November 25, 2008

The Trip That Got Away

For every wonderful trip filled with memories, there's another voyage that never happened. Sigh. The trips we planned on, hoped for, gunned for, and then missed out on. I was trying so hard to be the fourth member of the team to Antarctica for this, the Shackleton Centenary Expedition. The team of spritely Brits is following in the footsteps, or rather ski tracks, of the doomed Antarctic explorer. I believe that I was disqualified for having an American passport or maybe for just having an American accent. Now, just to rub it in, the expedition sends me an e-mailed daily update telling all about what a fabulous time they're all having down in Antarctica. Wish you were here. Also, the post script asks if I might spare an extra 100 pounds right now to help defray the cost of the trip and all. So they ask me to apply to come along, then tell me thanks but no thanks, then send me daily post cards asking me for money to pay for their trip. It's kind of painful and maybe I'm kind of bitter. Antarctica is at the top of my list. Other pet peeves include people who refer to Antarctica as An-Artika, or worse yet, the "ARTIK".

Perhaps Shackleton himself felt the same way. So close to reaching his goal, and yet never made it, alas. 100 years later, we're celebrating his trip that got away. To all you cold, miserable souls on the ice down south, living the dream, with your satellite internet and such. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 17, 2008

Everyone in Zambia Hates Me

I walked to Zambia from Botswana (with the aid of a small ferry). I had spent all week in the bush and so it was kind of exciting for me to see people again. Alas, right after I took this snap, I incited a small riot of bitter, angry Zambian women. They demanded I give them money for their picture. Oops, I think I just fell right into the great debate of tourism--the objectification of foreigners, "poorism", and exploitation, etc. But you know, all I wanted was to take a picture.

In fairness, while I was a grad student at Oxford, busloads of Russian and Japanese tourists used to stop and take pictures of me, especially when I was dressed in sub-fusc. My only consolation is the thought of hundreds of pictures of me in the family photo albums of Osaka.

November 10, 2008

New York Field Trip

Back from a whirlwind of meetings in Manhattan, most of which were productive, interesting & compelling. And yet all that matters in New York are the senses, n'est-ce pas? So, before I forget, a roundup of favorite discoveries from my latest field trip:
  • Macaron Cafe /161 West 36th Street/ A wee shop the size of a bathroom stall but chock-a-block with les vrais macarons francais. Like a little untrampled pink flower in the midst of hyper-choked midtown. Incroyable.
  • Kunjip Restaurant /9 West 32nd Street/Just another glassfront restaurant in Koreatown but with impossible waits, insane crowds, compassionate waitstaff and perfect bowls of food. I dissected an entire mackerel with chopsticks.
  • Craft /43 East 19th Street/A+ for design, A for foie gras appetizers, extra credit for the memorable risotto. Righteous brussel sprouts with bacon, yessss.
  • Centro Vinoteca /74 Seventh Ave. South /West Village Italian restaurant with white-painted brick walls. Creamy polenta squares with fontina. Warm duck salad, amen.

November 5, 2008

Back from Botswana

Shot this croc in Chobe National Park, me in a boat, safely on the Botswana side, this lovely lizard smiling sheepishly on the shores of Namibia. My African adventure was incredible--I am still reeling from the animals and sunsets.