Wednesday, October 22, 2008

in this installment, james decides he has to suck it up and read/watch alex garland's "the beach."

Millions of the world's population are now mobile. Not just ready to bolt if the need arises, these folks live as nomads who journey as far as possible from their cultural ties. Not just frat boys on an international sex quest or artists searching for inspiration outside the commercial glare of America, there is a very large subculture of life-long travelers.

I met one on Koh Tao, and over the course of four days we struck up an ongoing conversation and hopefully friendship.

Originally from New Zealand, he got his first taste of travel life in his college years. Ingrained in Kiwi culture is the belief that young adults need to travel the world to gain a better perspective on life - this is also true in Australia - and he set off like so many of his school mates.

Only he never went back.

He now makes his home in London, missing New Zealand but unable to return after his experiences around the world grew him a bit too large for the small bowl of Kiwi culture.

He was in Berlin in 1989. He has two chunks of the wall in his London flat and was at the famous Pink Floyd concert.

He was in Rawanda when it imploded and hid for two days with his travel companions while entire groups of people were hacked into pieces right outside their hiding place. Then they finally snuck out and crossed the border, they broke into two groups. He fell into the first, the second was kidnapped and executed.

He finally settled in Israel. He traveled there with a girlfriend to work at a Moshev, but soon they broke up. He loved the culture and decided to stay while she moved on. After a while he began to date an Israeli girl. She got pregnant and he decided it was finally time to plant roots. When the son was four years old he was killed when the Moshev was bombed. The parents survived, but the pressure was too great and they split up despite his protests. Her family demanded she now marry an Israeli man. He found his way back to London.

I met him in Thailand, where he was spending a month reading and smoking hashish. He gave me a copy of Shogun to read and is heading to India for six months.

He's 46 now and won't be back to London for over a year. And when he's there, he still won't be home, because he's tried twice, and each time the world swept him back into its current.


Anonymous said...

That man needs a movie made of his life!
~ A. Pablo

KathyB. said...

James, I agree with A. Pablo. You are hearing and learning so much you can write about and these experiences are moving and interesting . I hope your are taking pictures and documenting these experiences in more detail, because believe me, the memories will fade or become not quite so clear. Thanks James for including us in your adventures, albeit vicariously !

Sheridan said...

Yeah I heard some tall stories from people I met on my travels, he was probably a banker visiting Thailand for the weekend.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to be so pissed if you find out he *is* a banker visiting Thailand for the weekend...