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Passport to the World

I’ve been going through a bunch of old stuff since returning to Vejbystrand on Saturday. I brought with me three jam-packed binders with all kinds of ancient letters, travel memorabilia, odd concert receipts and even drawings from when I was a child back in 1968.

I don’t know what’s more impressive, the fact that I saved it all to begin with, or, that it’s survived all the moves I made on my own and all the addresses Charlotte and I have had since we met in 1996. While not exactly meticulously categorized, all of it is neatly placed inside transparent pockets. It really boggles my mind that I had the wherewithal to salvage so much of my history. I am above all happy for Elle. I don’t think she’s as confused about who her father is as I am about mine. But if she does read through some of my letters and those sent to me, including a rather lengthy, deep email exchange between me and a philosopher I was subbing at a high school for in Göteborg in the early 1990s.

Among the most interesting memorabilia is one of my old US passports. I became a dual citizen in 1998 or 1999 and most of the stamps are from the late 1980s or early 1990s. I’d almost forgotten how much I’d traveled before meeting Charlotte. So much so that in New Zealand, I had to ask the US consulate in Auckland to add a few pages to my almost fully stamped passport just to cover my onward trips to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand that year.

For about half a decade, I was a seasonal restaurant worker: winters in northernmost Sweden at Hotel Riksgränsen, summers in Visby (on the island of Gotland) at various watering holes. Most of the fall and beginning of winter I was traveling in Asia or the US. Rinse and repeat.

I remember how some immigration officers refused to place their country’s entry stamp or visa document next to a nation they weren’t on good terms with or, just didn’t like. Traveling between mainland China and Taiwan could me you might have to sacrifice two separate passport pages.

It’s going to be interesting to see if the yellow vaccination cards make a comeback or if future passports will be forced to include verifiable verification about inoculations. At this stage, traveling still seems like a distant dream.

For some of my favorite travel assignments, head on over to www.raboffphotography.com and click on “TRAVEL”.

Many Chairs

Shot this time-lapse from a university lecture room in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. The Qigong course I attended last September held a few classes there. I arrived early (via Grab) and the chairs in a circle got me thinking about all the different roles people have in their lives. For example, I’m a father, a husband, a filmmaker, a graphic designer, a writer, a cook, a Qigong trainer, and a professional travel photographer.

We all play different roles in our lives. Some are interconnected while others are diametrical opposites. We are simultaneously cohesive and at times, like it or not, sanctimonious.

I had a discussion with a friend the other day about whether or not it was important to determine if China intentionally or involuntarily spread the Covid-19 virus. I argue that it’s irrelevant at this stage but that it might become a key query in a future investigation – an inquiry that could hypothetically lead to massive financial retribution.

My friend also pointed out that the world should really be more cognizant, concerned and wary of how the Chinese government is manipulatively taking advantage of the generous freedoms democratic nations (naively) provide them with and forcefully establishing a significant presence all over the world – all the while concurrently acting intolerantly towards foreign citizens (journalists in particular), and more importantly, its own people. Yes, the United States has been busy with its own flavor of imperialism for many, many years. The difference is that the US has been a comparatively open society. Especially if you’re a white, Anglo-Saxon male.

I don’t think to call Covid-19 the China Virus is solving the pandemic and I don’t think the US is in a place to criticize any other country’s way of doing business. But there are no two ways about it, the Chinese government really is despicable. If the recently enforced, extremely prohibitive laws in Hong Kong in the far east wasn’t enough, how about the Chinese government’s oppression of the Uighur population in the far west. So authoritatively Orwellian, blatantly disregarding all aspects of human rights and democracy and we just keep ordering more stuff from there. We shouldn’t do business with them at all. Apple, Nike, Walmart, Amazon, and the others should shun China until Xi Jinping & Co soften their grip and drop their whip.

When I think about Xi Jinping’s dictatorial, iron-fisted, anti-democratic tenure – as well as those preceding him (for about 5000 years) and how much of the world indirectly support the Chinese regime, the level of hypocrisy is shameful. And yet though most will agree that we shouldn’t tolerate this, we just do. We just move from one chair to the next and hope the music never stops.