Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The road to home

The other day, I started my way home from the USA to Khartoum. I drove down from Boston and my trip down to JFK was fairly uneventful, at least until I got close to NYC.....Actually, just before New Haven, I realized I didn't have a map and I wasn't quite sure of the route to take down to JFK. The interstates around NYC get pretty complicated and they're double-named as "Parkways" or "Expressways," etc. I can never remember which one actually goes south to Queens and JFK. I stopped at a gas station in Connecticut and the attendant -- who could have easily have sold me a map -- convinced me that I didn't need one: "Just follow I-91 to I-95 and you'll see the signs to Kennedy." Well, it didn't quite work that way and, before you know it, I was deep in a major traffic jam on the top level of one of those 5-decker interstate connections near NYC. Traffic was totally stopped for about 20 mins and I was beginning to panic. So, I called Nate (in California) on my cell phone and, as I suspected, he was at home by his computer. He immediately saw on his computer where I was stuck and he guided me off the interstate and through a rather seedy part of Brooklyn (or Bronx?) and back to another interstate which took me to JFK. Ah, the wonders of technology! In Japan, everyone has Global Positioning in their cars with nifty little screens that show exactly where one is and where one should be. Not so in America! Anyway, I got to the airport OK thanks to Nate.

Twenty-four hours, two plane rides, and some time in a transit hotel in Dubai and I was back in Khartoum. I would have liked to have gone to bed but next door there was a wedding celebration in progress! And, the folks had the band with its loud-speakers blaring into my bedroom. There really wasn't a place in the entire apartment where it wasn't LOUD! And I mean REALLY LOUD!!!! This rhythmic drum (like bongos) under a wailing soprano! In certain settings, it's actually quite an exotic sound but not right when I wanted/needed to get some sleep! It was RIGHT UNDER my bedroom window and I don't think it would look good for this foreigner to go down and ask them to turn it down!!!!

Talk about two worlds! The road to home could not have been longer!


At 2/22/2006 5:39 PM, Anonymous JAC said...

I highly recommend Tom Friendman's "History of the 21st Century" for anyone's reading. I am currently listening to it to and from work. Friedman talks about the "flattening" of the world, the impact of technology, and the changing nature of the international work force.

Your example of getting stuck in traffic near NY City, calling to California & getting directions from California, so you could get to the airport on Long Island, is an example of the power of our technology and the empowerment of the individual.

And your "welcom home" to the rhythms of Khartoum reminds us of how far we have come and how far some still have to go. But in some matters, like the marriage of a loved one, still is an "At home" experience with the beat, beat, beat of the native drum accompanying the natural beauty of the human voice.

Is this a great time to be alive? You bet...........

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