Posts Tagged ‘McDonald’s’

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.

Letter From New York 03 27 15 The road to Roorkee….

March 27, 2015

It is a little after 8 at night in Roorkee, where I am to give my speech on Sunday. I arrived around 4:30 after a 4-hour road trip from Delhi. An Indian road trip is not for the faint of heart. A driver picked me up at the India International Center. Also riding with me was a young man, Dhurv Malik, who, too, was on his way to Roorkee. He manages a musical group that is making an appearance tonight.

I am sure Dhurv found my occasional intakes of breath amusing as we wound our way from Delhi to Roorkee. We seemed to spend much of the time on the wrong side of the road, facing oncoming traffic as the young man driving us worked his way around vehicles going too slowly for his taste.

The roads were not exactly smooth; there were about 50 kilometers when I thought we were going over speed bumps the whole way. It was a bit like being on the inside of a mixer.

For lunch, around 2:30, Dhurv suggested either some food from a roadside cart or McDonalds. I chose McDonalds, not wanting to test my stomach on an Indian roadside cart.

It was nicer than most McDonalds I have been to recently in the States. Very clean and the fries tasted just like home. Remarkable.

Once outside of Delhi, as soon as we entered the state of Uttar Pradesh, I knew I was back in India. Not that I didn’t know it in Delhi but here there were the roadside shantytowns of people. The dust covered the trees, making them look grimy in the afternoon sun.

Advertisements looked homemade and there were more beggars.

Surrendering myself to the universe and into the care of God, I closed my eyes, as I felt sleepy. I opened them once to see us squealing past a little boy in the middle of the highway, begging.

I said a silent prayer he would make it through the day and live to beg another day.

This was the India of pungent smells and rolls of dust scattering across the land, of people sitting on cheap plastic chairs, watching the world roll by, of men having their hair cut on the side of the road, of women in brilliant red saris, carrying babies, begging, the India that has yet to see modernization.

It was fascinating to watch it race by, my senses heightened by wondering if the young man at the wheel had the skill – and the luck – to get me safely where I was going. Dhurv was unconcerned as far as I could tell.

He made fascinating company. He works for a company in Delhi named Only Much Louder that is 51% owned by Indians and 49% owned by Hollywood types like Jerry Bruckheimer. About a month ago they were bringing Jerry Seinfeld to India for his first Asian show.

It was cancelled because the Indian government wanted approval of the script before the show. “It’s stand-up!” cried Seinfeld, and even if there were a script, he wouldn’t give it to them. He didn’t come.

Such are the tensions in the largest democracy in the world, wanting freedom but afraid of too much of it in a deeply conservative country.

I’ve just returned from a concert that closed the session for the first day of the Cognizance Conference. The first act was a Scandinavian blonde in a red dress playing a Lucite electric violin. She must be something of a celebrity in India because the house went wild for her.

Following was a dance group called “The Skeleton Dancers” and they were very interesting though a bit hard to describe, dancing in electric outfits that constantly changed colors though always looking a bit skeletal.

Since I have arrived, I seemed to have been paired with Ron, whose last name I haven’t quite caught yet. He is a Ph.D. in Ethno Mathematics. We are surrounded by a half dozen young students who see to it we are treated like rock stars. I mustn’t become too used to it.

I haven’t a clue what has been happening in the world. My phone makes calls and sends texts but it is not connected to the Internet and I haven’t perused what’s going on in the world.

There is one more appearance I seem to need to make and then I am off to bed. Tomorrow I will see what is happening in the world.

Letter From New York 03 16 15 Not all bad news…

March 16, 2015

I woke early this morning, daylight savings time dark outside. Making coffee, I came back to bed and flipped open my laptop to see if Putin had made an appearance. He had. Some said he looked a little pale. Others said he looked very healthy. But he was back on the scene in St. Petersburg, his hometown and Russia’s second city.

He is also appearing in a documentary on Russian television. In the interviews, he rattles the nuclear saber – a very frightening thought. He is very likely communicating that 1) he is in charge and 2) he has no intention of negotiating on Ukraine.

In Ukraine, the feeling is growing that the Minsk accord is “hope, not reality.”

The temperature at the cottage was relatively warm, almost 50 degrees, with a chill wind blowing across town. It’s my plan to make spaghetti carbonara tonight, something I have never tried before.

I am a little late in writing this; I spent some time today working on the speech I will give in India plus I spent some time organizing things I will need to take with me. It’s only a few more days and I will be off.

The dollar is a bit weaker and the markets were happy! The Indian Rupee to Dollar exchange has been pretty steady which makes me pretty happy.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and I might try cooking an Irish stew recipe I found online today.

Tomorrow is also voting day in Israel. Netanyahu is proclaiming today that there will be no Palestinian State while he is Prime Minister. The chance of his losing is growing and he has warned his supporters he could lose.

One of the things I found out while reading about the Israeli elections is that American billionaire Sheldon Adelson has founded a free newspaper in Israel that blatantly supports Netanyahu. Wonder what will happen to it if Netanyahu loses?

McDonald’s has been having trouble making marketing magic of late, sales have been down and the Golden Arches have been a bit tarnished the last year or so. Now it is being hit by claims from employees about unsafe work conditions. Allegedly, some employees were told to treat burns with mayonnaise. OHSA is looking into the situation.

The death toll is rising in Vanuatu but nowhere as high as I might have thought. It could still go higher as there is still no communication with outer islands. Almost every house has damage and there is a desperate need for fresh water.

It is now official. This was the snowiest year on record for Boston. It has been a slow moving catastrophe for that town. Floods come quickly with their devastation. This has just gone on and on and therefore the disruption from this winter has attracted less attention.

And also in that city, gay groups are going to be able to march in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

In Egypt, Mohammed Badie, head of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as thirteen others has been sentenced to death for planning attacks on the state. He has been sentenced to death several times but each time the sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment.

The Syrian Civil War has cost approximately 220,000 lives. Speaking on CBS News, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested peace talks could include Syrian President Assad, marking a change of stance toward the Syrian President. Assad welcomes any “sincere” change of attitude.

Sincerely happy is Sir Martin Sorrell, who heads advertising group WPP. He has been awarded a pay package for 2014 that comes out to about $60,000,000. That’s quite a pay packet. WPP’s stock is up over 100% over the last few years.

Not unexpectedly, Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers have sagged since the email flap. They are their lowest since 2008 but the news is not all bad. 57% of Americans said they’d be proud to have her as President.

I’m off now to cook my carbonara and a soft night of British mysteries on Acorn TV.