Posts Tagged ‘Indiana’

Letter From New York 02 31 15 A Day in Delhi…

March 31, 2015

It is relatively mild in Delhi today; rain last night broke the heat. In the morning I am off to Jaipur. If I can swing it, I will go to Goa for a day but so far the flight schedules aren’t accommodating. A friend surfaced there and I’d like to see him before I head back to the States on Sunday.

My friend Raja and I were supposed to go together to his wife’s shop in Delhi but he got caught up in an unexpected shoot and so I hired a car and driver and set off on my own. In the long ago and far away when I first was in Delhi, I would sometimes walk around Connaught Place and so I did again today.

It is largely filled today with international brands. Spread out in three concentric circles, it must have at least three or four McDonald’s. I passed at least three Van Heusen stores, Tommy Hilfiger, Levis, etc.

There were a couple of folks eager to direct me but I didn’t take their suggestions; instead I continued on my walk.

I also went to Diili Haat [I think that’s how it’s spelled], an open market where I got into the spirit of the bazaar and haggled over things I was bringing back as gifts and souvenirs. I also went to one of the Cottage Industries locations and vaguely remembered having been at one before and feeling like it was a bit overpriced. Wonderful rugs but I wasn’t feeling like $8,000 on a rug.

It was a good time, by myself, with Soni, my driver always at the ready. If I don’t get to Goa, I will ask for him again on Friday to take me around to places. In the morning, I am off to Jaipur with my other Delhi friend, Sanjay, and Andy, one of his friends. They have business there and while they do their business, I will sightsee.

I won’t be sightseeing in Bangladesh anytime soon. Another blogger was hacked to death there, in broad daylight, with meat cutting machetes. He was young and anti-Islamist. Three young men cut him down; two are in custody.

Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings pilot who apparently crashed his plane into the Alps, had been treated in the past for suicidal tendencies.

Denmark has agreed to join NATO’s missile defense system with at least one frigate. They agreed to do this last August. This week the Russian Ambassador to Denmark wrote an op-ed piece in a Danish newspaper warning Denmark they risk nuclear attack by Russia for doing so.

That’s the second time in a few weeks that Russia has rattled the nuclear sword.

Still rattled is the State of Indiana. Many of its Republicans simply don’t understand the firestorm that has arrived over their Religious Freedom Act. They are attempting to clarify it and stoutly claim it is not a cover for LGBT discrimination. Utah, that most religious of states, passed a Religious Freedom Act and it specifically provided protection for LGBT individuals.
More to come on this.

It will be interesting to see if there is going to be more tomorrow on the Iranian Nuclear deal. There is a self-imposed deadline of midnight tonight and it appears there are still hurdles to jump, not to mention i’s dotted and t’s crossed. It is mid-afternoon in Lausanne and they will keep talking until midnight, I’m sure. We’ll know tomorrow if the talking produced any kind of deal.

In Nigeria the election for President is coming to a close. It appears current President Jonathan Goodluck is losing. Mostly, the elections were peaceful. Hopefully, peace will be maintained as the results are announced.

Saudi Arabia continues to pound Yemen and says it will continue to do so until the rebels are finished. Iran seems to be sending some help to the rebels, who are Shia, as is Iran.

We now know that Trevor Noah is going to replace Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show.”

And I know that I am going to go to dinner tonight and then off to Jaipur in the morning. More to come from there…

Letter From New York 03 19 15 With the speech over, back to Delhi…

March 29, 2015

It is always hard to know exactly how well it went when you give a speech, which I did today. Personally, I think it went well. No one fell asleep. There were very few yawns. It was supposed to go for sixty minutes; it went for 90+ with all the questions.

Professor Ron Eglash, who spoke before me, stayed for my speech and when we got into the car to go back to the guesthouse, he told me that I was brilliant! And he’s American, so he wasn’t using “brilliant” the way Brits do, to say that was nice. He thought I was really good and I appreciated it.

Twenty students rushed the stage to have their pictures taken with me so I felt, for a few seconds, like a rock star.

All good.

The day came grey and drizzly today and the grey has never really gone away. Post speech, I’m feeling a bit tired and am going to finish this and then try to catch a few minutes catnap. I’d really love a glass of wine but the campus is “dry” so I will have to wait for Delhi for that.

Now that the speech is done and the conference closed, I have gone back to perusing world events a bit more closely.

Angie’s List has put on hold its expansion in Indiana until it further understands the implications of that state’s Religious Freedom Act. They were about to break ground in a few days on a $40 million building project. In the meantime, the legislature is drafting a “clarification” of the law, which it plans to unveil in a few days. I am very curious to see the clarifications. I’ll still be in India when they come out but I will be looking.

It is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Christian’s Holy Week. Pope Francis prayed for the victims of the Germanwings crash in the service today.

In other Francis’ news, he keeps hinting that he thinks his Papacy will be short, ended by some great event. I hope not. He is popular among Catholics and is stressing Christian themes in a way no Pope has for decades.

In good news for heavy drinkers, it is being reported that coffee counters the bad effects of drinking on the liver. One cup of coffee turns back the dial on three drinks. I predict coffee sales will rise.

Rising slightly are hopes that a nuclear deal will be made with Iran, but only slightly. There are still major differences and it’s not clear they can be overcome. Secretary Kerry was to return to the States for an event honoring his friend and colleague, the late Ted Kennedy. Kerry has cancelled the trip to remain at the negotiations.

Netanyahu says the deal is worse than he feared.

There are no negotiations going on in Yemen. There are lots of dropping bombs. Saudi Arabia claims to have destroyed the ballistic missiles the Shiite rebels seized when they toppled the Sunni government. The Arab League is holding a summit and is presenting a pretty united front against the rebels, announcing at the same time a regional security force.

The situation underscores the tensions between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran. Places like Yemen and Libya are the grounds now for proxy wars while the two powers attempt to become dominant in the Middle East.

In the confusing battleground that is Syria, the Al-Nursa Front has taken the city of Idlib. As they entered the city, they reported that Syrian troops had executed some detainees before fleeing the city. Al-Nursa is one of the groups, along with IS, vying for power in fractured Syria.

It is difficult to keep the players straight.

Singapore is saying farewell to its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew. The Prime Minister of India is there along with many other world leaders. The city is said to be at a standstill. For them, it’s like saying good-bye to George Washington.

Tomorrow, I leave Roorkee to return to Delhi. The weather looks ominous and so I will be praying for a safe driver. It will be good to be back in Delhi, where creature comforts are a bit more available. Not only is the campus “dry,” it is also vegetarian. I am hankering for some chicken tikka.

Letter From New York 03 28 15 In Holy Haridwar…

March 28, 2015

When I wake up in India, everyone I know is 9.5 hours behind me, sound asleep. It’s a little odd but I have gotten used to it. Beginning the day with an Indian breakfast, I moved on to two presentations here at Cognizance that I was interested in attending. One was by Kamlesh Sharma, Director of Coca-Cola, India. He is a remarkable young spokesperson for his company, invested with more enthusiasm for company, culture and product than I have recently seen in any individual.

He was followed by Elizabeth Nyamayaro, Senior Advisor, UN Women, who was here to talk about and evangelize “HeForShe,” a gender parity campaign launched by the UN earlier this year with a speech by Emma Watson, she of “Harry Potter” fame. And, yes, there is an app for that.

Following lunch, my new best friend, Ron Eglash, of RPI in Troy, NY, just up the road from Claverack, and I went with two of our young hosts to Haridwar, one of the seven holiest places in India for Hindus, the place where the Ganges flows into India.

We traveled for an hour to get there, through the dusty plains of northern India, past the roadside shantytowns and masses of humanity, threading our way through traffic, tossing our hat at danger at every moment. We rode past massive construction projects, all of which seemed halted at some point in their development with no sign they would ever be completed.

Walking on the bridge across the Ganges, you can stand and watch people bathing in the river. People by the dozens sell empty plastic bottles of varying sizes so that the pilgrims can take home the holy water of the Ganges.

People with deformed limbs line the walks, begging. It was a scene I remember well from my other times in India. One old woman looked me in the eye and I lined her tin cup with paper rupees. She reminded me of my mother.

In some ways, it felt very much like I was part of the Raj, sliding through the crushes of humanity in an air-conditioned Toyota, passing close enough to people that our eyes met and caught, my wondering about their world, as I am sure they wondered about mine.

Whole families transported themselves on motorbikes, no one wearing helmets, children delicately balanced between parents. It appeared to me that no one in India uses seatbelts either. Ashad, one of my hosts, languidly lounged in the front seat, his seat belt unbuckled.

The students who get into any of the branches of the India Institute of Technology are the best and brightest of Indian students. Each year only 5000 are granted places. I teased Ashad that I was with two of the brightest people I had ever known.

And I was.

We returned to the guesthouse as the sun was setting, a brilliant pink orb descending in the west and I retreated to my room to write.

While I was watching the Ganges flow, it was revealed that the co-pilot of the downed Germanwings flight, Andreas Lubitz, was responsible for the crash, with the loss of all aboard. He had said that his name would be famous. What a way to get what you want.

In Indiana, Governor Pence, has signed into law a “religious freedom” bill, which allows people to refuse service to same sex couples. He is surprised and frustrated that he is getting a negative response from a lot of folks, including the N.C.A.A., based in Indianapolis. The Mayor of San Francisco has banned all publicly funded travel to the state. Gen Con, a convention for gaming enthusiasts held every year in Indianapolis is threatening to leave. Salesforce.com is outraged and has said so.

Lots of celebrities and others, including Hillary Clinton, are piling on. The head of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce has called the bill “unnecessary.” Yelp is yelping, quite loudly.

Governor Pence is perplexed. If he had thought the bill was discriminatory, he wouldn’t have signed, he said.

He hasn’t ruled out a run for the Presidency.

Amanda Knox, who along with her boyfriend, had been accused of killing her roommate in Italy, has finally been vindicated and her conviction thrown out. The case has had more turns than a ride at Disneyland.

Apparently Hillary Clinton has wiped clean the server that she used for email in her years as Secretary of State. This isn’t going away for a long, long time.

And it’s not a very long time until I am giving my speech in the morning. I am skipping tonight’s festivities, a Swedish heavy metal band, and am going to my room after dinner to further prep my remarks and say some prayers that it all goes well.