Another One Bites the Dust

All in one Mumbai day we enjoyed these musical interludes. At Malabar Hill we toured the Hanging Garden (The Cure, Pornography, 1982). It doesn’t hang so much as stand upon a series of reservoirs that hold—depending on who you ask—30 or 90 or 300 million gallons of water. The garden’s benches and clocks and topiary fill the paths, … Continue reading Another One Bites the Dust

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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

Maximum City

We are neither here nor there. The carpets are up and the curios down. The boys are packed and shipped off south for a week with Naniji. A week from tomorrow the packers arrive. They'll invade for 3 or 4 days to box up several categories of shipment: 700 lbs of air freight; 7k lbs … Continue reading Maximum City

O’er the Ramparts

Today we raised the flag. Not just any flag, but the Star Spangled Banner. Today we raised the Star Spangled Banner over Fort McHenry. The breeze set in motion the 15 bands and 15 stars against a perfect blue sky. A perfect morning to raise the flag and relive the moment of Francis Scott Key's inspiration. O … Continue reading O’er the Ramparts

Fly America… Call the Philippines

When your official government travel orders authorize advanced seating to guarantee a seat beside your child during an international move---old home packed, new home empty... ...but the airline won't confirm your seat more than 23 hours before you fly... ...and you spend hours on the phone... ...talking to the travel agent... ...and talking to the … Continue reading Fly America… Call the Philippines

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

Answer Coming Soon

When I feel ornery about the state of world affairs, I turn to Dan Whitman for a cure. Because he gifted me a large stack of his books, he doesn’t always know this. Whitman’s essays reflect on wide-ranging issues for the foreign affairs professional. They cut across decades (mostly post World War II) and continents … Continue reading Answer Coming Soon

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

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

The London Embassy

What to read this week? Paul Theroux’s The London Embassy, of course! This day in history U.S. diplomacy with England took over a new location. Our landmark perch in Grosvenor Square is no more. I visited the location once---an aside to the controversy going on right now, and one that makes this move feel deeply … Continue reading The London Embassy