Count Down

On the way to school today we stopped the car for a peacock to cross the road.  I told the kids to remember this moment because I doubt that we will bump into a peacock, or a cow, or a donkey or a buffalo-cart in Roma.


When in Rome:


Jim says a vintage Vespa will disappear the minute I park it in Rome but I am so tempted to buy one.  What is Rome without a little Roman Holiday?

I’d tinker with the color.  Maybe deep blue and white?  Rich maroon and gold? Metallic Red?

The Vespas are refurbished in a local workshop in a dusty urban village in Delhi.  We walked through dirt lanes and typical chaos to get to the shop which houses carcasses of  old Vespa scooters and Royal Enfield motorcycles.  You can buy either for a fraction of the price of a vintage model elsewhere.  In Rome, there are oodles of old Vespas so fixing one isn’t problematic, though it may be more expensive.  The workshop sells a  survival pack of basic parts and quick fixes.


On the way to the Vespa shop I found this woman busy at work:


Can you imagine the strength in her neck?

There’s a small jeans factory on top of the scooter store.  It was hot upstairs but the conditions weren’t as tragic as they could be à la Bangladesh:


There are many factors playing out in the division of labor here and in the photo of the woman carrying bricks.  And the natural next sentence would have me describe those factors – but they are complicated and this isn’t the forum for such detail.  Attend the same dinner party tonight and you will hear me pick someone’s brain about this.  First question:  Is the manufacturing economy not yet large enough to employ women?


Last month I was in the US for a family wedding in Austin, Texas.  It was the week of the Boston Marathon bombing and news coverage was exhaustive.  It is worth noting that the explosion in Waco, Texas the same week that killed 14 and rained fire on the town of West wasn’t covered as extensively – when in fact Americans are probably more threatened by industrial accidents like this one than rogue acts of terrorism.

I was turned off by the street-side celebrations and Fenway park hoopla after the Tsarnaev brothers were killed and caught.  I instantly thought of the daily news that I digest in India – the dozens of people killed by bombs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq (still) – places where the US is involved or invested in the outcomes of these countries.

I read a suggestion that the unlikelihood of such terrorism occurring in North America made the news worthy of disproportional coverage.  That such an event can happen to Americans leads to the perception that no one is safe.

Since 2009 when I moved to India, 92 people have died from terrorist bombs here and oodles more were injured.  The blasts killed men, women and children in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Varanasi and Srinagar – cities with marathons, universities, culture and recorded histories of at least a thousand years.

North Americans are very lucky for their disproportional safety.  I think I would have felt more comfortable watching Boston celebrate if it reflected reverence and thankfulness for this and recognition that in so many other places people die all the time by senseless bombs.


Spring temperatures hit 106 degrees farenheit in Delhi today.  It’s hot enough to give you high blood pressure.

I ended up in the emergency room with a BP spike and scare the other night.  (Details unnecessary – I’m fine.)  The first three doctors I saw never touched me.  None listened to my heart;  None took my BP or heart rate;  None felt my tummy or did any of the usual stuff docs do in the US when you present yourself.  They didn’t ask my age or other relevant history – and not one had any clue about birth control.  (I wanted to know whether estrogen could have caused the spike.)

I did find a good doctor eventually – and I was lucky to have two friends from Seattle living in Delhi who are physicians and who patiently fielded my drama and helped me cross-reference everything.  Thank you, Delaney and Peter.

One funny note:  A few days later in the middle of a variety of tests to find the cause of the hypertension, I went to a lab for a urine test.  The technician disappeared and instead of bringing me a little sterilized cup, he plopped this in front of me:


I told him that I didn’t think I would pass that much urine.  He explained that I needed to collect my urine for 24 hours.  I nodded in understanding.  Then I asked how he wanted me to get my urine into the small opening.  (I admit, part of me was playing with the guy…) And he answered, heading bobbing:

A mug!

(I opted for a funnel.)


Wedding photos:


And a sneak peek of Rome from my quick visit:

9 thoughts on “Count Down”

  1. Theo,
    First great to see you and Olivia however briefly in Houston!
    Second I concur with your feelings about US “terror attack”( and how did 5 million lbs of ammonium sulfate elude our regulatory agencies??) The other night my colleague Jian Kuang (MDAnderson – came to USA 35 yrs ago – I jokingly call her a Chi Com) and I had a long talk about the feeling in China about the USA and terror. They feel in China that the US is the biggest perpertrator of terror in the world, and the origins of that is/was the Korean War. They felt we had no business being in Korea and millions of Chinese were killed – the end product of which was the splitting of Korea which she said was proposed by Mao from the start.

    You will not have any trouble finding good docs in Roma. They have free medical school and only the best survive – at least so says the Dean and President of UT Hlth Sci. Ctr, Giuseppe Colasordo who came here to survive.

  2. Great seeing you, too Dick. (and for my other Houston friends reading this, I was there a blink of an eye to pick-up a rental car and buzz to Austin… i’ll be back though.)

  3. so fantastic you’re getting a vespa! i know the boys are all over that.
    delhi doctor stories continue…the big jug is a hoot! don’t miss that crazy but you, my friend, be well.
    i’m left wanting more news on rome… hope school and apt are sorted.
    thinking of you so much these days.
    big love,

  4. Love the giant container and can just picture you playing with the doc a bit 😉 Definitely get the Vespa and can’t wait to hear about Roma! We may be moving this summer as well albeit less exotic 🙂 Love and miss you friend and as always – listening to Lalas beautiful voice always makes me cry xx

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