Hot Nights in Rajnagar

Charpai — tipped on its side for easy carrying — much like the one I slept on in Rajnagar, except the wooden framework and legs of mine were, like most charpais in village India, unpainted No … Not that kind of hot night! I enjoyed precious few of those in Rajnagar. The hot nights I have […]

Mattress Ads and Restless Nights

This is me in traditional Indian garb. The garment tied around my waist, a dhoti, is almost identical to the lunghi (sarong) about which please see below …. Judging by the number of ads for mattresses and sleep medications shown on our TV screens every evening, you could be forgiven for wondering if the country’s current ill […]

National Geographic Wild — In My Own Backyard

Bull-headed butting. I thought I’d scanned a photo of this phenomenon from my collection of slides taken in India, but I can’t seem to locate it. I found this shot on the web. Have you ever tuned in to the National Geographic Channel and watched a few minutes of creatures demonstrating how survival of the […]

Levitation

The illustration above, which I posted tongue in cheek on social media several weeks ago, depicts telekinesis.1 It reminds me of an actual demonstration of physical “levitation” — raising a recumbent person off the ground without actually touching him — that I witnessed some 50 years ago. This is an unvarnished account of what I […]

A Little-Heralded Footnote to Apollo 11

All the attention to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969, reminds me of my own peculiar little footnote to this historic event. At the time, I was a Peace Corps volunteer living in the north-central Indian village of Rajnagar (rough translation: Kingston) where I was working, together with […]

Want to Have Your Palm Read? Me Neither!

Roma (Gypsy) women Every once in a while, as I drive down the street or highway, I’ll spot a sign calling attention to what is usually a pretty low-rent establishment – a place where, according to its sign, you can get your palm read and your fortune told. In the interest of full disclosure, readers […]

A Hero You May Never Have Heard Of

Norman Borlaug About a month ago I saw an online birthday tribute to a 20th century hero few people have ever heard of. On March 25, Norman Borlaug, an agronomist who passed away in 2009, would have celebrated his 104th birthday. Borlaug’s work, say those who are familiar with it, saved billions of lives. It […]

A Sobering Experience

The river at Jaroli Have you ever come with a hair’s breadth of killing someone? It happened to me, and it was a sobering experience, to say the least. No, it was not a close call when driving a car. Nor the result of a flash of blinding anger. It was, rather, something that happened […]

A Different Way to Achieve Immortality

One of the farmers I worked with in Rajnagar This week’s post is a reminiscence of an amusing incident from my Peace Corps service in India. It can also be found on my Portfolio page and – under the title “Earstaches and a Message From Chiang Kai-Shek” – in the book Even the Smallest Crab […]

Culture Shock

CHI Summer Abroad participant with Kenyan students at the CHI Academy outside Nairobi A few weeks ago I attended a fundraising breakfast for Children’s Humanitarian International (CHI), a Sonoma County charitable organization for which I’ve been providing a good deal of writing and editing assistance over the past several years. CHI is the creation of […]