Friday, March 17, 2017

Wasted Ink!

I am always surprised by how interested people are in conjecturing.  The ‘what ifs,’ ‘how abouts,’ and ‘maybes’ get more attention than the thing itself.  It is an excuse for the self-styled experts and pundits to opine, predict and wax eloquent (well, maybe not eloquent, but wax nonetheless) about the subject du jour.

If you get your news online, all this is wasted data.  I’m still a newspaper reader, so it’s wasted ink.  In recent days the hot story has been the Trump budget.  Will it be changed?  If it isn’t, what will happen?  If it is, what will happen?  Who will it help?  Who will it hurt?  Etc., etc., ad nauseum. 

Why should I waste my time on all this stuff?  The story will go on for a long time before it is resolved.  I’ll be interested in how the saga ends.  But until then, I’d rather watch a Champion’s League game or read a book.

In our 24/7 world, the demand for new breaking news which generates new conjecturing is insatiable.  I can even sympathize with the need to fill the space with something.  But that doesn’t make it worth my time.  You, of course, may have a different opinion, so go ahead – opine!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Lingering Memories!

It doesn’t take long to return to my daily routine after being away.  Even so, lingering sweet memories are gifts that don’t easily disappear:

The magic moment in Varanasi at the BrijRama Palace when tabla and flute combined to make tangible and present a world long gone.

Cruising through the Kerala backwaters to the sound of Thwap, Thwap, Thwap as women do what women have done for thousands of years, beat their clothes against a flat stone.  Thwap, Thwap, Thwap.

Looking across the lake from our balcony at the Leela Palace in Udaipur at sunset as the lights of the City Palace illuminated the horizon.

The women in the airport who, unbidden, pointed us in the direction of the escalator so we didn’t have to climb the stairs.  The men in Delhi who showed us the way to the ATM.

Delicious vegetarian dishes, often cheese-based, in Varanasi.  The extraordinary dinner at the Indian Accent in Delhi.  Our final lunch on the boat in Kerala, a dozen unique South Indian dishes.  Dining under the stars in Udaipur and Hyderabad.

Visiting the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib to see how the Sikhs serve everyone who comes in.  And the Nizamuddin Shrine, a frenzied atmosphere to honor the Sufi saint.  And the Jama Musjid, India’s largest mosque.  And the Jagdish temple in Udaipur, a holy place for Hindus.

Watching the cremation rites at the Manikarnika burning ghat on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi.  Sitting on the steps of the famous Dashashwamedh Ghat to soak in the scene.  Wedding parties, beggars, families, tourists, sadhus, all out in force.

And more . . .  And still very glad to be home.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Back From India!

Takeaways (admittedly generalizations) after spending the last month in India:

People have a positive outlook, especially young people.
They think the Modi-led government is on the right track.
Mobile phones are ubiquitous, seemingly growing out of everyone’s ears.
Traffic is more chaotic than ever.  Macho drivers rule.
Walking down narrow streets is a battle with motorcycles for survival.
Little attention is paid to the past.  Today is about today’s India.
Traditional values may be less visible but below the surface are still powerful.
Trump is on their minds.  What does he mean for America?  For India?
Air pollution is not limited to Delhi or Mumbai.  It’s everywhere.
People are both pushy and quick to provide acts of small kindness.
Indians are unabashedly proud of their country.

I had a great trip and am happy to be home.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The View From Afar - Continued

To be sure, my sample is small, but the opinions are consistent.

I've lived and worked in India a lot.  But not recently.  I know the old India, not the new India.  This trip is a chance to see with new eyes.  Surface impressions can be misleading and accurate.  So today's chaos on the streets in cities are wall-to-wall autos and scooters, not bicycles and bullock carts.  Even so, it is the people, the sheer overpowering numbers of them, that hasn't changed over the years.  New and old, people are the resource and the challenge.

I started in Delhi where the new and old coexist uneasily.  I then revisited Varanasi, where the old still rules.  In Udaipur the colors of Rajasthan haven't changed.  And here in Hyderabad, a main tech center, I can only assume that the future is already here.  After Chennai and Kerala it is back to Delhi and home.

My return to the chaos and dysfunction of good old USA may put a dent in my serenity.  But only for a little while.

Incomplete posting

My last post was incomplete.  I will try to complete the posting soon.

The View From Afar

I'm in Hyderabad.  When I'm asked where I'm from, which is often, what they want to talk about is Trump, Trump, Trump.  There is no escape.  Interestingly, most people are more positive or hopeful than negative.  To be sure, my sample is small 

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Exquisite Interlude

In a 200-year-old palace on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi, that most Indian city of them all, listening to tabla and flute conjure up magic of the ages, I am in the presence of the devine.  The meaningless noise that pollutes our world is put in its proper place - the trash can.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Choose Your Issue!

Where to begin?  After a week of outrage, turmoil, confusion, anxiety – you name it – I can only repeat my “Expect the worst and you won’t be disappointed” mantra.

There is no escape.  Sticking my head in the sand doesn’t work.  Yelling loudly like a five-year-old to drown out the unwanted noise is only a temporary distraction.  The bad news is like a tsunami that won’t stop and there’s no place to hide.

Taking to the streets has some utility.  At least it provides the appearance of fighting back.  Expressions of dissent on social media and news media are not a waste of time.  Using the courts, where appropriate, to stem the tide can yield at least a temporary respite from egregious actions.  But more is needed.

Those with power in institutions not beholden to the executive branch need to stand up – sooner rather than later – and battle back.  Elected officials will only respond if they are threatened by an enraged electorate.  Holding onto their jobs is more important to them than ideology.

This is only the beginning.  Preserving what is great about this country won’t happen overnight.  The threats will keep coming, so there will be many more battles to fight.  In the end that’s a good thing.  We won’t have time to become complacent.

In the meantime, I’m off to India day after tomorrow.  Will all this look different from there?  We’ll see.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

In My Bubble!

I like it here in my bubble.

Newspapers, TV and the Internet tell me what’s happening out there – outside my bubble.  I don’t like it out there.

If I have neighbors who don’t share my views I don’t know them.

In my bubble a majority of our Board of Supervisors are female.  In my bubble my Governor pledges to fight those out there who would force us to change our ways.  My Mayor pledges to have us remain a sanctuary city.

In my bubble we’re right on the environment.  We believe in a woman’s right to choose.  Your sexual preferences are your business, not mine.

Yes, everything isn’t perfect in my bubble.  I acknowledge that.  But given what’s happening outside my bubble our imperfections seem of little import.  And guess what?  It’s even been raining in my bubble.  Raining a lot.  That’s a good thing.

I like it here in my bubble!