Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Notes from a southern country

We are settling into life here in Sydney, amidst temperamental weather that provides us with sunshine and blue skies in the afternoon and sweeping, chilly winds in the mornings and evenings. Lorikeets serenade us in the garden out back, we get to know the local butcher, the grocer, the coffee vendor and the like, and, from the perch of a place that I never thought I’d live, I discover the convict history of Robert Hughes, re-discover the songwriting of Paul Kelly and the music of the Warumpi Band, and become enthused with the idea of tracking my way across an immense and sparely-populated continent and elsewhere along the Pacific rim. Across a churn of water, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and beyond .

The world is throwing us some curveballas these days. The events in Mumbai, with their apparent links to Kashmir, continue to reverberate, as I read my good friend Mira Kamdar’s heartfelt and heart-rending article about the deaths of her cousin Reshma and Reshma’s husband Sunil at the Oberoi hotel in last week’s Washington Post. Back in my native land of the United States, factory workers, in a show of unity that I strongly support, are occupying the Republic Windows and Doors plant in Chicago, with president-elect Barrack Obama saying that “The workers are asking for the benefits and payments that they have earned. I think they’re absolutely right and understand that what’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy.” In Miami, a city where I lived briefly, the situation has gotten so bad that the group Take Back the Land is relocating homeless people illegally into foreclosed homes. From this quiet street in Sydney, it appears that there still is much to do to make the world whole again, if it ever was.

Christmas approaches these palm-dotted shores, and much work awaits.

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