Thursday, April 3, 2008

Come Say Hello

by Rita Golden Gelman

Hello Again,
I am, of course, writing all this stuff in the hope that you will be tempted to stop by Book Passage on Friday, April 4th at seven PM, when I will be giving a talk about "connecting"...with people all over the world.

Connecting is what life is all about for doesn't matter who or where or when: people are my passion. I've been moving around the world, meeting people, living in their homes, participating in their lives, sharing their secrets since the day in 1987 when I divorced and asked myself the question, "What am I going to do for the rest of my life?" The answer was, "Live my dream." For me, that dream was to learn about life from people all over the world.

When I talk to kids in elementary schools (my kids' books are listed on my web site,, I like to tell them that after twenty-two years on the road, I've learned two things. The first is that we're all different: different noses, different bodies, different feelings, different colors, different languages, different hair, different voices, and more. And the second is that we're all the same. Everybody laughs and cries and burps. Everybody eats and sleeps, gets mad and sad. And lots lots more. I often ask the teacher to write an "everybody" book with the class after I've gone. The kids really get into it.

I love discovering the sameness as much as learning about the differences. It's why I travel. I find that I have to hang around for a while to learn both. I'm not a candidate for a few days here and a few days there. I have to hang somewhere for months, years sometimes, before everyone is relaxed enough to share feelings, disappointments, the harsh realities of life, the beauty of rites of passage. And I have to be living with the people in their homes or compounds or villages long enough to become background. Looking on from the outside doesn't work for me.

One of the questions I'm often asked is: how do I find my way into those homes and compounds? I'll talk about that on Friday. It's always different. I don't have a set routine...basically I leave myself open to whatever comes along. When I'm asked for travel tips, I skip over the practical bits such as "travel light and carry itch cream." I'm going to end my blogging here with some tips that will enrich your travel and even your life. Maybe they'll bring up some questions that you can ask me Friday night.
  • Smile a lot
  • Talk to strangers
  • Accept all invitations
  • Eat everything you're offered
Try 'em, they work wherever you are. rg

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