Sunday, November 26, 2006

How was your break?

(An aside….) If there are any readers still out there, I apologize for such a big gap between entries. I notice an odd trait in myself. When there is something that I really enjoy and get satisfaction from, liked writing these blogs, I tend give preference to something else – to something I ‘ought’ to do. This is something I need to work on. Simply writing more entries, even if brief and not very literate, would be a good place to begin.

“How was your break?” This is a question we all ask ourselves, checking back into Anderson Hall, after a holiday. With air fares now so cheap – Southwest Airlines is now flying out of Dulles Airport – almost everyone can get away. And for New Yorkers, there is the Chinatown Bus Service - $30 one way to downtown New York.

My break was a busy one. Last Sunday, I drove to my sisters’ home outside of Philadelphia, breaking my trip to NY. Both of us like to cook and we had fun putting together a great Indian dinner for her nephew, his girl friend and three other friends – an interesting crew. One’s parents had been active in the American Communist party, working with Emma Goldman. The other two were mathematicians, one from Rutgers and one from Oxford. They were collaborating on academic papers and trying to make a trans-Atlantic relationship work with an ex and several children in the mx..

Monday morning I drove my ancient and somewhat battered (I was read-ended by a dump truck a week ago) Honda Civic to New York for meetings with former collaborators in the Hunger project and the meetings of the South Asia National Selection Committee of the Fulbright Scholars Program. It took me 2 ½ hours to drive from mid Pennasylvania to New York City and another 2 ½ hours to drive cross town, find my hotel, park my car, check in and get settled. Most everyone was very nice – there are just a lot of people and a lot of traffic in New York city. “Going around the block,” which I had to do after missing my hotel location provided to be complex and time consuming.

My meeting at the Hunger Project was great. My friends were still married – this is always a question when you have not seen a couple for 15 years or so – enjoying life in NYC and making a real difference in their work. From there, I ferried over to Staten Island to have an early dinner with my travel agent, a lady from Sri Lanka with whom I have worked for more than ten years, but had never met. The ferry is now free – the 20 minute ride, beautiful on a clear night, must be the best bargain in New York City.

Tuesday I was up at the crack of dawn to finish reading applications from Bangladesh and then to the Institute for International Education for the day-long committee meeting. The other two committee members were informed and collegial. The facilitator for IIE did his work well. I thought we were fair and efficient in reducing more that sixty applications to about 20 for which funding was available. But it is always sad, in a competitive selection process, having to set worthy applications aside. We broke at mid day for a fabulous lunch in the Delegates Dining room at the UN headquarters building, overlooking the East River. This is open to the public, and really worth a visit, though a bit pricey, I understand. Our lunch was covered by the program, which seemed fair, since we were contributing two days of preparation, plus a day of meetings, for free.

At the end of a long day it was off to the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station for dinner with my sister and niece, a recent University of Colorado grad. Then to pick up my car and a drive through heavy traffic cross town and my father’s apartment outside Wilmington. I arrived about 11. My father, as readers know, is 96 years old. He still drives, but not long distances.

Driving to my home I Virginia, through heavy rain and heavy traffic was a chore. A drive that can take little more than 4 and a half hours took 7. It was good to finally settle in front of an open fire for dinner and what I thought was a well deserved drink. My back was killing me.

Thursday was a day of cooking – I am the family cook - and then eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with my wife, stepson and father, plus two neighbors. Friday we played bridge in the afternoon and watched “Crash” in the evening on a DVD. Powerful film. Saturday I drove my father back to his apartment and we had a relaxed dinner together after some shopping a much less exhausting drive. Sunday I drove back to Washington, stopping at a clothing outlet, enroute to take advantage of pre Christmas sales…l bought five dress shirts for under $20 and a $450 suit for under $200. Great bargains. I by virtually all my clothes at this outlet, which is a convenient midpoint enroute to my father’s home.

How was my break? – I saw many family members, but not all in the same place. There was lots of activity: work, socializing and driving back and forth. Most of the many people I came in contact with, in New York and on the road, were pleasant and helpful when they needed to be. For the most part, my family is doing well and in good health. In sum, there was much to be thankful for.


Post a Comment

<< Home