Why Go Off the Beaten Path?


The winning shot

Yesterday, we arrived in Paris. Last night, I slept for ten hours. My Fitbit logged eighteen restless minutes during my sleep marathon, but I don’t remember any of that. In the realm of professional sleepers, I’m the champ.

As I lay comatose, Pat learned he had won a photo contest—his second win in the past month. It gave him something to think about until he drifted off near dawn.

When I woke up this morning, I saw the announcement online. Pat was finally asleep. I was proud of him.

Last week in Philadelphia, he mentioned we should go to Indonesia. He rarely picks a country like this—both unsolicited and so far away. I immediately picked up my phone and googled “one month in India.”

“Here’s a really good trip. We could go at the end of our year in Paris. February. It’s a perfect month for India. We could spend a week in New Delhi. Then go to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. And then down to the blue city, Jodhpur.” (Yes, I realize the golden triangle of tourism goes to Jaipur. But Jodhpur is the city that Steve McCurry photographs. Mentioning Steve McCurry to a street photographer is like wearing a meat dress on a shark dive.)

Pat said, “Julie, I said Indonesia.”

“Indonesia, India, Indiana… what’s the difference?”

(I looked at the cards in my hand. A billion people? Non-potable water? Street photographer that blows the doors off? I knew which one to play.)

“I’d rather go to Indonesia.”

“You’d get better pictures in India.”

“You go to India. I’m going to Bali.”

Pat and I have survived these last five years by knowing when to let a discussion die. I changed the subject. He let me.

Both of Pat’s recently selected photos were taken in Guatemala. I love photos that connect to something inside of me, a memory or a goal. Guatemala is a county where children play with sticks and hoops and balls—no electronically induced trances.

When I was a kid, I left my house right after breakfast and returned only when my parents rang a brass bell nailed to the aging oak tree in our yard. During the long days of July, I would gulp down dinner and race back to a raging kickball game until the bell rang again at dusk. The minute my sister and I heard the clang, we ran for home. To return late could incur the worst of all punishments: spending the next day inside. Our skinny legs flew up the path.

Pat’s photo tapped into those memories. I love it on so many levels: I was there when he took it. It reminds me of my fairly idyllic youth. It was taken by my favorite photographer.

This morning, I casually pointed out to him, “You realize, both of the winning photos were taken in Guatemala. That’s no coincidence.”

“I know,” he replied.

I let him mull on this for a minute.

“Maybe we need to go to India.”

He was silent.

I did a happy dance.




Categories: Ruminations

Tags: , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. So what’s it gonna be? Indonesia or India? Loved the photo……so much life!

    Will and Julie

    The World

  2. Let us know if you are going to Asia – we are going to Burma, Bhutan and Nepal, and possibly India, on Oct. 5 for six weeks!

  3. I have to agree that India will provide a endless opportunities, but I think the same is true of Bali. I have spent some time in India (work) but not Indonesia. My trips to India were in the 1990’s, before digital, so all of the photographs I took are in a box somewhere in the garage!
    I still have great memories of India, the Red Fort, an iron pillar in Delhi that was placed there in the time of the Mongols, (it does not rust and no one seems to know why not.) There are memories of absolute poverty and beggars, that remain seared in my mind.

  4. India. Not that I’ve been, but think of the colours… the photographs will be spectacular!

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