Yesterday’s post told the story of how the team at CBS.com’s new reality online show Around The World For Free got invited to stay with us here in Bangalore India. Today, I wanted to give you a bit of insight into how their stay was with us and the amazing new friends we made in the process.
The show is based on Jeff Schroeder’s attempt at traveling around the world for free and relying completely on the kindness of strangers to get him from place to place, feed him and give him a roof over his head. He gets to see what it’s like to live in all these strange countries and cities through the eyes of the locals.
So we were surprised to have him come and stay with us as we are expats and not ‘technically local Bangaloreans’.
But here is full story of their stay with us…
I sent the video email off to Jeff on the message boards at CBS.com/world and also posted it to twitter. Shortly after I got a call from Jeff asking if it was still cool to stay with us here in Bangalore. I told him no problem and I would pick him up if he could let me know when and where to get him.
I talked to him again later in the day when his ticket was finalized thanks to the group at All About Big Brother and made arrangements to meet him at the airport late the next night.
Because the traffic is INSANE here I don’t drive. And my family will tell you that I love to drive. That’s how crazy it is here. So with the help of my neighbor and friend Vinitra we organized a cab to take me to the airport and then back to the house with the guys.
At just after midnight I see 3 men, a lot of luggage and a camera coming out of the airport exit. At first it was strange to be greeted by someone that you have only ever seen on tv and the web especially with a camera pointed in your direction but Jeff was very casual and relaxed which really helped me out.
He’s just a regular guy – being followed around by 2 other regular guys with all kinds of camera gear…
We packed in the cab (full!) and made our way through the deserted streets of Bangalore. I have to admit we made it home in record time because of the late hour and the streets being so empty. I am going to the airport every time like that from now on.
When we got to the house it was a quick tour with hushed voices so that Kenny could sleep in the other room. 5 am comes early for a morning show radio host.
The guys basically took over the living room and the spare room with computers, backpacks and ethernet cables.
The cats didn’t know what to make of the guests and made themselves pretty scarce the first night.
In the am, it was time to stroll down to the radio station (it’s only a 15 minute walk) and get on Kenny’s morning show at Radio Indigo with the camera and Josh holding it, following us the entire way.
I have to give Josh a ton of credit for not breaking an ankle or hanging himself on a low wire on our short trek. There are some real hazards on the sidewalks here but he managed to avoid the traffic and all the dangers while still getting great footage.
Once at the station, Jeff took to the airwaves like a duck to water. Here is a link to check out some of the clips of the interview he did with Kenny…
After On Air With Kenny Jones and tons of great calls and funny hints left in the Indigo Chat Room it was time for more press…
2 newspaper reporters wanting to get the scoop on the reality show star and his adventures.
After the press junket was over we hit the streets of BLR and took the advice of some of the locals on where to have traditional Indian fare.
They all agreed the best Masala Dosa was served at the Ghandi Bazaar. So Kenny (who escaped from the radio station to join us for lunch), Jeff, Zsolt (one of the intrepid camera men) and myself braved the Bangalore traffic in search of some tasty treats.
What we ended up eating was not dosas – the restaurant that was recommended to us was closed from 12 noon until 2:30 (ahhh what? Isn’t that lunch time?) So we went down the street to the busiest place we could find and had thali instead.
Thali is an Indian plate full of different dishes complete with my favorite – naan bread.
The Gandhi Bazaar was great. Fruit and vegetable vendors, flower carts, silk shops, crazy traffic and extremely nice people… lots of them!
After lunch we headed back for a little more time at the station, a chance sighting of a Ganesh parade and more press. This time a tv interview.
Here is the interview with NDTV
Then it was back to ours to start editing what had been shot during the day and a little chill time.
Oh and some Papa John’s Pizza. I know- not very Indian but hey, it’s made here in India and the guys that take my order are very Indian and I am sure the pizza makers are Indian as well – so technically it still is ‘Indian food’.
But Jeff’s day wasn’t finished yet. At 10 minutes to 11 pm Jeff got on skype and did an interview with Rachael Ray for an upcoming segment on her show.
It was very cool to think that he was ‘live via satellite’ from my living room!
Ravi, my one cat thought it was great too and attempted to make her daytime talk show debut but jumping on the table and nearly walking across the computer right in the middle of Jeff’s chat with Rachael.
But thanks to my cat-like reflexes her plan was foiled! What I was impressed most by was the way Jeff kept it together during the whole thing.
Here is the webisode that was shot that day so you can see some of what we got to do…
The start of day 2 was really about planning for the guys. There is a lot of thought that goes into how to make the show as entertaining as possible. They had a list of suggestions and offers to consider and more editing to do on the segment you just watched so after a few plans had been discussed Jeff, Josh and I headed out for a few hours to get out of Zsolt’s way and let him work in peace.
It was time to introduce them to the real India! Time to ride in a rickshaw.
It was the first ride for both my companions in one here in India. And of course it was completely nutty! Traffic jams, near misses from trucks, scooters, bikes and other rickshaws. Then there is the pollution. I don’t notice it as much anymore but when you are stuck in traffic where you can count the eyelashes of the person on the 2 wheeler next to you, it becomes a bit overwhelming.
We ended up in the heart of the city at a place called MTR. It is one of the oldest traditional restaurants in the city. They served us thali again but this time the food did not stop! We paid less than $9 USD for 3 meals, 3 large bottles of water and all of us left feeling like we might never need to eat again.
In fact, we looked so full the auto driver wanted to charge us for an extra person!
After that, we took to the streets again, went to the oldest restaurant/ bar in the city and Jeff got to have his very first Kingfisher beer.
During our time at Koshy’s we got a call from Zsolt telling Jeff and Josh the plans had changed because the train they were going to take was not available and they wouldn’t be able to leave as planned that night.
That gave us the chance to come home, and head right back out to watch our friend Saggy and his band play at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was a great night out! Good food, music and even a rickshaw race home.
Day 3 started slowly with more plans being put together and with me making a sad attempt at breakfast.
We headed back to the station to chase up some of the leads and contacts they had from the message boards, from the callers on Kenny’s show and friends of the staff at Indigo. With, of course the whole thing being recorded for the next webisode.
With a couple of solid leads of places to stay in Goa under Jeff’s belt we took up an offer for another traditional Indian dish at Ammi’s Biryani.
The owner, Nawaz, greeted the guys at the restaurant and treated all of us to an amazing lunch. Again, we waddled out too many forkfuls later.
Then it was time to relax, pack and get ready to say our goodbyes.
Trigam, a great friend of ours, took them to the bus station and got them an overnight trek to Goa.
Here is the webisode that outlines some of day 3 and their journey towards the Arabian Sea…
It was an amazing experience for Kenny, myself, the staff at the station, our friends here in Bangalore and my Mom, who got to talk to Jeff and Zsolt during their stay here with us via skype. It made a reality show junkie very happy!
You never know what people will come into your life and we are very lucky to have had the chance to become friends with these 3 intrepid travelers.
Thanks for staying with us guys and we will be watching your every move on CBS.com/World. Safe travels.