As we transition from one year to the next, please accept my best wishes for a happy, healthy and fulfilling new year. I am inspired by the holiday greetings from friends and family that are always welcome this time of year. And I am inspired by the many reflections on the past and resolutions for the future that are also a part of this end-of-year ritual. This year, I find myself to be especially inspired to reflect on the past year for the signs of hope for a better world and thereby to set my personal agenda for 2023 by identifying where my actions in the year ahead can make a difference. Continue reading “Happy New Year 2023”
I have turned off my hearing aids. The sounds from the busy street outside Villa Ndio have softened, but so have the sound of the chorus from Windsor Castle being televised by CNN, BBC and other broadcast media. Throughout the day, I have been downloading the CNN broadcast as “background noise” on my computer. Although the ongoing colorful display and symbolic sounds of pomp and circumstance have appealed to me, it has gotten to be a bit of overload. And the flaws have become more evident. The Brits are, after all, rather fond of the jarring but dramatic sounds of bagpipes. And the glorious pomp and circumstance of precision marching of mostly male soldiers dressed in brilliant red regalia and stunningly tall bearskin hats has acquired an appearance of celebrating anachronism – especially as it contrasts with the somber black of the royal widows, princesses and other official grievers.
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, I started writing about my personal impressions about Indian democracy but ended up writing a more personal memoir about my Indian experiences. Eventually, I revisited the work I had done and pulled out the more personal material to have two separate pieces. The one piece is now a commentary on “Personal Reflections on the Evolution of Indian Democracy” – my effort to describe my politically focused concerns about democracy in India. Here I have tried to retain the elements of a more personal memoir – a work in progress of its own in four phases. I lived in India as a child from the ages of 2 to 8 and again as a teenager from the ages of 15 to 17; I subsequently visited India twice as an adult, once at age 30 and a final time at age 56. Continue reading “Vignettes of Indian-ness”
The COVID-19 Pandemic is still classified as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), the organization to whom we defer for any global health pronouncements on what is a global pandemic. I continue to link my personal musings to the dramatically significant impact that this global phenomenon has had on my daily living, even as I have been inspired by the global responses to the pandemic to write in-depth commentaries on the prospects for global and multi-stakeholder collaboration, which, if truth be told, has been my lifelong “reason for being”. Ah well, this is yet another one of my run-on sentence that my editors would want me rewrite into short pithy sentences. But the point is that the personal and the professional visions are indeed like a run-on sentence – so intertwined have they been in my response to this pandemic. As I launch into this ninth chapter on my personal musings about the pandemic, I am also trying to update my in-depth commentary on the subject. Many months have passed since I did either one, and I am now discovering that it is time for me to move on. Neither my personal life nor my professional interests are as overwhelmingly defined by the pandemic today as they once were. –
My partner and spouse Ralph Doggett and I are living the idyllic life in Grasse, France, where we enjoy exploring the region for the cultural and photographic opportunities it brings us. These opportunities are often an unexpected combination of adventures. On one recent occasion, we accepted an invitation that surprised us in a variety of ways – starting rather unexpectedly with one of those hikes that the French call a “rando” along the “Plateau de Calern” near Grasse on an unusually hot day in June. Our hiking adventure, however, was only the beginning of several surprises – discovering a chapel inside a cave, for one, but most especially seeing for the first time a laser-driven telescope. This was, after all, an invitation to visit the famed Observatory of the Cote d’Azur (OCA) – an awesome learning experience for us in and of itself. But the visit proved to be a fabulous combination of unexpected adventures. Here is a brief commentary with a photo collection of the hike (“rando”) on the plateau, the cave and the observatory(plus a delightful dinner in the middle of it all). Continue reading “An Awesome Visit to the OCA Observatory on the Plateau de Calern”
How can the personal story keep changing? The tiresomeness of cyclical ups and downs with no apparent pattern to them is wearing thin on all of us. Here in France, the delta variant was driving what was described as the fifth wave in this November/December 2021 timeframe, while the US or even the UK were measuring it as a fourth wave. Our personal relationship to the pandemic, nonetheless, was settling down to a gradual phasing out of COVID-related restraints, especially when we both got our boosters for extra-certain protection. But then the omicron variant suddenly burst onto the global scene. And even more disrupting for us personally, our long-awaited visit from our son and his fiancée was turned upside down by his testing positive for COVID shortly after his arrival here – and the rest of us only days later! Instead of spending an early Christmas with them and sending them home to Richmond for the main event, we were all in mandatory isolation through the holiday right here at Villa Ndio. Continue reading “Pandemic Musings Chapter 8: OMICRON and Christmas Disruptions (updated 31 December 2021)”
In our holiday/new year’s letter from 2020, we reflected on the effects of the pandemic of COVID-19 on our lives – adjusting to the initial shock in March, adapting to a longer than expected lockdown, experiencing a cautious opening up in the summer before going through a second wave in late October, and closing the year with the good news of a Biden victory in the US. That was in 2020! At the close of our 2020 letter, we wrote: “We’re OK, after all. We expect that 2021 will be better for all of us – as long as we stay safe and healthy. So that is our wish to all for 2021 – safety and health!” And here we are with another holiday and end of year reflections! Before rattling on about this strange year of 2021, let us repeat that our wish to all for 2022 is the same as it was last year: We wish you “safety and health” – and hope, once again, that we will achieve a world in which there is “safety and health” for all! Continue reading “Holiday Greetings in December 2021, Wishing Safety and Health for All in 2022!”
As Americans living in France since the 1990s, we have long had an interest in observing where the parallel histories of the two countries converge, and especially where they have a distinctly local connection. We have become acquainted with two annual events – one of which occurs just down the street from Villa Ndio in August, and the other of which is a September event called “Grasse Naval Day”. This is a photo essay on the September event, but first a few words about the August event. Continue reading “The Importance of the Battle of the Capes to the Sharing of a Franco-American History in Grasse”
Chapter 7 on Pandemic Living started with travel anxieties in anticipation of my first trans-Atlantic flight since the pandemic began. The draft was initially written on 30 and 31 July 2021. Progress reports on 10, 20 27 and 31 August have continued the saga with various mid-travel reflections, and a final piece dated 12 September incorporates my post-travel reflections. During this same period, the delta variant was rampant but quixotic in its own travels around the world. We are still living with bated breath even as we try to go about a return to “normal” living, but this chapter tracks the ups and downs of uncertainty as we try to understand and adjust to a pandemic that keeps changing.
As of today, 21 July 2021, France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that we have entered the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in France. Less than two months ago we were eagerly phasing out of the lockdown measures of the third wave -ending the curfews, lifting the face mask requirements and mandatory forms and time limits for activities outside the home, gradually opening up the restaurants (outdoor dining only), fitness centers, museums, theaters, shopping centers and non-essential retail establishments. Although we are no longer being called upon to reinstate any of these lockdown measures (at least not yet), the Prime Minister has described this fourth wave as worse than any of the previous three waves, with a “faster and steeper slope” in the spread of the virus than any of the previous waves. Who expected this? How is it affecting us personally here at Villa Ndio? Continue reading “Pandemic Musings: 6. Entering (Early) the Fourth Wave in France (July 2021)”