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Tom the world traveler - page 2
...tom in india...

Bus crash in India.

Yeah, another disaster but this one man made. In India I often traveled in buses which were poorly maintained. They let the tires go bald till they burst. Like why take precautions since everything is determined by karma anyway. Buses and trucks would break down and be abandoned in the middle of the road. As we started this long night journey, I took the precaution of putting my backback on my lap, uncomfortable but a measure of protection in a crash. Sure enough, the driver, most likely half asleep, ran right into a vehicle broken down in the road. Nobody was seriously hurt but then everyone disappeared. With no place to go, the only other foreigner on the bus, an American Indian from Canada and I locked the door and slept in the disabled bus. In the morning there were kids climbing all over the bus like monkeys but they were looking at us strange foreigners like we were a zoo exhibit ourselves.

Bus crash in India

Tom at the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal, deservingly one of the man made wonders of the world. It's not just majestic from a distance but intricately inlayed with precious stones and fine details. Yet the banks of the river behind it are used as a garbage dump and communal tiolet. But then everywhere in India is used as a tiolet since there are so many people and a lack of public facilities. If you leave your seat on a long bus or train ride to take a leak, you risk losing it. Indian woman didn't have this problem since females pissing by the side of the road would be socially inacceptable. They just have to hold it in. The bladder control of Indian woman is probably more amazing than the physical feats of most Indian yoga masters.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Delhi slums.

There is a huge slum along the train tracks in Delhi. In 1990 there were estimated to be 300,000 people living in these huts made of scape. Sad but then at least an equal number of people were living on the streets of Delhi. Whole families, destitute with no roof over their head. I made some shows right in the middle of this slum. Like all over India, I felt basicly safe but the people got so excited that performing nearly lead to riots. There were always new people arriving who insisted that I do another show that it was difficult to leave. The poverty overwhelms many visitors to India. My feeling is that even though I occasionally bought someone a meal, they would be hungry again the next day. But the memory of seeing a crazy foreigner show up in their neighborhood and make a free show might stay with people a lifetime.

New Delhi slums

Kids by ajanta caves.

There are caves in Ajanta and Ellora which were inticately carved as temples over hundreds of years. Like many Indians temples, there are many erotic motifs. Supposably the modern prudishness in India was influenced by the English. These kids came from a village near one of the caves to see the tourists. They were amused by me juggling with stones. Then one of them notice metal in my mouth. I have a few missing teeth and use to wear partial dentures. As I pulled the "teeth" out of my mouth they were even more amazed, as if I were a cyborg removing my own head or something.

Kids by Ajanta caves, India

Cochin, Kerala - michael jackson.

I took this picture in Cochin in the south of India on my second extensive trip to India, running to catch the men as they turned the corner with their overladen cart. I couldn't help but think that Michael Jackson probably earned more money in a few minutes than all of these men together over a decade. In 1990, the Indian market was just re-opening to international companies. Pepsi and 7-up were just being introduced. I kind of doubt any of these men even knew who Michael Jackson was.

Michael Jackson, Cochin, India

Boy selling betel nut leafs.

This young Muslim boy was selling leaves which are used to wrap up betel nut which is mixed with a lime paste and often spices. Then it is stuck in the mouth producing a mild buzz. Users are constantly spitting out the dark red juice. Many Indian kids must work or sell things to help their poor families survive. As a kid, I earned pocket money by doing garden work in the summers and shoveling snow in the winters and later had a paper route. But child labor, where kids must work full time rather than go to school is still a sad reality for many.

child labor - India

Indian girl.

One sees so many beautiful smiling kids in India. Such a contrast to the "Indians" of Central and South America who are very camera shy. In India, you take out your camera to make a photo and you get people jumping in front of you demanding you take their picture. Foreigners are constantly approached in India, not so much by beggers as one would expect but out of sheer curiousity. And the most popular subject is sex. If you are a western female, if you wouldn't like to "have some", if you are a western male, have you "had some already". It's all rather naive and annoying but the Indian society is curious and very sexually repressed. Then again, the USA is so overly prudish that people have been arrested for having openly changed their baby's diaper on a public beach. Even in Muslim Indonesia, small boys publicly swim naked.

smiling child India

Bombay zoo.

I took this photo in the Bombay zoo. Respect for animals lives is instituted in Hindu culture. Even snakes and rats are somehow holy. But as the population increases, the wildness that shelters many of Indias amazing animals is disappearing. The zoo seemed a rather sad replacement. Amazingly, there is a temple in Rajastan devoted to rats. I saw wealthy people there pass crippled beggers, without so much as a glance, on their way to feed good food to the rats. Any human's level of reincarnation should still be above any animal's in my understanding of Hinduism but India's a land of paradoxes! But India was also one of the only countries where people didn't question my vegetarianism. I'm no strict vegan but to all the people who claim it "isn't possible", I say, "go to India where at least half a billion people can tell you otherwise!"

Visitors to Bombay zoo

Girls with water jugs.

These girls were filling jugs with water. The pride this girl had to present her little sister was touching. Marriages are still arranged in India yet the strong love between family members is often clear to see. This made me reflect a lot on the contrast to our western concept of love including it's high incidence of divorce. When I returned to Germany after this trip to India, the woman I had hoped to marry broke up with me.

Southern Indian girls

...tom in dhaka bangladesh...

I didn't actually travel around Bangladesh but was in Dhaka for 2 days on a stopover. From the air it looked like half of the country was under water. I bought some oranges and made a little street show. I wondered if the people were not more curious as to who might get to eat the oranges than they were about my juggling. The markets were actually full of food. Like in India, hunger there is usually not due to a lack of food but not enough money to buy it. I arrived from Europe hungry myself as the Bangladesh Airlines didn't have my ordered vegi meal and I only got a little white rice. Taking the cheapest flights often lead to interesting situations, like when I flew on Aeroflot with a half day stopover in Moscow airport during the Soviet times. Soldiers marching about and banners to the revolution, stewardesses who looked like weigh-lifters who scowled and gave you just half a cup of coffee. It seemed like a parody out of a cold war era "anti-comi" film.

Street show Dhaka, Bangladesh

...tom in morocco...

Store in Morroco.

Morocco was the first third-world country I visited. The people dressed in robes and one saw lots of goats and donkeys around. It reminded me of the old biblical movies one use to see on Sunday tv in the states during my childhood. It was very colorful and intense. I had driven there, via Spain and a ferry with my girlfriend from France. When we got to the French border upon returning, they torn our car apart looking for drugs. Because of sinus problems, there were numereous wadded up pieces of snot filled tissue in the car. I had to smirk as the police would open yet another tissue thinking they would find contraband inside, only to find something slimy.

Morocco street scene

Marakesh Morocco.

Marakesh was a beautiful and wild place. I had to think of the popular song about "going to Marakesh" and of some of the hippy road trip novels set there. We had met up with some Moroccan friends of friends from France. They were very hospitible and showed us around. I would wander through the souvenir markets, disquised in my Jalaba pretenting disinterest. Then our Moroccan friends would go back alone to buy what I wanted for a much better price. Everything in Morocco costed at least double for tourists.

Marakesh, Morocco

...tom in new zealand...

Here I am climbing on a glaciar in the south of New Zealand. I had tried to hitchhike without much success. Then I found there was a price war going on between the bus companies and I got a month long pass to travel both Islands for around a hundred US dollars. Rather than old ruins or traditional dress, NZ offered lots of nice nature. I wanted to go paragliding but by before it was my turn to take off, the winds had gotten too strong. One more missed chance at possibly killing myself, so I can't say if I had good luck or bad that day.

Glaciar in New Zealand

...super tom...

I'm sure some people might be impressed by some of my misadventures and ask themselves "who is this guy really". Well, to let you in on my hidden identity, here is a photo of me at the age of 5, destined to become a super hero!

Super hero Tom!

So, those were just a few tales from my many travels over the last twenty and something years through North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Morroco, Australia, Hawaii, PNG and New Zealand. I hope to make another website someday with more stories and many of the thousands of photos I took. Till then, I hope you've enjoyed another side of a traveling clown! If you want, write me an email or better yet, book my show or set a link to this website or just state me as the beneficiary of your will!

Here you can see yet more about
Toms world travels
- page 1

Tom's complete adventures, photos and stories as a world traveler on his new 20+ page website. www.world-traveler.eu
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