Friday, June 03, 2005

Tales sans borders

Imagine this. You boot your cushy IT job. Pick up your savings and set off for the world. But this is no ordinary trip. Your baggage is full of stories and it gets heavier as you travel. Each time you land in a new country, you pick up tales from there in return for a few of yours. This is what Philippe Dulauroy (Dul) and Claude Mamier (Claudio) from France have been doing since August 27, 2003. Traversing cultures and exchanging stories.

The period of stay varies from country to country – from three and a half months in Mexico because of its huge size to a little over an hour in Colombia where they “walked across a road” to cross the unmanned border. So far, they have trodden through 23 countries. “Given the fact that there are around 200 countries, we have a lot of work to do in our lives,” says Claudio, as the two were passing through Jaipur on Thursday.

Of the hundreds of stories that they have heard, taken down and assimilated from various people they meet, the two plan to put about 200 of them one their website – The trip, which excludes Africa, hopefully finishes next year in May.

Besides the immense range of stories and cultures they encountered, Claudio and Dul were also stunned by similar tales that kept cropping up at various places. Like the Seven Crows in Czech Republic that became 12 Ducks in Turkey and changed to Six Swans in Jordan. “They could have been born at different places at the same time but it is not possible because it is a long story. What must have happened is that the story travelled with people and they changed the animals according to their choice,” says Dul.

However, it is not some ancient form of globalisation, he clarifies, “In fact, it is the other way around. This is where part of one culture travels to another, changes its form to become part of the new one. It is an exchange,” he adds. Unlike, as Dul cites, the “crushing politics and culture of the US”. “The only thing we had to keep in mind not to do during this trip was to be an American,” he states.

Despite their best efforts, the two failed to convince any sponsor to pitch in for their marathon story-telling session and have been living on about 13 euros each day of the trip. “They would ask for something humanitarian or something full of action. It is not easy for culture to get funding,” says Claudio. Now that they have come so far, Dul was optimistic of some assistance in their next endeavours. “We have a CV now, something to show the sponsors,” he jokes.

Enriched and encouraged by this trip, Claudio and Dul are hoping that they would not have to return to work in France. “But will we return to France? Who knows?” Dul pitches in immediately, his eyes glistening with the possibility of not doing so. “The world is a big place but there is no question on the fact that we are not going to step into that office,” he says. “We will make all the effort we can to see that we do not have to work,” adds Claudio.

One of my reports for Hindustan Times


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