Think Traveling in Foreign Countries Is Getting Less Interesting? Try Nature Instead

The Washington Post, June 17

Traveling recently in the Istanbul airport, I saw a lone man in a fez. In a day’s walk in Tbilisi, the capital of the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia, I spotted one man in a fantastical Orthodox monk’s habit, a black cape cantilevered away from his shoulders like a vampire’s cloak. To see these solitary figures was like glimpsing ghosts haunting the uniform present from a queer, costumed past, a mysterious time when different people actually wore different styles of dress and didn’t all carry cell phones.

How the same the world has become, and how fast. Every time I travel, more downtowns I visit look like airport departure lounges, the same Burberry shops and Cadbury bars; more taxis play Katy Perry; more restaurants serve pizza and fajitas; more people wear hipster glasses and distressed jeans. Read more ...

Why Change Can Be Better Than Constancy

change better than constancy.jpg

The Washington Post, April 13, 2015

Every morning before I sit down to write I go look at the sky above Nairobi, where I live part-time. I’ve got a big picture window facing north, wide enough to frame great masses of clouds and a half-dozen falcons playing in thermals as if life is nothing but joy. What I love about this view is it’s always different. Nairobi almost never has blue skies nor gray skies, but always a mix of the two: heavy thunderclouds laboring with bellyfuls of rain and fringed at the top with ice-blue from the sun behind, or soft eraser-marks of cirrus clouds over a mat of turquoise, or cumulus clouds as perfectly-shaped as a flock of sheep marching north towards some heavenly pasture.

And yet I simultaneously associate the sight of this particular sky with constancy. It’s always different, but it’s always there. Read more ...