November 2008

Thanks to my peeps for the interest and encouragement on the blog, I’ll see if I can keep it up. Also, because I think I have some readers who I haven’t talked to for a while, a bit of an update on what I’ve been doing and what I’m doing now.

I’m currently in New Delhi (and safe, though my thoughts go out to those in Mumbai or otherwise affected by the shocking attacks there) visiting and working a bit with my colleague and friend Conor Reynolds (who is here with his wife Rebecca). Conor is a fellow researcher at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability – on setting up a measurement campaign to measure the health- and climate-harming air pollutant emissions from the 3-wheeled auto-rickshaws that are an important part of the transportation system in Delhi and many other Asian cities. I’m helping out because I just spent 5 years studying air pollutant emissions and thinking about their impacts during my graduate studies (here’s a link to my research group if you’re interested in the more gory details…) and am excited about applying my experience and skills to such an interesting problem. Figuring out how to do urban transportation well is never simple, and in the context of a rapidly-developing and urbanizing country like India, it’s a huge puzzle. We’re trying to do our little part to at least figure out where all the missing pieces are…

The conference I attended in Bangkok and this project in Delhi are the work-related reasons that I’m in Asia, and what I’ve been focusing on for the past few weeks. But the main purpose of the trip was to get a little respite from work, or at least from the fairly single-minded focus that comes with graduate studies, and to get a break after the final slog through my dissertation work this spring/summer, the move to Vancouver, etc.

So, now I sit in Delhi and I’ve had some amazing experiences that I hope to write about in detail soon. I can’t at the moment, as I’m going to go for a bike ride through Dehli with my new friend Tak (Delhi-resident, generous host, fellow Berkeley to Pittsburgh transplant, and all around good guy). A few highlights: midnight walk through a Sufi shrine in Nizamuddin, late night (amazing) BBQ at a tire-repair slash kebab joint, a walk-about and visit to Humayun’s Tomb with my new friend Pete from UBC, open market snack foods, amazing chai and a rooftop Thanksgiving potluck with a International bunch of expats. Hmm, most of those involve food, don’t they… A few pics at the top, more will follow.

This weekend I head up North to Rishikesh (a mountain town on the Ganges river where the Beatles got their guru on in the sixties) and then to visit another Indian University. I’ll hopefully get a chance to write in more detail on some of the other stuff soon.

Tuesday night I’m supposed to be flying back to Bangkok to continue with my Southeast Asia travels and to really get into the non-work part of my travels. That is if I can get back into Bangkok

My exit from Bangkok was fairly dramatic. A rush to the Indian embassy to pick up my Visa, followed by an ‘exhilarating’ taxi ride with a pleasant, friendly old taxi driver who evidently both took my rush to make my flight seriously and has Formula 1 aspirations. I’ll just say that we tested the width of the road and the narrowness of the car (passing on every shoulder available), topped out at above 160 kph (100 mph) and when he pulled up the airport terminal (and I unclenched my fists from the upholstery) he looked back at me, beamed and giggled and put up his hands over his head in triumph and yelled, “CHAMPION!!!”

I was laughing all the way through airport security. I think it somehow prepared me for Delhi roads as well. If it doesn’t kill ya, it’ll make a good story…

Ok, I hope all are well and enjoying a nice holiday (for those in the US). I’ll post more soon. (Including some animal pics Adam and co.!)

In prayer at Jama Masjid, Old Delhi. Click image for link to a slideshow

In prayer at Jama Masjid, Old Delhi. Click image for link to a slideshow

Hi there…

Rather than send mass emails to people and potentially clogging their inboxes with my unwanted missives (which I did the last time I was away from ‘home’ for an extended sojourn), I figured ‘Andy, why not get with the times and do one of these bee-logs all the whippersnappers are on and on about….

So, here it is. A select few (and those who I’ve bored with the story) know the provenance of the title. In short, it’s a nick-name.

So, don’t know what it’ll be beyond me posting a few musings and photos from my trip, but here goes…

So, to start with a slide show of some pics from my first few weeks of travel in Bangkok, Ko Samet (an island classified as a ‘national park’, though national parks in Thailand must allow a pretty substantial clustering of resorts) in Thailand and New Delhi in India. Pretty great so far. I’ll try to get around to writing some tales to go with the photos soon. Until then, enjoy…