eliot & drew bike through india for 3 months, trying to inconspicuously do some good in the world.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

ghost runners

i thought it was time i explained the name and mission of our little journey here.

if you've been reading this blog so far, chances are you know me and and eliot personally, but you may not know exactly what caused us to leave good jobs and spend lots of money to go halfway around the world for no good reason. back in college, me and eliot lived together for a couple years and had a lot of time to talk about a lot of things, and we kept coming back to a dream we both happened to share - to travel long distances using primitive means.

we talked about sailing or walking a long distance. we started building a railroad push-car to travel the abandoned railways of the United States. we never really found a focus but we knew we wanted to travel.  about two years ago, we got really serious about biking long distances - we figured it was a good way to see the world and a good way to meet people along the way. we were planning on africa but, if you follow the news, you know zimbabwe, sudan and kenya are not places you want to be right now. we both love all things india so we decided to go there.

regarding the name: suburban kids play pick-up baseball games all the time, and there aren't always enough players to make up a batting roster. so when a player makes it to a base, he places a "ghost runner" there. if the next batter can make it to the base, the ghost runner advances similarly.  the great thing is, the ghost runner plays for both teams. he doesn't do much - just stands on the base and helps out when and where he can. he helps, but he's not the batter, not the pitcher. just a runner, passing through.

we wanted to have a one-to-one cultural experience in india. we really believe in the idea of citizen-diplomats. there is no reason why diplomacy should be left to governments alone (and there's some pretty good reasons why we should wrestle some of that responsibility away from governments). go out into the world and help out where you can - don't try to save the world, just play the game. don't take sides. be respectful. be decent, and then move on.

we're relying on the kindness of a number of people - friends and family in india, friends and family here, strangers who have been nice enough to give us advice and the average person in india, who we're hoping treat us with kindness and hospitality in turn. it's been pleasantly surprising to me how much time eliot and i have spent researching manners and customs in india, discussing what gifts are and are not appropriate to give, how much space in our bags we can spare for things to give away. thing is, people are people everywhere and they just want to be happy. might be that means sharing a meal with a couple vagabond americans; might be that means leaving them the hell alone, and that's okay too.

we're all just passing through, folks. let's be excellent to each other.

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