I'm home. Got home day before yesterday. Had a lovely last
day in New Delhi, as I describe below, and a good flight home.
Three hours after arriving home I was hit by Delhi belly. Been
sick as a dog since. Much worse than on any time on the
trip. Coming out of it now, slowly.
I look forward to seeing you all and sharing
stories, but I'm realizing it will be frustrating trying to recount
the trip. I've 5 video tapes that I'm looking forward to
editing to an hour that will do a much better job of giving you an
understanding. Video editing is time consuming and I need to
learn some new skills so I'll not have accomplished this for at least a
month and probably two. So, we can look forward to watching that
after Christmas. I wrote the text below on the way home on the
I'm On the plane going over (near) the north pole right now. I
know it's right now because there's an updated visual of the flight
progress on a map and the time at our current location has changed from
7:37 am to 1:43 am in the last half hour. Time can go backwards. Flying
over the north pole this time is pretty dark. Not like the time
we saw the Aurora Borealis. It was dark the whole flight - 15 hours,
except for about a half an our of sunrise and sunset over Siberia.
The lights of Kabul and Tashkent more extensife and brighter than
My last day in Kathmandu was auspicious. The mountains came out
and I got a tour of Nepal's national teaching hospital. The clouds of
the monsoon had been covering up the mountains til two days ago. Once
they cleared the mountains lined Kathmandu's northern harizon.
I got an email from Sirgit's older brother,
Kartikesh, the doctor I met on my first day in Nepal. He's
finishing up his studies and invited me to visit him at the
hospital. The hospital reinforced my impression of how fast Nepal
is modernizing. There is prenatal care and midwives throughout
Nepal at government run dispensaries. Hospital births are
preferred by those who are close enough. Dr. Thakur and his room mate
study for the "United States Medical Licensing Examination".
Then I got a couple days in New Delhi. I was ready for it this
time. Just a matter of competence. There is a way of
communicating with a look and a wave of the hand that the aggressive
merchants and beggars recognize as: they will be wasting their
time. I really like being on the street in New Delhi.
More human drama per square meter by magnitudes than elsewhere.
At least in old New Delhi. New, New Delhi, which I sought out
this time, looks much like America: self contained nuclear families in
apartments and condos in the suburbs with shopping malls and where
neighbors are strangers and owning a car is a necessity. I rode
the metro all day my last day, stopping at different stops and engaging
people. Riding the metro out from the Center of Delhi is like
looking through different layers in an archeological dig.
In the center it's old. On the outskirts it's brand new, as you
will see on the web site. In between the villages that are now
part of the city because of the metro but haven't changed much
and still have village scale speed and intensity.
At the end of the line I talked with a gentleman
who'd bought one of the condos in a high rise before the metro was
completed. It was very inconvenient but he got a good price. He
works in a travel agency. Mostly business travel. He says
business is booming. His agency is growing and he's become upper
management. He has a single 14 year old daughter. He has to
have a car since services aren't walking distance. A big shopping
mall is about to open nearby and a freeway is being built.
Automobile access to the complex is still difficult, especially during
the monsoon. He was very friendly and spoke good English.
A few miles closer to the city center the older villages
are being changed by the metro. I chatted with a 27 year old man
who is a program manager for Nokia, but still lives in the village he
grew up in surrounded by extended family and old friends. He
manages 10 other people who handle customer service, locally. He
has to commute 10, 15 miles. He was off work because it is a
religious holiday and he was going to a temple with family. He
has plans to vacation in Kashmere and rent a boathouse with friends in
a couple months.
For my last meal in New Delhi one of the
workers at the hotel I was staying at treated me to a "really good"
Indian meal. He insisted on paying for it. Took me to the "best"
restaurant in the neighborhood. He probably makes $5 a day. His
wife, 9 month old son, sister and other family are in a village by
Kolkata (Calcutta) 500 miles away. He sees them perhaps once a
year. He says he talks with them by phone every few days.
His sister is in high school. He is saving for her dowry .
His father is deceased so it's his responsibility. He will look
for a husband for her in a couple years, he said. He would like
to get a motorcycle and might get a used one, but not for a couple
years. The hotel job seems to me a dead end. He works 12 hour
shifts, 6 or 7 days a week. It's a budget hotel for westerners.
Mostly Israeli's. I tried to think of a way of reciprocating, of
some way to help him. He was so happy to have me appreciate his helping
me and sharing the meal that any attempt to even the books would have
ruined it. On the one hand, I am sure that he hopes that one of
his "friends" from America or Israel will do something to change his
life - like winning the lottery; and at the same time, he is
acting out the village hospitality that he grew up with. I had a
very good last evening in Delhi.
Peace and curiosity,