'The Ridiculous Race'
Last year, Harvard pals and television sitcom writers Steve Hely and Vali Chandrasekaran competed to circle the globe in opposite directions. The catch: no planes allowed. As their hilarious paperback, The Ridiculous Race, hits bookstores, the authors share some adventures.
1. Cuernavaca, Mexico
Chandrasekaran, 26, hoping to find an easy way to bypass the no-plane rule, tried to buy a jetpack near Mexico City — until he saw one at work. As he says, ”That thing is a flying coffin.”
Hely, 28, hobnobbed with two Swedish television stars. ”People wanted to take their picture,” he says. ”It was like being with Matt Damon, but you had no idea who Matt Damon was.”
3. Rio de Janeiro
Chandrasekaran befriended a Brazilian graffiti gang: ”While we were drunk, we were able to communicate well. We just talked about our favorite Bob Dylan and Morrissey songs.”
4. Abruzzo, Italy
Hely connected with his extended family on a remote farm. ”They kept shoveling pasta and farm-fresh ricotta on me,” he says. ”It was like what the Olive Garden aspires to.”
5. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Chandrasekaran ate a bag of roasted crickets, bought at a street stand. ”I remember thinking, ‘This isn’t so bad,”’ he says. ”Now, remembering back, it seems pretty vile.”
Hely found kindred spirits in Russia: the owners of the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines. ”They were super-ironically interested in these incredibly lame games from their childhood,” he says. ”It was along the same wavelength of how American nerds are into Pac-Man.”