Monday, October 21, 2013

How I spent my vacation

So the last six weeks have been relatively eventful I guess. Among the things to catch you up on (my great mass of loyal readers you) are:

·         My weekend in Delhi -- a pleasant garden city, decades ahead and with a pulsing underground scene (all of this in comparison to Addis).
o   I relived Delhi memories including:
o   Indulging in my favorite regional Indian foods – particularly Goan and Bengali
o   Remembering the convenience of 1) metro travel and 2) autorickshaws
o   Re-noticing the amazing orderliness of the official quarter of central Delhi – block by orderly block of (decently) well-kept bungalows and impressive gardens
o   Observing (and taking advantage of) the remarkable degree to which the high-end lifestyle continues to develop in Delhi: new international brands for the country (Starbucks, Louis Philippe), a hip dj party in the middle of a rundown neighborhood—where women are afraid to be seen outside in their (moderate) club garb, a country house pool party where twenty-somethings are waited on by old servants bearing kebabs
o   Appreciating the kindness of Sonum as my guide for the weekend

·         Two weeks of trekking, hanging out, and eating well in Nepal, for which I can rely on the descriptive powers of my companions Zev and Eliza:
o   Kathmandu
o   (Further posts to come)

·         (A little less than) twenty-four hours in Dubai, an interesting setting in its own right, as well as a strange in-transit counterpoint between Kathmandu and Addis.
o   My excellent layover adventure included:
o   A morning swim in a four star hotel
o   A trip up the world’s tallest building where sand clouds obscure the horizon
o   Stocking up on much-needed electronics as well as delicate Parisian fare at perhaps fanciest mall I’ve ever been in
o   Zipping on the metro back up to the “old town”—mainly from the 1950’s, the museum in the restored fort touting modern Dubai’s ties to nomadic desert culture and values
o   A public boat taxi across the creek for a few dirhams
o   Strolling through the charmless “gold souk” in which an absurd flow of precious metals pass through rows of modern shops that each individually could be at home in a strip mall
o   A trip back to the airport with a Pakastani cab driver who thought my travel beard and American-ness meant I’d been in Afghanistan
o   My delight at finding bourbon in Dubai duty free
o   Enjoying a last meal in Dubai of a Big Mac extra value meal in the departure area
o   Getting a glimpse at global labor flows on my discount flight back to Addis, which was 95% women (Ethiopian domestic servants returning home) as compared to my flight in which was 90% male Nepalis heading to become construction workers

·         Another trip out of country (to be fair, I did work for a week in between :-)), this time for a long weekend in the Seychelles:
This one was less eventful per se, except to say that I enjoyed being in a beach paradise so perfect that Bacardi has used a Seychellois beach in its ads as an on-screen stand-in for the stereotypical pristine Caribbean paradise of sand and sun. (Also very good creole food – particularly the octopus curry)
·         The news of first the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi and later an explosion in Addis in which two Somalis in a neighborhood near my own seem to have accidentally blown themselves up while constructing a bomb.
o   A few thoughts:
o   Most public safety news that I hear in Addis comes primarily through rumors – particularly as I can’t follow the real (i.e. Amharic) local news sources – but the accidental bomb blast notice came from the US Embassy as well
o   This follows on the heals on a report a couple months ago where a Sudanese news source claimed bombs had been disarmed in the Addis airport, as well as talk of crackdowns by public safety forces on the occasion of Eid-al-Fitr around the same time (Google it)
o   Meanwhile in DC though a crazy man was shooting up a naval complex and a crazy woman was running down police officers in her car -- to some degree these are risks that we run to live anywhere

So that’s been the last six weeks, more or less. Same old same old I guess.

For Nepal photos, Zev and Eliza should be able to provide. For the wonders of Dubai and the Seychelles, stay tuned and I’ll try to throw something your way.


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