Posts Tagged ‘Lee Kuan Yew’

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 23 15 Halfway to Delhi…

March 23, 2015

Sitting in the Upper Class Lounge for Virgin Atlantic at Heathrow Airport, I am surrounded by people traveling to the far corners of the world. The man to my left, who checked in just before me, is on his way to Capetown. The woman in front of him was off to Dubai. I am heading to Delhi.

In front of me, behind a plate glass window, two men are having their hair cut. A very nice lady brought me a martini and a couple of deviled eggs for a snack.

Thank goodness for the mileage that got me here! If you are traveling all the way to Delhi from New York, it’s best to be in at least business. On the way to London, I actually got a few good hours of sleep. The seat folded out to a flat bed. I was laying there thinking about my first flight to London and remembered then, all that time ago, I was so excited I couldn’t think of sleeping.

In London, I had lunch with my friend Tim and his wife, Vidya, who came all the way out to Heathrow to collect me. We drove into London and then went to a tony part of London [Primrose?] and ate at Greenberry, a charming restaurant, having good English breakfasts, followed by a cappuccino.

In the afternoon, Tim and I stayed at their house and chatted while Vidya ran errands. He was demonstrating the BBC iPlayer for me and we watched some news. One of the Conservatives was on the BBC announcing that she was introducing measures to contain extreme Islamists. They would not be tolerated. Those who didn’t subscribe to “British” norms would be excluded from citizenship and entry.

Britain has been especially sensitive because of the four young girls who flew to Turkey, crossed to Syria and joined IS as well as the revelation that Jihadi John was a British citizen.

Tim expressed his concern about the growing anti-Muslim sentiment rising in Britain today. We discussed various examples of it in both our countries. It is a fraught time. One friend of mine in the States believes with all his heart that all Muslims are raised to hate “infidels.”

In the staggeringly complex world in which we live there are no absolutes. But the rise of extreme Islamic movements like Al Qaeda and IS are more than troubling. I have no ready answer. I don’t believe all Muslims actually hate infidels like me. I do believe some do and I would prefer not to encounter them this side of paradise.

On this side of paradise, for once the global news isn’t peppered with reports of IS atrocities. I’m sure they are occurring; they just haven’t made headlines.

One of today’s headlines is that Lee Kuan Yew, founder of Singapore, died today at 91. Early on, he predicted the rise of China. He is being mourned as a political giant. I also think he’s the one that banned chewing gum in Singapore.

Attempting to be a political giant, Ted Cruz has announced he is running for the Presidency. I believe he is the first official entrant in what is going to be a very crowded field this year. Half of America seems to be seeking the Republican nomination. If we thought it was crowded in 2012 wait until this year.

Jeb Bush is fundraising in Texas and his brother W, the former President, and Laura, his wife, are the special guests of honor at a big event in Dallas. It’s the first time the former President and his wife have publicly appeared in support of Jeb, who is big with the donors and not so big with voters. It will be interesting to watch Jeb’s progress.

The flight to Dubai has just been called. There has been an exodus from the lounge, seeming practically empty until the next wave comes. I’m told my flight will be called in about an hour, which is why I am hurrying this.

I think the flight to Delhi is about eight hours, a long time in the air. I will sleep some and then will go to my hotel in Delhi to sleep some more and work on the speech, slowly coming together in preparation for Sunday, when I speak.