Elevatorwala

Mumbai has a wallah for everything, no task too big or small. Outside my 14th-story flat, one of four elevatorwalas pushes the button that takes us to the street and back again. The other night we ate our first dinner at a Parsi restaurant called---this is all one word---Sodabottleopenerwala. It’s a chain. Derived in part … Continue reading Elevatorwala

Transit Post—Frankfurt

Just so I have a post from Germany. We have a decent layover in Frankfurt, and although it's zero three hundred at my point of origin---hence the cobwebs in my head---it's 9:35 here and past noon at our final destination. Normal workaday hours to write and post! Marginally related to all this, I've been tracking … Continue reading Transit Post—Frankfurt

Posting from a New Home

After five years posting from DC, BenEastBooks moves on to Mumbai. Expect the same focus on craft and reviewing serious books by independent authors. Expect new writing invigorated by travel and adventure. Expect postings flavored with the exotic, the ancient, the extraordinary, and the very new. I welcome contributions, requests for reviews, and sensible observations. When … Continue reading Posting from a New Home

Reader Wanted

Today I finished my fifth novel. Tomorrow, it will be a gift for my son on his eighth birthday. I await the sense of release, the great pocket of freedom that opens up when a large file is deleted. Last December a man walked into the SweetLife Cafe wearing nothing at all but his socks. … Continue reading Reader Wanted

Diplomatic Training

Sixteen years ago I spent ten months at the Foreign Service Institute training for my first diplomatic assignment to Saudi Arabia. This week I returned to campus with my sons, eight and ten, so they could begin their own indoctrination to the diplomatic life. They were enrolled in a course called Young Diplomats Overseas Preparation. … Continue reading Diplomatic Training

A Note Is Worth a Thousand Words

A reflection for Mothers Day. Friday morning I made French toast before catching a train to work. The loaf wasn’t finished, but it was time to make more bread. I remember as a kid coming downstairs in the morning to find notes on the kitchen table. These were friendly greetings, chatty in mood but pithy … Continue reading A Note Is Worth a Thousand Words

The Impact of Public Diplomacy

Reflecting on U.S. Diplomacy. An excerpt: The next-to-last time I saw Mohamed---11:15 a.m., December 6, 2004---a blast-resistant window separated us. The day’s final applicant, he was alone in the waiting room when the high-low alarm started wailing. An Afghan male taking refuge in Saudi Arabia from the time of the Soviet invasion of his country, … Continue reading The Impact of Public Diplomacy

All Steeple, No Church

Does this structure look like a steeple with no church? My son thought so. Driving to the Nation's capital on a beautiful spring morning, I pointed it out from the distant heights across the Potomac on the George Washington Parkway. This white symbol of the Republic can be seen for miles. The seven-year-old meant little … Continue reading All Steeple, No Church

Take Your Child to Work Day

My favorite work day of the year. The cafeteria never seems so alive. The visitor hall buzzes with energy. At State our children take the same oath of service---to uphold the constitution---that we took when we came on board. “I stachername, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United … Continue reading Take Your Child to Work Day

Turns Ten. Turns Us In.

The kid set us up, big time. He gets a bat and balls and batting glove, bowling and pizza and chocolate cake, and this is how he repays us? All week long we put little signs around the house noting his tenth birthday. Ten of them to be exact. Or, make that 12 or 13, … Continue reading Turns Ten. Turns Us In.