I'm in India!
My traveling partner, photographer Michael Conner, got waylaid with plane connections, so won't arrive until tomorrow morning (he as the camera equipment, I have the clothes...).
The itinerary: Seattle to Philadelphia, to Rome (Italy), to Milan (Italy) from there to New Delhi. 2.5 days of near constant plane travel except for the 8 hour layover in Rome.
I saw the most fascinating sunset I've ever encountered flying from Rome to Milan last night. Deep rich ribbons of a purple red, layered with yellow, blue and black. Then witnessed one of the most sensational sunrises as we flew into India at dawn. The flight from Milan to New Delhi was one of the best I've ever experienced; Alitalia Airlines uses Boeing jets with larger, more comfortable seats; the flight attendants were wonderful, the food good, the movie and other entertainment selections impressive (I saw a Bollywood film that featured Bollywood hip hop music! It's great!). Overall, a pleasant surprise and one I look forward to repeating on the trip back.
My driver/guide picked me up at the Indira Ghandi International Airport and drove me around for some time; I have not been culture shocked as I'm told so many Americans are. It is what it is - a colossal mashup of extreme poverty and wealth; complete populations living on the street next to buildings that comfortably house many of their wealthy and middle class fellow citizens.
I also met my host, a man for whom I have considerable respect. He is a well known actor/director, philanthropist, business person and philosopher in India who believes that the education of girls and gender equality is the key to world peace and a stable international financial community.
We recover from our near three days of travel tomorrow; Monday we tour Jaipur, Tuesday we're off to the school for underprivileged girls (from 20 nations), which is a two and a half hour drive from New Delhi; girls who come from abject poverty (no food or water) who now have the opportunity to create new lives.
I'm screening my comedy feature film, The Whole Truth, for them and talking about filmmaking (I'm former president and international liaison for Women In Film/Seattle - don't know if I mentioned that). We'll talk about all the professions that go into making one movie. There's also some interest in my background as a journalist, the skills of which I'm happy to share.
Then I'm guiding them through an interactive creation - we'll make up the story of a little girl who was born with nothing but created a successful life for herself despite everything. I'm taking that story to a sound studio later to narrate it, adding sound effects and music. I'm including some of the girls (including one whose voice will be used as our heroine as a youngster) so they can learn more about sound production. We'll have copies made of the CD for every girl (there are 700) so each will have proof positive that something can, indeed, be made out of nothing!
We follow up with me talking about the philosophy of my problem-solving book The 100% Solution, which focuses on the solution rather than continually rehashing the problem and remaining stuck in it. The cause of the problem is exposed through this four-step system, so it can be dealt with in a way that replaces the problem with a new, healing and positive thought process. Each girl, faculty and staff member receives a copy at no cost.
It's going to be *so* much fun!
Because I've been so busy running miles through airports these past nearly 3 days, I've lost weight. And my relationship with food here will be different - I'm going to be working with girls whose families have no food or water. I want to appreciate every morsel I eat now; every drop I drink. Respect food more. In the US I believe we take cheap food for granted and just swill it rather than appreciate what it is, where it comes from and how it came to be sitting on our table and nourishing our bodies. Drinking water and eating will become more of a ritual, a near spiritual practice rather than just the occasion to fill up a nutritional need to keep the engine running.
Right now, however, I'm going to get rested up and look forward to Michael's arrival tomorrow morning!