Ladakh: Dumb Luck, Dreams and Visa Kung Fu

This is a story about the mystery of mountains, a San Francisco swami, a stroke of good luck, a dabbawalla and the fine art of resourcefulness.

Long, long ago in the late 1990s, I lived in San Francisco. And next door to me lived a man who would one day become a swami. And he told me of a land called Ladakh.

But before I get to that, a photo.

Audrey Wins Grand Prize from ANA Airlines
Audrey Wins Grand Prize from ANA Airlines

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Bangladesh Village Homestay: Becoming One of the Family

bangladesh homestay

This is the story of a homestay experience in rural Bangladesh — and a young woman who hopes to be Prime Minister one day.

Audrey with the Women of Family - Hatiandha, Bangladesh
With three generations of women at our homestay family in Hatiandha, Bangladesh.

There I was in a traditional courtyard kitchen in a village in Bangladesh. Dirt floor, earthen oven. Mrs. Ali, our host mother, stoked the fire and minded several hot pans. It was time to slice the onions and my turn was up.

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Travel Jeopardy: What Is Bangladesh?

What comes to mind when you hear the word Bangladesh? When we talk about our travels in Bangladesh, the mere mention often evokes a reaction that says, “Bangladesh? What is it? I’m curious.” For good reason. People don’t know what … Continue Reading

Bangladesh Faces: Frequently Asked Questions and the People Who Ask Them

Oh, Bangladesh. To unpack this country is the stuff of lifetimes. But let’s begin with this: Bangladeshis are a curious lot. And there are a lot of them, as in 150 million or so, all living in a country the size of the state of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin!

Bangladesh doesn't get many foreign visitors, either. So if you do drop in and take a walk just about anywhere, chances are that you’ll be swamped in humanity. (God forbid that you actually stop moving, for you might not be able to move again.)

Visiting a School in Hatiandha, Bangladesh
Audrey in the role of the Pied Piper at a village school.

And people will ask many questions — that help them learn about us and that we believe say much about their culture. So we offer images of a few of the people we’ve met, the questions they’ve asked, and the way they’ve asked them.

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The Destination Is Everything, The Destination Is Nothing

bangladesh tea garden

Have you ever set off for a destination not really caring whether you actually arrive?

The other morning, we hopped on rented single speed bikes (they looked like racing bikes, but rode like penny farthings) and headed off into the tea plantation hills of eastern Bangladesh. Our destination: Madhabpur Lake, 25 kilometers outside of our base of Srimongal.

We thought the lake would be nice, but figured the bicycle journey there and back would offer some interesting experiences and a new perspective on the people who lived in the villages and amongst the tea plantations.

Young Tea Picker Outside Srimongal
Picking Tea Outside of Srimongal, Bangladesh

As often happens, getting to the lake was far more interesting than the lake itself. And this got me to thinking: What was the purpose of the lake – the destination — in the first place?

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South Indian Food: A Few Favorites

So you think Indian food is just chicken tikka masala and palak paneer?  Think again.

Recently, I’ve settled into a familiar morning routine: a masala dosa and sweet milk coffee in a simple canteen just down the street.  Attendants make their rounds with metal pails full of sambar and colorful wet chutneys, ensuring that all customers have ample supply, more than enough to eat.

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