When I was in high school, my teacher told me that my attendance was short and that they wanted to talk to my parents. Thankfully, our class teacher was a really nice lady and after a lecture on discipline that lasted for an hour and a half, she let me get away with it. My classmates used to ask me why I do not come to school on Tuesdays. I never told them the truth because I did not want them to think that I was an idiot who was bunking school to watch a TV show. That too, reruns.
It all started that year, during the summer vacations, when while channel surfing one afternoon I stumbled upon a travel show hosted by six super cool people. Three of them would visit a country each week, mostly during some awesome festival, and not only have fun but would also educate us about its culture, lifestyle, and food. Now, I had seen many travel shows till then, but this show was different because for the first time I could relate to the things that the hosts were talking about. They seemed real.
You can imagine how awesome it was when I found some of them on Facebook and they agreed to be interviewed for this blog. So, for the next couple of weeks I plan to post these interviews one by one and introduce the readers to these amazing people, who have in many ways inspired me to start travelling and start this blog.
This week we interview Foster Solomon, one of the Travelers.
a. How did you become one of the “Travelers”?
Foster: The short answer is: “totally by chance.” Let’s just be blunt and clear here; they were making a show that covered the cultural spectrum. So they already had a black male host for the show but he got let go after the pilot. I had sent in my material months before and never heard anything. One day my answering machine malfunctioned and I thought I got a message from “Banyan Productions” (the company that made the show for Discovery). It was already after 5pm but I figured I’d call anyway. I asked for (and horribly mispronounced) the name of the contact in the original listing but was told she was gone for the night. “I’m the executive producer though. My name is Jeanne. What can I do for you?” I introduced myself, she explained that I must have misheard my answering machine because no one had called me, BUT she was interested to know who I was. We chatted. I came to Philadelphia and auditioned, and the rest is history.
b. Which was your favourite place that you visited as a Traveler?
Foster: I have been asked this question many times and it is impossible to answer. Every place was so unique! I had several favorite places though. Capetown, South Africa was beautiful and eye opening politically. It’s also special to me because it was the last show we made. Kyoto, Japan was another favorite. I can never explain it but I felt very at home there. In the US, I had a wonderful time exploring San Francisco and Boston.
c. How smooth was the transition from being a Traveler to an actor? Or was acting something that you had been doing even before the show?
Foster: Except for Barbara, every Traveler was an actor before we came on the show. In fact, that was one of, executive producer, Ray Murray’s major stipulations for the show. He wanted hosts that were willing and able to meet people, get involved, and express their enthusiasm for what they experienced.
d. What is the one advice that you will give to travelers/backpackers that will make their travels whole?
Foster: Pack only the essentials. You really don’t need all that extra crap. I would say bring lots of film but times have changed since I traveled. Lastly, if the opportunity presents itself to (SAFELY) go off the beaten path, do it!
e. What were the things that you liked about India and what were the things that you did not like?
Foster: Well, my two best friends are Indian and one of them still has family in Kerala, so I already had a connection to the place. Southern India was as beautiful as I imagined and the food was one of my favorite parts; having grown up eating it with my friends. I guess, like any westerner, my least favorite part would be the aggressiveness of the poverty. Coming from NYC, I was quite used to saying “sorry, man” and the panhandler would leave me alone. SO not the case in India; especially when you are clearly a TV production crew. We were mobbed a few times but no worse for the wear. (The same can NOT be said for our visit to Ghana!)
f. Lastly, and this is for the cockeyed optimists, will the Travelers ever reunite for another season?
Foster: If WE had anything to say about it, yes. But unfortunately we don’t.
I would like to thank Foster for taking out time and giving us this interview.
Want more of the Travelers?
Then I have some serious good news for you. Travelers are reuniting on Spreecast on October 26, 2013. I will not miss it for the world and if you are a fan of the show, you should not either!!!