Monday, August 31, 2009

A couple of gems from today's newspapers

DNA Money has a headline of "India set to be the best performer among BRICS" but the only country other than India mentioned is China. This is pretty typical of much of the discussion and coverage of the "BRICs" -- for those of you who are confused, BRICs is an acronym coined by an analyst at Goldman Sachs a few years ago to refer to the growing markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, hence BRIC.

Meanwhile, the Hindu op-ed page has a piece by none other than Fidel Castro entitled "The empire and the robots" that is Fidel at his best, attacking the US government and ask why special interests emerge to block health care reform every time it is close. He's clearly feeling better.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Capturing a slice of the great recession in the US

This video by Stewart Thorndike, shown via the New York Times, shows life in a tent city in Redmond, Washington. Yes, down the street from Microsoft. It talks about how these are better than traditional shelters in buildings, and how there seems to be some formalized governance (and jobs running it and keeping it clean) that are often lacking in more impromptu settlements, and also how there are showers and bathrooms. It does not talk about whose land used, and how they first emerged. Seems like most of the tent dwellers lost their job (many of those interviewed were refugees from Arizona), run down their savings, and landed up in the tent city. They didn't look like the folks we are used to seeing living in these impromptu settlements in the US, often people with addiction problems and few skills. Depressing.

Overloaded trucks, part 1

Some scenes from roads around Bangalore mainly. I need to have my camera ready to capture some of the effects of these overloaded trucks: overturned vehicles, non-steady turns, very slow-moving traffic.

It's not just trucks that are overloaded, either. Buses, cars, everything. Of course, I suppose that the concept of "overload" is situation dependent.
Somehow it bothers me less when it is non-mechanized vehicles, like below, although it must shorten the active life as well. This is not in the city, but outside of Bangalore.
I'm keeping my eye open for more of these scenes. This relationship with "full capacity" can have serious implications as calculations occur for needed transportation infrastructure.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Trying to avoid swine flu at school

Before starting school, every student needed to get checked for swine flu. This repeated a scene from the airport too -- upon arriving in India, a nurse takes your temperature with one of these Star Trek like contraptions that only needs to get near you!
Waiting in line. Long lines.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

summer 2009 in America

Commemorating Obama's election, and lamenting Michael Jackson's death. Magazines on the rack at the grocery store in Niagara Falls in early August.
Vanity Fair saluted two American icons who died. A sign of change in Niagara Falls -- Vanidades, a woman's magazine in Spanish.
Easy to see signs of the great recession -- folks lining up for the food bank truck, checking the racks of donated clothing, and signing up for additional services.
Sad that there are so many people signing up, and needing these services. On a more positive note, these services exist, something that I appreciate so much more after being in India.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

India in Niagara Falls

The corner of Third and Main near the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. See the empty shops, with the Indian restaurant the only spark of economic life.

While Niagara Falls has long been an obligatory stop for Indian visitors to the US or Canada, I was struck by how much Indian influence, and how many Indians, I saw all around me during my visit. Many new Indian restaurants.
Indian women working at DiCamillo's Bakery, the men driving cabs.
With Indians, of course, come the temples. All of the Indians coming appear to be Sikhs. The house next door has been set up as a community center. On 19th Street, right off Pine Avenue.Indian products available at the drug store (ranging from US$5.99-9.99 per bag).
There is also an "Indian General Store" in the middle of the traditional "Little Italy" section of Pine Avenue.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mixed feelings about development in India

This New York Times article captures the ambivalence about development and the rapid change occurring in India. Yes, progress is great, but the social costs are high, and the growing gaps in income are frightening and potential destabilizing. The big news to me in this article was the reference to violence along the beach -- NOT something I had heard.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

the view from the hotel in Delft

How do they never fall into the canal? These are shots out the window of our hotel in Delft (continuing the trend from Brazil). A bit different, no?

Clean, green, and light until very late.
Now that I'm up in Niagara Falls again (pix from here will come in the next few days), I'm appreciating the cool nights as well as the light well past the 6:30 when it gets dark in Bangalore.