Saturday, March 14, 2009

71st Birthday

March 12th was my 71st birthday.  As faithful dormgrandpop readers (if any) will know, my 70th birthday was spent in Sri Lanka. My hostess kindly organized a small party for a few close friends.  We sat on an outdoor patio looking out on a walled garden, softly illuminated by spotlights.  Sri Lankan homes in better-class districts all have such gardens.  They provide a welcome respite from the congestion and pollution that have become the norm on main Colombo thoroughfares.  Colombo was once referred to as ‘the Garden City.’  Now, only vestiges of the verdant beauty that gave Sri Lanka’s capital its name are found in interior gardens, protected by high walls.  

When my friends and I gathered in Colombo, I was deeply immersed in the tribulations of Sri Lanka’s International Centre for Ethnic Studies, where I had seved as a Director for many years.  Soon afterwards my term of service ended.  This freed me from frequent emails and 11PM Skype calls from Colombo that had been a preoccupation for many months.  Relieved of this responsibility, I was able to seek out new opportunities in Sri Lanka, to complete the translation project for my book and to begin rebuilding ties with the University of Colombo.

The venue for my 71th birthday was more prosaic - room 101 Anderson Hall.  I spent the day trying complete assignments and readings for a graduate course in International Development I am teaching.  After an eight year hiatus, much of the material is new.  Class preparation requires major time commitments and I have been scrambling to stay ahead of my class members for most of the semester.  This is also a time of transition.  I have announced - not yet publicly - that I will, after nearly nine yeers, be standing aside from my management responsibilities as Director of AU’s Center for Teaching Excellence.  This ‘passing the baton’ too, is opening up new possibilities .  I have, planned, and begun to eagerly anticipate a year-long sabbatical.  Two book projects are in the works.  There will be time to refurbish my fading computer modeling skills and to visit my grandchildren.

As Sri Lankan friends congratulated me on completing my 70th year, I remarked that I was not sure passing this milestone was something to celebrate.  “If you are in good health and still looking to the future with enthusiasm, that, indeed, is something to celebrate,” my hostess replied.  Her sentiments still rang true on my 71st birthday.


Blogger Tom Fiddaman said...

Happy Birthday!

Hope you have many more years of enthusiasm and good health.


9:04 AM  
Blogger dormgrandpop said...

Thanks Tom, it is nice to know that someone reads my blog occasionally and especially someone such as yourself. I hope all is well.

7:55 PM  

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