Monday, February 05, 2007

What's not to love...

about Michael Palin's travelogues for BBC?

I just watched (DVD) two of four hours from the series 'Sahara', Palin's 2001-2002 trip in and around Africa's great desert.

Details about the series can be found at this website.

For the longest time, it was unbeknowst to me that my Dad was a big Palin fan. Dad admired Michael Palin not for the Monty Python stuff, but for the travel adventures. Once when we were talking (our 'talks' were typically simple two or three sentence exchanges) about educational adventure shows on TV, Dad stated that he really enjoyed watching 'Michael' (first name only, like they were buddies). 'Michael?' I repeated incredulously. 'Who's Michael?'.

Dad answered rather matter-of-factly 'Michael Palin'.
Then added ' He's good'.

This, from my Dad - a man of few words (in English, anyway) and not many of those were 'dropped names'. Not that 'Michael Palin' is your typical household word (at least not on this side of 'The Pond').
So - what gives with Dad and Michael Palin?

Dad did a fair amount of traveling as a young man. Seafaring adventures to exotic world ports and often into remote areas beyond the coastal cities. I believe he felt akin to 'Michael' because many of the faraway/unusual locales visited by Palin were also places Dad had once set foot upon.

Michael Palin enlivens educational travelogue material with his inimitable child-like enthusiasm. Even when exhausted by the weariness and strain of constant travel, he is capable of attention to detail. He never neglects to exercising his comic genius. A tireless pursuit of knowledge is his creativity. All add up to great entertainment.
Palin is ONE with joie de vivre.

Dad too would set aside fear of the unknown as he sought answers to his questions about the world. He trod unmarked trails, navigated the proverbial uncharted waters. For Dad, the excitement of living large awaited at every turn. The man cultivated street smarts early on. At the same time, Dad took note of the humble gesture. He also never failed to enjoy a good kick-in-the-pants laff.
Life - according to Dad - was to be lived.

I can only imagine what Dad went through in mind, heart and spirit as he engaged in Palin-type experiences while making his own way round the world. What challenges: unraveling the mysteries of new cultures, battling the natural elements during travel and fraternizing (or negotiating daily survival) with the locals in unfamilar places. Not easy.
Life, not easy - but to be lived.

Through travel, curiosity, adventure and humor, Dad could identify with Michael Palin. Who knew?

I'm currently succumbing to an urge to watch any and all of Palin's travelogues from years past.
I could feel a tremendous awe as well as ticklish delight when viewing Palin's amazing travels through the Sahara. What he went through was often physically and emotionally grueling, but exhilarating as well. It's in memory of Dad - and via Palin's BBC travel series, that I venture forth vicariously on the roads-less-traveled.

Michael Palin's humor is often self-effacing and his talent is turning it into downright funny. His antics have me laughing out loud. I could chortle, guffaw and chuckle and it feels like I'm sharing a laugh with Dad again...

Dad and Michael on a journey. With me along for the ride. In the back seat. Full of wonder - and giggles.

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