Archive for May, 2009

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Links

May 31, 2009

I was just updating my blogroll and finding that I do not have a lot of blogs on here. So, if you want to be on the blogroll, or if you don’t, post here and I’ll add you. Some of you all have blogspot blogs which I can not comment on unless you set the comments to accept people from wordpress. I don’t know how to do that but it would be nice to able to comment.

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Need to Know Basis

May 27, 2009

To follow up from my comment in yesterday’s blog….

I’ve traveled in Asia for over 10 years and have found that I’m only told details of a particular situation only when the situation become dire or imminent. As a reseach scientist, I like to know things as soon as they might be a problem so that I can figure out possible solutions. However, the most frustrating aspect of working in Asia is this “need to know basis”.

I’ll give three examples from this most recent trip.

1) After driving down a very unimproved dirt road for 6 hours, our driver turns around and says. We can not drive through this upcoming village; you will be arrested; foreigners can not go there. There are no other roads joining this one road. Do you think you could have said something 6 hours ago?  Where the heck are we supposed to go now?  Solution: backtrack 6 hours to other road. This situation could have been avoided if I was told 6 hours ago. Time lost 12 hours.

2) India recently had elections and we were in the field during the voting day for the district we were in. Driving down the road, the driver says, “All vehicles must not drive today”  What??? Do you think you could have said something before we packed up camp and started working? Solution: call our host to convince the driver that in most places vehicles are traveling and that his truck will not get stoned. Time lost 2 hours.

3) Ok this example is from a trip to Nepal but it hits home the crux of the “need to know basis” issue that I have. I was backpacking with a field team in western Nepal. This was back in 2001 during the ramping up of the Maoist revolution. I knew I was hiking into known Maoist territory but my sources said that it was safe to travel. Three days into the trip, the cook says that it is not safe anymore and that we had been traveling through dangerous territory. Do you think you could have said something a little earlier? 3 days is pretty deep into their territory. Solution: convince the cook that we are safe enough even though I have no idea if we are or aren’t and continue with the field work. Maoists with guns were encountered. I gave them the “I’m just a student line” because I was just a student. I continued field work and they continued doing whatever it was that they did.

The point to this post is that it drives me frickin’ bonkers to only be told something right when the situation is the most dire. I can usually find a solution if given a little bit of notice. I try to convey to my hosts and whoever is traveling with me that I would like to know in advance of any developing situation. Somehow that doesn’t translate well. My grasp on their language and their grasp on my language never allows me to convey that I would like them to notify me before a situation develops. This “Need to Know Basis” is just one of the accommodations that I make to work in Asia. It drives me crazy but I know it is going to happen so I try not to get so worked up about it.

OK, off to be productive yet again before the next situation develops.

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Dalai Lama

May 26, 2009

Why o’ why did we drive all the way from Dehra Dun to Dharmsala when the geology we were focusing on was not near Dharmsala?  This made no sense but I endured it. Why? Because I wasn’t in charge and not being in charge means that you are not informed. And even if you are in charge, you are only informed in India on a need to know basis [see future post]. The details of why we were going so far out of our way were definitely not mine to know. So, I sat for 12 hours in a truck with Maya strapped to me…feeding when needed, sleeping when needed. We ate late, near 10 pm and were up early (7 am). More waiting and wondering what was going on. Turns out our host was sick so the morning wait was excusable. Although, he neglected to tell us until he arrived at 10 am. Load into a vehicle…and drive, where?  I don’t know, nobody told me. We arrived.

Looks like we are going into a temple. The Tibetan ladies really like Maya. The morning is cool and we are in the mountains, I forgot to pack socks. The ladies pinch her cheeks. We are going into the temple but first we must get frisked. Wow, that was the most action I had in a week. Where are we going?  Follows the crowd. .. there is a crowd of people standing looking into the temple, must be something really nice in there but I’m too shy to stop and look, I don’t want to block anyone’s view. Our Host calls me back. I grudging walk back in front of everyone with my head down, embarrassed that my host would make such a big deal.

I look. Seated and chanting in his morning mediation …. the Dalai Lama

The unexpected impact was tangible, I step back. I look again. Yes, it is him. I bow my head. I respectfully leave my spot standing in front of the crowds.

I went behind the crowd amongst the prostrating monks. I found a spot where I could quietly gaze upon him. There wasn’t much to see. It was the Dalai Lama with his eyes closed in meditation, chanting, and rocking back and forth. Yet the feeling of the people watching him was unexpected….hopeful, peaceful, expecting, respectful. It was peaceful watching him and watching others watch him. After some time, I walked around the temple. There were many prayer wheels to turn. As I turned each one, I thought of my friends, family, the lost babies. My prayers were sent out on the ever present wind. I was admonished by many a Tibetan Lady for not having socks on Maya. It really wasn’t that cold, plus she was strapped to me.

I forgave my host for not telling us what we were doing.  He should have told us but I know he wanted to keep it a secret. I would have like to be in a proper mental mood for such an encounter. However, it did feel like a chance encounter with the Dalai Lama…something unexpected, a treasured gift. It was a good way to start the field season in India.

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Butterflies

May 24, 2009

It is spring in India. Butterflies would flit by me on an hourly basis. Yellow, Black, Blue, Purple, Orange….many butterflies. Each time I saw a butterfly I said “Hello, my dear Norah, thank you for visiting. I love you and miss you dearly”. I know Norah is not a butterfly just as I know she is not sitting in a white robe on a white cloud. Yet, the process of remembering and watching a butterfly swirl around me and greeting Norah, I found comforting. It was like being surrounded by an old blanket. When I came across many butterflies, I greeted them. “Hello my dear babies, the souls of many babies lost. Your families miss you but I am honored to spend this time with you.” Many of you I don’t know personally but I may read your blog and have come to think of your baby often. Some I can call by name, others I can just recall by feeling. I smile and remember our babies.

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We made it

May 22, 2009

Thanks for all of the thoughts and prayers. We made it back safely. I am very happy to be among my family now. I am thankful that once again, I am alive to celebrate each day with my husband and surviving children. Norah is forever near the surface of my mind. I passed her 17th and 18th month angel days when I was in India. I saw a lot of northern India. I’m happy to not be a “freak” now. While in Asia, I always get stared out because of my skin color and my hair and eyes but with a baby with the same coloration, we were always stared out. It is nice to be out of the prying eyes and just be normal.

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The Trip Back

May 18, 2009

The Little One and I have a long trip ahead of us. It takes approximatelyy 2 days to travel back from DehraDun to Alabama. It all starts in approximately 17 hours. I’m happy to be on my way back to see my family but I also know that it will be difficult to travel that long with an infant. My experience on the way over tells me that I can do it though. I’ll just remain in the moment and try not to accomplish anything. My main priority is the health and wellness of the little one. If you are reading this, think of us as we travel on the 19th and 20th. I will update when I return. So much has happened in India. The little one is growing and I’ve learned more about myself. Yes, at my age, there is still more to learn. I hope you all are well.

Peace and Strength, D.

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In India

May 2, 2009

Namaste from India. The little one is doing awesome in India! We are functioning at the high end of the spectrum. She is doing so well. It is hot hot hot here. I have one more trip that is two weeks long. I miss everyone and hold my babyloss friends in my heart daily.  To my friends who are not babyloss moms, I hope you and your family’s are safe. An exciting bit of news…I saw the Dalai Lama and sent prayers to our little ones in his presence. Peace and Strength, D.