Writing through curtained light as the rest of the house sleeps. I’ve been up since 4 AM, I’m home in Hoboken, and it’s Thanksgiving. Stuck in zombie jetlag limbo. At an American Museum of Natural History lecture by my zoologist friend Alan Rabinowitz the other night, I struggled to stay conscious, nodding like a narcoleptic through the last half of his talk. He was outlining his 10+ year struggle to save tigers in Myanmar, chronicled in his new book "Life in the Valley of Death: The Fight to Save Tigers in a Land of Guns, Gold, and Greed." Steve (my partner) worked with him there on a story for National Geographic when Alan was fighting to establish what has become the largest tiger reserve in the world outside of India, a tract the size of Vermont.
It’s a particular kind of shock returning home from India. The world drains of color and sound—hi-tech, orderly, slick, commercial. No holy cows blocking major thoroughfares. No crazy weave of pedestrians, motorbikes, tractors, trucks, rickshaws, buses, and livestock vying for roadspace and trying to stay alive amidst the flowing chaos. No vehicles driving down the wrong side of the street.
The cacophony of horns, day-and-night explosion of Diwali fireworks, the blare of music through scratchy speakers, the hawkers—all silenced. Here, women fade into the black-garbed uniform of hip, elegant New York. I miss the dayglo-colored saris of Rajastan’s women, the glitter of their nose rings, arms loaded with bangles, the glint of sun on sequins and gold and silver. Rappers think they have the corner on bling. They have no idea.
Over the next days, I will put up entries I was unable to post during my last few weeks in India. But for today, I am thankful for having had the opportunity to spend time in that most amazing country, am grateful for the love of family and friends—and look forward to breaking my usual status as a pescetarian (a “vegetarian” who sometimes eats fish) with Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing. Blessings to all on this Thanksgiving day!