By Audrey Bailey
Don Knebel’s new book, “Flushed with Curiosity: 101 Travel Tales with a Twist.”
The cover is sure to grab attention, as it shows partially unrolled toilet paper with drawings of human figures squatting.
But the differences between Eastern and Western cultural bathroom practices is just a glimpse of the many stories contained in Don Knebel’s new book, “Flushed with Curiosity: 101 Travel Tales with a Twist.”
“The idea was to give people a sense of the world that they wouldn’t have otherwise,” said Knebel, 69.
A resident of Zionsville for 16 years, Knebel has always had a passion for traveling with his wife, Jennifer. He originally graduated from Purdue University with an engineering degree, but after a few years, decided to pursue a different path and ended up at Harvard Law School.
In 1974, Knebel moved to Indianapolis to work as partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP. He retired in 2013 and now works as an adjunct professor at Indiana University, lectures in the community about religious understanding and writes travel columns for Current.
Knebel first began writing these columns back in 2011, when Brian Kelly, publisher of Current, suggested he document and share his unique experiences with others.
Before this, Knebel’s passion had taken him and his wife to “all the places most people go,” he said, including cities like Rome and Paris. But before too long, the couple was booking flights and exploring some of the worlds most archaic and exotic destinations.
“In the spring of 2006, we decided to go to Israel for about 10 days and came back with a sense that we really needed to learn more about the history and cultures of the Middle East, which is where civilization started,” Knebel said.
From there, Knebel and his wife went to Egypt, India, Syria, Turkey, Morocco and several other places, adding up to about 35 countries. These travels are featured in Knebel’s columns and his new book.
The accounts in “Flushed with Curiosity” are printed and placed according to historical chronological order. After the novel’s opening story in Jericho, Knebel precedes to one of his most memorable destinations in Northeast Africa where he describes the ancient, yet advanced civilizations of Egypt.
“Of all the places we’ve been, the one that was most eye-opening was probably Egypt” Knebel said. “So many of the world’s religions were all religious concepts that go all the way back to Egypt.”
These concepts include purification by water, seen in Judaism and Christianity, and origins of the Christian Trinity.
Knebel uses these narratives as a foundation for what has inspired him to travel to various foreign places and share the cultural practices each holds dear.
Throughout his excursions to areas some westerners might consider off-limits, Knebel has managed to observe more overarching similarities between these societies than differences.
“Ultimately, people are more alike. Everybody wants to have their family be successful, themselves be successful,” Knebel said. “They want to believe in something bigger than themselves. We all want to believe in something beyond ourselves.”
Knebel will appear at Black Dog Books, 115 S. Main St. Zionsville, for a book signing from 2 to 3 p.m. Nov. 7, followed by a presentation on his travels to Cuba, beginning at 3 p.m.
Don Knebel has visited the following countries:
- Palestinian Territories
- St. Maarten/Martin
- South Africa
- Vatican City