I pulled through the Dunkin Donuts drive thru this afternoon and rolled my eyes at yet another Prius plastered with bumper stickers. Much to my amazement, though, they were anti-Obama bumper stickers! If Obama has lost his tree-hugging Prius constituency, he’s really in trouble!

They read: “How’s that HOPEy CHANGEy Thing Workin’ Out For Ya?”, “Stop the O’Merican Nightmare!”, “OBAMA, Not the CHANGE You’d HOPEd For?”, and “I Have NO MORE CHANGE Left in My Pocket!”.


Just returned home from India last night after traveling for 24+ hours from Mumbai to Brussels to NY to Boston. Myself and five friends from school spent two weeks over there starting in Delhi. We then drove to Agra, Jaipur, Rathambore, and Udaipur. From Udaipur we took a quick flight to Mumbai. Each city is a three to six hour drive, so we had a driver most of the time who shuttled us place to place.

I’m guilty of going to India knowing very little about the country itself. We didn’t really plan activities or destinations until we got there and I certainly didn’t do any research beforehand. We were winging it.

Thus, my impressions of India were based soley on what I had learned in business school. India was an emerging economy with over a billion people spitting out engineers and Internet tycoons at an amazing rate, threatening to undermine a sleepy American workforce. Sure, the country had some infrastructure issues, but growth was tremendous and the country was undergoing a transformation.

The minute we arrived in Delhi I realized that I knew nothing about what India was really like.

As we pulled out of the airport that night I was immediately struck by the poverty and the pollution. The streets were covered in both dirt and heaps of trash and men were sleeping all over the streets and sidewalks. Animals, notably stray dogs and cows ranging from healthy-looking to emaciated, wandered the streets picking through piles of rubbish for food. Many of the trash heaps were smoldering.

Our hotel in Delhi was in the bicycle section of the city. The markets are dispersed throughout the city by category. There’s a spice section, a soap section, and candle section, etc. The number of people roaming the streets during the daytime was almost overwhelming, as you were bumped over and over again by people walking by (all the while continually patting your pockets to double check on your wallet, phone, and passport). After two days we made our way outside Old Delhi into New Delhi, which was a bit more touristy and a bit less crowded. There, we visited a number of temples, forts, and historic sites.

In Agra we saw the Taj Mahal, which is just as impressive as it looks on TV. Like most other places on our journey we were continually harassed by little kids (think Slumdog Millionaire) and seemingly friendly Indians who wanted to show you the best spot to take a picture at the Taj or tell you a fact about its history...and then want a “tip”. This became more than annoying after a while. But, its just how things work over there so we got used to it.

In Rathambore we went on a tiger safari, which was neat- minus all the critters like these lizards that accompanied us in our hotel room. I felt pretty sick for the two days there, so the rickety, 120 degree ride through the tiger reserve wasn’t too friendly to my pounding head or queasy stomach. In Pushkar we rode camels from our hotel into the desert, where we had dinner and watched some Indian dancers and musicians after the sunset. That was awesome. Camels are goofy animals.

We saw our lives flash before our eyes on the car rides from city to city. Most of the roadways were simple two lane roads jam packed with enormous tractor trailers that could only travel 40 km/h, mopeds, tractors, cars, buses, pedestrians, cows, and goats. Seeing that cars like ours were the speediest of the group, we would weave in and out of our lane to pass the slower vehicles ahead of us. The driver would fly straight ahead into oncoming traffic at 80 km/h and then quickly swerve back into our lane, missing a head on collision by literally inches. Traffic on the other side of the road, including large trucks avoiding animals or tractors, would do the same to us. In the early days we were on the edges of our seats and would gasp aloud at the surely fatal oncoming collision. After a few too many near death experiences, though, we quickly became desensitized. Some of our seats didn’t even have seat belts. I remember one time Mike calmly said, “Well, nice knowing you guys”, as a truck barreled towards us on a remote Indian roadway between Jaipur and Rathambore.

The last three days of our trip were spent in Mumbai, which is the business capital of India. It was the first city that looked different from all the others, as skyscrapers and electric ads dotted the skyline. Here, we had managed to get a deal at one of the five star Taj Hotels. Being a weary traveler by this point, desperately looking forward to the comfort of home, I barely left the hotel once over those days. Life was good at the Taj. Western food, a sweet rooftop pool, comfortable beds, etc. I wasn’t going anywhere.

Overall, my adventure to India was worthwhile. If I was planning the trip again I’d probably only book a week. After a while the cities, temples, and forts all looked the same to me. But, I was able to get a good feel for the culture, the georgraphy, and the economy. And it was good to put a face on a subject studied so much in school over the past four years, even if I found the state of affairs to be a little less spectacular than advertised.

Here are the pictures I took on the trip. When a few friends get back from the rest of their journey to Europe in a few weeks I’ll throw a link up to their pictures too, since they undoubtedly took more and better pictures than I did.

Oh ya... at the Delhi Zoo, where we might have been a more popular exhibit than most of the animals, and throughout India it seemed we were minor celebrities. Indians would constantly walk up to us and ask to have their picture taken, as seen in a few of my photos.


Headed to India for two weeks. Be back with some good blogging material for sure.

Thursday’s expected temperature: 105

Purposeful Media Ignorance

The Wall Street Journal had an illuminating opinion piece yesterday highlighting the media’s refusal to acknowledge America’s evolving stance on abortion. The piece examines the seemingly unexplainable inconsistencies in the American attitude towards abortion. While the majority of Americans respond in polls that they wish to see abortion remain legal, more Americans identify themselves as pro-life as opposed to pro-choice (47% vs. 45%). Additionally, 50% of Americans view abortion as morally unacceptable, while only 38% view it as morally acceptable.

Thus, American’s views on the subject are both
more complicated and more pro-life than the mainstream media would like you to think. The author openly admits that he doesn’t write claiming that America is a pro-life nation. Instead, he simply writes to draw attention to the fact that the nation’s mind is not set one way or the other.

A statement by the author towards the end of the piece really hit home for me on the double standard. The author writes:

‘In news reporting, it’s not unusual to encounter constructions such as this AP dispatch from the presidential campaign about Sarah Palin: “She has worshipped at a nondenominational Bible church since 2002, opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest and supports classroom discussions about creationism.”

That’s fair as far as it goes. Just once, however, wouldn’t it be interesting to see a leading newspaper write something like, “Nancy Pelosi, who opposes any restrictions on abortion, even in cases where a pregnant minor is taken across state lines without a parent’s permission or where the fetus is halfway out the mother”?’

Wow, can you really imagine a media that routinely highlighted the extreme positions of liberal leaders with as much enthusiasm as it does conservative ones?