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Showing posts from 2010

From The Time of the Uprooted

"Gamaliel reflected before answering. Go on how? Speaking for fear of silence, loving for fear of solitude, or exile, or death; go on stumbling and recovering? Go on knocking on doors that open too soon or too late? Was that what life was about? A matter of trudging on the long, hard road, and acting as guides to those who follow us? 'Correction,' Gamaliel said at last. ' Go on is not the right choice of words. I believe there are better ones.' 'Have you found them?' 'Yes.' 'What are they?' 'Begin again.' They were silent, watching and marveling at the sun as, after a moment's hesitation, it continued to rise, illuminating the houses of the rich and the poor, the valleys and the mountains, warming the wounded hearts of the uprooted." (Wiesel, 300)

They Wait in Nepal

Hmm, have you ever adopted a foreign child to whom the US government would not issue a visa? What happens in that kind of a situation? This is a reality for many Nepali children who remain stranded in Nepal. Click here to view a blog about this situation and a link to a petition to request that these adopted children be granted visas.

from Elie Wiesel's The Sonderbeg Case

No, he was not going anywhere, at least not yet. Everything in its own time. He couldn't abandon him home, his wife, Alika, the mother of his children, his "parents," his "brother," his "uncle" the memories of his "grandfather." But how is one to live inside quotation marks? (Wiesel, 173) The years go by and leave moments like scars., Angst and hope persevere in their tireless struggle. (Wiesel, 175) But he knows that, if you believe the old sages, when a just man dies, God weeps and makes the heavens weep. And their cries reverberate in the immensity of the ocean. Then it is given to His children to gather the hearts from the starts in order to water the heart of the orphan, forever open, in spite of everything, to an impossible joy, always searching for a reunion, at long last, with his real departed parents, who were not characters in a play. (Wiesel, 178)


I am tired of writing cover letters. I am becoming more proficient in the practice and have even considered starting a business of applying to jobs for people while they actually enjoy their time off. I am pretty sure I can get it down to a science: 1. Request soft versions of writing samples from applicants, sorting them to identify specific key words and phrases common to the applicant. 2. Write two to three form cover letters, based upon areas of career interest. 3. Similarly, mock up two to three CVs to accompany aforementioned letters. 4. Begin submitting applications, following up, and communicating progress to applicants. On the other hand, I'd probably tire of writing cover letters for someone else so I guess I'll just stick to my own for now.

to be or not to be

CYNICAL? -- that's my question recently. i read a friend's blog where she honestly discussed her struggle to give thanks. her sentiments resonated with me because i, too, can write a list of things for which i'm thankful. but how does that list transcend paper to become actual thanksgiving? i write this because i think there are many Christians in the world that struggle with authenticity, myself included. it's easy to go to church, give a cursory description of my current state of being, smile, and graciously move onto the next shallow (& not in the good sense referenced in my last post) conversation. i find today's postmodern philosophy so persuasive and oppressive that, despite my best efforts, i still sometimes disdain large churches with large fundraising campaigns. similar to my paper list which chronicles all the right things, i tell myself that these churches fulfill God-ordained purposes and are ministering to others in the midst of need. i long


A friend read to our small gathering one of this week's passages from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest which struck me as unusual and worth meditating upon. My favorite axiom from the passage follows, "nor is shallowness an indication that there is no depth to your life at all— the ocean has a shore ." (Chambers) Perhaps one might substitute carnal or temporal for shallow and understand Chambers more clearly. Of prime importance is the sense of self import we carry when we deal with the profound things of life. How often have others witnessed seriously profound Christians and been turned away? Would Christianity not appeal more if believers exhibited more of the joy and levity which are also blessings from God? Chambers also hints at how God draws near to us amidst a profundity humans cannot fully comprehend. Were I to flippantly share the intimate moments I sometimes experience in His presence, would this not somehow lessen the special-ness of thos

update and quote

first, the update : the wildfire has been 100% contained and the evacuation was lifted -- praise God! second, the quote: “the transforming power of God's providence transforms perfect faith into reality” – Oswald Chambers HAVE A BLESSED DAY.


this week has been loads of fun, visiting my brother and sister-in-law in boulder. we've trekked through snow, camped a bit, climbed a lot, and indulged in nepali food. tonight is a throwback to my days in california, however, as we await further news of the nearby boulder dome wildfire . i clearly remember seeing the smoke rising over anaheim hills, seeing ash on the cars after work, smelling the fire in the air, marveling at the eerily red sunset. tonight, we see smoke coming from the canyon behind the house and fire on Anemone. no need to worry -- mandatory evacuation has NOT reached their block (& probably won't). it's still a strange and humbling experience to watch this powerful force of nature that humans have very limited power to control.


sitting in Brooklyn on my first Sunday morning back, admiring the sun playing on the trees across the street that stubbornly hold onto too-green-for-October leafs, i'm enjoying being awake before the throngs. true, that's a little grander than the reality since Park Slope sleeps in on Sunday mornings, but i still enjoy the stillness of an autumnal Sunday morning. i bade Delhi farewell as the fireworks of the Commonwealth Games' Closing Ceremonies blasted. it seemed a fitting end to three years of Commonwealth Games build-up, both in media and infrastructure. my eyes remained dry; I had already mourned departing my Himachal. and my final days in Delhi were largely check list driven: 1. sell car - check! 2. close bank account - must wait until I drain account 3. turn off mobile phone - facility currently unavailable 4. visit People Tree - t-shirt purchased 5. visit Safdarjung's Tomb - another time 6. turn in goods at former office - done! i completed the "must be

Oh, How He Loves Us

I'm listening to that song now because it was rattling around my head for six straight days -- first as I struggled to overcome a stomach illness and lay sleepless in the tent in the middle of the night, then as I gasped for air on my way up to 4,500m, continuing on my way nearly straight up the col to our summit, and then as we safely descended through the hail storm to stable ground. Mom emailed to let me know she was thinking about me and all the changes and goodbyes surrounding life now. I felt these keenly as I hugged a dear friend, not knowing when we'd meet again, and as the bus drove along the Beas River through the Kullu Valley -- a place that chronicles my love story with India. I explored the heights four years ago and left, determined to return and invest in a community that set my life on a new course. I returned a year later to my Himachal and worked for a year in development. Somehow the city sucked me in and I spent the last two years yearning for more tim


Before you ask, that's the name of the peak our team summited earlier this week that stands at 5,246 m (17,211 ft) above Solang Valley. An epic adventure filled with hail, smiles, and stars. More tales to follow . . .

final days

i said the first of many goodbye's today. i didn't want to leave Aunty's home, especially on her birthday, especially when we'd been pouring our hearts out to one another. i heard about her recent eye loss and how it's curtailed her cooking and work. i shared some recent reading that has made me ponder what God has planned for me next. as i walked down familiar stairs for the last time, as i told a boy i've seen grow from infant to little man that i wouldn't see him again until he was much bigger, as i received one last colorful card from my little friend my heart broke a bit, my eyes clouded with tears. thankfully, it no longer feels like india has conquered me. i don't feel defeated or lost. i am still perplexed by the place i fill and the place i am expected to fill in india. i understand more and more. i enjoy the smiles more. the stress of the past few years has melted away as i've been able to enjoy india once again. and i don't e


That's how long I was on a concall about bylaws of an organization of which I'm part of the leadership. My region disagrees rather strongly with proposed changes to the bylaws and it took nearly three hours to push through the questions generated by the proposed changes. The follow-up discussions from the call are thought-provoking. While I hope for democratic change, I also fear our clarion call may go largely unheeded.

Fourth of July in Delhi

Monsoon is here, letting loose its fury on the Fourth of July, just as the Embassy party was heating up. Alas, we huddled on the terrace, sopping wet, only to be kicked out by staffers who threatened us with black outs unless we left of our own accord. Cool temps ensued and Delhi is once again bearable.


May I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day. - Saint Richard of Chichester Obedience to the call of Christ nearly always costs everything to two people - the one who is called, and the one who loves that one. - Oswald Chambers


During a physician visit yesterday, I picked up the questionnaire pictured. If I followed the instructions of this manual, I would visit my physician and get medicated. On the other hand, 110+ degree heat may have something to do with loss of interest in running outside, increased frustrations, feeling drained, feeling worthless, and inability to concentrate. Maybe, just maybe.

lovely days in delhi

praise God that the past few days have been a return to living life out loud in delhi . here's the round-up. Thur: i joined some of the AIF Fellows for qawali (traditional music performance shown at left) at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah which occurs every thursday evening and has been on my "must see" list for a few years. behind the singers shown seated, there is a room with a screen of chiseled marble. a woman's shrieks caught my attention towards the end of the performance. the woman clawed the marble screen as she screamed and convulsed, her long hair flying as she whipped her head from side to side. dargahs are meant to be safe places for struggling women to let loose their proverbial (or very real) demons. the dargah was a massive convolution of people from various countries and religions (many devotees came to pay homage to the Sufi saint, Nizamuddin , enshrined there). we removed our shoes at the entrance and followed a labyrinthine marble path


Riding the train back from Shimla yesterday, a carriage attendant began distributing Hindi newspapers. When I asked him if he had the paper in English, he exclaimed, "No!" My friend and I looked at each and began laughing. We almost never hear the word, "no" and never spoken as emphatically as this youth spoke. It was almost as if an English-language paper is an affront to Hindi. And, somehow, his enthusiasm and honesty was refreshing. (Btw, that's my traveling companion in the photo, not me.)

sometime i wish i had a camera

Driving home from my friend's house last night, a few vivid images flashed in front of my car. I will try to capture them in words. Driving under the newly completed metro, I passed a woman standing on the divider in the middle of the road. Headlights from the oncoming traffic back lit her salwar kameez-clad body and shown through her dupatta as she raised it to cover her head. Though drivers are very responsive, cows are not. I swerved to avoid a (small) herd of very large cows as they jumped the divider and landed on my side of the road. The wind cleared the air yesterday afternoon and a waxing moon hung over the sky scrapers of Gurgaon. Believe it or not, Gurgaon was beautiful for the moment.

good cries

Do you ever find that by crying, you are clearing you mind, heart, and spirit all at once? My teacher used to say, "crying washes the windows of your soul." I concur.


This weekend was a first class weekend from start to finish. This was my first time traveling alone in India by train and the only class left was first class (summer is high travel time around the country) so I bit the bullet and splurged on first class tickets. The experience did not disappoint. Here are some highlights: The crotchety old man called on our first class carriage attendant (yes, we had our own attendant) to fix our reading lights and give me an untorn sheet. I declined the untorn sheet. What I originally had was perfectly useful. The same man called on me to lock the door to our four berth compartment, citing me as a foreigner who needed to protect herself. Perhaps we were more vulnerable traveling first class than in sleeper class. Perhaps he had a good point but I really didn't want to be awoken to unlock the door when our fourth inhabitant boarded in the middle of the night. I lost that battle and locked the door. The fourth person never showed up. As I b

slowing down

my blogs are slowing down, power's slowing down, work and life around delhi are slowing down. with this heat comes a general slow-down across the NCR (National Capital Region). BUT, we have triumphed today because the power has not gone out. for the past two days, we suffered prolonged power outages, so long that we burned through the stored power in our inverter. one employee told me yesterday that he was working from home today because of the outages. i told him he had to report in and IF, and only if the power cut out, we would discuss if he could go home. personally, i'm glad the power hasn't gone out today.

106 feels like

wait, i just had a thought. what if i try to convince myself that this heat is necessary to produce mangoes? i really like mangoes; i'm eating one right now. i just have to make the mental leap to believe that, without, very high temperatures, i could not enjoy mangoes. Well, I just researched , and found that mangoes grow best between 23.9 o C and 26.7 o C (75 - 80 degrees F). Alas, my research didn't convince me. I can be thankful that I get to sit in an air conditioned office rather than hauling loads of rocks in a basket on my head in order to build the VIP roads in preparation for Delhi's Commonwealth Games in October. How do I feel about living on one of those VIP roads? And how do I feel, knowing that I have a nearly continuous power supply because I live on said road? And how about those who live outside the city with a couple hours of power a day because their supply is being sent to Delhi to provide power to build for the Games? Hmm, what a life of para

some things i like

Daniel Lanois ' album, Shine, with lyrics such as "hard to have and then have not" India's Search for the Unknown Christ which is also a useful survey of India's main religions gratitude I was inspired this morning to begin a thankfulness journal. One way of getting into a positive frame of mind is to dwell on the positive such as rainbows from my prism which I haven't seen in a year b/c the sun only hits the prism for minutes each day the neighbor's guard's smile our mali delighting in helping me back the car out of the driveway this morning Maybe, just maybe, things are beginning to look up.

my aversion to some Indian men

Case 1: While at the gym, I received the following text: "Miss you this morning while at the gym and breakfast." As a bit of background, this came from the producer who gave me the DVD of My Name is Khan that I mentioned in an earlier post. Last I checked, a 20 minute professional conversation in an airport does not create a relationship wherein the other is "missed." Perhaps I'm the one missing something here. I try to not "blame a guy for trying" but in this case, I kind of do. Case 2: While leaving the gym, the trainer approached me and told me he can put me on an exercise plan. And I quote, "Your cardio is good. I will give you exercises to tone and there will be weight loss, also. I will teach you how to use all the machines and will give you a diet plan." I raised my eyebrows at the lady behind the counter and wondered, "He thinks I need to lose weight? Why does he think I'd be interested in his training, anyway?"

cars, gyms, and no chai

Here are three vignettes from daily life in India . . . 1. Yesterday, I concluded that cars are preparation for pets which are preparation for children. To give you a sense of where I stand on that spectrum, I'm barely able to care for a car. When the car overheated Saturday, it must have been God who encouraged me to check the coolant levels. Someone at church helped me by pouring 2 liters of H2O into the car. Clearly I had been "low" on coolant. I proceeded to a petrol pump to get coolant. I snapped when three different men attempted to sell me the same car scratch repair service (which they do every time I go to this particular petrol pump). When the third man responded in English, I realized perhaps he was a friend and not a foe. I lost my temper a couple more times as he tried revving the engine to get the water out. Finally he managed to loosen a hose and drain the water and re-fill it with coolant. Praise God for random angels like him. 2. As I mentioned i

My Name is Khan

It's been awhile since I watched a movie worth recommending and this one comes highly recommended. My Name is Khan is a complete diversion from the typecast of the artist known in India as SRK (aka Shahrukh Khan). Kajol (lead actress) comes through with a brilliant performance as usual. Besides the stellar acting, however, are multiple themes interwoven to prick consciences around the world: autism, racial discrimination, sibling rivalry, cross-cultural living, politics, religious fanaticism. I will admit that I cried my way through most of the film (which is a rarity for me) which also seems highly correlated to whether I would recommend a film. When something touches our very souls in such a way, we feel compelled to share it with others. I won't spoil the plot at all (you can visit the imdb link if you want more info) but simply encourage you to find and watch this. As a fun aside, the DVD was released only last week and I received a copy from one of the film's pr

and one more thing

While writing the last blog, I forgot the story I had intended to tell. I was at lunch yesterday with a colleague who commented on Al and Tipper Gore separating. He exclaimed, "Wow, if even they can get divorced then any couple is vulnerable." Umm, no ?!*%, Sherlock! Hello-oh?! Perhaps I am one of the few who believes that any couple is vulnerable AND that couples need to proactively protect their marriages. We live in a world where we are told from a very young age to do whatever makes us happy, where we are told we need to do whatever's right for us, where our egos are nurtured and supported to such an extent that we don't think about others. We don't consider that pain and struggle can also result in triumph. While I approach this from a spiritual perspective and believe that a very real enemy exists in this world who would like nothing more than to see every union shattered and commitment stolen, I would also make my appeal from a moral perspective. C

writing to get it all out

I find that I am a prolific blogger when I have no one with whom to share my daily goings on which means you, my reader, benefit. As my apocalypse blog may have indicated, Delhi is now shrouded by a heavy layer of dust. When I entered my bedroom, my feet left tracks in the dust on the floor. The dust-free zones on my bathroom shelf mark where my floss, lotion, and soap resided in my absence. Dust fell from my brittle plants as I watered them this morning (ought I pay the waterer if my plants now resemble Charlie Brown's Christmas tree?). On the upside, 108 degrees doesn't feel so hot. Maybe it's the dust shielding us from the full effects of the sun. The outlook is for a cooler 103 degree weekend. Perhaps I brought a bit of the pleasant New England late spring weather with me to Delhi. AND my office got a second A/C unit in my absence which means my office is workable. On the trip to Delhi, I armed myself with some girlie mags like Marie Claire and Glamour. While t

Back to the Apocalypse

I'm back in Delhi and sleepless from jet lag so I went running under an apocalyptic sky. I looked up at 6:30AM and saw a very faint white circle in the sky. Hmm, must be the sun. Dust doesn't begin to explain the thickness in the air. I'm chalking up my burning eyes and burning lungs to the particles thickening the air, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches my needy lungs. Should I run in a gas mask? On a whole, however, this return is going well. God knew that it would be hard to return this time for personal reasons so He's smiling on me in little ways. For example, the neighbor's guard opened my gate for me when I returned from my run. And I went to the local produce market this morning outside the park after my run. I bought mangoes, apples, grapes, bananas, tomatoes, onions, lemons, a cucumber, oatmeal, OJ, eggs, and milk for $7.60. Gotta love India! In another funny incident, the cab dropped me off last night and there was a huge hole in the s


i've just finished five days of fasting and feel like it probably was not enough. my body was still emitting toxic waste this morning before i eased my way back into the world of foodies with grapefruit juice. as i considered how to break my fast, i came across Nathaniel Bronner's website which proved useful -- wish i'd seen this before i commenced my fast though i'm unsure it would have kept me from indulging in golden spoon fro-yo right before i began. all in all, i'd encourage people to try fasting -- it improves health, cleans our bodies, and provides rest from the toxins we ingest daily. yes, i remained hungry up to night 5 but i've done this before and at least i know, this time, that it's really worth it because i'll feel so much better afterwards. this time, i'm hoping to retain a more healthful approach to food and exercise which is difficult in india . i wish i could grab a salad from TJ's on the corner of safdarjung enc

"And now you give me raise."

After signing off on my Office Assistant's petty cash receipts this morning, I watched his face light up with a big smile as he said, "And now you give me raise." I've been burned recently by being generous so I've been reigning in that impulse. I asked, "have you been here one year?" "August," he replied. To which I replied, "then we'll talk about this in August." The moment he walked out the door, my internal analytics machine kicked into high gear. This guy just proudly enrolled his son in a new private school (public schools are notoriously poor in India). When we hired him away from his last organization, we offered a better environment with no pay raise. He requested a raise when he joined and I said, "let's see how it goes, first." A raise of $22.45 (at today's conversion rate) would make a huge difference in his life; gosh, we spent that on snacks for the staff last week! Is it right for me to &q

"No, I don't"

Lauren and I traveled to the mountain paradise of Gulmarg last weekend. Hundreds of Indian tourists did, as well. As we waited in line to buy gondola tickets, three plain-clothed men walked to the front of the line to cut in. Military people had been doing this all morning but, then again, there's a military base at the top of the gondola so perhaps military folks had good reason to jump the queue if they were commuting to work. I asked the civilians why they were cutting in line when there was a long line of people waiting for tickets. The man said they were also military but he offered for me to go ahead of him before he cut in. I told him he wasn't dressed as military and asked, "what about all the others waiting?" He said, "worry about yourself." I asked, "so you don't care about all the others?" "No, I don't," came the reply to which I said, "that's a problem." I was fuming and decided to turn around so

My Mundane

Lauren's visiting from NYC and she prompted me to record the things that have become mundane to me but would still amaze people unfamiliar with India. Here goes . . . -The Delhi Cantt train station was bustling at 5:30 this morning. -My cab driver from the train station lied to me, telling me he was giving me a good price when he was trying to charge me double the price charged for air conditioned cars (his car was not air conditioned). -A pepto bismol pink-colored sari-clad woman walked right in front of my car this morning, commanding me to swerve by the mere brightness of her sari. -A bell-laden horse pulled a cart along the road as a boy directed the course from his seat on the cart. -A woman in a magenta and teal kurtaa salwar greeted me at my office. She comes daily(?) to sweep and mop our floors.

many emotions

india: a place of extremes i want to run, i see circuit training signs to rest all technology, all inaccessible too cold for a shower, too hot to walk outside water overflowing the streets, water dried up in the tap ferraris in a ballroom, rickshaws on the streets a place to visit in Feb, a place to flee in Apr


My trip to the Dept of Pharmaceuticals for an 11:30 appt with Davendra Chaudhary went like this: 11:20: Arrived at "Employee Gate" and denied entrance 11:22: Arrived at "General Gate" and waited then signed in 11:24: Arrived at Inner Entrance 2, scanned belongings, waited to sign in, and was told I had to Entrance 3 11:25: Arrived at Inner Entrance 3, waited to sign in, singed in, scanned belongings and proceeded to Davendra Chaudhary's office 11:30: Waited for elevator and went to Floor 3, was re-directed to Floor 2 11:33: Went to Ashok Kumar's office, found out he and Chaudhary were meeting inside and was re-directed to wait in Davendra Chaudhary's office on Floor 3 11:40: Found Davendra Chaudhary's office and was told to wait 11:42: Saw mouse run behind covered box in a poorly ventilated sitting area 11:50: Was summoned by Chaudhary's PA in the adjoining office area 11:55: "Peon" was sent to Ashok Kumar's office with note, explai

how I was sold a pile of shit, literally

Wednesday morning, the gardener who had watered my plants continuously said " khad " and pointed to the plants. A friend confirmed that he was saying "manure." This morning, I opened my bedroom door and found four small bags of manure lying on my terrace. As I walked across the terrace, my gardener cum car washer came jumping over the terrace wall. He asked for 20 rupees. I had only 50 rupees and he did not have change. He began digging up my plants and pouring manure on top. He explained that the bags were 50 rupees each and I had given him 180 rupees Thursday so I owed him 20 rupees. I began feeling badly that I thought I had paid him the 180 rupees for February's work when I had really only paid him for the manure. Five minutes later, he came over and explained how 50 rupees was actually what I owed him: 20 rupees for the manure + 30 rupees for labor. No change was necessary. Of course, I already felt badly for not paying him for Feb so I obligingly

a tribute

Today, Mom went to the burial of her sister's mother-in-law, Kay. Mom was dressed all in black except for a green and pink scarf, tied on in memory of Kay. Kay was never without her signature color: pink. The attached photo came from her Guest Book. What fond memories I have of Kay and her husband, Herb, who often joined us for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter and hosted Fourth of July parties. Kay would come in with candy canes for all the kids, warmly greeting everyone whom she met. One Christmas, Herb, knowing I was fascinated by card tricks, laid out 9 playing cards, 3x3. He asked me to point out a card while he was not looking, telling me that he would guess which I had chosen. Though he seemed to mentally strain himself to guess, he never missed. After ten minutes of awe and wonder, he let me in on his trick. Kay was sitting across the room with a newspaper in hand, holding the paper at the point that corresponded to the card I had chosen! In my "research,&q

home, sweet home

i'm back in the CT for awhile & i'll dwell on a couple points to put our American lives in perspective: when i needed to send my computer in for repairs, i dropped it at the local postal store & within 5 minutes it was done. Note: It cost $20 to pack the computer and took two weeks to repair!!! i was craving a skinny cinnamon dolce latte & was able to get it ( for $3.25). when i checked into a hotel, they didn't require my passport. a man approached me at the public library in NYC to borrow my phone. he gave off weird vibes and i declined his request. i was actually intimidated b/c this guy was twice my size. in India, guys are half my size and, therefore, not intimidating. on a deeper note, i watched blood diamond for the first time this week. sadly, all our comforts serve as insulation against the big, bad world that actually exists. it's easy to be lulled into complacency when i stare out at deep blue skies and a big lawn from the comfort of my bedr