a gathering place for the words, images and momentos of the world of adventures i've adventured, the stories i've wandered through. curriculum bella vita...a resume, of sorts, of the good life.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Business (Executive) Time

Most of the time i forget about New India. The India that everyone's writing books about. Masters theses. Newspaper articles. Business case studies. Magazine pieces. College essays. But then every once in a while i go out to Hi Tech City/Gachibowli/Cyberabad/Madhapur, and i'm like "Wow." It's amazing. A whole new world out here.

And thanks to JDB for bringing business time into my world with a mixed cd.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful in India

For all my travels, i've only been out of Wisconsin twice for Thanksgiving. Last year, a Lexington thanksgiving with the rymers was hardly an unpleasant alternative to home. But my first Thanksgiving away from home, many years ago in far off Hungary, was tough. Three months into the academic year, Thanksgiving comes at a hard time. The adventure is no longer new, you're no longer enjoying the honeymoon of excitement. But you still haven't necessarily learned how to make the best of the chaos, the confusion, the contradictions of the adventure abroad. Even surrounded by fantastic friends in Nyiregyhaza six years ago, the best i could muster, when prodded to share a thankfullness at that Hungarian feast in 2005, was "I am thankful this not my permanent reality."

This year in Hyderabad, i hosted an epic Thanksgiving: 35 young Americans, along with a few token Indians and a Brit. they're all attached to an affordable private school for the year, not necessarily as teachers but as "educational business consultants," hoping to create programs and strategies to empower the entreprenuerial side of the family-owned-and-operated schools. (we threw in two Clinton Fellows and an air force attache for good measure.)

It has made an incredible difference in my happiness in India to have met and befriended the IDEX fellows the past three months. Starting with Frisbee Jess and her roommates to people i met for the first time Thursday. They're fun people who are here in India with an inspiring attitude. But it must be said that living in India is hard. It feels funny to say that in a marble-floored, four bedroom, eight sink home, but it's true. Ten percent of the fellows have already packed up and left, for whatever reasons, and others are debating the same.

I have a home and oven, the two biggest pre-requisites for merriment this time of year, so i invited the IDEXers to take over my kitchen for two whole days. (I am nothing, after all, if not willing to be used for my oven for the purposes of baked goods.) Nikki and her google-doc-assigned crew slaved over the stove. She had orchestrated a two-day schedule, down to the minute, to get everything finished and hot at the right time. The schedule, of course, had to take the daily power cuts into consideration. In beween preparations, we watched My Name is Khan, Old School, Last of the Mohicans, Love Actually, recorded football and Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving.

Right before kickoff of the feast, they asked me -- the graying elder statesman -- to say a little something something. i was flattered, as i usually am. In a grace of sorts, I shared my thoughts from many years ago in Hungary. The befuddled, bemused pessimism of my thankfulness in Hungary elicited as many nods as chuckles. But that's half the point of thankfulness. The Pilgrims were in a tough spot. A foreign land, a hard spot to eek out plentifulness and happiness, surrounded by Indians. But they asked for help, they tried different things until they found the strategies that worked for survival and understanding, they carved out a comfortable life for themselves. And that's exactly what we've all got to do, in a foreign land, whether we're 31 year old diplomats or 23 year old volunteers. It can be a hard process, but it makes you twice as thankful for the support you have on this continents and others and the extraordinary privilege you have to be able to travel the world as incredibly lucky individuals.

And - of course - doubly thankful that this isn't our permanent reality, either, just one part of the adventure of our choosing. Egeszsegedre to that.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Skill Level C+

The basketball squad's performance in the AmCham basketball tournament? Quite respectable:

3-1 in pool play!

Only two season-ending injuries!

And a tough semifinals loss to a team that could both dribble and shoot... Oops.