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LETTER FROM DUBAI


Thanksgiving in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. No, we’re not talking roast camel with all the trimmings. Little did I think that I would ever cook a turkey in a 7,350 square foot apartment on the 40th floor with four balconies overlooking the famous man-made Palm peninsula and the Dubai Marina home of some of the world’s biggest yachts. Especially just one day after fighting the traffic and pollution of Bangalore, India.

In fact, as we sit down to the meal with our son Jeff, daughter-in-law Lena and her mother from Ukraine as well as a group of international friends, the television in our bedroom is filled with scenes of trouble and terror in India and Thailand where we have spent the last couple of weeks. As my wife Melinda says, “we have good travel karma.”

The circumstances and contrasts of this trip are typical of our travels (we’ve been out of the US for twelve weeks this year). One morning we wake up in Mysore, India and have breakfast with five Tibetan Buddhist monks whom we sponsor. One, Wangchuk Dorgie, is, like the two other non-monk Tibetans at the table, one of our mutually adopted children.

By noon we are on the train to Bangalore with Wangchuk and Gelek, who recently earned is law degree, is a magnificent young man and will soon be in the US working for his Masters degree.

We hurtle past rice paddies, blooming sugar cane and bullock carts and through crowded rural villages toward Bangalore City Railway Station where we will have to fight our way off the train against a tide of pushing, shoving people trying to get into the car for the trip to Chennai. This is raw India.

Within the hour we are sinking into the unparalleled luxury of the Taj West End Hotel. Little do we know that the next day, as we fly to Dubai, the sister hotel—the Taj Mahal in Mumbai—will become a scene of murder and terror. Between that and the takeover of the Bangkok airport (which we traveled through four times) my office and our house sitter would field a flood of calls from concerned friends.

Now here we are in amazing Dubai, surrounded by one third of all the high construction cranes in the world with twenty-four hour building on three neighboring towers making the balconies of the apartment noisy places to read or smoke a cigar. In a few days we’ll fly to London for the night and then on home to beautiful Santa Fe and our quiet canyon.