Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sunset 2011

The year began in an auspicious fashion, dancing in the revelry of the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan.  In search of a visa that would take me to the inverted pyramid that is India, I was smack in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand.   The New Year's day revelry came and went, and I was on my way to Bangkok by way of ferry to Surat Thani and night bus into Bangkok.  I arrived to Bangkok in the early hours of the morn and found my way to the farangbang ghetto that is Koh San Road.  Bangkok let me do a lil Thai gastrodiplomacy, as I lived on yellow curry, red bull, papaya salad and pad thai.  I felt the presence of my Nanny from years past as I got my Shivisa for my bday.  

From Bangkok

I got out Bangkok's brawl and on to the old imperial capital Ayutthaya for some crumbled stupas and safron-wrapped buddhas.

From Ayutthaya
I  returned and ended the extension of my Tradewinds chapter, and I headed on to the massive subcontinent.  I arrived in the late of night, to cold weather I scarcely expected.  The maruti sped out of the airport, and a Hindi high-pitched song welcomed my return to India.

I arrived to Delhi to work with INDIA Future of Change to push Indian public diplomacy in new directions.  I stayed in under the auspices of one Venkat, a friend and a mensch with little compare.   And I ate delicious curries, spicy chilies and sweet almond paste squares with their silver sliver still on.  

While in India, I went on barefoot pilgrimages that brought me close to the face the Muse and her truths.  I visited sprawling literature festivals in cities of pink.  I hobnobbed with the Indian high class over polo, and I ate street food with the street (shaved too).  I bathed in holy lakes, and dipped my toes in holy rivers.  And I watched a holy victory in the cricket world cup, and danced on car rooftops in the center of Delhi.

India changed me, and my gastrodiplomacy habits as well, as I became a vegetarian- something that has remained with me a year on.  India I love with little compare.  It is a full onslaught, but it is brimming with such warmth and excitement that it is without equal.

From Rishikesh

But all dreams need to end, and I left Hindustan to return to Ihla Formosa.  My return to Taiwan proved in some ways more meaningful and fulfilling in the short spell than the entire previous chapter.  I got to see the mark I left on the little island.  And I garnered what seemed to be some truths that I have been trying, in fits and starts, to implement since I returned.

I returned to the PNW, to stay with my little sister in the Emerald City.  That proved a tad tricky, and I cut my stay short and returned to bounce around my former haunts in Lalaland.

That proved to be a wonderful time of seeing a world that was once mine, but no longer.  I played the Phantom of Annenberg, and stopped in to witness graduations.  

From Lalaland, I returned to fair Washington.  My return proved a tad tricky as well.  I bounced around the city, networking and building a network.  This worked to varying degrees.  I found a bit of what I was looking for not to exist, so I worked on making alternative arrangements.  Things that started off well, trickled to a slow pace and I descended into limbo.  

Limbo proved difficult as I found myself occupying a world not my own.  I saved a pound of gold, but it cost a pound of flesh from my own psyche.  But the stint in suburbia had its own rewards such as spending a lot of quality time with family, and I put things in place to help me move forward.  I started a new job that practically had my name written on it.  I began as Director of Communications for American Voices, and hit the ground running on our projects of cultural diplomacy.  And I have a few things in the works that have longer-term designs in focus.  

While it started off in an immaculate fashion, 2011 did not prove to be as exciting as some of the years passed.  If you asked me where I would be at the end of 2011, I can't say I expected to be living in DC.  I can't say yet if I am happy with this, but I am happier at present, and willing to give some more time and patience to see if  But 2011 did seem to offer some steps forward, and I guess that is positive as well.  2012 starts off as a year of process and also some potential.

I will conclude the year with a poem I purchased at the poem store upon my return to Seattle, to America.  The words still resonate with me today:

Sudden end to verse, sudden
end to the roads we travel,
the dust kicked up, the thread
unraveled.  There is a bell,
it is brass, it sounds
as long as the verses last,
but the echo carries on;
line to line, page to page,
further along.  Hushed figure
on the road.  Retreating,
but not gone.

-M. Clark
Poem Store
April, 2011


detroitred9 said...

i stumbled upon your blog randomly sometime early last year and have really enjoyed your posts (and tweets) in 2011. they have gone a long way in helping me think more critically about cultural diplomacy. best of luck to you in 2012.

Paul Rockower said...

Thanks for the warm words and well wishes. Glad to hear my missives have had an effect. All the best to you in the year to come!