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The Laughing Backpack

David Cerrone is a comedian, theater actor, clown and Spanish teacher. Currently he is on a world tour to prepare a documentary and write a book on what makes people laugh around the world. He is an Italian-French based in Paris. Read on our interview #1 below -

Keshav: So to start with, I was going through your website and through your bio and you almost took one entire area to introduce yourself - the kind of things you do in life, and I am really confused. So if somebody asks who is David, what do you tell them?     

David: My first job is teaching. I’ve been teaching languages, Spanish for almost 15 years. I also teach acting, drama skills and for the last 10 years, I've been working as a comedian, as an actor. And since last year, I've been trying to work as a filmmaker, working on my documentary. So it's a mix of all of these but everything is linked, I think. 

Keshav: That was my next question - Is it a lot of separate things and you take out time to do all things differently or do you find a common link among all of these?

David: Um. For a very long time I've been working as a teacher, for like 70 to 80% of my time and the rest 20 to 30 as a comedian, as an actor but this year off has been like a big gap, big difference. So right now, I am working full time on my project, on my documentary. I am still training, I am still finding some new workshops and stuff like that as an actor because I am working on my clown. I am not working as a teacher anymore. I wanna keep on working as a drama teacher because it is a very good field to spread among children, teenagers and also adults but regarding teaching languages, I've been doing it with a lot of passion for long time but I think this passion is not as big as before so this is not my priority right now but you know at some point, I may need to have some money in my pocket so maybe I will have to teach again. I don’t know.

Keshav: So your life seems like a sequence of big projects - For some years, you were teaching languages, then you started doing acting and dramatics, then you started doing comedy and theatre and then you are working on documentary. Do you have the next step planned?

David: Oh yes, I do..hahahaha

Keshav: What is it?

David: I think the next plan is kind of a combination of everything. I'd like to have my own space, like a café or something. I don’t know where…that's my big thing. Maybe some country I've been visiting on my world tour but I would like to have café and most of the money I could make with the cafe should go to some NGO, some association I've been working with or all of them. This is the main goal. Then the goal of the cafe should be during the day we could give any kind of lessons - drama lessons, languages lessons. Not me, but people doing it. It could be a space for anyone to propose lessons, you know, even if you are a yoga teacher, you come and rent the space for one hour or couple of hours. That could be the goal during the day and at night, I will like to have a little stage for any kind of comedy show, plays, concerts or anything, you know. Also I would like it to be a space for exhibitions, especially for exhibitions because that's something I really like. So it's kind of a cultural cafe with NGO goals. So that's the next step but it's a big one.       

Keshav: It seems like it's your hobby to put a lot of things in one thing…

David: Yeah yeah haha. The things is that I have been lucky on my journey right now and I have been knowing a lot of people everywhere - a lot of people with a lot of dreams and passion and most of the time, the kind of people that I admire are people who are able to combine a lot of stuff. Right now the cafe I am mentioning, I may be mentioning the final part of the cafe. I don’t know how long it's gonna be a simple cafe with stage at night. But I really would like to use a part of the money, may be 50-60 or plus percent of this money to collaborate with some NGO, not helping because I don’t really believe in help. I've been working with really great people in India, in Kenya, in Palestine...like real associations who are really doing a great job but obviously they always need people to work with them and they also need money because this is the key for lot of things.         

Keshav: Very interesting, I must say. On that point of café, because you have so much of it already planned out in your head, I'm just curious that do you have a vision of opening such cafes in multiple cities across the world and do you want to have a small world of your own in one particular city and want people from everywhere to come there?

David: You read my mind. Actually both.

Keshav: Hahaha. You always wanna have it all

David: Hahahaa…yes of course, why not? Life is short! Now the thing is that my first idea was to have just one café in a place, an interesting place where people would like to go, even from abroad. Also a place with enough money from customers. But I've been talking about my idea with a lot of friends of mine...for example,

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David Cerrone is a comedian, theater actor, clown and Spanish teacher. Currently he is on a world tour to prepare a documentary and write a book on what makes people laugh around the world. He is an Italian-French based in Paris. Read on our interview #1 below -

Keshav: So to start with, I was going through your website and through your bio and you almost took one entire area to introduce yourself - the kind of things you do in life, and I am really confused. So if somebody asks who is David, what do you tell them?     

David: My first job is teaching. I’ve been teaching languages, Spanish for almost 15 years. I also teach acting, drama skills and for the last 10 years, I've been working as a comedian, as an actor. And since last year, I've been trying to work as a filmmaker, working on my documentary. So it's a mix of all of these but everything is linked, I think. 

Keshav: That was my next question - Is it a lot of separate things and you take out time to do all things differently or do you find a common link among all of these?

David: Um. For a very long time I've been working as a teacher, for like 70 to 80% of my time and the rest 20 to 30 as a comedian, as an actor but this year off has been like a big gap, big difference. So right now, I am working full time on my project, on my documentary. I am still training, I am still finding some new workshops and stuff like that as an actor because I am working on my clown. I am not working as a teacher anymore. I wanna keep on working as a drama teacher because it is a very good field to spread among children, teenagers and also adults but regarding teaching languages, I've been doing it with a lot of passion for long time but I think this passion is not as big as before so this is not my priority right now but you know at some point, I may need to have some money in my pocket so maybe I will have to teach again. I don’t know.

Keshav: So your life seems like a sequence of big projects - For some years, you were teaching languages, then you started doing acting and dramatics, then you started doing comedy and theatre and then you are working on documentary. Do you have the next step planned?

David: Oh yes, I do..hahahaha

Keshav: What is it?

David: I think the next plan is kind of a combination of everything. I'd like to have my own space, like a café or something. I don’t know where…that's my big thing. Maybe some country I've been visiting on my world tour but I would like to have café and most of the money I could make with the cafe should go to some NGO, some association I've been working with or all of them. This is the main goal. Then the goal of the cafe should be during the day we could give any kind of lessons - drama lessons, languages lessons. Not me, but people doing it. It could be a space for anyone to propose lessons, you know, even if you are a yoga teacher, you come and rent the space for one hour or couple of hours. That could be the goal during the day and at night, I will like to have a little stage for any kind of comedy show, plays, concerts or anything, you know. Also I would like it to be a space for exhibitions, especially for exhibitions because that's something I really like. So it's kind of a cultural cafe with NGO goals. So that's the next step but it's a big one.       

Keshav: It seems like it's your hobby to put a lot of things in one thing…

David: Yeah yeah haha. The things is that I have been lucky on my journey right now and I have been knowing a lot of people everywhere - a lot of people with a lot of dreams and passion and most of the time, the kind of people that I admire are people who are able to combine a lot of stuff. Right now the cafe I am mentioning, I may be mentioning the final part of the cafe. I don’t know how long it's gonna be a simple cafe with stage at night. But I really would like to use a part of the money, may be 50-60 or plus percent of this money to collaborate with some NGO, not helping because I don’t really believe in help. I've been working with really great people in India, in Kenya, in Palestine...like real associations who are really doing a great job but obviously they always need people to work with them and they also need money because this is the key for lot of things.         

Keshav: Very interesting, I must say. On that point of café, because you have so much of it already planned out in your head, I'm just curious that do you have a vision of opening such cafes in multiple cities across the world and do you want to have a small world of your own in one particular city and want people from everywhere to come there?

David: You read my mind. Actually both.

Keshav: Hahaha. You always wanna have it all

David: Hahahaa…yes of course, why not? Life is short! Now the thing is that my first idea was to have just one café in a place, an interesting place where people would like to go, even from abroad. Also a place with enough money from customers. But I've been talking about my idea with a lot of friends of mine...for example, there's a good friend of mine. She is really rich but right now she is living in south America and she is in love with Barcelona in Spain and when we started talking about the idea, she kind of loved the idea and she kind of made the same concept but with some differences, so, we are supposed to meet in December to talk about that but I don't know may be she's just gonna open her own one in Barcelona and it's gonna be the first one. If I have some money, that's not the case but if I have some money till then, I can give her like 2% or 5% whatever and we can have one there and one in another place. I also like the idea that if you are an artist, you are a photographer and if we like your project, then it will be cool that you could do the same exhibition in Paris, in Spain, in India, Nepal, may be very different remote places of the globe. That's the bigger vision of it.

Keshav: Coming back to your introduction and your life. While growing up, did you have this in mind that you want to become all these or any one of the personalities that you are today or everything came as a surprise to you?

David: Just one. When I was 13, I started to learn Spanish here and I fell in love with it and I really loved the teaching of my teacher. So I went to see her and asked her 'I want to be a Spanish teacher. What should I do?’ She was surprised because it was my first trimester of Spanish but she grabbed a paper and wrote down different steps from that moment to becoming a Spanish teacher and we are talking about a period of ten or almost nine years. This paper was on the wall of my room for many years and I just followed it. So I had been studying through middle school and high school with that goal. Went to university and I studied Spanish philosophy and I became a Spanish teacher. So that was my main goal since I was a teenager and when I finally became a Spanish teacher, I was very happy because it's a work where you do interaction, it's wonderful because you work with children and it's magic work. And the rest is surprise. May be after six years of working as a teacher I discovered what acting means and I really loved it, so I decided just to quit my job for some time and I went to Spain to be trained as an actor. I discovered that I also loved comedy, so I started to do comedy clubs and comedy shows and stuff like that and all the rest has been a surprise. The main thing since that time, because I am from a very serious family where working is the only important thing and you have to work and save, work and save, work and save money. They've been working all their lives and right now they are not wealthy but they are good, they have their own house etc, but I just turned differently from them and the only thing I learned like ten years ago when I decided to become an actor is that if you really want something, if you really dream of something, just try and do it. May be you're not gonna become the most famous comedian of the world or the most famous actor...I've been working quite a lot in last 10 years and I'm not famous you know, but I've been very happy...

Keshav: You are! I know you!

David: hahahahah….but the thing is that I think you don’t have to do things just to be famous or to be recognized but just to be happy and because you love what you do …so I was not expecting to one day grab my backpack, by myself and go around for one year.....even doing a documentary was like.....Okay! I also like it because I always find people who trust me or believe in what I am doing and I am very lucky because almost all of my friends, even if they think I am crazy, they always support me. Right now they are like, "What's next? You're here but where are you going, what are you doing?"            

Keshav: Tell me little bit more about your upbringing. How did you grow up? How was your family like? Did you have any siblings?

David: We are three brothers. I'm the middle one. With the oldest brother, we are one hundred percent brothers because we have the same parents. The second one is like my step brother but we always consider him as whole brother. We have the same father but not the same mother. It's a very typical, traditional, conservative Italian family...not as traditional as an Indian family can be, but kind of. Till the age of 10, I had a very happy childhood with very loving parents. My parents were very happy couple. I never saw my parents fighting for example, so that's pretty nice

Keshav: ..and rare…

David: Hahahaha…May be they were expecting me to go to bed before fighting. Hahaha. I always used laughter and humour even with my friends. I had two neighbours, brother and sister and we used to do every Friday and Saturday night, kind of copying shows from TV, changing our clothes, same make up and whatever. I think it was a disaster but thank god we only have pictures of that and not videos. But yes, I was a very happy kid, just enjoying and observing people. I always love to observe people. Once at the restaurant I had a fight with my father because he said it was something you couldn't do, just staring at people and observing them, but I always loved it.           

Keshav: So you had the seeds of acting and comedy planted in you in your childhood…

David: Yeah, yes, kind of. That's true             

Keshav: You said that you belong to a typical Italian family but you introduce yourself as a French-Italian. What is French in you?

David: All the mind education is French. Almost all the spirit is French. I used to say that if you think of emotions, feelings, I think I'm Italian - In the way that I react, in the way that I feel things. In my family, we used to speak both languages and there's a kind of difference between the use of both. We use French when it's talking about grocery store etc, concrete things but when it's about being angry, being happy, being in love, being sad, it's always Italian. In my mind, it's almost the same. When I think, when I plan, when I write some stuff, I think I am very French because I received a very French education here at school and our education system is pretty good. But in terms of crazyness, of deciding stuff in an instant, of following my heart and passion, this is more Italian. Even in relationships, I think my way of my being is more Italian than French.               

Keshav: How did you get this idea of this world tour, of laughter, and what is it about in the first place?

David: As a good western guy, I always dreamed of doing a world tour, you know this kind of very romantic idea of grabbing your backpack and going to all famous places in the world and taking pictures, basically. But I don’t know why, I was kind of waiting for an idea to do it, not just checking places and taking pictures that this is Taj Mahal and Okay *clap clap* done, you know? So it was in my big dreams and plans but not defined. From 2014 to 2016, I had been living in New York for 2 years and  you know one of the biggest differences between American people and French people is that in the US, they don’t have any limits. If they dream of something they always think they can do it. This is not the case here. In France, it's always you cannot do it, you need some money, it's not reasonable, who areyou, you're not a filmmaker, what are you doing, blah blah blah, so you don't have the same energy and same optimism for doing stuff. So I was living there and I really wanted to try to be a comedian in New York, you know just once. Normally, I used to write my text in French or Spanish but never in English but because I was in New York, even if there is a big big audience in Spanish, I said No, I need to write down in English, let's try. Let's try to make humour in English and it was very complicated for me. I did it but it was very hard. Normally, it's kind of more fluid for me to write down but in English, it was very complicated. So I just started to think about what makes a New Yorker laugh and not a Parisian. What makes people from here, from the rest of the country, from the rest of the US laugh at what we dont. The first time I'd been acting in New York, in the audience, I had three parts, an American part of friends, a French one and some Latinos at the back of the room and I could feel the differences of laughing between the American ones and the French ones.

Keshav: Who was the loudest?

David: It's not that because the American people are very loud but the thing is that with some jokes, my French audience were like Okay, not that funny and the American one were laughing like crazy and sometimes vice versa, and I was like Wow, that's interesting. So I had just started to think about that and one day I was just having lunch with a friend of mine and I was not doing very well at that time because of my emotional life and I said, “you know what right now I just want to go away from New York, just grab my backpack and just do a world tour finding out what makes people laugh.” And she said, because she is like a princess, she's a blonde one, she's very pretty, always thinking everything is possible, she said, “Oh my god, you should do it. Go for it.” I said wow, if someone can think that this is a good idea, so why not? So I've been thinking of it for almost one year but not concretely, not writing anything down, no thinking of budget, just there you know. And one day I said, Okay, let's try. Let's try. And then everything, everything went very fast because I really started to do it in February and I left in September, so it was a very, very fast process like 7 months or even less.

Keshav: So your ultimate objective is to judge all kinds of people and see what makes them laugh…

David: Yeah, the first idea was very professional oriented like I am a comedian and I want to understand what makes people laugh everywhere. That was the first intention, but with time, I also wanted to know if everybody laughed, if there were some nationalities anywhere that may be don’t laugh and with time and with the meetings I've been having in my journey, I also discovered how laughter and laughing is important for our health, our well-being and how essential it is in our lives. So I've been meeting a lot of doctors, psychologists, clowns...So, I think that one big part of my documentary will be about that, about how important is laughter in our lives and how we should re-think it, in terms of education, in terms of health, in terms of healing, you know. One of the biggest examples that I have and one of the most famous guy about that is an Indian, Dr. Kataria. He's from the north of India but right now he is living in Bangalore and he was a doctor and little more than 20 years ago, he invented what he calls the laughter yoga. So he uses techniques of Yoga like breathing and some exercises like that and he created very few exercises to force you to laugh. He knew at that time that if you laugh, your brain generates good hormones for your body and you feel better. He discovered reading a scientific article, that if it's a real laughter or it's a fake one, your brain doesn’t make any difference, so it's gonna feel the same.

Keshav: Really?

David: Ya ya. It's gonna feel the same. When you laugh with a friend for 10 minutes and you almost cry, when you feel like that, you are relieved. This is because your brain has been generating good hormones and you are feeling better. So scientists like almost 30 years ago, discovered that if it's a real laughter, a sincere one or if it's a fake one, it's the same emotion, it's the same hormones. So he created those exercises just to force you to laugh and the sessions that he does are about 20-25 minutes and you can see that people at the beginning are forcing themselves to laugh like HAHAHAHAHA (fake laughter) but with time because there are maybe 10 or 15 or 20 people all are doing the same thing at the same time, after 5 minutes, everybody is really laughing and right now, this guy is very famous, he is almost more famous out of India than in India. There are like, I don't wanna lie, but more than 100 laughter yoga clubs in the world and there are clubs in 106 countries in the world. This guy is travelling all the time and right now he's trying to build in Bangalore, closeby to the former airport, a university of laughter. So yes, it's a big big big thing. I had the opportunity to meet him being in India but the first time I've heard about him was in South Africa and in South Africa, there are a lot of clubs like that and I said, Okay I am going to travel to India and they were like, Oh my God, I hope you're going to meet him. They were like talking about God..you know what if you have the chance to meet, Dr. Kataria...and I did, so this is the kind of thing I really want to highlight in my documentary.

Keshav: Nice, and thank you for this crash course in laughter for me

David: No no, there is a lot, there is a lot…but I cannot tell you everything otherwise you are never going to watch the documentary at the end. Hahaha.

Keshav: What exactly do you do when you visit a country? Do you go on roads and you ask random people, "Hey buddy what makes you laugh? Could you tell me?" or you crack a joke and judge is he laughing or not? And I'm sure that there's much more than just judging whether people laugh or not because I saw some of your trailers, you go to NGOs, helping people, doing some social activities, meeting people, it's much more than laughter I know but what's your agenda? What exactly do you go and do in a country?

David: First of all, I always try, in most of the countries, to work as a volunteer, in the NGO style because this is what I like.It is a cheap way to travel also and it's a real way to work with local people because otherwise, you're just a tourist, you're going to a hotel or whatever but you're not really meeting people. You can meet people at the restaurants but it's not the real thing. So that's why I decided to be a volunteer as much as I could and I've been a volunteer in almost half of the countries I've been to because in some countries, it's very complicated to work or to find volunteer jobs. And regarding the documentary, on the first two or three days of my stay in a country, I'm just in a room with some WiFi and I don't move from there and I'm googling all the day like 'laughter in Kenya',  'laughing in Kenya', 'Kenyan humour', 'Kenyan comedians' whatever. So, the first step is always meeting some comedians because I think they have a very good idea, very precise idea of the society they live in because they are always criticizing it and observing it and trying to make jokes about it. So they know the society, even better than anybody. They know the thing they can talk about, the thing they cannot talk about. So just talking with a comedian or just watching a comedian on stage, you can understand a lot about a country because he talks about a lot of things and you can understand what's good in that country, what's bad, are they feeling good, are they feeling bad, it's impressive. So that's the first step. And then I try to find different approaches of laughter - where laughter is used, where humour is used and it can be in very, very surprising and different fields. For example, in Australia, there is a big big thing about laughter in the companies. So there's a lot of people, they just go to some big big big companies and they do workshops for just one day or two days and they try to make...sometimes it's just for comedy building, just to make all the employees happy and feeling better and sometimes it's also to resolve some crisis and try to make work less serious. So that's what I've been doing. Laughter has been a very powerful language to me because in a lot of countries, I had no language in common with people and, when I was in Palestine, I was working with kids, very small ones like 2, 3 or 4 years old and even if I had a translator with me, they're too small to understand even in their own language but they can copy you and do whatever you want and the same is with laughter. So with time, I stopped using a translator, just being with them and just moving and acting you know. I've met people...I can remember a Chinese woman in Australia and there were three women and one of them was able to speak little English and one day she says, 'You know what, she finds you very funny' and I was like,' How can she find me funny? I don’t speak Chinese, she doesn’t speak English' and every time I was doing something or talking to other people, she was laughing and I don’t know what did she find funny in me and I asked 'Is it about my face? Is it about the movements I do" and she was 'No. You're just funny', and I was like, 'Okay'. So we just had this connection about laughing. Every morning was a couple of laughters, HAHAHA, How are you? and that's it because there was no language in common with that woman. So, laughter is very powerful, really.

Keshav: And you can sometimes use it as a language, like you did

David: Yeah yeah yeah. Same being in India. There were a couple of women working in the children foundation. They were kind of cleaning and cooking and being around all the time and one of them, we never exchanged a word because she speaks Kannada and I don’t speak any of those languages obviously and she doesn't speak English. But every day we had this kind of 5 minutes communication, just looking at each other and laughing and when I left, she was sad. She was sad and she said to my boss, 'I'm sad because he's leaving' and he said 'why is she said. She never said anything’ and she said that I made her laugh every day. So it's not about jokes or anything, it's about finding that communication.

Keshav: Out of all the countries that you have visited or you plan to visit, if you had to pick one country where you would want to spend your retirement years, where would it be?

David: Oh wow. That's a very complicated question. Wow

Keshav: I know you have visited a lot of countries, so I'll let you pick two countries!

David: Okay. Thank you. Wow. I appreciate that. That's complicated… Keshav: Absolutely! Haha

David: So the thing is, among all the countries, I've been to almost 18 countries on the tour, I have one two three big almost three, three big almost love stories - Palestine is one, Kenya, Nepal and India. Then there's a fifth one which is Costa Rica. But Costa Rica is not that emotional. It's just because it's a nice country, the weather is good, I have met a lot of interesting people and it will be a good place to do my cafe. So Costa Rica is out..

Keshav: Really? I read in your journal post on Costa Rica, 'I am sad to leave Costa Rica'

David: Yeah, because it's a wonderful country and I have met incredible people. Because it’s a small country, a lot of people don’t know it and if they do, they don't know where it is

Keshav: I am wondering where it is. Haha.

David: And they know that. People from Costa Rica know that. They know they are a small country, they don’t have army. They are not that famous and if they are famous, it's just for touristy things like beautiful beaches and stuff like that. So they know they are not a powerful country. But even then, the creation is impressive. Thinking in terms of art, it's impressive what they do. So, I really had a great time there, and I have right now a lot of good contacts of people that I really would like to work with and not only comedians. So I was sad. But I am always sad when I leave a country, to be honest. So between the rest, don't misunderstand me, for me India and Nepal are almost the same. In terms of humanity there, both Indian and Nepali people are very smiling people, very welcoming people, very interesting people. The relationship that you can have with someone from both countries is very deep, people like to know you, they like to know you from inside. For many reasons, almost everything is very positive and in those countries, I have really found people who want to spend time with you, quality time with you. I love the culture, so many things to discover.

Keshav: Let's club India and Nepal together

David: Yeah, thank you! So this is the place where I really could stay and do a lot of things. From outside, we have very cliched image of India - like the food, Taj Mahal, bollywood, Gandhi, and that's it but we don’t know, how creative and how modern and how, you know

Keshav: advanced..

David: yeah, advanced, everything can be. And that was my first good impression about India and wow I was so wrong. I didn’t know anything about India. So I think that if you want to do something there, if I want to do my café here, it could work there because there are a lot of interesting people. And also to be honest, the quality of life that you can have there, having someone at your place, helping you with cleaning, and washing and cooking, that's great. So this is one of the countries I could live in. Kenya was also interesting because of the same reasons, because human relations are very important, family is very important and people take time to know you. If you have friend there, it's something forever. I have friends from India texting me every day and it's kind of the same with Kenya. I think this is something very valuable. And when I think of Palestine, it's the same, I really love people. People are very generous and very welcoming but the things is that the situation is very tense. It's not easy to stay there and work there. Their life is almost impossible for many reasons. If you want to work there and live there, it's not a peaceful life. So because of the tension, because of the attacks, because of a lot of such things, it could be great to be there with my friends but I think it's not a peaceful life because of the political atmosphere. So I couldn't pick one, I'm sorry!

Keshav: So you pick three, India, Nepal and Kenya…

David: The thing is that I am just back from India, so right now…

Keshav: It's fresh in your head

David: Yeah yeah, it can be and because I had been working with a very good foundation there and I really loved the work they do and when I left, my boss insisted that I should come back, so this is also why India is may be the one right now.

Keshav: So, you were almost living everywhere you went, not travelling, living, because you were interacting with people, eating the local food, doing the local stuff, so let me test how local you became in every country you visited.

David: Oh my God!

Keshav: Haha..so I want you to tell me some greeting or some form of introduction in as many languages as you can.

David: Oh wow. I have a very bad memory, that's horrible!

Keshav: Let's see

David: Obviously in India and Nepal, they are using all the time, 'Namaste', 'Namaskar'..so, that's easy. In  Tibet, it was 'Nihao', in Japan, I was using all the time 'Arigato' but I think it's 'Thank you', not 'Hi', then I spent four months in Central and South America and I am fluent in Spanish.

Keshav: That doesn't count

David: When I was in South Africa, I was just speaking English all the time. I was living with the locals but kind of only the white locals because it was not that easy to spend time with black ones…and they have I don’t remember how many languages they have but it's impressive. You know that in India but they have almost more than that. I am so sad because I knew a lot of words when I was in Kenya and right now I just don't remember anything!

Keshav: Any particularly good, bad, happy, funny incidents or memories from the trip you remember?

David: I have a lot. Lot of them. I went to Russia and I don’t know why, I didn’t want to go to Russia. These are the only people in the world, I had bad image of them, without knowing them. Normally, I am pretty open minded and I think there are good and bad people everywhere. But I don't know why, with Russia, I don't know, I don't trust them. Nothing ever happened to me with Russian people but I was like, 'No, I don't want to go'. And a good friend of mine, she's from Germany and she said, 'You should go to Russia. You are going to love Russia. This is very interesting for your project. You should go.' and I said 'Okay'. I don't know why but I said, 'let's go'. So I went a couple of weeks to Russia. I arrived in St. Petersburg. It was in the morning - rainy, cold morning - no WiFi, no service on my phone and I had booked a room in an AirBnb house and I had been texting the lady for last four days before I was coming to St. Petersburg and everything was planned, like the address, the code for the door, everything was okay but I don't know what happened, when I arrived at the place, she was not there. She was not there, I was inside the building. I was trying to find her for half an hour, she was not appearing. I went to the door of the neighbours, they will look at me through the hole in the door and they'll just close the door and they didn't wanna know anything about me. So `I was like 'shit, what should I do.' So I texted her but I had no service. So I went down again but I was trying not to go out of the building because I didn't have key to come inside again. So, I was kind of blocking the door with my big backpack and suddenly, three big fishermen, three big Russian guys, they went out to smoke and they just pushed me without seeing me. So I was outside. I was out again with a big backpack, it was raining and it was very cold and I was like, 'Shit, what should I do'. So they were smoking there and I had a picture of the woman on my phone for the airbnb stuff. So I went to them and I said,You know her? She is Natalie'. None of them speak English and they said ' No, we don't know her..blah blah blah'. So I was trying to explain to them the situation, 'Airbnb, reservation, she is not there blah blah'. So one of them asked me for her phone number and he tried to call her and she didn't answer and then they said, 'Okay, come to our place', one of them knew some words in English and said, 'Come with us' and I was like 'I shouldn't go with them. They were very scary, very big' and I was like 'I shouldn't go with them. I don't know them' and I said, 'Do I have any other option? No!' So I went with them and they were living on the first floor of the building and they've been amazingly sweet, they offered me to take a shower and I was 'No, I don't wanna taker shower here, it's strange' they gave me some hot tea, some cookies, at some point I then i said,'okay, can I use your WiFi?' and they gave me their password so I could be in touch with this woman and she finally appeared like maybe one hour after. They treated me like someone of their family and they didn't know me, you know. The same night, I came down to just say Thank you and they said, 'Okay, because we are fishermen, we have a lot of fish and tomorrow night, we are going to make big fish dinner. If you want, you can come to have dinner with us.' and I said, 'Okay'. So I went and it was the funniest dinner I had because nobody would speak English, except one and I never drunk that much vodka in my life but we had fun, we have been laughing and I ended completely drunk. They had to bring me back to my bedroom. They drink vodka as water so at some point, I just collapsed. I was so moved by their generosity because they just wanted to have me over. I tell this story because it's the country I had more a very clichéd image of them and then have been so good to me and I was like, I'm so stupid, you know?' and this story was like may be after two or three weeks during the trip by myself, so it was like a good lesson to me. Just forget about all your things and trust people and let's see what happens. And this is what happened to me. I don't have very bad stories. I haven't been robbed. My health was pretty good. I only have happy stories and very good memories.

Keshav: Wow, amazing and what a nice end. Thank god, you ended the answer on a good note because I was wondering all through oh my god, now that you've said it, we can’t really make this interview public in Russia. They would probably ban it, the way you started it. Hahaha

David: Hahaha, no no! They were awesome, one of the things I have learned in my journey is that we don’t know countries. We know countries because of the actions of the governments or through the touristy image they want to send to us, this is it, or may be through a movie when they have really famous movies, but otherwise, we don't know anything about a country. Every time I was landing in a country, I was like, 'Okay, I am right now in Bolivia. What do I know about Bolivia? Nothing. Nothing at all' I didn't know anything about Bolivia. In some countries, it was more obvious because I knew more about the country but even in South Africa, I was like,' What do I know about South Africa? I know Mandella, I know safari and that's it. And Aparthied, that's it' and most of the time, we people from Europe, we think we know everything about everything and that is not true. We don't know anything about anything. The good thing is that at the end, I have met human beings everywhere and we have the same common base. We just like to be happy, to be surrounded by people we love, to have good food, to have fun and then every society defines, what having fun means, what food means and what love means, but at the end, we all want the same.

Keshav: What a nice thought

Keshav: We are towards the end now and I don't have any specific questions to ask but let me just give you the mic and ask if you wanna say anything to a layman who could be listening to this interview or reading this interview.

David: I really think that we need to take laughter seriously because it is something that we need.

Keshav: Take laughter seriously! What an expression!

David: Yeah, yeah. We really need it in our daily lives, in education and also in health, it's very powerful, even five minutes a day. I think we can do things much better with laughter, just smile. I've been using my smile pretty much everywhere. You can see the difference, when you ask something or when you talk to someone with a smile, it's not the same message and the smile works 80% of the time. So this is the first thing, taking laughter seriously. The other thing is that because of the press and because of what's happening everywhere, all around the world, we sometimes, have the impression that the world is going very bad and that everything is dangerous everywhere

Keshav: I feel like that every time I watch news

David: Yeah yeah and I am trying not to read news but at the same time, you want to know what's happening. We have this impression and it's the same everywhere that the world is ending, everything is bad, it's all about racism, war and it's sad, very sad and I feel so happy to know that this is not true. I mean, obviously, there is wars, big wars and people killed, obviously, we have crazy presidents all around, and people who are trained to kill themselves, with nuclear bombs and stuff like that. This is the reality, but this is not the reality of majority of the planet. It's gonna sound stupid and childish or whatever, but we are all brothers. We need the same things. I told you before, we just need love, to have fun and to have good food and that's it. That's all a human being wants everywhere. The same is with religion. I have been reading a lot of Osho. I know Osho can be seen as someone very good or very bad but one thing I really love about him when he talks about religion is, he said that 'We just forgot about the base of the religion - just love, that's it. And then we have a lot of rules and these are against all other religion. Just remember that we are one and the same.. It's also the way you act, you can also collect different things from people. Most of my family and friends, most of them were scared of me going to some countries. For some countries, they were, 'Oh, that's cool' but for some countries, they were, 'Why do you need to go there?' and from there it sends a message that this is possible and this is not such a dramatic thing everywhere. Right now, I can say I have a lot of good friends in all different countries and when I stay friends with people I can share stuff with and we have stuff in common and we really have special feelings towards each other, that's magic.

Keshav: Thank you so much for reminding these thoughts to the world because we get consumed so much by the news and the negative media and reports, we often forget that all we need are pretty basic things, fun ,laughter and good food, like you said.

David: Yes, that's true.

Keshav: By the way, by when should expect your documentary to be finished and out?

David: I was thinking of 3 to 6 months but to be honest because I am working on different stuff at the same time and I am gonna travel again to some different missions next months because I cannot be in Paris because I am not doing anything. So I think next summer is going to be the end of the editing, I think.

Keshav: It's been such a pleasure and not just pleasure, it's been so enlightening to listen to you listen to you for last about an hour

David: It's an honour

 

 

David can be reached at –

http://www.thelaughingbackpack.com/

https://www.facebook.com/david.cerrone

https://www.facebook.com/thelaughingbackpack/
cassino78@hotmail.com

 

 

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