The Laughing Backpack

LAUGHTER ACTIVISM : world tour/documentary/book LAUGH * LOVE * LEARN

Mardin, improvised show

April 12th 2018
Social Circus never rests, neither Chengo. 1st improvised show of the Wallis troupe for school kids. Being a nomadic laughter activist is pure happiness. 
Turkey www.sirkhane.org

 PARIS October 2017 by Jan Hettenkofer EVER  www.fr.everphotoshoot.com

PARIS October 2017 by Jan Hettenkofer EVER www.fr.everphotoshoot.com

CURRENTLY

MAY 2018

I've spent more than 2 months working in a Social Circus called SIRKHANE in the wonderful city of MARDIN, Eastern Turkey. There, I've been teaching drama and clown to Turkish, Kurdish and Syrian kids and teenagers. 
I also had the incredible opportunity to act as a clown in the GALAXI project. With the Galaxi bus we, international and local artists, have been presenting a circus show in the villages close to the Syrian borders spreading messages of Love, Tolerance and fighting against child work, abuses...

Now, I'm on my way back to France hitchhiking with a friend + some friends

FEBRUARY 2018

Some updates...

  • the book + happiness secrets guide is more than in progress...
  • the documentary is also in good progress and will be professionally edited later this year by the best of the best film editors, somewhere in Spain
     
  • I've been trained by the incredible Peter Shub in January in Barcelona and also met fantastic clowns from Catalunya, Austria, Italy, Argentina... And maybe a new clown partner in crime... TBC!
  • I'll be trained by Jango Edwars and I'm so happy to travel back to my beloved Italy for that
     
  • I'll be heading soon to Turkey to be a volunteer in a wonderful place for a couple of months http://www.sirkhane.org/
  • I'm thinking of options in South Asia (most probably Vietnam) wishing to collaborate with those guys https://www.schoolontheboat.fr/

NOVEMBER 2017

After 366 days I'm in Paris. I can't say that I'm back because I don't feel so.
My mind is still in my backpack and dedicated to my projects ongoing.
My soul is still traveling and connected to the thousand smiles and beautiful souls I've been meeting on my way.

I'm working on: 

  • my documentary, obviously
  • on a travel-journal book
  • on a special happiness secrets little book

I'm still traveling and will be volunteering with Patch Adams and worldwide clowns in Russia (Nov. 2017)

My journey is now part of me. LAUGH, LOVE, LEARN as a daily motto! 

BITÁCORA

MENU

I. SWEDEN

II. ESTONIA

III. RUSSIA

IV. PALESTINE

V. LONDON

VI. ISRAEL

VII. KENYA

VIII. SOUTH AFRICA

IX. REUNION ISLAND

X. back to SA: JOHANNESBURG

XI. ARGENTINA

XII. URUGUAY

XIII. BOLIVIA

XIV. CHILE

XV. COSTA RICA

XVI. AUSTRALIA

XVII. JAPAN

XVIII. NEPAL #1

XIX. TIBET

XX. NEPAL #2

XXI. INDIA

Soon followed by my triangle-nationalities-hearted countries: FRANCE / ITALY / SPAIN

I. SWEDEN (17 days / September)

From vacationer to traveler...

CITIES:  Stockholm, Gothenburg (capital of Swedish humor), Kalmar, Öland, Linköping and Vaxholm.

TRANSPORT: By train and bus (because the train is not always running...) and walking a lot (in spite of my painful bunion).

ACTIVITIES: Meeting Swedish comedians (Pontus StröbaekIsak Jansson and Ato Karlsson), cousin of friends and friends of friends. Learning new Swedish words (Hej, tack, absolut...) and trying not to name IKEA furniture to communicate.

HOSTING: From smelly shared hostel room to this magic cabin on an island. I've also loved to sleep in a Dino 5 years old boy room, TACK dear Emil!

FOODING: mysterious meatballs, fish (smoked and very salty), creams and sauces. 

DISCOVERIES: EUROVISION is very important. / The Vikings wrote a book called EDDA (sacred book) in which they wrote jokes and encourage people to drink (quite a lot)  to tolerate the human stupidity. / Clichés are true: IKEA and H&M are everywhere (but WEEK DAY is better), I'm singing ABBA hits all day long. / New ideas of comic monologues. / Specific humor: WORK IN PROGRESS...

II. UNEXPEcted stop in estonia (TallinN) 

I left Stockholm and boarded Princess Anastasia, ship of St Peter's line, towards St Petersburg. Didn't know it was going to be a delicious mix between Titanic (talking about my 3rd class cabin without Irish violin concert, obviously) and the Love boat (beloved 80's Tv show). The great surprise after almost 20h without WiFi (I did survived, yeah!), it's Tallinn, the Estonian capital. Wow! Won't have time to discover their laughter mystery but I'm enjoying the rain, the local beer and local dishes.

 

III. RUSSIA (St Petersburg & MOSCOW)

a. St Petersburg

"Siempre he confiado en la bondad de los desconocidos" could be the quote for my arrival in the city. Rainy and cold day, my host wasn't home but 3 Russians fishermen rescued me and comforted me with Caucasian tea. 

Since then, I'm very grateful to my friend Astrid who told me to visit Russia, what a good advice! Discovering the city of Peter the Great. On the 2d day, sun and luck were back and I could make my 1st interview, спасибо Sasha!

However, I think cities have soul, color and an associated word. Former Petrograd is a majestic city but its "grey loneliness" is tangible. 

B. MOSCOW (WOW)

A REAL great surprise! A city full of theaters, Art Deco * Art Nouveau buildings, artistic expressions... I wish I had stayed longer and I had studied Russian...

TRANSPORT: Sapsan (High speed train), metro (decoding the subway station names like Калужско-Рижская), bus and my favorites orange NIKE.

ACTIVITIES: crossing streets (challenging death), testing Vodka resistance, paparazzi, looking for typical laughters and especially smiles.

HOSTING: Flat-mating with Sergeï, expert in Rubik's Cube and sparkling Russian wines.

DISCOVERIES: Speaking Russian is essential / Starbucks and stand up are globalized / You can do stand up in English or Russian but you have to choose / Never seen that much theaters / a magical incense and singing Orthodox Mass / Yuri Nikulin, THE Russian clown

COLOR: a rainbowed theater

 

IV. PALESTINE فلسطين

 

After one holiday night in Jerusalem, 2 buses and a cab, I've arrived to Project Hope (http://projecthope.ps/) in Nablus, Palestine.

I'm being a volunteer teaching French and mostly drama to kids and teens of Refugees camps and I'm sharing a Spanish Apartment (if it's not the case, watch this iconic French movie) with guys from all around the globe. I'm their baba...

The 1st day I met a magic old man close to the Clock Tower of the old city, he spoke to me in arabic and, thank to my translator, I understood that he loves the former French president, J. Chirac, that I look like to his cousin, that he gaves me 25 yo and that I'm "beautiful". Good start, isn't it?

Since then, I admire the kindness, hospitality, smile, bravery and pride of the Palestinian people. !شكرا

NABLUS نابلس

PROJECT HOPE

How could I talk about my journey in Palestine without mentioning this amazing association and its wonderful team and job. I've been learning so much in such a short time. The PH team provides Arabic lessons (twice a week), quality placements for work according to your capacities and wishes and an exciting varied activities evening program (cooking lessons, shisha, bowling, movies...) and for the weekend (painting school walls, picking olives...). I really felt home and had memorable times with all of them and with my fellow volunteers. Chokran Hakim, Tawfiq, Ahmad, Nour, Noura, Dima... I really miss you and I'll come back very soon!

what about the LBP project in palestine...?

Once again I've been lucky with the great meetings I've experimented:

  • Mustafa the filmmaker
  • his clown friends from the Circus school of Nablus
  • Alaa from the Freedom Theater of Jenin
  • my bodyguards-interpreters-translators
  • the kids/teens/students I've been teaching drama to
  • Skype interview of Nene, Colombian clown-artist-philosopher based in Norway

All of them helped me understanding what laughter means in the West Bank. They will obviously be part of the final documentary.

Also, being in Tel Aviv and thank to my friend Zvika, I went to a Stand Up comedy show at the Stand Up Factory in the very hipster Florentin area.

In the FOOTSTEPS of JESUS...

* JERUSALEM  القدس

* BETHLEHEM  بيت لحم (danke Simon & choukran Sor Valeria)

V. (Flash) LONDOn

Real odyssey (7 buses, 1 tram, 1 train, 1 plane, 1 cab - 17 hours ish) to travel from Nablus (Palestine) to London (UK) but friendship, passion and laughter worth it!

Agenda: family activities, kids laughters, Laura Pausini concert and interview with the comedian Dave Thompson (Brighton).

Vi. Israel

Tel Aviv & the Dead Sea

Crossing checkpoints, walls, moving borders... it's easier for a foreigner like me but nothing pleasant nor peaceful (and I chose my words).

Even so, I've met very kind and welcoming people like Zvi(ka) or this nice girl on the bus. I get lost in Tel Aviv, a strange mix between the very Ottoman Old Jaffa and a strange gay version of Miami Beach. I also rented a (very expensive) car to discover the astonishing beauty of the Dead Sea and its landscape and seen the amazing mountains of Jordan.

VII. KENYA

I've left Palestine, not easy at all to be honest... I already feel Palestinian and miss my people there!

KARIBU SANA KENYA

DEFINITION: loud mess full of colorful smiles

BEING a VOLUNTEER: painting school walls, drama lessons with orphans, varied activities @ Barnabas Children Center http://barnabaschildrencenter.com, HIV women empowerment @ Community Light Project www.communitylightprogramme.org, marketing local products.

PLACES: Nairobi, Kikuyu, Masai Mara National Reserve, Mombasa, Shanzu, Malindi (Little Kenyan Italy).

LPB PROJECT: meetings with magic and young talents: a 17yo brillant comedian / “China” the great and official spiritual son / attend a comic play at Little Club Theater of Mombasa / shared moments with 11th and 12th graders of Rosslyn Academy / Cosmas the deep dive comedian / Masai chief.

ACTIVITIES: safari, taking pictures, ride motorbikes and tuc-tuc, eat but “keep” local delicious dishes, jump on crazy matatus (local public buses), cold showers, wifi searcher, bargaining, surviving to mosquitos attacks...

PEOPLE & SMILES: very welcoming persons met on my road from Kenya and all over the world (China, Canada, Russia, Australia, New Zealand...) / adorable local family in Shanzu (Mombasa): Ed’s the boss, Nick singer/composer, John dancer, Shaniqe & Gloria, my always smiling sistas, the laughing 2nd wife of the grandfather, Babou.

Laughter can move the world as my friend Giacomo from Sant'Elia (FR / Italy) says and my journey goes on!

 

And if you want to help, collaborate, donate:

http://www.communitylightprogramme.org/sponsor/awaiting-sponsorship/

https://www.facebook.com/pg/OKOA-Jahazi-650593788360269/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1171178506301792

VIII. SOUTH AFRICA (ZA)

Asante sana Kenya, see you soon! Welcome to South Africa, Cape Town where I've spent around three weeks. The NATURE is impressive, the city is very interesting. A strange mix of San Francisco (California), Europe and some former French colonial city. I've the impression to be at a crossroads, so many nationalities living here or visiting. The gap between the white society and the black one is still so huge even if I sound cliché and naive. I'm sincerely and genuinely confused, I thought that the unique work of Mister Nelson Mandela had erased that so big disparity.

VOLUNTEER: English classes at Scalabrini Center for refugee kids from Syria, DRC and Zambia / drama workshop in a settlement with amazing kids from 2 to 17, yes I've made it! Thank you SAVE foundation.

LBP documentary: ZIP ZAP Circus school / Cape Town Comedy Club / Conrad Koch : THE South African ventriloquist / interviewing people from Langa, one of the oldest townships of SA / meeting doctors to talk about laughter and healing 

BIG NOVELTIES! 1) Laughter Yoga. Meeting with Sylvester a Laughter Yoga teacher and a 3 days yoga retreat in Greyton, eco-organic village. 2) Couchsurfing. Trained and coached by IBM, my Swiss French friend, I'm now a better couchsurfer ready to meet magic people like Charmaine, in the mystic mountain!

HOSTING: After a few days living with the South African version of Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, I'm sharing again an international apartment with flatmates from Italy, Germany, US, Austria, Switzerland and Denmark. 

 

ix. REUNION Island

Cape Town - Johannesburg - Mauritius - Saint Denis... 3 flights to spend Christmas, my Bday and NYE with my lovely friends and their smiley and always laughing 8 months old boy, Ellis! I also had the big surprise of my big bro flying from Paris to spend time with me!

The island is a paradise and the agenda, unique: one beach a day, sunset champagne concept, gifts opening...

I've also interviewed a very sweet and smart French clown, Oliver RACCA and Lino, founder of the Lino Comedy Club, thank you guys for your time! FELIZ HAPPINESS a TODOS! 

x. Back in Johannesburg  

I left the Reunion Island and flew to Johannesburg to spend 2 more days there. One more time the generosity of an anonymous man saved me in a Airbnb issue in the middle of the night... Kenny, thank you again brother! I've met Prins and attend his Monday Night Comedy in Melville. I've also discovered the house where Gandhi spent some years and then visited the Apartheid museum. Mandela and Gandhi had so much in common... Both also talked about laughter:

“Genuine laughter is true eloquence and more effective than speech." Mahatma Gandhi

"Tread softly; breathe peacefully; laugh hysterically." Mr Nelson Mandela

xi. ARGENTINA

After more than 13 hours flight and some complications at the airport of Joburg (I was suspected for traveling with a one way ticket, no proof of hosting... Clandestine immigration? Traffic? ), I'm in Buenos Aires again. Land of Mafalda and her universal and committed humor.

Unexpected longer stay in the Argentinian capital. Lunfardo melody (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunfardo), humor in their veins and gens, music, friends (good and also new ones), artists, endless nights, street art https://www.instagram.com/tanoveron/...

I'm so happy to be back in this crazy city, a magic mix of what I can be and that makes me feel so HAPPY and ALIVE!

Special thank to my friends Luis, Paola, Maxi and Chiara, I felt more than home.

My documentary is getting richer with great meetings: teenagers talking about humor, a psychologist with a PHD in laughter, a tango artist-humorist, stand-uppers, clowns... I attended original and funny shows, went to the Museum of Humor, yes they have one. And I also had a proposition for a show by a porteño producer.

SPECIAL THANX to: JAVIER http://www.javiercamacho.com.ar/,RUDY http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0155915/, DANIEL http://espacioaguirre.com.ar/?gclid=CJOBkYLPxdECFYwEkQodUdMNhg, CARUCHO y RUBÉN http://www.standuptime.com/shows/prohibido-no-reirse/ and more...

ARGENTINA didn't cry but LAUGH for me! TAN AGRADECIDO, TE LLEVO en mí!

XII. Uruguay

From Buenos Aires, crossing the river Río de la Plata, I've arrived in Uruguay, in MONTEVIDEO, where my musician friend Martín lives. Is there any best way to be introduced in a city than by the emperor of the arty-music-jazz nights?

Since I'm here, I'm recording almost an interview per day. I've already met:

I've also attended a wonderful clown workshop, for 3 days with Florencia @ Casa Camaleón https://www.facebook.com/casa.camaleon was AWESOME!

 

And I'm obviously discovering the beauty of the Uruguayan East Coast, the taste of their food, wine and cheese, the laughters of friends meeting for an asado (local BBQ), the sound of an improvised terrace concert at night with people passionated by another crazy project: https://www.facebook.com/Fagote-Viol%C3%A3o-na-Estrada-660020064177689/

As Violeta Parra used to sing: GRACIAS A LA VIDA!

XIII. BOLIVIA

Here I am, moving again. Welcome to Sucre, Bolivia. I'm working here as a volunteer for a couple of weeks, https://thebeehivesucre.com/, a very nice to stay, rest and relax. Even if I had some issues with the management, I've loved my first experience working in a hostel, especially welcoming guests, preparing breakfast and laughing and singing with my dear coworker, Daniela! TE VOY A EXTRAÑAR!

HISTORY. As a Spanish philologist it's a dream coming true to visit Bolivia. Names I've studied in College becoming real: Sucre, Cochabamba, Potosí...

THE LBP PROJECT:

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDSHIP. That's the beauty of traveling, meeting great and amazing people! I feel so lucky! Faby BOLIVIA, Lisa SWEDEN, Kate UK, Juanjo BOLIVIA, Connor IRELAND, Sergio MEXICO, Miguel SPAIN, Nicola UK, Lauren AUSTRALIA, Matt IRELAND, Phil US, Fernando BOLIVIA, Ale BOLIVIA, Hannah US... Sorry if I'm not mentioning all of you even if you made my trip, MERCI!

I'm typing at my favorite café of the Chuquisaqueña capital (Sucre), the METRO (as the French subway-tube) and I feel sad to leave this little life I've been building here but I feel blessed and happy to hit the road towards UYUNI and its SALAR (salt desert). IBRAHIM, this one is for you! 

XIV. CHILE

I've been discovering the beauty and the mystery of the Salt Flats of Uyuni (Bolivia) on my way to Chile with a crazy funny team made of Bolivian, Colombian, Peruvian and French new friends, and a globetrotter monkey!

I've arrived at San Pedro de Atacama, a lunar landscape in the middle of the desert. I've been working as a volunteer in a kindergarten with an alternative way of teaching... So much fun cooking for kids from 1yo to 6ish. I also had to feed daily a baby horse and bees, to clean composting toilets, to survive to cold showers and no wifi! I'm alive as my idol sings!

After 8 days in the North of Chile, I flew to the capital, Santiago, where Oscar, a Couchsurfing friend, let me his entire flat to discover this amazing city. 

Then, I've been living for 2 weeks ish in Isla Negra (the black island in Spanish, but it's not an island), 2 hours driving from there on the coast. Pablo Neruda used to have a house here. I was working in a spiritual-yogi-meditational hostel and living with a crazy spiritual-yogi-meditational woman and her 3 dogs. I've spent my days with the music of the Pacific Ocean and beautiful sunsets. Then, I've left or they "fired" me... But I'm the king of B plans, even C. The show always goes on. I've moved to Santiago and enjoyed so much and dedicated my time to the documentary. 

My LBP project is more alive than ever with new paths:

 CLOWNSIENTE workshop + intervention in Roberto del Río kids hospital of Santiago.  The same weekend, Patch Adams was in town. "Humor is an antidote to all ills." 

CLOWNSIENTE workshop + intervention in Roberto del Río kids hospital of Santiago.

The same weekend, Patch Adams was in town. "Humor is an antidote to all ills." 

   XV. COSTA RICA (Pura Vida, mae)

12th happiest country in the world

I've spent almost 6 weeks in Chile, the longest stay so far. I'm almost Chilean now, po!
Flying through Peru, I got to COSTA RICA where I've met my friend-sister Odile (what a complicated name to pronounce... Inside joke!) after 7 months of non seeing each other! What a pleasure and a magic moment!!!

Together we've been discovering for 10 days this tropical-green-jungle-eco friendly country. PURA VIDA (means pure life, a very common local expression). 

She left me to travel back to Europe, I'm back to business: the laughing backpack took a couple of weeks to rest and renew its energy. Now I'm going to live with my beautiful-soulmate-singer-globeliving friend Kyra and:

I've also had the luck and honor to be interviewed:

- on TV: EXTRA TV 42 https://www.facebook.com/david.cerrone/posts/10155267592428140 thank you Rodrigo!

- on radio, VIDAFM.CR with an amazing artist-poet-journalist Manuel Yglesias https://www.facebook.com/VidaFMCR/?fref=ts

XVI. australia

I'm sad to leave Costa Rica and the Latin continent after 4 happy crazy months there.
I really felt home thank to my friends and new friends. Me siento muy suertudo y agradecido, les llevo conmigo!

It was a (VERY) long journey: San José  - Salvador - L.A. (with a 10 hours lay-over) and finally Melbourne, losing a day on the way...
This time jet lag killed me, really! Happy to meet again with a fellow volunteer and friend met in Palestine, chokran Megan!

I'm so excited to discover this far far far away land! 

kango.JPG

KangarooFan

I've seen a kangaroo!!! From very close!!! Not the same luck with lazy koala tho! 
I've stayed in Melbourne, the cultural capital of the country, love you and St Kilda!
I've traveled to the magic Big Ocean Road (thank to the tip of my bro-friend Ibrahim) with a crazy team of people from all around the globe! So much fun, beers and impressive landscapes! 
Then, I've been discovering Sydney and got emotional with the Opera house, and discovered Manly and Bondi Beaches. Loved staying in Stanmore, hanging out in Surry Hills, Newtown, Redfern...
I also drove by myself on a solo road trip North Sydney for a couple of days and because I love challenging myself driving (again) on the left side of the road!
My journey here will end in Brisbane... 

Fantastic meetings and interviews for the LBP project:

TBC! Cheers! G'DAY!

XVII. JAPAN (こんにちは)

Konichiwa!  このすばらしい国へようこそ

WOW! Another kid dream coming true! My childhood manga TV shows made reality! Falling in love with Tokyo and the Japanese culture and reality. 2 flights, long layover in Kuala Lumpur but it worths it so much!
I've been discovering Tokyo, NIkko, Kyoto and Osaka. I've been surprised and amazed every single minute. ELEGANCE is the word which defines better this country and applies to cuisine, fashion, manners, architecture, interiors, gardens...

Regarding the LBP project, making contacts is not that easy. It seems incredible but Japanese people use more phone calls and fax rather than email... Also, most of the websites are in Japanese...
But the Samurai in me is much stronger!

Here are my ideas and universes explored or to think about:

  • An incredible interview with Hitoshi Miyasaka, an amateur Kibuki performer https://www.facebook.com/hitoshi.miyasaka.35?fref=mentions&pnref=story + the unique opportunity to follow him during an afternoon of performance with elderly people (make up, clothes, performance...)
  • CineMime with the TEN NINE group http://sekiya-makoto.com/tennine/. SPECIAL thank to my friend Hirofumi JINNO, a professional free lance translator, who was essential in that incredible personal show, meeting & interview
  • I went to a traditional dance and sing lesson in Osaka with a great teacher-dancer-performer and "laughing dancer" https://www.nihonbuyo.net/
  • I've attended one act of a Kabuki performance in Tokyo
  • Went to a multi traditional disciplines show in Kyoto
  • See an exhibition of my beloved Yayoi Kusama in Kyoto and received a reply for non possible interview from her team 
  • Assisted a Sumo wrestlers training (I didn't dare to ask about laughter...)
  • I've been in contact with the Tokyo Laughter Club, thank you Mary!

 

  • Geishas and their secret world (or expensive access to it)
  • Samurais movies
  • Mangas 
  • Pornography world (I know...)
  • Traditional Japanese theatrical and comic styles: Yose, Rakugo, Manzai, Yoruri, Owarai comedy...
  • Advertisements like Soft Bank ones (Jap. phone company
  • The Kawai culture
  • The Genins = comedians. Osaka is the capital of humor and comedians. But, again, I don't speak Japanese so reaching them was an impossible mission.
  • An interesting Laughter Measure machine invented by Professor Yoji Kamura

XVIII. NEPAL (Part I)

Wow! What a gap, from Tokyo to Kathmandu! I had a new layover in Kuala Lumpur and I can say that I felt home having my routines: where to brush my teeth, take a shower, the best coffee place, currency exchange, book store...

But the reality of Nepal is sudden, a strange mix of sensations, senses, smells, sounds, colors, contrasts... and SMILES! So many smiles offered as a NAMASTE, a welcome, a gentle handshake (not common here).

I've been here only for 5 days and I already count with so MANY meaningful meetings & interviews with:

- Sajana and the amazing work of SPAK Nepal https://www.facebook.com/SPAK-242227385829913/

Music therapy 

Shreeti Pradhan, a fantastic Music Therapist (+singer +performer) and her fantastic work @ Kanti Children Hospital with the Burn Ward Pediatric Section http://theglobalmusictherapyproject.com/incredible-work-music-therapist-shreeti-pradhan-nepal/

- The funny and talented Rajan Simkhada https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AR0oeNtEWrs

- Dipesh Khadgi, his love for KTM and his incredible mission https://www.facebook.com/suntalaghar/

- Govinda Raj Joshi and his initiative and page https://www.facebook.com/LaughNEPALLaughOfficial/

- Som Nath Khanal and his magic MANDALA THEATRE https://www.facebook.com/Mandala-Theatre-Nepal-160888760766/?pnref=lhc I'll attend to their ANTIGONE play and participate in a Mime workshop

- Julia and her fantastic No Name bar in KTM and her association https://www.facebook.com/oursansarNGO/

SO INSPIRING! And I'll be back there soon after my wonderful discovery trip to TIBET!

XIX. TIBET

Lhasa

I can't believe I'm here! I want to be a monk, a laughing one, as the Laughing Buddha. So far, my Tibet is made of mantras, smiles, laughters and laughers, prayers, stolen pictures of me, non authorized selfies and BEAUTY! I've been lucky and blessed to discover this fantastic land, to be guided by the one and only Tar Key and to count with a new friend, a real Tibetan monk, we communicate on WeChat!

XX. NEPAl #2

I'm almost at the end of my time in Nepal and I can say that I'm in love with this country, this people and with Kathmandu. It was not a love at first sight with the capital to be fully honest, but now, it's for ever!

I've been traveling through the country, by air and land but every time I came back here, in KTM, I was happy and I felt home. I have to say that for the 1st time in my life, a hotel staff made me feel HOME. Thank you to all the staff of the Kathmandu Garden Home http://www.kathmandugardenhome.com/ and to my room #203 for my cosy-family-happy time here.

I could discover other cities like:

  • Bhaktapur in the Valley, thank to the uncle of a friend (living in London) of an Australian friend...
  • Birtamode where I've met a great couple running a magazine https://www.facebook.com/LIFEpublication/ and having great projects and dreams for their region and country. Zunu I miss you and your food so much!
  • Pokhara, its lake and amazing Stupa with a great friend of mine, Amosh, धन्यवाद / "de rien" (inside joke)
  • Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha.

I've been working on my LBP documentary meeting a complete Nepali artist: comedian-actor-director-singer-dancer, nice meeting you WILSON https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilson_Bikram_Rai, hanging out with Nepali friends, meeting LGBT activist, Buddhist monks, yoga teachers, Indian travelers, street jokers...

I also had the privilege to give 5 drama workshops to kids from 5 to 17 yo in a KTM Children home, unique experience. I've been called "uncle" or "daddy" and received tons of laughters, smiles and love. म तपाइलाइ माया गर्छु।

Finally, it's also for me a spiritual quest (sounds cliché, I know) and a wellbeing research: exploring yoga and meditation, learning about the life of Prince Siddhartha, discovering Ayurvedic medicine, being massaged by blind therapist...

I'm happy with my journey and my documentary. I hope to be able to share with you through my images, sounds and colors what I've been experimenting for almost 11 months. 
But there's something that unfortunately I won't be able to share with you: the smells, perfumes and tastes...
 

You will have to travel by your own to discover our BEAUTIFUL WORLD! 

XXi. india

Leaving Nepal was not easy, I've spent almost 6 weeks there and I've met wonderful, kindhearted, loving, passionate, genuine and smiley people. I'll be back to present my documentary, to set up a special road-theatre project with my friend Amosh and so much more. TBC...

I'm writing from Bangalore or Bengaluru, South India. I'm staying at Nalini's apartment, the founder of this wonderful SHANTI foundation, http://shantifoundationindia.org/. Shanti means inner peace. She's been doing an amazing job for the last almost 2 decades helping and educating children.


My mission here is to give some drama-acting skills- body expression workshops to kids from 2-3 yo to teenagers, create a mural for the new building of the foundation, edit a little video presentation of their work and have so much fun with the CHILDREN. They call me "uncle" and make me HAPPY every single minute that I spend with them.

In India, like in Nepal, a guest is treated as a God. Never felt that important, and lazy! 

IMG_3362.JPG

Kids

In Nepal I was fascinated with the SMILE of Nepali people, here it's all about their EYES.

The LBP is obviously ON:

and so much more to come...

And obviously, I want to discover part of this HUGE and BEAUTIFUL land, dreaming of Agra, Dehli, Mumbay and Bollywood, Pondicherry, Calcutta...

Goa, 08/20/17

As you know I’ve been traveling for almost one year and it’s almost the end…. I’m full of mixed feelings obviously but I've the impression to be blessed with some truths. 
I’ve been searching for laughter everywhere but I also met love, smiles, generosity and kindness. The laughing backpack is also the HAPPINESS backpack: How can I be happy and make (my) people happy? You don't laugh because you're happy but you're happy because you laugh.

Because this is what my tour is finally about, understanding what makes me happy and what makes the world happier. Being happy is a decision, as Patch Adams says. But it’s also a fight, a daily struggle EVERYWHERE with the respective reality of each society.
In all the countries I’ve been living in I’ve met people dedicated to others, living to make life better, nicer, happier. EVERYWHERE. In Nablus, in Mombasa, in Santiago de Chile, in San José de CR, in Kathmandu, in Bangalore… I’ve became friend with people who are following their dreams and inspire me so much.

EVERYWHERE I’ve found smiles and laughter. I’m lucky to be able to speak fluently 4 languages but believe me, the best language I speak is the SMILE one. My best visa EVERYWHERE.

Reading the news can be really scary and I’m scared sometimes wondering how we got so crazy, so selfish, so destructive… But I swear, the world is small, very similar and BEAUTIFUL. The nature is impressive obviously but most of the beauty is human. We created arts, paintings,music, comedy, architecture, poetry…

We’re different because of laws, languages, rules, religions, prohibitions… But we’re all the same. Even religions have so much in common and teach originally the same: LOVE. 
We all believe in love, friendship, family, food and fun, laughter. EVERYWHERE.

I’ve been learning a lot, about myself, you, relationships, love, cooking, drawing, filming… Now it’s time to use all this knowledge in some new projects. 
I won’t lie, I’m a bit afraid to “be back” after 3 years away, from the craziness of NYC to the colorful world I’ve been discovering over the last 350 days.
Sometimes I wonder where’s home for me. But I’m lucky because my home is almost EVERYWHERE. Home is where I have a friend, a bed, a plate to share, some people to make laugh and hopefully happy.

I could be traveling all my life long but what is life if not a travel, a journey, most of the time an inner one. 
Find your way of happiness, be brave, find art and unite your talent with OTHERS.

I believe in education. Look at our kids before we teach them limits, rules, fears… They just want to play, share, laugh… We have to teach them to develop and nurture the inner qualities and values they have been born with.

LAUGH LOVE LEARN

David Chengo.