A couple years ago, Nabil Sabio Azadi crashed on Heather Feather's couch for about three weeks. He was her friend's brother, and he'd made it to New York just in time for Hurricane Irene.
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"We went out in the storm together," said Heather Feather, aka Heather Kramer, 28, co-founder of a summer arts camp for kids. "That's the kind of thing Nabil is good at: saying 'yes' to the exciting."
Kramer is one of about two dozen people from around the world who agreed to appear in Azadi's hand-bound book, "For You the Traveller." Azadi, a 21-year-old Iranian-New Zealand artist, conceived it during a multi-year walkabout that took him all over the globe. Its aim is to connect travelers with like-minded compatriots — artists, writers, farmers, teachers — willing to offer hospitality in their hometowns. The book opens with this sentence: "The road is home and if you transact justly you will be trusted and loved by these people who will help you."
Each entry in the book features one of Azadi's illustrations of the location, a handful of words from the host and a working telephone number. Azadi printed 200 copies, covered them in recycled rabbit fur and set the price at $335. He plans to donate the profits to Nouvelle Planète to construct footbridges in Madagascar.
Azadi said he has sold about 150 so far and that almost everyone who has bought it has contacted him personally to share a story.
"Strangers have changed my life," he wrote in an email. "Honestly — and this means I'm either very brave or an idiot — the only things that have ever worried me about travel are international roaming bills and driving through Alpine passes in fog."
As for Heather Feather, the Rockaway house where she hosted Azadi was destroyed, not by Hurricane Irene, but by Hurricane Sandy. She's still willing to offer travelers a place to stay in her new home 26 blocks away, but so far she has received only one call: from a woman in France who had heard about the storm and offered to come help in the aftermath.
Jennifer Day is editor of Printers Row Journal.
"For You the Traveller"
Edited by Nabil Sabio Azadi, hand-bound, 144 pages, about $335