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The Peak (Singapore) - - Contents - Don’t Call Me Mrs Rogers: Love, Loathing & Our Epic Drive Around the World is avail­able on Oct 9 in all ma­jor book­stores.

It’s hard to sep­a­rate Paige Parker from the image of her hus­band, Jim Rogers, the Amer­i­can busi­ness heavy­weight who rode around the world on a mo­tor­cy­cle in 1990 and wrote about it in In­vest­ment Biker. And did it again al­most a decade later – this time in a car with Parker – with the ad­ven­ture doc­u­mented in

Ad­ven­ture Cap­i­tal­ist. Both trips were in the Guin­ness World Records.

But this isn’t Rogers’ story. It’s Parker’s, as she em­phat­i­cally states in the pro­logue of her book, Don’t Call Me Mrs Rogers: Love, Loathing & Our Epic Drive Around the World, out this month. She is ev­ery bit his part­ner in life and on the road as she is a proud mother of two daugh­ters, a board mem­ber of UN Women, a gemol­o­gist, a sup­porter of lo­cal arts and, now, a pub­lished writer. “When I read Jim’s book, I thought it wasn’t my story, and I wanted mine out there for my daugh­ter, Happy, whom I was preg­nant with at the time (2003),” she says. She com­pleted it in 2006, four years af­ter the end of the record­break­ing trip through 116 coun­tries, but pub­lish­ing her ac­count of it took a back seat to other pri­or­i­ties, such as mov­ing to Sin­ga­pore, rais­ing her chil­dren Hilton Au­gusta (who goes by Happy) and Bee­land (also known as Bee), and train­ing to be­come a gemol­o­gist.

“Three years ago, a writer friend of mine and I were talk­ing about my book and he sug­gested that I at least bind it, so that my daugh­ters would have a copy to read. I thought it was a great idea but, when I went back and read it, I re­alised I could make it bet­ter.” With the per­spec­tive she gained over the past two decades, she cut the story length by half and rewrote most of it to in­clude her re­la­tion­ship with her fam­ily, as well as her growth from a small town South­ern Amer­i­can belle to a woman of the world. The stream­lined nar­ra­tive, cou­pled with some truly re­mark­able ex­pe­ri­ences, makes Don’t Call Me Mrs Rogers a com­pelling read.

Be­cause de­spite the cus­tom-made Mercedes in which they toured the world and the deep pock­ets they had in or­der to fund the trip, much of it was light years away from a Re­lais & Chateaux ex­pe­ri­ence. “We were held at gun­point in An­gola and stuck in a mil­i­tary camp that night. The sol­diers – who were re­ally just boys in uni­form – were car­ry­ing ma­chine guns and rocket launch­ers and we weren’t al­lowed to leave. We had to sleep in the car and I was so scared that when I needed to go to the bath­room that night, I did it right out of the car,” she says. “But we found out the next morn­ing that we weren’t al­lowed to pass be­cause they had placed mines on the bridge. If we had gone through, we would have been blown up.”

But there were just as many mo­ments of levity as well, such as camp­ing in the Sa­hara Desert with no­mads while en­joy­ing a bot­tle of vin­tage port they re­ceived from a friend in Spain; hav­ing a woman on the Ivory Coast kill a chicken for them while they danced to Mar­vin Gaye; cel­e­brat­ing the find­ing of the True Cross with a large bon­fire in an Ethiopian vil­lage. “We re­ally lived in the mo­ment dur­ing those times, but, un­for­tu­nately, we were of­ten pre­oc­cu­pied with plan­ning.”

A round-the-world trip which doesn’t skirt war-torn ar­eas and po­lit­i­cally un­sta­ble zones is hard enough on a per­son, but to do it with­out dec­i­mat­ing one’s re­la­tion­ship with a fi­ance re­quires a con­sid­er­able amount of com­mit­ment. “We ac­tu­ally called off the mar­riage while we were in Italy, though we were okay the next day. That was dif­fi­cult to write about,

be­cause I won­dered if I wanted to be that hon­est with the reader. But I thought there would be no point oth­er­wise. The only thing I changed was the word ‘ bas­tard’ to ‘schmuck’ or some­thing, for the sake of my kids,” she re­veals.

There were, un­der­stand­ably, count­less times she wanted out – ex­cept she couldn’t. “One time, we had to wait three weeks for a boat to take us up the Nile to Egypt. I wound up vis­it­ing a girls’ school and be­friended a young Mus­lim woman who made me eggs and tea ev­ery morn­ing. There was al­ways some ‘rain­bow’ that fed me enough to keep go­ing, so I’m thank­ful for the times I was stuck.”

The rea­son Parker is able to re­call the trip in such de­tail is be­cause she wrote ev­ery day of the trip. “We never knew what was go­ing to hap­pen, what we were go­ing to eat, whom we were go­ing to meet or where we would sleep, so writ­ing was my con­stant,” she shares. And the sharp­ness of those mem­o­ries has kept her deeply con­nected to the ex­pe­ri­ence. “I did a read­ing for the first time for three of my best friends ear­lier this year, and I just lost it. I cried so hard. Even a pas­sage that wasn’t sup­posed to be emo­tional was emo­tional for me.”

Ob­vi­ously no one goes through some­thing like that and comes out of it un­changed. “The Paige be­fore the trip was quite pleas­ant, but a bit naive. The Paige af­ter is more thought­ful, con­fi­dent and knowl­edge­able,” she says. “The trip has also af­fected me as a mother. I want to make sure my girls are ex­posed to life be­yond this Sin­ga­pore utopia we live in. When Happy and I climbed Kil­i­man­jaro in June, I made sure she saw how peo­ple re­ally lived in Tan­za­nia.”

So have her daugh­ters read the book? “Happy’s read it. She said it is the best book she’s ever read. And that it is bet­ter than Daddy’s.”

A DIF­FER­ENT KIND OF LIFE The three­year road trip threw Parker into pre­vi­ously unimag­in­able ex­pe­ri­ences, such as meet­ing the peo­ple of Douala, Cameroon (above), and ap­pre­ci­at­ing an early morn­ing cup of cof­fee in Ne­gade Bahir, Ethiopia (left). Her room for the night cost 50 US cents.

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