Posts

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 […]

So You Think Airline Travel Is Tough?

Fairly typical bus in rural India. Note ladder to roof for heavy luggage and, occasionally, extra passengers. Read on! When was the last time you heard someone complain about sardine-can, economy-class seating on your least favorite airline? Just yesterday, right? Or, almost certainly, within the last few weeks? Well, I’d like to bring a little […]

Medical Experiences of a Peace Corps Volunteer in India

This is me in traditional Indian garb, 1968* A recent conversation with my dentist brought back some interesting memories. The first was of an encounter I had with a dentist when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in India back in the late 1960s. And that took me back to a few other experiences I […]

Courage and Fear

The defeat of evil: burning a Dusshera effigy of Ravana In the late summer of 1970, as I was nearing the end of my Peace Corps service in India, the local Peace Corps office asked if I would be willing to stay on for another three months to help train a new group of volunteers […]

What Exactly Is It That Begins at 40?

When I was a teen, I would occasionally hear my parents and their contemporaries say “Life begins at 40,” a reference not only to advancing middle age, but – whether they were aware of it or not – to the title of a book, song and film from the 1930s. The phrase came back to […]

The Blind Leading the Blind

Ever have a nightmare about the risk of getting lost in a crowded place where no one speaks your language? For an idea of how it might feel, read this story from my first visit to Japan, in 1971. Japan was the last stop on a roughly three-month trip back to the U.S. at the […]

My Most Memorable Thanksgiving

The most memorable Thanksgiving I’ve ever experienced1 took place in 1970 in Pawarkheda, pretty much in the geographic center of India.2 It was the site of a training facility belonging to the government of Madhya Pradesh (M.P., or Central State), which was made available to the Peace Corps to train a new group of volunteers […]