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!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Preaching to the Choir!

I sucked it up and decided to watch the speech.  I recorded it so I wasn’t burdened with all the preliminaries.  And it was, thankfully, not long.  That’s a plus.

At least the speech was consistent.  It was more of the same, aimed at the same people who voted for him.  He did dance with the one who brung him, I’ll give him that.  But for the rest of us, here and around the world?  No reason to think our worst fears won’t come to pass.  No reason not to expect the worst.

I assume the pundits will analyze what was said, but really there’s not much to analyze.  It was devoid of specifics.  There was no soaring rhetoric.  They can discuss the tone – belligerent, truculent, super chauvinistic, but that too is more of the same.


I’ll let it go at that.  Stay tuned . . .

Monday, January 16, 2017

Inaugural Nausea!

Like it or not the Inauguration will happen on Friday.  I’m sorry to report that my “Head in the Sand” approach is not working.  I’ve been unable to pretend nothing is happening.  We’re being bombarded by this reality – on TV, on the Internet, in the newspapers, at the grocery store.

Inaugural Nausea is in the air.  It is the contagion of the day/week/month.  Symptoms are depression, denial, not wanting to get out of bed in the morning, disbelief and intermittent mental diarrhea and constipation.

Medication doesn’t help.  There is no cure.  It is a 24/7 nightmare that waking up won’t reverse.  Brief respites are available, like watching Alec Baldwin on SNL, or reading Charles Blow in the Times or seeing John Lewis take a stand for decency.  But the blunt truth is that this is as bad as we feared and it is going to get worse.  Hopeful signs are quickly replaced by this reality.


So what now?  When I have a good idea I’ll let you know.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

India Redux!

I lived in India for seven years in the 1960s when I was in the Foreign Service.  I returned several times in the 1970s and 1980s to lead Breakthrough Foundation programs.  After that I returned again more than once just because I liked being there.  My last such visit was in 2003.  Now, 14 years on, Sandra and I are preparing for another passage to India.

I’ve been asking myself if I have an agenda for this trip.  I don’t – other than to just be there.  I’ve kept up to date on what’s going on in India, so I’m current, at least from a distance.  I know that the India of 2017 is a very different country than the one I encountered when I stepped off a Pan Am plane in the middle of a hot, muggy night in August 1962.  It had only been 15 years of Independence at that time.

I want to have a direct experience of today’s India – to be open to what has changed and also to see what from the olden days is still in place.  Not to yearn for a long gone youth, but to see how it looks to me now.  I bring a different perspective and in that sense will see with new eyes.


We shall see how this all unfolds.  Stay tuned . . .