Story behind the Picture #13 When in Rome . . . .

When we travel, many of us will at least pay a nod to the old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. I guess that this is generally useful advice, in particular paying attention to socially acceptable dress and behaviour, and I have heard numerous instances of people thrown out of places of worship for wearing shorts, hauled off for kissing in public, and of course being obnoxiously drunk. It seems to me rather odd, even disturbing, that so many people will demand that visitors to their country adhere to the current views, but obstinately refuse to adapt their own behaviour when abroad. However, the choices we make once out of the office and ‘into the wild’ can be surprising, even to the participants. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have told me ‘I’d never have dared do that before’, and am glad I was able to help them go off the rails a little, its good to get out of your comfort zone.

“Reprobates” enjoying a quiet chillum in Rajasthan

 Some folk wholeheartedly throw themselves into the experience with a gusto which is breath-taking to their fellow travellers ! The cheery reprobates above were smoking hashish or opium in their small chillum pipes and one of my customers – a Danish woman if I recall correctly, straightaway launched into the experience at the first opportunity; (she was none the worse for wear, but remarkably laid back for the rest of that day !)

Danish lady enjoys taking a bad example to heart !!

Some activities might be best left to those accustomed to the challenges of life in distant parts, such as the ex-jockey I had on one tour who was determined to have a shot at racing on a camel. I can assure any prospective camel riders that the level of excruciating pain is not easily sustained by the unwary. He did, however, stay on, which is more than I did.

Very little contact at high speed on a brainless animal !

You may find yourself being cajoled into a ‘novel’ experience by a well-meaning tour leader, against your better judgement. Most of my Scandi tour customers didn’t throw themselves, exactly, but teetered timorously into a lake that lies alongside the Arctic Circle in Sweden. The ice had only disappeared a few weeks before. The local newspaper heard of this bizarre ritual and sent someone to photograph us ! Thankfully, nobody suffered a cardiac arrest !

Evidence of the barmy British braving icy waters
Swimmers posing by the Arctic Circle sign

Some apparently innocuous day to day activities can present the imagination with an overload of premonition. I don’t know how many thousands of chins this guy has shaved, for me, the sight of a surgically sharp open razor carries too  many associations of horror. I was terribly brave, and well shaven to boot.

Close shave at Pushkar – Yikes !!

Whenever you travel, make sure you have a go at the things you find a bit uncomfortable, we learn most in a mini-crisis, and you’ll often (no guarantees!) feel the better for it




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