(I've changed the name from "Rants" given that I can't really rant about many things that frustrate me here, at least not without getting into some sort of trouble. As such, you'll have to wait for the book.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Out of the Woods and into the City

I arrived late Friday. I was largely brain-dead when I caught a taxi to take me to the hotel. Nonetheless I had an interesting chat with the cab driver. He's probably used to semi-lucid people in his car so I was probably no surprise to him. He did seem to find it interesting that I worked in Africa. He was from Guyana and it trying to obtain citizenship in the US. He had lots of questions about working with asylum seekers and refugees. He seemed to want to know how I felt about people like him doing whatever they can to get into the US and to legalize their status – eventually to become citizens.

I actually don't remember what I said but I can guarantee it wasn't very articulate. I mostly empathized with him and said that often times it's the more recent immigrants that are the most fervent patriots. I think he appreciated that and I appreciated that we finally arrived at the hotel and my long-awaited bed.

On Saturday I had a chance to go for a nice run around the city. I had a nice loop along the East River up to 68th or so, cross over to Central Park, back down through the park and then angle back towards to hotel. Running along the East River at sunrise was surprisingly beautiful and a frosty run through Central Park is a joy for a cold weather guy like me who's been in the tropics for 5 ½ years. The fall colors were gorgeous. They were setting up for the NY Marathon which sort of made me sad that I wasn't running it. Oh well, maybe another time.

After my run I made my ritual trip to a diner for breakfast. It's just one of those pieces of Americana that doesn't tire me. I read through the NY Times, had a gallon of coffee and then went out to do a bit of shopping. I came across a street vendor who was selling various things on a table on the street. I searched the table over and honed in on a pair of sunglasses. I looked over at the guy who, oddly for a street vendor, was barely even paying attention to me. I asked him how much for a pair I was pointing at. He said, "They ain't for sale. None uh this stuff is for sale." I looked at him like he was crazy to have an official NYC vendor permit attached to his coat and a table full of merchandise in front of him with nothing for sale. He could see that I was still puzzled so he said, "Look around. This is a movie set. I ain't no vendor and none uh this stuff is for sale." Sure enough, I looked around and began to see that the cops on the street corner were not in fact real cops and this guy was, in fact, an "actor". He also pointed out various cameras being discreetly manned here and there. There were some above us dangling out of office windows and others across the street on rooftops. Now clued into what was going on around me, I could see that the whole intersection had been taken over by the film company. After taking it all in and speculating as to whether there was chance I could see them actually do some filming, I asked him if he could still sell me those sunglasses. He laughed. He said to come back when they were done filming and he's sell me the glasses, the fake cop car sitting in front of us and probably lots of other stuff. I smiled and told him the car was too big to take to Burundi as a souvenir and headed on.

On Sunday I was able to make it to church and see Tim Keller speak. No noticeable effects of jet lag. I have to say, Tim's good. I get why he resonates with a sophisticated NYC congregation. So brilliant and easy to listen to.

Monday and Tuesday were filled with meetings. In between I was able to fit in more meetings. That's sort of how it goes here. Monday night was a dinner with a very wealthy and prominent donor. It was held atop his office building in a large board room converted into a very nice dining room. Great conversation and very cool to see that someone like him is so informed and engaged in the work that we do around the world. Smart guy.

Wednesday night was the big gala event at the Waldorf Astoria. All kinds of important and famous people were there. I didn't get any photo ops but I did get to shake a few important hands.

Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel and former refugee assisted by IRC
I also fit in a lunch and a dinner with our friend Liya who now lives in NY. Good to see her and have her introduce me to some great food – including sushi and this other place that specializes in chocolate. What's not to like?!

Liya and me in front of some sort of amazing chocolate something
I left on Saturday evening and now I'm in my beloved Amsterdam airport. I'm taking in my last bit of broadband for a while. I arrive at 8:30am on Monday morning and head straight to the office. My first meeting is at 9:00am. Let's hope I can sleep on the flight tonight.

1 comment:

a said...

Greetings Richard, I have been reading your blog for about 3 weeks now. I commend your work :-) My name is Diane Joseph I live in Columbus Ohio. I am from Tanzania but have been residing in US for about 10 years now. I finally got my Master's degree late last year. Anyways enough about me.
I came across you blog after I talked to a friend of mine who happens to work at the IRC too and decided to do some research about the company.I have so far found alot of insight about the IRC and thank you to you. My career has primarily been in "Corporate America" and majority of it at Chase bank. I will be honest with you, I think I have reached a point in my life where I want to join a field that gives me more purpose in life. Don't get me wrong I love my job, but the type and level of satisfaction I am looking for, can not be obtained from the cubicle professional career I have now.
You have been in the NGO field for a couple of years now, what advise would you give a person like me? How or where do I start? I would be delighted to get a job in Africa.
I know this is not the most professional way to reach out, and my questions have nothing to do with this posting.Please accept my apologies.
Looking forward to hear from you.