8 June 2018
Not the news I wanted to wake up and see, especially when broken to the world by someone who was so extremely close to him… I spent the morning sending out emails to many of my friends who were close to the late Anthony Bourdain, notes going north to Canada, west to Japan, east to France, south to Colombia and beyond.
I’ve only had a few quick words with him over the years in Midtown Manhattan, often in context of our mutual (now former) favourite sushi bar. But the role he played in modern culture is immeasurable. He brought the world to people, showed them the joys of travel and experiencing everything, that openness to new cultures is better than to be stubbornly rejective of things foreign — or perhaps a little frightening. He showed how when you make something personal, such as a place, a food, a drink, you gain a completely new perspective — and respect, and empathy, for something that had otherwise been foreign or unknown in your life.
This has been my mantra whilst travelling, especially these last few years. There is a strange force called Wanderlust in many of us, who choose to see as much as possible. No, not just the usual Barcelona-Cinqueterre-Prague trips that so many folks take, but going to as far to the edge or away from the norm as possible. I reckon Tony would have appreciate some of my adventures, whether it’s as mundane as a round of dawn golf on a windy Icelandic coast or a drunken Chilean bar crawl in areas tour guides tell foreigners to avoid… Or even trying to find my way to civilisation after being dumped in the middle of nowhere in Russia on a frozen December night, to contemplating about life at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Life looks very differently when you’re standing on top of a steamy mountain in central Cambodia, swimming in a festering river in India, doing a grapperia crawl in Bassano, sitting in a former KGB prison cell in Vilnius, standing at the Hypocentre in Hiroshima, throwing a coconut at a war criminal in Honolulu, or frankly, having ham and eggs in a small rural diner in Someplace, USA talking to the local folks.
The point, as Tony has made, is to just go and experience. Life, sadly, is too short not to get the most out of it. If we make it a better place by sharing, we leave it, eventually, in a better place. I don’t know how much of the travelling is left in me, the Wanderlust is ebbing. I’ve seen enough to last many lifetimes, but as long as it’s there I’ll still be on the road.
And yes, as AB always emphasised, not every travel experience is good. It should not be. There’ll always be bad food, bad scenes, and sadly, bad people. But that should make you appreciate the good moments even more, and those are the ones I truly treasure now.
Stay safe and be good, everyone. And really, keep AB’s spirit going by TRAVELLING!