Posts Tagged ‘Le Monde’

Letter From New York 07 15 2016 As the Great Game goes on…

July 15, 2016

It is a warm, humid day as I trundle north on the train, back to Hudson.  The Hudson River is dotted with boats and the spray of jet skis.  A soft haze lays across the river, so it seems that what I see is in soft focus.

It’s not a bad day for soft focus.

I went into the city yesterday afternoon to have drinks with my friends Nick and David at Le Monde, a French Bistro near Columbia and then drifted from there to Cafe du Soleil, where I joined a party for Bastille Day put together by friends David and Bill.  We were festive and the mood was buoyant and I was home and asleep by the time news was coming out of France that a young Tunisian Frenchman had driven a lorry into a crowd celebrating Frances’ National Holiday, plowing on for 1.2 miles before he was killed and after he had killed at least 84 and wounded 202 others.

As I look out of the window of the train, sold out, standing room only, I see the verdant green hills which line the western bank of the river, the beginnings of the Catskills, bucolic, peaceful, welcoming.

The dead in Nice, a pleasant city in the south of France, to the east of Cannes, on the Rivera, home of the airport that serves that golden stretch of land, setting for glittery events and the place of lovely villas climbing the hills to look down on the Mediterranean, include ten children.  Fifty others from last night hang between life and death, as medical professionals do their best.

One woman talked for a long time to her dead child.  The living and unwounded began to swarm toward the beaches, away from the lorry, in case it was loaded with explosives.

On Wednesday, July 13, in Syria, 58 people died, mostly civilians of war related wounds.   Since the beginning of 2016 about 8,000 have died, since the beginning of the war over 440,000.  11.5% of Syria’s population has been killed or wounded.

On the same day in Iraq, 22 died by gunfire, bombs, rockets.

Looking out at the beautiful Hudson River, the Catskills on the other side, with gracious, magical homes occasionally dotting the landscape, it is easy to focus on the green moment and not the black news but today I cannot slip away, into the beauty.

It is all so senseless and all leaders seem to talk about the senselessness of it and do they find the senselessness of it enough of a unifying theme that they commit to actions that will stop it? 

One of the books I am reading is “The Good Years” by Walter Lord, describing the years between 1900 and 1914, when World War I began.  I am near the end of it, the war is beginning.  Devastation was released upon the European continent over the tragic death of an Archduke and his wife, which gave “permission” for the Austro Hungarian Empire and the German Empire to act to achieve political goals they had long wanted and ended up destroying themselves.

Men in power are always playing “the great game,” and as the game is played, the innocent die. 

The train is arriving in Hudson and I am winding down.  I will say my prayers tonight for all the people who died today because they are pawns in “the great game” and see if I can find a way to work effectively for change.

In the time since I’ve arrived home, run some errands and prepare to go into town for a comedy show,  the Turkish military, apparently fed up with Erdogan, is attempting a coup. Bridges across the Bosporus are closed, military aircraft are flying low over Istanbul and Ankara and gunshots have been reported.

“The Great Game” goes on.

Letter From New York 04 06 15 Back in the US of A…

April 7, 2015

Late last night I arrived back in New York and pulled up to my apartment building 24.5 hours after I had left the India Habitat Center, buttressed by a few hours sleep and some good service on the flights home. I did a few things of straightening up and then slipped into bed, awaking just a few hours later but then I slipped back to sleep and managed to clock near eleven hours.

As I drove through New York toward the apartment I was struck by both the familiarity of the skyline and how alien it seemed to me, as if it had been centuries since I had last seen it.

It was a familiar route, one I had traveled often in the last years, going from JFK to the apartment. Yet, somehow, it felt different this time. As if I was approaching it from a long way off, as, indeed, I was.

George, the doorman, helped me in with my luggage.

Waking at six, I rolled over and went back to sleep until 11:15 and then got up to have lunch with Nick Stuart at Le Monde, one of our haunts.

It was a great introduction back into the Western world.

After lunch, I went back to the apartment, gathered my things together and went north with my good friends, Lionel and Pierre, who were returning from a visit to their New York vet before leaving for Baltimore. They wanted Marcel, their dog, to have a final looking over before they left.

In the meantime, I’ve had little contact with the outside world and its events.

I could go on in this blissful ignorance but choose not too.

However, there seems to be little of great consequence happening in the news – and for that I am grateful. Too often I look at the news and see word of some great slaughter somewhere.

Today, we have Rolling Stone magazine caught in a scandal of bad reporting on a Virginia rape case. Reporters won’t be sanctioned but lawsuits are being prepared.

Last week, as reported, Misao Okawa passed away, having held the crown for being the world’s oldest person. The crown then passed to an Arkansas woman, Gertrude Weaver, who passed away today.

It’s been a bad week for living old.

In not a bad week for some. McDonald’s is raising its basic wage though not enough to stifle the protests of many. Starbucks is offering college tuition to its employees though I can’t tell you many details, as the story seems frozen on my computer.

Kenya has struck back at al-Shabaab in an air attack on two of their strongholds, following the deadly attack on students at University in Garissa.

So the violence goes on, while I sit at my laptop putting together the day’s events, even as I attempt to manage my jet lag.

Arriving in Claverack, Lionel, Pierre and I went to the Red Dot. Alana, the proprietress, was genuinely glad to see me and I was genuinely glad to see her.

It amazes me that I am still alive after my Indian road adventures. I thought, for sure, I would be road kill on one of those trips across India by car. But I am here, alive, and better for the journey.

It is 11:30 at night in Claverack. In India it is 9:00 in the morning.

I am sure that soon my body will catch up with my time zone.