Latest News/Ongoing Projects
2010
Now in residence at The Hermitage Artist Retreat
December 13, 2010
My vacation this year is being spent at The Hermitage Artist Retreat in south west Florida, right on the Gulf of Mexico (which I am staring at even as I write this sentence).  Two weeks of privacy in order to write.  Check it out at http://hermitageartistretreat.org/
Four Letters that Define a Place of Comfort
October 25, 2010
On my final day visiting one of my project schools, I stopped in to see a couple of the staff to bid farewell. One man, whom I first met five years ago, asked the question that many have asked over the past week or so: ‘When are you coming back?’  I have no real answer for that question at present, and have stumbled through many answers.  However, it was his answer that was more telling than anything I said at the moment, ‘You have to come back this is like your second home.’  He laughed. I smiled.
Shanghaied…or blessed?
October 22, 2010
Bhubaneswar bills itself as the City of Temples.  So my hosts took me on a brief tour of some well-known landmarks.  As evening set in on that day, we stopped by temple atop a small hill.  Rain spit, darkness crawled over us and the configuration of the temple made it hard to see up to the platform.  My host stayed by the car as I took to the steps.  As I passed through the metal gate, a monk/priest suddenly appeared, joyful to see me and gesturing that I remove my shoes.  He whisked me to a shrine and shaped my hands into prayer gestures and proceeded to chant
How far might you travel to see a performance?
October 17, 2010
A couple of month’s back I made contact with the director of a socially-based theatre company located in Orissa.  Through e-mail, we discussed the possibility of me visiting his group and facility.  On Oct.
Saturation
October 10, 2010
My sandals have endured the rain and its puddles far more often than I would like.  No matter where I seem to set them, when it rains, they get significantly wet, such that the next day they are still not fully dry.  In Thanjavur I faced a terrific rainstorm as I made my way to the hotel one early evening.  Traversing two streets, a bus station and a main thoroughfare, I did fairly well avoiding any large pooling of water.  A half a block from the hotel, I wiggled my way through a few street vendors to end up at a curb facing an enormous gathering of rain water.  This
The Ever-evolving Experiences of a soon-to-be-finished Fulbrighter
October 3, 2010
Wondering what the specific exploits of a Fulbrighter are?  For you with the curiosity, I trust the following will satiate that interest. Thursday, Sept 23 After popping in to visit students I taught a month ago, I met with students of mine from several years ago to share an article I wrote on one and a DVD of an interview I conducted with others. Caught several auto-rickshaws to shop for local movies and kurtas Argued with a auto-rickshaw driver who claimed I needed to pay Rs20 more, because he went further than expected Bought a kurta
What’s the ‘appreciate’ in appreciation?
September 29, 2010
Late on Monday, two young college students showed up at my house to deliver an invitation for a workshop I would be teaching the very next morning.  They repeated several times how much they were looking forward to the workshop. Early the next morning, a van accompanied by a faculty member, arrived to transport me to the college. As we arrived 45 minutes later, a parallel line of college students stood in the doorway and saluted as we drove by. At the door, another group of students pinned fancy buttons on us, complete with our names, and handed us flowers.
YEAH, STUDENTS!
September 21, 2010
SNIPPET ONE: As the final day came to a close, a number of the young students pulled out little slips of paper, small wrapped boxes and pens.  They handed me these gifts with thank you’s and I will miss you’s.  Several of them immediately said, open it, in their excitement to witness my excitement.  As the students cleared out, returning to their class, my partner teachers laughed.  They said, ‘We did not know they were bringing gifts. They never informed us.
And the transformation plays on
September 13, 2010
As I sit in the living room of a good friend of mine here in Kerala state, enjoying the cool of the fan above my head (more about the significance of that fan coming) and listening to the family members chatting away in the next room, I cannot help be reflect a little on what makes life here so appealing to me, despite the challenges of carving out a brief existence in this land that still is foreign to me.  Firstly I feel compelled to note how my life here, in small and large ways, has become more of a home than a professional visit.  This is essential to the transformation that I h
A Confused Conundrum of Critical Questions
September 7, 2010
My Bizarro World: A continued Transformation of Self
September 2, 2010
I walk to the right.  Not politically, but as I pass people along the street.  It is my natural inclination.  It takes thought on my part to move to the left of oncoming pedestrians.  I’ve driven on the left side of the road in other countries, but when driving, I was more concentrated.  Walking promotes reflection and when in such a meditative mood, I apparently follow my instincts, or rather my habitual instincts, developed over a lifetime in the Western World.  Not that moving to the right or left of people is that big of a deal, we all participate in the littl
Can the ‘Spectacular’ live within the ‘Higgledy-piggledy?’
August 30, 2010
A friend and colleague here suggested I submit an abstract to an archaeological congress that would be held in Sri Lanka as a way to introduce my work with history, mythology and drama and also get a chance to visit the island country located closer to Chennai than most of the other major Indian cities.  So I did.  As the organizer turned out to be a friend of my colleague, getting into the conference and arranging the journey proved easy.  And thanks to the Fulbright office, additional funding was provided to support my trip. Almost immediately my colleague whispered t
The Brief but Bizarrely Captivating Moment of a Guest of Honour
August 24, 2010
The e-mail from the Fulbright office bristled with excitement, if such is possible.
It’s the People
August 14, 2010
Sitting at the Hotel Saravana Bhavan, a restaurant chain, I strained to listen to the fascinating young woman sitting opposite me as we sipped our fresh lime sodas (oh, boy, I love those things).  Not that she was too quiet it was just the combined noise and my continued adjustment to accents and rapidity of speech here.  But it was worth the effort, because her work as both a dancer and an arts ed advocate and instructor were quite engaging to listen to.  I am so in awe of her dedication to plying her trade as a dancer to make enough money so she can continue her work with thos
A me moment
August 8, 2010
This is a moment I need.  A fair warning to those queasy about self-congratulatory moments like the one that will follow.  Look away, hold your nose, prepare to chuckle, or to stop with this sentence; whatever serves you best.  But for me, for this moment, I need to capture some of the small achievements, the beautiful moments that keep me walking the thin tightrope of working with children through the arts.  If you’ve read past blogs, you understand the momentary craving of this instance. This week, a young girl named Srinidhi looked me straight in the eye and sai
Just a bunch of Food
August 3, 2010
Using the parlance of this place…Shall I talk about food?  Truth to tell, I am not sure I am qualified to do so, despite the fact that many people will utter their disappointments that I am not joyously taking part in the eatable culture of India.  However, I will share a bit of my eating habits.  Generally there is rice.  It might be yellow, brownish, often white, but occasionally red and spiced in a variety of ways.
Were I Little Red, My Grandmama would be dead
July 30, 2010
The Isha Foundation of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India is a yoga center, a retreat, an ashram, a school, a place of worship (in a sense) and an enclave located at the foot of what is considered a sacred hill.  But my visit was unrelated to almost all of that, and made in complete ignorance of Isha and its existence.  As has happened almost consistently here in India, I boarded the train (see previous blog) with little knowledge of what I was to be doing, other than the fact that my theatre artist buddy here in Southern India (He calls me ‘Jaws’ and I now refer to him as Tambi, meaning
On the Road again (metaphorically)
July 30, 2010
I rode the train for the first time which, after so many other forms of transportation here and various related incidents, seemed very uneventful.  A friend accompanied me to the railway station and frankly I am glad he did.  It would have probably taken me 2 or 3 times longer to actually find my train, my car and my seat/bed.  Yes, bed.  I booked a ‘Second A/C Sleeper.’  A popular ride here, the sleepers.  Traveling overnight to pass the time as the journey happens. Firstly, there were an awful lot of people in the station. An awful lot.
Help! Help! I’m lost in my own attitude!
July 22, 2010
I am sure you’re aware of that wearisome adage: ‘Men don’t like to ask for directions.’ Whoever coined that tired phrase never visited India.  Here, directions are sought constantly.  Seek a ride from an auto rickshaw driver and he will take you as close as he knows, then ask for advice from whomever might be nearest, preferably another rickshaw driver or possibly a policeman directly traffic.
Reflections on a bright green bus
July 17, 2010
Seeing the Unusual in the Usual
July 10, 2010
As I disembarked my auto rickshaw, heading home, I did a double-take when I noticed a man standing beneath a tree engaged in a staring contest with a crow.  Or maybe it was a raven. The staring contest, I am certain about.  It got me to thinking about the various events, actions, people, and happenings that catch my eye, are unusual to me, yet seem to go unnoticed by others.
Is the Trial the Experience?
July 10, 2010
Suddenly today I was approached at one of the schools and asked if I could cut my project in scope by a third and reshuffle the two classes into three, thus reducing the amount of time I see students to only once a week and in slightly different groupings.  Note that, as part of this project, the classes are visiting a local heritage site to interpret the carvings in the rocks through drama.  Only one class has gone so far, since a weird governmental process is causing delay for the second group.  So, if I refigure the classes, the students will no longer be working on similar i
What’s the public in public education?
July 4, 2010
Saturday morning I sat at Ellen Sharma Memorial Matriculation Higher Secondary School waiting for the 6th standard students to arrive for our field trip to Mahabalipuram heritage site.  Students trickled in from about 7:45 am onwards.  A low-key mood prevailed on this morning that threatened a coming sun-filled, heat- intense day.
The project begins
June 25, 2010
At the end of my third class today, a diminutive girl approached me and said, ‘This is sad.” I could barely hear her amongst the crush of students trying to shake my hand and say good-bye, so I bent to get closer.  I asked her why.  She replied, ‘We won’t see you for one week.” She was right…the local government declared a three day holiday this week, so I have a long break from the students.  But that is less the issue here than the affecting interaction with the multitude of students I have the joy of working with in this project.
Take the IPod out of your ears!
June 20, 2010
This megapolis, as most of them do, thrives on sound.
The achingly slow process of transformation of self
June 14, 2010
It’s amazing how quickly one can adjust to small changes.  Light switches mounted in little rows with outlets that you regularly turn off; the morning calls of the various street vendors gathering cardboard or delivering coffee and tea; eating with your right hand; finding the right spot under the ceiling fan; walking on the street instead of the ‘platform;’ and even the maid walking into my ‘flat’ unannounced and without a knock.
Ever consider snapping a picture of an electronics shop clerk?
June 13, 2010
As is true most any time I travel, and certainly when I am doing work in another country, equipment or materials need to be bought.  Money is always being spent on unconsidered items.  As a part of my Fulbright-Nehru project, I have hired a videographer to shoot some of my class time with students so that I will hopefully have footage to create small films of my work.  But to store all that footage, suddenly I needed to have an external hard drive.  “Go to Rich St.” I was told.  “Electronic shops all about.”  Fine, but a shop nearer my home was my first stop.&nbsp
A late night walk
June 8, 2010
I noticed in the local paper that a dance performance was being staged at a local hall.  I asked about finding the hall and the information seemed pretty straightforward; the hall stood not far from a bookstore I like here.  My brainstorm was to start out early, enjoy the unusually cool day, visit the bookshop and then walk to the hall, since it was so close.  Perfect. All went well until I walked to where I thought the hall was located.  It wasn’t.  Or rather, I wasn’t…in the right place that is.  Darkness has descended and I was wandering about in a par
In this land of kindness...
June 6, 2010
It took a month for me to set up a bank account and yet one banker came to my house at 7 pm to get signatures, a second called to make sure I was being attended to and couriers came to my house to get signatures, pick up papers and deliver my account information. A rickshaw driver stopped near me—as many often do—while it was raining and said he didn’t want money, but wanted me out of the rain. Everyone calls me sir. At shops the attendants come by with baskets to help you carry the merchandise you have picked out.
Multi-facted bus journey
June 2, 2010
I rode a local bus (the ‘a’ is emphasized for a reason to be clear soon).  Doesn’t seem like such a big event, but it was if only in the sense that it saved me money.  My local theatre friend invited me to join him in a town called Hosur, on the border of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, to perform in a play we first did together a year ago.  Hosur, by bus, is about 6 or so hours from Chennai.  Okay, no problem.  I take an overnight air-conditioned sleeper, snooze the evening away and I’ll be in Hosur in a jiffy, I thought.  Finding a bus, howev
Did someone say it was Hot?
May 25, 2010
Let’s investigate the concept of Hot, shall we? Tropical heat…as the sun bears down on you, light-headedness follows.  You can sense the sun’s tendrils penetrating your scalp and skin, sucking all moisture out of your body.  For me it starts with the feet, which become paper-like in their texture and seem to torture the rest of my body with their whining.  My skin becomes brittle, as it it might easily peel off or break.  The moisture emanating from body does little to assuage my dermis.  Any bit of shade is an oasis of desire, but shade is deceptive.  It
Kerala by Boat
May 21, 2010
I begin this in the rain.  Monsoon season is creeping up on us.  Actually, falling down on us.  I am sitting on a house boat, moored alongside a light pink, cement house for the night.  We spent about 4 hours tootling up and down canal ways that cut between massive rice fields, walled off from one another to allow for water travel in the backwaters.  This house boat is my hotel for the day and night.  Aside from my mother, there are three others on the boat—all of whom operate it for us.  We have a few meals on board as we lazily traverse the waters, passing
Visiting Mahabalipuram - go ahead, google it
May 14, 2010
On arrival to Mahabalipuram, we were meet by a one-armed monkey.  He (or she) didn’t say why the one-armedness, so I had to do some supposing.  Maybe an accident? (Cars drive quickly here.) A fight?
India - my second week
May 9, 2010
Inbetween bouts of applying for a bank account—which has included turning in the same set of forms 3 times—I have set up a local cell phone, registered with immigration and struggled with setting up mobile internet service.  Truthfully, immigration isn’t quite over as I need to return and get a stamp.  I am not sure if it is for approval, recognition, my protection or India’s.  No one said anything at the immigration office.  There I waited behind a Chinese tour guide (my assumption) as he registered a whole phone book’s worth of people.  When I got to the man at the d
Now in India - May 4 2010
May 4, 2010
For those in the know, my trip was delayed because of a long VISA approval process and then my flight just barely missed the volcanic ash over Europe.  Despite all that, I am here, mostly settled in and slowly getting my mind around being here for six months. Although it seems a long stay, already I feel like there is plenty to keep me busy.
Brief Video Documentary of Teaching in India
February 2, 2010
In Nov 2006 I visited India on a small fellowship.  Click Here for a brief video highlighting the work I did there. Enjoy.