We are new to the city, but this day has a lot of significance for the Mumbaikars / Bombayites who lived through the terrorist attacks of November 26 2008.
Some links to rememberance programmes today.
My childhood friend Rajeev Shorey is now President of NIIT University. Look up NIIT (www.niit.com). They made India’s I.T. revolution possible by training hundreds of thousands of young kids in sweat shops in the 1980s and ‘90s. By the time Y2K came around, India had thousands of young programmers who could handle the simple task of recoding the calendars in computers that ran the world’s airlines and banks. Business continued as usual, armageddon was avoided, and India’s I.T. industry was born.
Anyway, the founders of NIIT have, after 10 years of hard work, established a university in Neemrana, Rajasthan, called NIIT University (http://www.niituniversity.in/), and yesterday was their second annual lecture.
The speakers included Mr Gurucharan Das, the author ofIndia Unleashed and The Difficulty of Being Good. After a very succesful career in corporate life Mr Das is now known as one of India’s foremost thinkers, philosophers and ethicists.
The other speaker was Dr. Karan Singh, Sanskritist, Member of Parliament, Educator and the former Maharaja of Kashmir.
Public speaking in India as demonstrated by the likes of Mr Das and Dr Karan Singh is in a league of its own. People such as these bring erudition, insight and humour to bear on a variety of topics. At the end of the trip back and forth from Mumbai I was physically broken (up at 4 a.m., back at 10 p.m.) but intellectually enriched.
Kumud, Mira, Tarini & Rustom (and 2, 096,712 other people).
In separate news, scientists have proven (o.k. o.k., not scientists, a scientist) has proven that it takes Indians (o.k., so it wasn’t a scientist, it was a social researcher) approximately 11.3 months (BOY are you particular. So it was me, o.k.? Happy? I observed that..) to give a shiny gleaming building the look and feel of a railway platform. At least that’s what it felt like yesterday at Delhi Airport, with flights delayed due to congestions.
Delhi’s domestic airport, actually quite glitzy.
On the positive side, we don’t have the imbeciles of Homeland Security in the U.S. announcing for the 59th time in a day “The Threat Advisory Level has been changed to ... (pause for effect, allow millions of passengers to stop what they’re doing and gaze expectantly up at the speakers. Wait for it, here it comes...) ORANGE.
Over the past several months so many of our friends from the U.S., Europe (post life in the U.S. we can’t recognize countries in Europe anymore, it’s just one big land mass of strange sounding places for us) and South East Asia have continued to stay in touch with us via e-mail and phone, which means a lot.
What has been especially nice this weekend though is that the President and Michelle Obama dropped by to check in on us. Both families used to live in Chicago, Obama and I are both tall and lanky, we both have two daughters, he’s President of the United States and I am a mid level Director in a shipping company: we have so much in common.
Michelle Obama was a big hit on Indian breakfast TV today after she spontaneously joined Indian children in a dance for the second time in two days, displaying quite a matak, or shake of the hips.
The President joined in too, and proved within the first five seconds on the dance floor that he is indeed, in case that was ever in doubt, half white. Another thing we have in common.
Beirut is starting to sound attractive
Much as we have enjoyed celebrating Diwali in India again after many many years, the accompanying noise level of fireworks etc is starting to get SERIOUSLY annoying. I am having a very primeval and non peaceloving desire to go and inflict serious damage on the exploders of fireworks. If only my M56 submachine gun weren’t out for repairs I’d be out there now.
In any case, that Time Share apartment in Beirut is starting to sound more and more attractive.
De-compressing in Kerala
We took a much - needed five day holiday in Kerala, “God’s Own Country” by the Kerala Tourism Department’s reckoning. Perfect place to decompress: sun, sand, greenery and excruciatingly slow service.
Mira says, “I liked the peacefulness and the cleanliness, and the greenery, which is often hard to find in Mumbai”.
Tarini: “It’s good to be back”.
Btw, the banner photo was taken from our holiday home outside of San Gimignano at 6.20 am. What light! It lasted all of five minutes.