Tag Archives: Indianapolis

“Unusual travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” – Kurt Vonnegut

The Unusual Dance to The Noodle

I was leaving the bar walking back to my car to head home for the night. I’m walking down Washington Street. There’s a gentleman who had turned directions earlier and was walking a few paces ahead of me. He then turned around to ask, “Could you tell me where to find The Slippery Noodle?” I give him those directions. I ask if he had been to Indy before and if he was meeting someone there. It is Wednesday night after all. I learn that he is in Indy for one night. This is his first and only night in Indy. I warn him that The Slippery Noodle may not be that busy on a weeknight and at this hour. Not sure of the night he had anticipated. I also learn that he is driving through Indy to the East Coast to fly out for his second tour in Iraq.

It takes  me 5 seconds to suggest something that may be of interest to him. I ask, “Had you read anywhere that Indy is #2 behind Washington DC as to having the most monuments?” “No,” he replies. I ask if he had noticed monument circle yet on his walk. Nope. “Oh, well, it is just one block away. I’ll walk there with you.” We walk to Monument Circle and take that in. I had been here once on an architectural tour which taught me to look up. I pointed out what I could remember that was unique or had a story. He seemed to enjoy it so I offered to walk him to The Indiana World War Memorial, one of my favorite places here in the city. We are standing on the top of the War Memorial taking in the view and he says, “I’m really glad you brought me here.” We continue to walk back towards where we initially met on Washington Street. I re-confirm the walking direction to The Slippery Noodle. We exchange a hug. He says, “Thank you so much.” We go our separate ways. We didn’t even exchange names, just took to the evenings dancing cues.

I wrote this story for the first time as a part of the CityWrite activities here in Indianapolis as a part of the National Day on Writing. CityWrite believes that everyone has a story to tell and has lived through an experience that everyone can learn from. Write yours.


A night out in Nairobi

A night out in Nairobi is exactly what I need before heading back to the Kenyan coast. Kelly with The Village Experience had made friends with one of the co-founders of the Africa Yoga Project and we decide to take her up on her offer for a night out and a bed and hot water bottle at her place. We meet Paige at her place. She is from New York City and had been living in Nairobi now for six years. Paige happened to score some tickets to a wine tasting we are excited to check out. Really grateful to have the opportunity to taste some African wines (and beers) and talk to the wine makers, brewers and distributors. This style of event is quite familiar to me. I felt at home.

My favorite wine of the night was the Meerlust Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from South Africa, that went for 3700 Shillings or $43 USD. It was as good as fine wine with age with the complexities of tobacco and earth. Heaven in a glass.

Managed to try a few craft brews from The Big 5 Breweries: Kifabock, a lightly hopped Dubbel Bock.  Nyatipa pale ale, which satisfied my bitter hop cravings. And ended with a Temstout which had nice notes of coffee and chocolate flavor.

The ladies loved the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It was their repeat tasting while we enjoyed a variety of delicious cheeses and flavored chocolates.

Then off to visit the casino. My first time. Of course my first time to visit a casino is in Kenya of all places. We play roulette. I bet maybe the equivalent of $10 USD and enjoy two double Johnny Black Label on the rocks. I win some and lose most.

Next stop? Tree House where Kelly had heard a DJ friend of hers was going to be. I found Caol Ila 12…neat please. We dance the night away. I danced with an older gentleman that completely took the lead to some music of spanish influence. I felt relaxed and simply enjoyed the night.

The Best of Kazuri Beads

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Visited Kazuri (small and beautiful) Beads. We meet the women that make beautiful beaded jewelry and accessories and take a tour of the facility. From soil to clay to paint to bake.

Those reading in Indianapolis can check out the selection  of jewelry at The Village Experience fair trade retail location at 6055 N. College Ave.

On Nairobi and a visit to the elephant orphanage

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Jambo (Hello) and Karibu (Welcome)

Arriving to Nairobi on a Sunday evening is good form as traffic can be troublesome during weekdays and Friday and Saturday nights. I get picked up from the airport and simply observe Nairobi on our drive to Wildebeest Eco Camp. The matatu (bus) stations have no lighting. In fact, there isn’t much light at all along man-made walking paths in the grass along the side of the road. It is a struggle for passengers to even cross street battling against the traffic. We pass mutatu stations with Wangari Maathai graffiti. Maathai was a Kenyan environmental and political activist. Her memoir, Unbowed, was recommended by our Village Experience guide prior to the trip. In Unbowed, Maathai does a great job of telling her story where the reader can understand what it was like to grow up in Kenya alongside learning about the history of the country. Drivers, my driver included, seem to drive without fear. They drive with faith, assertiveness and confidence. There are very few traffic lights and a couple roundabouts on this particular journey. Approaching the gated Eco Camp at dark, I hear frogs and walking up to my tent I take in the wonderful floral essence.

Our first day in Nairobi we visit The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanage. A beautiful and peaceful way to start the trip. They are open to the public daily during the 11 a.m. feeding time. We were joined by two classrooms of children. I couldn’t help but wonder if this is a frequent opportunity for these students or if today, together, we are all sharing this experience for the first time.

Grateful for the opportunity to join this itinerary organized by our host and Indy native, Kelly Campbell for The Village Experience: Upcoming Sustainable Tourism Trips.

Conversations at Bars. Third in a Series.

Go To The Libertine cocktail bar. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200.

Grab a seat at the bar and meet my new friend Adam. Your Bartender for the night. Adam hails from one of those fancy schmancy NYC bars where they specialize in Mezcal cocktails. My first drink was the Mezcal version of The Manhattan. Boozy. Stirred. Hint of Smoke and everything nice. I’m sitting with my new vegetarian friend and picking out something to nibble on. “Trotter Cakes” caught our eye with parsnips being listed as a part of the dish. Didn’t put two and two together that “Trotter” was for pig feet. I’m SOLD. But, my vegetarian friend couldn’t partake. (Don’t worry, she had a lovely dressed salad with radishes and dates.) So, Trotter Cakes. Amazing. The meat is shredded into two cakes with an ever so slightly crusted finish served over a bed of greens and a smear of a horseradish based cream sauce. This dish is succulent, these ingredients were made for one another. Adam had mentioned how good these were, so I asked for a drink recommendation that would pair well with the dish. He chose a bourbon whiskey based drink. I’m failing to remember all of the ingredients, but included an orange and chocolate bitters. He did well. The legs of bourbon on the glass was similar to the sweet juiciness from the meat, think gamey like duck meat. The textures and flavor of both truly complementary.

My friend and I are engaging in conversation with The Libertine staff and another guest, Zach, who travels to Indianapolis about 8 times a year. We all ooo and ahh and come together for a shared love of 21C and Proof in Louisville. I learn he is in sales and covers the midwest and make sure to tell him about staying at the Honor and Folly in Detroit. Zach comes over to talk to us and of course we are talking about what we are drinking. Zach doesn’t know what he’s drinking, he trusts Adam. He just met him. “Me Too!” I reply. We have a shared conversation about the term, “mixologist.” Taking to Adam’s point, where did mixologist come from? He doesn’t like it, he is a good “bartender”. And a good bartender is just right. I haven’t been to NYC, yet. Zach tells me how much I would love NYC, he says when I go, he even has a husband out there for me. A co-worker, Scott. Ha! Zach sells television shows to our local networks. Like the show reruns/second airs, past runs of the show “Community,” for an example. He sells content to local stations like WXIN. I was intrigued to learn more after reading a couple of articles on Netflix’s self-produced new content, House of Cards. Wanted to get his thoughts and dive deeper into his industry. I also wanted to know who sells Mad Men? The person. The Individual. AMC’s Mad Men has 2 million viewers. There are 80 million cable subscribers. Mad Men’s content is so valuable that AMC gets 40 cents per cable subscriber. Yes, per subscriber. That’s right, with only 2 million viewers. “They” are saying this is genius.

Moved on to Tastings, a wine bar, for some more, well. Tastings. You can get 2 ounce or full pour wines. I like to go here to taste some of the more expensive bottles that I wouldn’t commit to purchasing a whole bottle of. I love the leathery tobacco goodness that is hard to find in a cheaper bottle. You will usually find me bar hopping with my PUP messenger bag. It’s made from the old Colt’s stadium rooftop, a material that was salvaged before it’s demolition. I work for People for Urban Progress (PUP) two days a week. When people ask what I do I have something to show them. I met two lawyers in town from Minneapolis at the bar. I shared with them my work with PUP. They seemed to have some keywords for me. Minneapolis deflated their old stadium and it is made of fiberglass. My ears perk up, this is the material we use, teflon-coated fiberglass. It’s indestructible. They are able to tell me who to contact about it. They didn’t think that anyone had plans for it and that we may be working on a couple of weeks to salvage it. Cool. A MiniPUP. Thanks for the tip!

I get a message from my co-workers and friends from MacNiven’s, a scottish bar. They are all at Mass Ave Pub. And, well. We know what happens here. Real People. Being Real. Imbibing together, the way life was meant to be lived. It only takes one person. One Person. To make you feel wanted.

A New Day (or better known as our longest day of most likely the year)

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We arrive in Guatemala City to be picked up by a charter from deepStream. It’s about an hour drive into the mountains to Magdalena. The landscape is filled with political signs for the upcoming election, pedestrian overpasses (as I remember having over the track for Formula 1 in Indianapolis) and many familiar American fast food establishments. We arrive in Magdalena just as school was let out. The children share the streets with automobiles. We are greeted at the team house by Mark Schmidt. After lunch we set out to meet the fine women that make up a Baking School joined by Carlos Lopez and his wife Thelma.

Antoinetta welcomed us to her home. She and her husband, Jose, donated space above their home to provide a place for the women to learn. The women were dressed professionally on in black suit pants and white tops and hair nets. We went through brief introductions. The women, humble. Genuine. Full of joy. Sorrow. Amazing women. Two with young one’s strapped to their backs. A few other children playing in the room adjacent to us. The women on average had 4 to 6 children each. They all spoke of gratitude for the opportunity to learn, the opportunity to provide for their family. One of the women mentioned the extra money she was able to bring in was able to help put her brother through school, or pay for one father’s medical care. They left us with empanadas filled with sweet rice and raisins. We enjoyed later with the bold Guatemalan coffee we were spoiled with.

From the cooking school we walked to La Esquela de Arte. Some of the kids work was on the wall, simply tremendous! We heard Carlos’ testimony and the story that lead to the creation of la esquela de arte. Afterward walking to the home of Christian and his family. This is one of the families we purchased a 12×12 Love Project home for. They are currently living in a home-made of lamina, one room to include the bedroom and kitchen about  6×10 in size. This would be a family we would be working with later in the week. In hearing Christian’s testimony he spilled with gratitude and was at a loss for words. Incredibly humble, a stream of tears falling down his cheek. Mark provided us with some perspective. Christian works in the fields all day and brings home $4 US/day. If it’s a slow day, $3.75/day. He then comes straight home to assist the hired team of 3 on his home. The people of Guatemala are kind. Buenas tardes.

Grateful for the opportunity to serve here in Guatemala with Indy Metro Church. You can follow and give financial support to the ongoing projects in Magdalena at loveguatemala.org.

Conversations at bars. Part deux.

My parents would not be pleased. I stopped off at Tomlinson Tap Room, parked my bike in the public space on the southwest corner. On my exit, I noticed a gentleman reading under one of the lamp posts on a bench. I opted to ride my bike in his direction, kind of curious what he was reading. I almost felt as though I was intruding, but still continued to inquire, “May I ask what you are reading?” He went into explaining this murder mystery. The title and author escape me now. He was incredibly descriptive of the characters and synopsis as to his nearly a quarter way into the book. I listened. In trying to find some sort of similarity, I mentioned that I had read a few murder mysteries by the author Mary Higgins Clark and inquired if he had read any of her books. He had. Great. Our conversation grew into present day politics, business and our synopsis or beliefs on why things are the way they are today on a few different topics. Finally, an introduction to Jeffrey, 53. I inquired if he had any children. Two daughters, Danielle, 23, and Elizabeth, would be 20. It had been 14 years since he had seen his girls, but not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about them. I asked if he had a photo of them. He did not. I replied, “But of course you have their photos in your mind.” Although, they were ‘yay high.’ he replied.

Jeffery is from Mooresville. That is where I grew up. He had lived in Colorado and Texas. He wasn’t a fan of Texas. He mentioned he enjoyed speaking to me as it had been a while since his last opportunity to have an intelligent conversation. Another gentleman came up, he inquired to Jeffery, “Are you homeless?” –Kind of rude, if you ask me– as if trying to bud into our conversation in a rude manner. Jeffery simply replied, “Why?” The guy, closer to my age, said, “Be careful on Ohio Street, apparently someone is going around with gasoline and spraying the homeless who are sleeping.” We all came together as to how asinine the idea of this is. Then, paying attention to time, I had been there an hour. I politely excused myself for my bike ride home. I’m sure I’ll see Jeffery again. I’ll carry a book on me to be ready.