of a wolf.

How to Haggle Your Way Across Southeast Asia
How to Haggle Your Way Across Southeast Asia

Photo above by OldtastyI have never seen a country with a more aggressive tourist industry than Thailand. You emerge from Hua Lumpong station and make your way to the southern exit. It takes a fraction of a second for taxi and tuk-tuk drivers to yell at the top of their lungs, “Hello sir! Taxi sir! Where you go!

Notes on the 4th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
Notes on the 4th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Photo: wikipedia commonsFour years after the waters recede Megan Hill remembers Katrina and the moment she knew her life would never be the same.1. I woke up early the morning of August 29 in my friend Emily’s house, where I’d stayed for a few days while my college in coastal Alabama was evacuated. Sometime that morning, while I was trying to go back to sleep, a thirty-two foot wall of water slammed into the beach front communities of Waveland and Bay St.

Notes on Going off the Map
Notes on Going off the Map

How do you reconcile following your flow away from family and friends and into a totally different place where you have to relearn everything?AFTER 6 DAYS I feel like I know at least where the sun rises.This time of year it comes up over the northern flank of Cerro Piltriquitron, just north of the most jagged comb ridge.

Moynak is a depressing place.
Moynak is a depressing place.

After the Soviet Union diverted its water for growing cotton, the Aral Sea dried up, leaving the town of Moynak a kind of skeleton. Stephen Bugno notes how it is to travel there.Moynak is a depressing place. There’s no other way to say it and no reason to hide it. Everyone knows what has happened to this once well-off community.

What’s Being Lost
What’s Being Lost

Doña Ludi carding wool. Photo: Ibis AlonsoFaustino Ruiz’s family has been weaving wool rugs in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, for sixteen generations.His grandfather loaded the rugs onto his burro and sold them in the coldest parts of the mountains, where they kept floors warm. Today, Faustino and his wife, Ludivina, sell their rugs to tourists, who hang them on walls.

Notes on Losing My Travel Virginity
Notes on Losing My Travel Virginity

Jerusalem, The Western Wall. Photo: Minamie’s PhotoTravel long enough and you eventually find yourself seeing the world differently, something you might call losing your “travel virginity.” But can you pinpoint exactly when and how this happens? What implications does this have for how you saw things before travel?

Working with the Deaf in Vietnam
Working with the Deaf in Vietnam

Photos courtesy of the author“Find a cause that matters to you, take a volunteer trip, and you will likely return a better person for the experience,” reflects Paige Stringer on her experience teaching hearing-impaired schoolchildren in Vietnam.I met Thien on the second day of my volunteer assignment at the Thuan An boarding school for the hearing impaired in Vietnam.

The geography of gender-based violence in Brazil
The geography of gender-based violence in Brazil

If each country explored the topography of its cruelty, what would the maps look like?A new study about Brazil released last Sunday focuses on the country’s deep-rooted violence against women. According to CNN, Brazil’s study, coined “Map of Violence 2010,” shows that between 1997 and 2007, 41,532 women were murdered.

Michelle Obama Made Me Cry
Michelle Obama Made Me Cry

I was at the grocery for seltzer and spinach.I wasn’t planning to buy the Oprah Magazine,and my husband rolled his eyes when I grabbed it impulsively and added it to our basket.But Michelle Obama was on the cover with Oprah and that was a big deal because Oprah has appeared on the cover alone (or with her dogs) for 105 issues.

First Person Dispatch: Caring for Orphaned Kids in Mexico
First Person Dispatch: Caring for Orphaned Kids in Mexico

Matador contributor Dominic DeGrazier visits a Mexican orphanage and finds nothing that he expected.Photo: Dominic DeGrazierRun-down. A cold atmosphere. Dirty. Desperate.Apart from being a bit preoccupied with the swine flu, these were my images of a Mexican orphanage before visiting the Door of Faith Orphanage (DOFO) in Baja California, Mexico.