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But Still He Moves

Since I last wrote, I've traveled much and much has happened. I left Mumbai, just a few weeks before the tragic shootings, and traveled to London for a week to visit my friends. While I wish I could say my time in London was colored with thoughts of England's 200 year occupation of India and the appropriateness of my visit to London before returning to the United States of America, I can't. I gave no thought to visiting the sites Gandhi described in his autobiography. Nor did I search for the old buildings of the East India Company or visit any of the London museums to see the artifacts acquired during India's occupation. I generally don't think or travel as such. Plus, I was a bit overwhelmed by my return to the West and by all the compliments on my tan. My time in London was similar to my last couple months in India in that it was spent eating, partying and time passing with friends.

A description of my trip to London would be incomplete, however, if I did not mention how my concern about the global economic hardships grew while there. In India, I watched much news coverage in my hotel rooms of the struggling stock markets and economies. The crisis, however, seemed remote for two reasons. First, the feel on the streets of India was the same as when I arrived there before the crisis. Perhaps most indians were not and are not as directly affected as those in the West. This point becomes pretty easy to believe when you consider that over 50% of Mumbai's population already live in slums. Second, much of the coverage detailed hardships that did not seem to apply to me, such as how difficult it is becoming for bachelors working in the finance or IT sectors to find brides. Clever to-be-brides, you see, are wary of the insecurity of these professions and are looking for their prospective husbands to be in more stable fields. Perhaps they are looking for husbands who produce cheap alcohol, a thriving industry during hard times (free tip for all the would-be brides reading this). While I found these stories interesting from a cultural perspective, it made the hardships of the crisis seem limited rather than general. In London, however, one of the world's financial centers, the tension of the struggling global economy was palpable. It seemed everywhere I went I heard snippets of conversations about the desperate state of the job and stock markets. Despite the ability of the accent and modest manner of Londoners to take the edge off pain or difficulties (for an example of this type in "Charlie bit my finger" in Youtube), I found I was becoming increasingly tense. It makes me wonder whether a third reason the crisis did not seem so all-consuming to me while in India was that I did not understand the local languages, so I may not have picked up on similar conversations while standing at the chai wala stand. I digress. My concern climaxed in London during a conversation I was having with some one who I'd met in London. After an hour or so of listening to him talk about complete economic meltdown, my heart began to race. To calm myself down I asked him to take a step back from the Terminator-esque scenarios and tell me whether he was really as concerned as he seemed to be. He told me that he was not. My heart rate slowed. Then he said, "Because I'm pretty sure I can live in the jungle for two years." Could he have said anything worse? My heart rate doubled.

When I said that this conversation was the climax of my concern, I mean that I have not been as anxious about the economy since that moment. In part, it was shocking to return to a West that seemed so changed from the one I left. How much happened during those five months from June-November. Also, I have heard on the news reassuring talk about sound financials of many business in many sectors, so perhaps much of the concern resembles hysteria, perhaps not. Lastly, although it seems clear that we have some difficult times ahead and regardless of the depth of the difficulties, opportunities are present. As a wise friend of mine put it, if Americans need a crisis like this, even a depression, to start behaving more responsibly, sustainably, then, so be it. While I am no economist, though I do have the proud distinction of twice failing the first level of CFA exams, this crisis could be a wake-up call to all of us that some of our excesses must be curtailed or eliminated. With this in mind, I have continued, con gusto, my research in and plans for rammed earth. There is much to say about the timing and opportunities of the recent economic downturn and my interest in rammed earth. Much more on that later...maybe not today, but sometime. Back to my last two months.

My tan and the compliments related thereto faded quickly after returning to the cold of New York. It's a strange feeling to return to New York, and it remains a mystery to me how quickly I return to the familiar mindset of being in New York, regardless of whether I spent a weekend away in Boston or five months away in India. I think Billy Joel wrote a song about it. It was great to be back in New York and see my mother and friends there (type in "Best 8 Count Dance Ever" in Youtube to see some of my activities there...I'm the guy in the wig, wearing an apron). While I intended to hit the ground running on my research at the New York Public Library, I prioritized seeing my friends and family there and was not able to utilize the amazing resource of that sacred library. It is much on my mind to return to New York in the next couple of weeks to continue with my rammed earth project. More to come on that, as well. 

From New York, I traveled to Columbus, Ohio and celebrated Thanksgiving at my brother and sister-in-laws house. It was here that I also met, for the first time, my awesome nephew, Barrett. He is too cute. He was scared of me at first, like many people, but he quickly warmed up to me, like some people. I pretty sure I heard him say that I am his favorite person on the planet. Here is a video and picture of me with the little one.

Bear trying to beat box...          
Having much time on my hand and not wanting to continue paying for a storage in New York, I returned to New York for three days or so and picked up all my stuff (which fits comfortably in one minivan provided by my little sister) and drove to Ohio. There I spent another week with my brother, sister-in-law and nephew. It was also during this trip that I got, for the first time, to see my friend Justin Camp perform stand-up. He is incredibly funny, and do not be surprised if he becomes a household name in the next couple years. You can check him out on Youtube. 

Ohio wasn't cold enough for me, so I traveled to Fergus Falls, Minnesota, which I'm pretty sure is where cold was invented. This is where my sister and brother-in-law live and where we decided to celebrate Christmas. I've never felt so close to Santa Claus. Though most of the days were around -10⁰F, on the warmest day, 10⁰F, I decided to walk 15 blocks to my sisters church to say hello. About halfway through the walk, I reached up to itch my beard and realized I had two icicles coming from my nose. You've probably seen such icicles on mountain climbers. In that way, and only in that way, I felt cool about being so icicled. Growing up in Ohio, I thought I knew cold, but I was wrong. Here are a few photos from my trip up there. The squirrel that you see probably weighed ten pounds to live through the cold.

Here are twelve of the seventeen family members at Christmas

From Minnesota, I took a bus from the near the top of the US to near the bottom to Austin, TX. Austin is one of the coolest cities I have ever visited. Here I spent a week with my friend Erica, and she showed me many amazing restaurants and local sites of Austin. In Austin, there is great music every night, excellent Mexican food and one of the municipal swimming pools is a huge natural spring-fed pool with a floor of the natural stone instead of concrete. Tres cool. A week definitely was not enough time in Austin, but I was excited to get to my Uncle Warren's in Florida, so I left. Since flying and renting a car and driving to Florida cost the same amount of money, I decided to make the 18 hour drive. Half-way through the trip my fear of flying is trumped by the nuisance of driving half-way across the country. The last three hours of the trip were spent with the radio and air-conditioners on their maximum settings to keep me awake. However, in a state of near-hypothermia, I arrived at my uncle's place near Daytona Beach.

I have been here for two weeks and already I have beaten my uncle 30+ times at chess, visited my good friends and started training for a marathon I am going to run in September with my sister-in-law, Heather. Two weekends ago, I visited my friend Corey in New Smyrna Beach. He lives very close to here and will be taking a break from studying for the Florida Bar to watch the Super Bowl together next weekend. Last night I returned from a weekend with some of my other closest friends, Jeffrey and Mary Kat. I got to meet their new adorable twins, Charlotte Lee and Margot Ellen, as well as spend some times with their incredibly lovable 20 month-old, Cutter. He is such a great kid. At the playground, I watched Cutter go up to a boy who had just gone down a slide and tap the boy and the shoulder and clap for him. Very cute. The only thing bitter-sweet about the weekend was observing this family being so active and productive, considering they have three children under 2 and Jeffrey is working 80 hours/week in his surgery residency. It made me feel bad about my time-management skills. Maybe I need to have three children.

It's not been all fun and games since I've been here. I've also read two books and over 50 articles about rammed earth. I have compiled the research and will spend my time putting together a little booklet about my research and the project I have planned for the Spring. Maybe I'll even complete this idea I have for a children's book called, Me and My Friend, Rammed Earth Wall. Joke...sort of.

Here is a brand new update. As I was just returning from the grocery store, the dog of one of my uncle's neighbor decided to bite me on the leg as I walked by. Being a little Jack Russell Terrier, my first impulse was to kick it across the yard, but I followed my second instinct, which was to walk away holding my leg in a confused state. It only broke the skin a little bit, but I can't help but think this is some sort of repayment for the jokes I made at my friend Priyanka's expense after she was bitten by a stray dog in Auroville, India. Of course, she required rabies medicine, and I don't think that I do, but who knows the proper way to deal with such things. My impulse is to return to the yard and follow-up on my first instinct.

Reader Comments (1)

i like it very much.....

July 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNotary Public Brampton

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