War Novels and the War on Terror

More than 16 years ago, standing beneath a massive banner, George W. Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq: “Mission Accomplished.” What followed this publicity stunt—he arrived on an aircraft carrier off California's coast riding in a Navy jet—were years of insurgency and bloodshed in pursuit of a Dick Cheney figment: Saddam … Continue reading War Novels and the War on Terror

It Rains, It Pours

Tuesday I flew to Delhi, this kitchen knife concealed in my shoulder bag. Security missed the 5-½” blade. Wednesday my phone blew up during a seminar I was conducting with 90 colleagues, a deluge of messages from Mumbai, much of the city underwater, including the 5km stretch between my son’s elementary school and home. A … Continue reading It Rains, It Pours

Ground Control to Chandrayaan

To India's space scientists today: Keep your eyes toward the heavens... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNuSD49chY8 Your efforts these last eight years, culminating in a profound silence from Lunar Lander Vikram moments before touchdown, share a vast and spirited company. Brave adventurers have gone before you and not returned. Their sacrifices line our memories. Their endeavors fire our imagination. Your vision … Continue reading Ground Control to Chandrayaan

Ganesh Chaturthi

Today marks the birthday of Lord Ganesh. Witness his creation! Part man, part elephant, Lord Ganesh is made of plaster from the inside out. Finally he's painted and draped in finery. Behold his glory! For the next ten days, he'll be paraded through the streets of Mumbai to be immersed into the Arabian Sea. Happy Ganesh … Continue reading Ganesh Chaturthi

Sold Out at In-N-Out

Must applaud the good fortune visited upon author Ted Gup this week in the form of free advertising for his former best-seller The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives. Published almost two decades ago, Gup's book found renewed celebrity when it appeared on the front page of New York's gift to … Continue reading Sold Out at In-N-Out

Fly America, Call the Philippines (pt II)

When your official government itinerary on U.S.-flag contract carrier United Airlines is thrown into disarray because of concerns about flying over Iranian air space... ...and the United agents can't confirm the final leg of your trip (which includes traveling on Air Canada, Germany's Lufthansa, and Air India) for 24 hours... ...so that after two hours on … Continue reading Fly America, Call the Philippines (pt II)

Take Off Happens

Late lunch when Jack leaves early and gets th’ job done. 03:25 wake up 03:50 pick up 04:50 boarding 05:20 liftoff Mumbai 07:25 touchdown Delhi 08:35 report for duty 09:00 call to order 13:00 adjourn 14:00 reach ile bar T1 Take-off happens   ##

Jon Voight’s IOU

Well, gee, is anyone surprised by Jon Voight's absurd words of support addressed to the people of the Republican Party? Is anyone surprised to see the actor who portrayed Milo Minderbinder, Joseph Heller's brilliant rendering of a profiteering con artist in Catch-22, praise the most notorious and corrupt corporate scoundrel America has ever produced? Sure, … Continue reading Jon Voight’s IOU

A Trail in Two Countries

Years ago I traveled the sands of Saudi Arabia, stopping along the way to tour the  old camel train forts. I visited these caravanserai along the Hejaz Railway, the line targeted by T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. My journeys between 2003-05 took me north from Jeddah through … Continue reading A Trail in Two Countries

Operation Sheltering Sky

Rajasthan is desert country, 70% of the state---India's largest---an arid mix of scrub and sand. We trekked by camel into the Thar Desert about 50 km outside Jaisalmer. Abdullah led our beasts on foot, their names Simon, Paulos, and---inexplicably---Johnny No. 1. Toward sunset we reached the Sam Dunes. The wind died down and we made … Continue reading Operation Sheltering Sky