Paris, France. Part I: The Local
I had one “simple” goal when arriving in Paris: to simulate being a wealthy, unemployed local who is writing a novel. Yes, everyone has their fantasy. I will just come right out and admit, mine is to be an unstarving artist who lives (not vacations) around the world. I’m off to a good start with my Indian and British experiences, but I do have a day job. So with Paris, for now, I’d have to fake living there. The first step in doing this was simply making the choice of staying longer than the usual weekend, or even the standard week. I chose two weeks; which is actually a lot of time for someone who has already seen the major tourist sites, is very familiar with the city streets, and has already accumulated a list of favorite neighborhoods and cafes. It would be two weeks of unemployed living, not touring.
Edinburgh, Scotland. Part 1: “Summer Surprise”
When I woke up on the morning of July 28, 2011, I had no clue or warning about the magical portal that would soon be opening before my eyes. I had just returned to London from a very relaxing vacation in Barcelona, and was looking forward to spending the next few days lounging and writing at home. Well you can call it procrastination if you want, but I prefer to see it as listening to the repeating inner voice that kept screaming, “Jeff, dude, you really need to check out Edinburgh.” I didn’t feel like seeing a doctor about this voice-thing, and thankfully still had four more days before prison security would be making me return to my work desk, Monday morning. And so just a few short hours later, I found myself standing in London’s, Euston Station, buying a train ticket to a city I’ve never even thought of before. In the past, spontaneously following intuition has led to some of my life’s most joyous moments. I can now happily say, choosing to listen on that day has given similar results. It led me to a place on this planet that, for some reason, makes me feel like there is nothing wrong with anything, anywhere. For me, Edinburgh, Scotland has definitely become that kind of place. Continue Reading
London, England. Part I: Goodbye America
Someone recently asked me, “You are either running from something, or searching for something. Which one is it?”
The decision to leave America was not very difficult for me. In fact, I will claim that it wasn’t a decision at all. In my non-scientific, spiritually-based, easily-challengeable opinion, the universe made the choice for me, and I just chose to finally listen. I actually began feeling the signs that it was time to leave, years ago, which is why I selected the 2009 Indian Adventure Package from life’s online ordering system, hoping that it would address the questions I had about my life path. When the package arrived, and I returned home from that powerful experience, I spent most of 2010 with a feeling that I was still missing something. So my difficulty was not in making the decision itself; it was in telling people I personally and professionally care about, that it was time for me to go. It was in quitting my job without having a single interview scheduled. And as brave (or stupid) as it may look to just quit your job, toss everything you own into storage, and fly away with some clothes and a laptop, I assure you I spent a significant amount of time wondering if I was going insane. Thankfully, I have a belief-system that claims the universe takes care of people who perform leaps of faith. I know; convenient to believe this, it is indeed. But if there are millions of people who believe the Red Sea physically parted, or that a snake literally talked to Eve, then I get to have my friendly-universe story. Continue Reading
Part 1 of 3: Goodbye India
I just spent the last 6 months of my life on the other side of our galaxy. During that time, I discovered an alien civilization, uncovered the meaning of life, and had a few conversations with God himself, in person. In fact, He showed me around His home, and over dinner explained to me the truth behind human origins. He was about to explain physics’ holy grail, “The Unified Field Theory”, when my BlackBerry phone interrupted with an e-mail. My work place was responding to a message I had sent a few months ago. In that e-mail, I explained that I had many important discoveries and experiences to share with the human race, and was asking for an extra two weeks to gather more data, and roam the universe before returning home. The response was, “That’s great Jeff. We need you at work, Monday at 9:00 a.m. See you then.” So I hugged God goodbye, explaining that I was a slave to the man back home, and promised Him I would be back. He replied, “I know you will, dawg…I know you will.” I didn’t like His overly sure tone-of-voice, but whatever. He’s cool. I then got on a flying machine of some kind, received some free food and alcohol, and found myself in Los Angeles, California on Aug 11th, 2009; 177 days removed from the moment my “flying fantasy capsule” left home on a rainy day in February. Continue Reading
I’ve spent significant time and effort in this journal, documenting how gentle, and kind the people of India are to me. It’s an extraordinarily spiritual culture, filled with loyal families that intensely love each other. The television and radio waves overflow with upbeat Bollywood singing and dancing, all day, every day. As a westerner, I am treated like a king in restaurants and hotels, constantly asked what it’s like in America. I can walk into a restaurant that I haven’t been to in weeks, and I am greeted with a bright smile, “Hello, Mr. Jeff.” One waiter wants me to teach him the rules of basketball. Another wants me to bring in my favorite Hollywood movies. In return, he has given me a few Bollywood DVDs, and is eagerly awaiting my review and opinion. Hotel staff members constantly ask me if I’m done reading the Mahabharata yet. They also beg to hear the music I’m writing, as my room is littered with music theory books. One day, the girl behind the reception desk looked like she was going to start crying, when she asked me why I never attend any of the hotel functions and parties. Another night, I received a knock on my door from an extremely shy and friendly hotel staff member. A few months ago, she saw me in the restaurant downstairs. I was editing photos from my trip to Egypt. It took her two months to find courage to knock on my door, and ask if I could please send them to her. She explained how she will never be able to make it to the pyramids in her lifetime, and really wanted to see my photos. I will never receive this much care, concern, and attention anywhere back home. Family and friends. Yes. Joe Hotel, or John Restaurant? Not a chance.
You do feel the gigantic “however” coming, right? Very good. I will now walk you through a typical Indian-style workday for good old me. Continue Reading
London, UK: Part 1 of 2
Living in India, there really isn’t a great reason to visit London for a short 4-day weekend. It’s about 12 hours of flying, one-way; not that much longer than flying from Los Angeles, California. It’s true, I could’ve made this trip at any time in the past from my homeland. Somehow though, I get the feeling flying into London while living in India, has a completely different impact on the psyche, than does flying in from Los Angeles. Ok, it’s more than a feeling. It’s a fact. The contrast between India and England, is something like the contrast between Mars and a bird. (Please feel free to make up your own non-sensical analogy if you didn’t like that one).
The impact Bangalore-to-London had on my mind was definitely profound. I found myself staring in amazement at intersections that actually have traffic lights, cars that really stay in their lanes, and restaurants that serve non-poisoned food. On my first night, I stood outside a bar, amazed by the fact it was 11:00 p.m., and still open (bars close early in Bangalore). I would later stare in awe at the subway system, the buildings, and almost started weeping when I stepped into a taxi cab, and the driver spoke fluent English. I even found the Apple Store on Regent Street, and felt embarassed at how much I missed walking into God’s store on a Saturday afternoon. Continue Reading
I believe every country in the world needs a town like Goa. I’m talking about a soft place to fall. A place where life feels gentle, and simple. Just thinking back to the weekend calms me, and reminds me that Earth is definitely a cool place to hang for a lifetime or so. It’s an amazingly chilled-out experience, and will leave one feeling refreshed for quite some time to come. If you’re looking for more dramatic travel stories, typical of the kind I sprinkle throughout this journal, you will have to be satisfied with words of peace and calm instead.
Goa is not over-commercialized, clean, and gentrified. She hasn’t become all Hawaii-Waikiki-Beach yet. This is still India, thank God. You still have people throwing their trash on the ground, stray dogs lounging everywhere, cows and goats roaming the streets, and water that will leave you sick for days. I wouldn’t want Goa any other way. The charm which lounges around her streets and beaches, needs to stay there forever. If Babu in the make-shift Tropicana Beach Shack ever becomes a white-skinned, Marriott-working, red-uniformed, name-tagged dork named Guy, I will weep profusely. Continue Reading
There were no lessons learned today. Sorry. I won’t be twisting my experiences into some kind of metaphorical, philosophical life lesson. No, on this day I just found myself sitting at my desk, peacefully writing up a tutorial on recommended lead lighting procedures for setting up a sequence.
There was a bunch of noise coming from the other side of the office though. And it kept growing louder and louder with each passing minute. I kept thinking how the people in animation had too much caffeine this morning…and how I wanted some for myself. You see, India gave me food poisoning for the second time in 3 weeks, and so I was feeling a little tired from staying up all night. I left my chair and took a stroll over to the other room, in search of this energy stimulus. Within seconds of that decision, I had more than a few people throwing powdered something-or-other on my face and clothes. Everyone seemed to be laughing at this, so I thought I better laugh too. I mean, sure, who wouldn’t be happy having this done to you at 9:00 a.m. on a Wednesday after a long night of stomach escapades? Surely, not I. Continue Reading
Taj Mahal: Part 1 of 3
India isn’t for people who aren’t yet ready to look past the surface of things. She wants you to be distracted by her outer shell. If you care an awful lot about the appearance of people, cars, and things, India will chew you up and spit you out faster than a Hollywood producer kicks an arrogant, talentless actress out of his office. India will use filth, poverty, odor, and other various weapons to cover her true inner beauty. If you can learn to see through all this, you will find that India is simply a gateway to your own inner world. If you can learn to see her soul, you might just end up seeing your own.
There are layers to India, and seeing into her can be pretty difficult. Even when you believe you’ve made great personal transformations that allow you to gaze even deeper, she will still poison your body with food and water. For example, two hours after I wrote The Arrogant American Does A 180, I became intensely sick. I will spare you the details of that long night. Just know that my overheated body felt like it was locked in an oven, while someone was twisting my stomach into a knot, forcing the food up, and not down. Still, I was not deterred.
But India has a long list of weapons. In fact, the more you think you understand, the more she’ll test to see if you truly get her. And this is where the story about my journey to see the Taj Mahal begins. Continue Reading
I have always intended this blog to be something more than me sharing what I did on this day, and what I did on that day. Raving about the Leela Palace is cute. Making fun of the smell is fun (for me). No, this blog is going to be a place where friends and family can track the character arc of Jeff Kasunic.
I say arc, because as I once stated, I landed in a “cesspool of 3rd world reality.” And now, I am living in my home. I am having good times with new friends, and exploring places in India I never would’ve ever imagined I’d be exploring in this lifetime. I say arc, because my work experience has transcended from a predictable routine I have mastered in L.A. (some could argue that mastery I’m sure), to an environment that gives me the priceless opportunity to make a difference in an artist’s professional life. Continue Reading