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 February 22, 2001      TIPS to search 1billion Web pages fast!

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An intrepid couple, their laptops, and all of planet Earth. Nidhi Taparia tracks their adventure online
Birds on a wire
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You know the times are changing when someone says, "We travel the world with our laptops." And that's precisely what Jim Rogers and Paige Parker would write under any form asking them to fill out a slot marked 'occupation.'

The couple undertook their Millennium Adventure on January 1, 1999 and have, since then, been travelling around the world, documenting their experiences online.

"We can hardly believe we've been on the road for 26 months, driven more than 145,000 kilometres and visited 85 countries. By the end of 2001, we plan to have covered the six continents while documenting our experiences and discoveries with photography, video, audio and written comments," say the adventurous two-some.

This isn't entirely a new experience for Jim Rogers, who's done it before, on the back of a motorcycle. That was when he was writing Investment Biker, his first travelogue on the world, a potpourri of different countries, their economics, adventure and risk taking. Why 'Investment' Biker? Because Rogers happens to be a legendary top-down global investor, and the partner of George Soros, the well known hedge fund manager for ten years.

His vehicle of choice, today, is a customised Millennium Mercedes which he uses to scour the world along with his wife Paige, lots of equipment including two laptops, digital cameras, and a Webmaster, Fredrick, and his video camera man for company in another G-wagon

Apart from logs in pictures, video and audio files, the site also documents what gear they began with. Currently in Calcutta before the two zip to Bangladesh, Rogers ponders his various escapades. "I think I am somebody born with the adventure gene. I like travelling around the world and seeing all of it," he says.

And has he liked whatever he's seen of India so far? Yes. "It is a fascinatingly beautiful country with different shades of people." Talking about putting their experiences online, Jim adds, "What is different about my earlier travelogue was not maintaining a good diary. Now that we have a site where we log in our travel details, videos and photographs, I think it is better documented. I am also hoping to convert this into a book and do a lot of television and chat shows in 2003. Though I must admit, I was not under any obligation, if I may so to travel and write if I didn't feel like… today I do "

Ask him what made him think about the Internet and he says, "Simply, because technology has progressed so much, and is so much a part and parcel of our lives, that it helps to keep all the news, events and pictures more current and updated. We can share it with people instantaneously. But yes, we have a lot of people recommending that we should visit a particular place. Someone mailed us saying that since we were in India around this time, we should go for the Kumbh Mela, and even sent us a place where we could book our reservations. It was an enjoyable experience…"

Doing this sort of thing online is not always easy though, as Internet connections aren't always the same everywhere. "Fredrick, our Webmaster, does a lot of our work, like uploading images, audio and video files, taking care of the logs and more. Nonetheless, while it is easy to upload images and keep logs in a place like Germany, it becomes impossible in the Sahara Desert. Similarly, in Sudan, where one is lucky to find telephone lines, connecting to the Net was a sheer miracle because phone lines were so bad. When we couldn't upload our logs for more than ten days, a lot of people got worried and actually emailed to check whether we were safe, asking whether they should inform the police. It makes me glad to know that it's not just my mom looking out for us, but many more people."

Apart from the exhilaration that comes with a trip like this, the feedback is instantaneous. "People call us asking when we are coming to meet them. Last night, in Calcutta, a woman who had worked for me twenty-five years ago found out I was in town because of the Net, and called me! That is awesome."

Last question: Did they use the Internet to help charter their routes? "No, not really. Just looked for roads and tried to keep away from wars. However, the Net does help in understanding the current situation of a particular country you are travelling to, because people can keep in touch through email and let us know if there is any trouble brewing."

So off they go, with their laptops, to new cities and new people. Charting a peculiar kind of course that wouldn't have been possible a century ago. But then, the Internet wasn't here then, was it?

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