Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

You can contact us at werkingwells (at) gmail . com

Saturday, November 29, 2008

For Travelers, the World is Home...

November 28, 2008

February 16, 2006

News reports out of Mumbai, India in the past few days have been grim. Coordinated terrorist attacks have taken over 150 lives (mostly Indians, though British and Americans were targeted) and injured over 700. Mumbai is a huge city, the population is somewhere over 18 million people, and the sprawl--while not as far-reaching as Bangkok, or even Los Angeles--ensures that while chaos may erupt in one part of town, in the majority of the city life goes on as normal. That is how I would minimize the dangers of traveling to our family and to myself whenever there were worries about our safety in "dangerous" places.

But as soon as I heard that the Taj Mahal Hotel was one of the targets--well, that gave reason to pause. Standing across from the most famous landmark of Mumbai--if not all of colonial India--the Gateway of India, the Taj Mahal Hotel beckoned us with the promise of an air-conditioned respite from the dirt, crowds and heat outside. We didn't need to have a reservation to nod our heads to the regal doorman decked out in full turbaned regalia, or gawk at the splendor of the impressive lobby. We walked leisurely through hallways where silver artifacts from pre-colonial India were framed, and even discussed the merits of buying a drink at the bar. Perhaps it was the high prices, or our limited time with our driver, but we opted to keep moving and go to the outside market instead. For us the Taj Mahal Hotel will always be an island of calm in a sea of humanity. But sadly for many it will a vortex of tragedy.

Maybe Mumbai is not that big. Granted, it's usually the major tourist sites that get targeted in terrorist attracts, or currently, places where westerners congregate--but moments like these only make me realize that not only Mumbai, but the world seems smaller.

Monday, November 17, 2008

How Much Does the Economy Suck??

Whether this is a true exchange or not, the idea that this guy was hoping to pay his bill with his spider drawing can only make me snort iced tea out of my nose while laughing! Found this via the Consumerist.

Good for you Dave! Maybe I can get Dylan to start embellishing our monopoly money and we can use that to pay for the cable bill.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

He’s not the President of the World…

So why all the international attention?

Readers of this blog know that we elevate the opportunity to travel overseas up there with free cone day at Ben and Jerry’s. Which is why it should be no surprise that I spent yesterday morning reading about the reaction to Obama’s Presidential win in Kenya, Japan, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, China and India. Ranging from words of praise; for the candidate himself, his campaign and the American people voting for him, to concern, to plain curiosity, this election has piqued attention worldwide.

Some Americans might wonder—rightly so—“why do others care? It’s not like we’re electing the president of the world.” I can think of two reasons. The first is that although the United States has a mere 300+ million people out of the world’s 6 billion, when America jumps, the whole world shakes.

I’m not just thinking of our wars waged overseas, or the ginormous influence that our movies have on popular culture, but that our policies can often shape the destiny of another country. Our universities beckon some of the brightest students in the world, yet immigration policies can change with Presidential administrations. Where and how we spend our dollars, for health and scientific purposes, not only benefits or hurts ourselves, but the rest of the world, where borders are often illusionary. Most important, our efforts to install democracy overseas ring less hollow when the rest of world sees the results of this election (a graceful exchange of power, a decent concession speech from the challenger, and a candidate unlike any other).

But I’d have to say that others care because they pay attention. America is a big somewhat isolated country; our only neighbors hail from the north and south and remain fairly friendly. We also have a national myth centered around the type of person who gets away from it all—the mountain man, the explorer, the pioneer—and central to that myth is not really getting involved with the outside world. But the cab driver in Bali, the waiter in Prague and the landlord in Paris do not have that luxury. They not only pay attention to stories that involve the United States, but they also read about their neighbors—which for some places can be a dozen or so countries. Overseas, most people don’t see America as a place that seems far far away—like Italy or China or Peru might seem to us—but as another neighbor in a tightly packed world.

Since Obama has lived overseas, and has traveled extensively, the rest of the world anticipates an America lead by someone who not only can read finely honed nuances, but also is used to having neighbors. Which may help explain why Ethiopian chamber-maids, were as riveted as their sisters in Germany and Australia to America on November 5th, 2008.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Congratulations, Mr. President-elect

Saw this quote in an Alternet article, thought it captured the mood quite nicely.

"Rosa Parks sat so that Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so that Obama could run. Obama's running so that we all can fly." ---Jay-Z.

Is there something we're supposed to do today?

Oh yeah--VOTE!!

The stories about long lines of people waiting to vote are promising because it means a lot more folks actually care about who runs this country. They are engaged and willing to wait hours to have their say. But it is a concern if the long lines mean that many cannot vote because they have to get to work, or have young children they must care for.

We voted two weeks ago. In Oregon all of our elections are done by mail-in ballot; there are no polling stations on election day. It's a simple paper ballot, and there are two envelopes for your ballot, one to verify the signature of the person voting and an outer envelope. We could fill out our ballots in the comfort of our home, and either drop it off to one of the many ballot boxes around town (many are in libraries) or mail it in. So, for my Oregonian friends, if you've spent the time to fill out your ballot, make sure you drop it off today! Doh!

I love this sign we saw while we were in Italy; during their election. Not only because we are Simpson fans, but because it's evidence that we live on one very small planet.