Archives For Globetrotting

On To Two O One O

December 31, 2009 — 5 Comments

Most of my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances found 2009 a harder year than years past. The global economic downturn and its residual effects of course weighed heavily on all of us—some more directly than others. For me, 2009 really wasn’t bad, and I’m going into 2010 with some good momentum.

The Could’ve-Been-Better

2009 was a bad year for the Nayar dogs. Both Sadie and Lakshmi passed away, and their absence is palpable. I can say without hesitation that Lakshmi’s death was the low point of the year for me.

Viewports

Other than at work and in regards to PS3 game trophies, I was spectacularly unproductive this year. In woodworking, I tried a lot of new things (like turning) and have honed some essential skills over the last year, but in service of nothing productive (sans more shop furniture). I’ll endeavor for more tangible results in 2010 and already have a list of pieces I hope to build in the first half of the year (and yes, dear, your side tables are on it smile). I’m also empty-handed when it comes to etherfarm developments–I had grand plans for this site this year, but at the end of a day staring at screens and talking with people who stare at screens, after Ray goes to bed I find I’d much rather be at my lathe or at my bench in the woodshop than in front of HTML, CSS and PHP.

Bit-O-Hole

Sadly, though, I more often ended up with a videogame controller or mouse in my hands rather than a tool. This I lament, even though there were some amazing games in 2009, some of which I even found inspiring.

The Good

My work travel was less than 50% of my 2008 corporate globetrotting. That didn’t necessarily translate to more time at home; I spent almost all of my vacation days in Illinois. Which, for a variety of reasons, is a splendid place to be.

Lush

I might be one of the few people I know who likes their job. I took on a new role at work this year, and it’s full of new and interesting challenges. For the first time in a long, long time, I feel that when I’m engaged with what I’m doing, I can end just about every day having learned or done something new or having found new ways to apply the one or two things I actually do know.

I spent a lot of time with friends this year–old and new, near and far. Last year, my tolerance for West Coast Flakiness achieved a critical mass and I more or less went into seclusion. This year, a few of my friendships in the Bay Area seemed to take root and it somehow worked out that I had more quality time with friends in other locales. It perhaps goes without saying that I ate a lot of good food with some of these good people in 2009.

And to counter all that good food, I managed to swim at least 3 times a week all year this year (with just a few exceptions due to travel). This wasn’t really a goal (it’s an unintended accomplishment) but I’m ending 2009 feeling much more healthy than I have in years past. Which is nice, because despite my relatively low number of years on this planet, I’ve felt physically old and decrepit since my back surgery in 2003.

We transformed the front and back yards from worthless patches of horrible, clumpy grass to wonderful outdoor rooms. I admire them every time I leave and arrive home and probably will until we leave this place.

Before: Front Yard
From Garage Door
Back Porch

And of course, there’s Ray. I go on and on about him, and I’ve found that those who meet him tend to go on and on about him as well. It’ll suffice to say that in the last 365 days, he’s gone from toddler to little boy, and I find joy and poetry in almost everything he says and does.

Obviously, in balance, I really can’t complain about 2009—to do so would be absurd. It has left me exhausted in a good way, like being “just full enough” after a great meal. And I’m optimistic about 2010 for a variety of reasons, but Nara has the biggest one in development:

If all goes well, Ray’s little sister will arrive in early June. And if that’s not a reason to look forward to 2010, I don’t know what is.

Less Is More

October 21, 2009 — 2 Comments
Sprawl

This year I’ve traveled only a quarter of what I traveled last year. Though I have friends in most places I visit, it has been nice not having to go overseas so much. The real difference, though, is not measured in miles traveled or time abroad. The difference is that this year Ray really notices when I’m away. You have my word that etherfarm won’t become a repository for quoted conversations with my son, but if you ever hear the following, it’s time to unpack the suitcase for a while (or be sure to pack him in it next time you leave).

Narayan: How are you today, Ray?

Ray: I’m fine. But I got run over while you were in Philly-delphia.

Narayan: You got run over?!

Ray: Yes. I got run over.

Narayan: What ran you over?

Ray: A lawnmower.

Narayan: A lawnmower?! Did it hurt?

Ray: Yes. But I also got run over by a jackhammer.

Narayan: Really?

Ray: Yes. It was a steel rod jackhammer.

Narayan: Oh, those are the worst kind.

Ray: And I got a boo boo.

Narayan: Where?

Ray: On the inside.

Narayan: You got a boo boo on the inside?

Ray: When you go away I miss you and I get run over on the inside.

Narayan:

Anyone who knows me knows that I love food. I enjoy cooking food, I enjoy reading about food, I enjoy discussing food with others, and I of course enjoy eating food. I subscribe to a rag called ”The Art of Eating” and at one point seriously considered becoming a chef.

Hi. My name is Narayan, and I’m a foodie.

I just got back from my first official “Food Bender”; a ritual I will repeat annually from now until circumstances dictate otherwise. Contrary to what you might believe, Food Bender 2009 was not, in fact, a convention for vegetable origami. It was a weekend in which friends and I traveled to a destination simply to eat. Some guys go to Vegas to gamble and whore. Some guys go to L.A. or N.Y.C. to party all night. We went to Portland, Maine—my old stomping grounds and in my opinion, one of the best foodie meccas in the country—to shove some particularly tasty food down our gullets.

Casco Bay Sunrise

A phenomenally successful weekend all around—the food was absurdly delicious, no one injured themselves (much) while eating, and it perhaps goes without saying that the company was beyond compare. Due to some scheduling oversights, some restaurants I really wanted to try were closed on Sunday and Monday evenings (details in the notes). As a result, there are some repeat venues in the list, but I’m a firm believer that if you find something good, stick with it, so that wasn’t a bad thing. Also, I stayed in Portland a little before and a little after my friends “from away” left so I could spend time with local friends; some meals here were part of that extended stay. And I’m leaving names out to protect the guilty.

You’ll find the roster of vanquished delectables below. Note: I’m only listing dishes from which I partook significantly; the best way to order is for the table, of course. Every once in a while someone would order a rogue salad, side dish or gasp entree; these are not listed here. So believe it or not, more food was consumed than evinced in this list.

Lunch, 01 May

Duckfat

  • Belgian Fries, fried in duckfat & served in a cone with Thai Chili Mayo
  • cucumber gazpacho
  • wild green salad with goat cheese, pecan, and cranberry
  • Cinnamon sugar Beignets

Dinner, 01 May

Five Fifty-Five

  • chipotle-spiked sweet potato soup with “fire house” pork and lime-sour cream drizzle
  • Butter lettuce and Goat Cheese Salad
  • 555 Hangar Steak with wild mushroom foccacia bread pudding
  • artisinal cheese tasting plate
  • housemade glazed donuts with some kind of wonderful gelato

Brunch, 02 May

Bintliff’s American Cafe

  • Maine Lobster Benedict: Hand picked fresh Maine lobster on an English muffin with two poached eggs & homemade hollandaise
  • Bistro Steak Benedict: Petite beef filets on an English muffin, topped with two poached eggs & asparagus pesto cream sauce. Garnished with Parmesan cheese
  • Side of North Country Smokehouse Apple wood Smoked Bacon

Lunch, 02 May

Gilbert’s

  • Fried Oysters
  • Corn Chowdah
  • Cookies & Cream Ice Cream @ Beal’s Ice Cream

Dinner, 02 May

Fore Street

  • Wood oven roasted wild Maine mussels in garlic almond butter.
  • Wood grilled mulard foie gras with endive citrus marmalade and toasted brioche.
  • Maine farm Russian boar chop, boar crépinette and confit shoulder, shiitakes, and turnip greens.
  • Fore Street’s Dry rubbed pork loin with Morse’s sauerkraut and pickling spices
  • Three cuts of Maine island lamb: Grilled chop, turnspit roasted leg and smoked shoulder with Carolina gold rice and rapini.
  • Table sides: roasted cauliflower with herb aïoli; fiddleheads with heritage hog cracklings
  • Three artisan cheeses: York Hill farm soft ripened chèvre roll with ash, Hahn’s End City of Ships; Cobb Hill Ascutney Mountain
  • Lemon pound cake in rhubarb soup with sweetened whipped cultured cream and pistachio praline
  • Shoofly pie with chocolate drizzle, caramelized bananas, and cream cheese ice cream
  • Handmade chocolates: spicy smoked paprika dark chocolate truffles, toffee candy dark chocolate bark, spiced espresso ganache dark chocolate bon-bons, candied peanut dark chocolate bark.

Brunch, 03 May

Five Fifty-Five

  • “Toad in a Hole”: Fresh baked brioche, exotic mushroom ragu, fontina cheese, truffle oil.

Lunch, 03 May

Red’s Eats, Wiscasset

  • Lobster Roll
  • Fresh Crabmeat Roll

Dinner, 03 May

Street and Co.

  • Frisee salad with house cured duck bacon, gruyere, and Dijon vinaigrette
  • Mussels Provencal with garlic, white wine and butter
  • Prosciutto Americano with fava beans
  • grilled halibut with smoked, mashed potatoes; broiled sole topped with crabmeat
  • Maine blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream
  • panna cotta with blueberry compote

Dinner, 04 May

Fore Street

  • Kale and roasted shiitake salad: Pakchoi, Hokurei Turnips, apple bacon, dijon cider vinaigrette
  • Wood oven roasted sardines with shaved fennel and harissa aïoli
  • Whole farmed european sea bass with cornbread stuffing and sweet pepper fish broth

Lunch, 05 May

Walter’s Cafe

  • Clam chowder with sweet peppers
  • Blackened Salmon BLT : Cajun spiced salmon fillets on Tonys focaccia roll with apple wood bacon, butter lettuce and tomato with a blood orange chive remoulade and French fries
  • Tres Leches cake

Notes

  • Fore Street is my favorite restaurant in the country bar none —and I’ve eaten at a lot of restaurants. There are fancier restaurants, sure, and there are undoubtedly restaurants that serve more creative or even more delicious food. But I haven’t yet found a better mix of decor, ambiance, and gastronomy than Fore Street. I’ve been there maybe eight, nine times, and only once have I not had the pork loin (either for myself or via coaxing someone else to order it so I could snag a few bites). They were out on that occasion. It could be said that this whole trip was really just a fancy ploy to have a meal (or two) at Fore Street. And there would be a little truth in that statement.
  • Favorite: this is a toss up between the foie gras and the boar from the 02 May dinner. The lamb from that same dinner is a close runner up; I’ve never had lamb which tasted that clean (for lack of a better word)—not gamey at all. Honorable mentions: the 555 hangar steak, the chipotle-spiked sweet potato soup, and the grilled halibut.
  • Least favorite: the butter lettuce salad at Five Fifty-Five was definitely a palate cleanser, but it was bland enough that water might have been a better choice. And the tres leches cake at Walters: I’ve had better tres leches cake from Safeway. And the Beal’s ice cream: ten years after I’ve left Maine, I still don’t get it. I love that it’s locally made, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to import a little flavor “from away”.
  • Do-overs: If I had to do it again, I’d probably come a little earlier in the week so I could go to Bresca and Hugo’s,which both seem exquisite. I probably wouldn’t have gone to Walter’s, but that lunch wasn’t about the food and Walter’s was convenient.
  • sick fact that will make some of you hate me: I actually lost 2 pounds on the whole trip. WTF?
  • Next up: Food bender 2010 will take place a bit more westward. Potential venues: Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, British Columbia; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Las Vegas, Nevada.

Worldly Dervish

April 19, 2007 — 6 Comments

I just returned from a 10-day mixed business-vacation trip abroad. The business was as always in Germany–the vacation to the city of Istanbul, not Constantinople.

image

I’ve been wanting to go to Istanbul since 1991 or so, when I came across a series of scholarly articles on the Hagia Sophia during an architecture course. Medieval arabic cultures have always fascinated me, partially because I’ve always been confounded by the complexity of their aesthetics and philosophy. But I’m also interested because such cultures always seem to be relegated to the outskirts of typical American high school world history curriculum, which in general just perpetuates a fairy tale dualism of good vs. bad, i.e. white Christian interests vs. non-white pagan interests.

Just before I left California I comment offhandedly to some colleagues that in my opinion, no city in the world has been more pivotal than Istanbul (in all its incarnations) to the formation of Western civilization. I’m sure such a comment is easily dismissed by scholars of London, Rome, Athens, Jerusalem, or Branson, Missouri, but as the capital city of no less than four empires over the course of nearly 2000 years, so many peoples have woven themselves into Istanbul’s cultural tapestry that its significance becomes palpable in even the shortest of walks down its streets.

I of course took photos which will be posted soon enough (I have now to scale the dreadful Mount Email), but to those who knew I was going away, I’m back, with stories to tell.

The Last Bag

March 1, 2007 — 25 Comments

The small army of people who have read certain articles on etherfarm, as well as anyone who knows me in real life, has pretty much written me off as a bag whore. I’m not alone.  This affliction—BWS (Bag Whore Syndrome)—is common among photographers, travelers, outdoor enthusiasts, cyclists and fly-fishers. I happen to be enjoy all of those things, which perhaps makes my particular case of BWS more acute than most.

My job requires me to travel internationally often, and I like taking photos when I’m abroad. My employer doesn’t pay me to go abroad to snap pics, though, they pay me to design software, so it’s more important that I bring my computer than my camera. For years I’ve been looking for a system which allows me to take both my computer equipment and my camera rig around the world with ease, and after a half-dozen bags and a complete overhaul of my camera rig, I dare say I’ve found my Holy Grail.

Here’s what I want to pack on such trips:

  • 15” MacBook Pro
  • Computer accessories (power supply, extra battery, cables, etc.)
  • Travel accessories (ear plugs, inflatable neck pillow, medication, etc.)
  • Camera
  • Lenses
  • Photo accessories (lens caps, shutter release cable, filters, etc.)

And here are some requirements for the system:

  1. I need to be able to insert and remove the computer easily (without everything spilling out) for airport security checks
  2. The bag and its contents need to meet size and weight restrictions for European carryon luggage (those restrictions are more rigid than in the U.S.)
  3. Similarly, I need one bag for use during air travel—in Europe they enforce the one-bag carry-on policy
  4. The bag needs to carry everything comfortably (I have a bad back) and safely
  5. The system needs to allow me to work with my camera equipment in the way I’m most comfortable, which is with a shoulder bag

So the solution? A Crumpler Sinking Barge photo backpack and a small messenger bag.

image

[All the photos below are thumbnails.]

The Sinking Barge is a backpack which has a padded computer slot and a padded, removable insert for a small camera setup. It has wide, padded straps which I find very comfortable and a reinforced, rigid carry handle which makes picking the bag up easy and hanging the bag safe. It’s stylish but not garrish, perfectly proportioned for my setup, and is built like a tank (this is my 5th Crumpler bag, and they’re all going strong).

image

The main compartment houses the computer and has a compartment slightly more than half the height of the bag for whatever you want.  Here’s a photo of my 15” MacBook Pro along with a small pouch from Waterfield Designs which contains various power cords, adapters and cables, etc. The compartment is pretty large; folding back the pocket as I’ve done here makes it seem smaller than it is. When I last traveled with this bag, I also fit into here a water bottle, a bagel sandwich, an ipod, a small digital point-and-shoot (I don’t break out the Leica to take photos of whiteboards) and the travel accessories listed above.

image

The bottom half of the bag is by default dedicated to my photo setup. The padded insert is affixed to the lip of the bag through some very, very beefy strips of Velcro, so if you open the bottom compartment, the insert doesn’t come tumbling out (actually, getting it out takes quite a bit of pulling, which is a good thing). In my insert, I carry my Leica M8 in half-case w/ a lens mounted, two other lenses, and every once in a great while, a flash & diffuser. I could put another few lenses in there, but when I’m bringing the computer along, I travel with only two or three lenses total.

image

The insert can be removed and the panel which divides the top and bottom of the bag can be folded back and affixed, again with velcro, so that you can use the backpack as a normal backpack (utilizing the full height of the bag). Obviously, it’s also possible to leave the camera insert at home and use the bottom compartment for other things, such as a pair of shoes, a small pile of roof shingles, or your favorite travel-size taxidermy.

image

In my check-in luggage I also pack a small messenger bag (I use an older Crumpler bag, the Wonder Weenie). when I go out for walks or for dinner, I take the backpack’s camera insert out, put it in the messenger bag, and off I go, shooting as I prefer to shoot, which is not with a backpack. The Wonder Weenie is big enough that I can fit not only the camera stuff, but also a large water bottle, a sweater, and other miscellany. Obviously, if carrying these things isn’t important to you, you can get away with a much smaller bag. The messenger bag without a photo insert comes in handy for going shopping or to the gym, and since it packs flat in my check-in luggage, it’s really no more trouble than packing an extra shirt.

A couple of notes:

  • For the last 18 months I’ve been traveling with a slightly larger version of this bag, the Customary Barge. That one was designed to hold a 17” laptop, and as you can imagine, everything is larger as a result. I carried that bag once on a trip from California to Germany, Israel, India, and back with a PowerBook, a Windoze PC, a Canon 1DmkII and three not-very-light lenses. The bag handled all of that marvelously, but I didn’t attempt that again.
  • The color scheme shown in these pictures has apparently been discontinued in favor a black and gray model. That’s too bad–I like it because it’s somewhat conservative but has a splash of color.
  • Crumpler has switched to this light blue interior from a bright yellow interior. The reason for the light colors is so that it’s easy to find things in the bag, and I think that’s brilliant. I don’t like the blue as much as I did the yellow, but it still serves its intended purpose.
  • I’ve got a lot of bags and inserts which I’d be happy to sell to someone. What didn’t work for me might work really well for you. The Customary Barge I mention above would give you all of this but built for a 17” laptop. They’re $190 new, and the one I have is blue, and light blue and has the yellow interior. Make me an offer. Sold.

One recent morning in Bangalore, in the hazy consciousness unique to prolonged jetlag, I found myself browsing the folder in which I keep yet-unposted articles to etherfarm. There are 43 such articles festering in that folder, some as skeletal fragments of prose arranged into outlines, others as full-blown entries complete with photos and/or diagrams.

It’s fair to say that my participation in (and to some extent, passion for) all-things-blog went on hiatus in 2005. The list of blogs I visited on a weekly basis dwindled to three, and after launching the most recent version of this site, entries destined for public consumption went instead to a folder named “Posts” or directly to the Trash. I tend to sculpt entries over a period of time rather than fire off fleeting, inconsequential whims, and I suppose a byproduct of that methodology is, among other things, a folder of 43 entries which have never seen the light of day.

A majority of these entries focus on topics related to design and the culture of technology, but in the last year I’ve developed an irrational antipathy towards the field of web design, at least as articulated on so-called “design blogs”. Much of my retreat to woodworking (the last entry I made to this site was only partial hyperbole) centers on a desire to channel at least some of my creative energies in a medium and skillset which doesn’t change every 48 hours and which requires practice to attain competence.

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t find the web impotent or the excellent work done by web design colleagues uninspiring or lacking profound brilliance. I merely find the web’s obsession with immediacy somewhat monotonous. Perhaps this phenomenon is not particular to the web, but intrinsic to all technologically-mediated endeavors such as digital photography and electronic music.

I’ve championed the ostensibly democratic power structure of the web for years, but who knew I’d find the vox populi so deafening?

I find some vindication in the fact that the discontent I express with all-things-web is not unique to myself; others such as Mark, Khoi, Derek and Heather and Rachel, who have all significantly influenced the ways and means in which the masses publish electronically, have looked for ways to bridge the ephemerality of the web with the relative humanity of print. Similarly, more than a few friends of mine have put down their text editors and FTP clients permanently in favor of the deeper, calmer waters of material design. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a trend, per se, but it’s somewhat comforting to find my thoughts echoed in the actions of people much smarter and more resourceful than myself.

In any case, as I fire off this missive, I find myself on the last leg of a four-week, three-country, three-climate business trip, greasing the wheels of globalization. My wife observed that last year was the first in a long while that I didn’t go abroad at all, and while it certainly feels good to give the ol’ passport a workout, traveling for business, however fun and productive, is most certainly not traveling recreationally, and I’m now running on fumes. With the kid due any time in the next 2-6 weeks (look’s like he’s running on the early side), it’ll be some time before I pack up The Big Suitcase again. Simultaneously finding that folder of unpublished work and accepting an invitation to judge a web design contest has reinvigorated my desire to dust the cobwebs off this site, so I intend to spend the sleepless nights in my near future rummaging through the aforementioned folder and in a text editor, crafting even more entries for you to groan about.

The Honeymoon Is Over

January 3, 2005 — 2 Comments

Well, we’re back. I’m a bit overwhelmed by a lot of things–not the least of which is the number of emails and messages asking about our well-being. We are fine and safe, and thanks much for the concern.

I’d be overwhelmed regardless of the catastrophic events which took place a little more than a week ago. India overwhelms human sensory input in ways which overwhelm my ability to wrangle such perception into words. I’ll post a little about each place we visited as the photos are processed, which may be a while.

Photos? Oh yes, photos. I’m overwhelmed by photos, too…more than 12GB of photos to go through and of those, at least one or two good ones.

I’m also on the verge of being overwhelmed by this chest infection which won’t go away–I get these whenever I travel. I’ve got some work I need to finish up this week, and that’s my first priority as the honeymoon more or less drained my finances, and I hope this sickness goes away soon.

I’m trying to stave off the overwhelming urge to completely trash all the work I’ve already done on an etherfarm redesign–an amount of work which isn’t insignificant, I might add (nor is the amount of work remaining, so don’t hold your breath). [update: said work trashed and I’m starting from scratch. for the good of the public I must emphasize: no breath-holding.]

kanyakumari_netrepair.jpg

It perhaps doesn’t need to be said that I’m totally overwhelmed by the scale of the tragedy unfolding in Asia. I posted the day after the earthquake and tsunamis hit, and already the death toll has multiplied by more than 10. I just can’t get my head around it. The photograph above shows fisherman at Kanyakumari, the very southern tip of India, repairing their nets the morning of 23 December. Over 600 people have been confirmed dead in this location alone, and from what I understand, fishermen constitute the majority of those statistics. Pretty sobering. Just before I left India I saw a photograph in one of the daily papers of the place that the wife and I stood just a few days prior. Most of the structures have been reduced to splinters and the beach is riddled with debris instead of people. If anyone has a link to a photo of Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu after the tsunamis hit, please share it. I don’t think the search engines have caught up with the flood of images (of the floods), so to speak.

Most overwhelming, however–the realization that humanity does no better a job of insuring existence than does nature. Just last year–Madrid, Abu Ghraib, Beslan, Bush & Halliburton, Darfur. I’m about as far from an optimist as perhaps one can get, but I sincerely hope for all our sakes that in 2005 we do a better job on the things we can control.

Blessings Inventory Ongoing

December 26, 2004 — 13 Comments

Hi. Just a quick update to say that the wife and I are fine and safe and dry and inland. We left Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, where we stood at the very tippy-tip of India just two days before the tidal waves hit. Apparently the death toll in the affected Asian countries is already well over 11,500. It’s just beginning to occur to me that some of the fishermen in my photos are most likely… well… no longer fishermen. Ugh.

Anyway, just popping in from Bangalore to issue a sub-continent communique to concerned comrades, a lame one-off response to an email inbox I fear checking.

See you in 2005.

Alleppy Express

December 2, 2004 — 2 Comments
taj2.jpg

In about twelve hours the wife and I begin the 24-hour, 9,600 mile (15,450km) plane journey from San Francisco to Munich, Germany to New Delhi, India. We’re spending what’s left of 2004 on what we’re calling our honeymoon–a casual meandering on planes, trains, automobiles, camels, and boats through the Indian subcontinent. The immunizations have been had, the cameras have been packed, the laptops are thankfully staying at home, and the dogs and house will be well-cared for by a housesitter from Melbourne.

As I mentioned in a farewell email to the mother-in-law, we intend to come back in on piece, accompanied by plenty of photos and stories and as few parasites as possible.

I’ve more or less promised myself to limit my internet time on this honeymoon to booking tickets and hotels and checking weather at internet cafes. It has been twelve years since my last trip to India, and it and I have a lot of catching up to do. Unless I change my mind, then, this will be the last etherfarm post until 2005.

You know the drill. Have yourselves a happy holiday season and a joyous new year and yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah.

I’ve just returned from five very intense weeks of work in Darmstadt, Germany, and nine days of very intense eating in Andalucia, Spain. I’ve been to Spain three times prior to this trip, but never have I spent any significant time on the Spanish coast. What an absolutely fantastic place to spend a few days after a lengthy stay in Germany.

My return flight to the states landed me right-smack-dab in the middle of The Red State–Dallas/Fort Worth. If there’s such a thing as the wrong place for someone like me to repatriate, DFW is it. Coming back to the country in which I’ve lived my whole life should not result in the culture shock I just experienced in Texas. DFW airport is populated exclusively by the stereotypical American whose actual existence I’ve been passionately denying to friends and acquaintances during my time abroad.

  • First observation: Americans sure like their flag. There are flags affixed to just about every surface of the airport. In the event that a ‘forner’ casts a wayward glance to an ‘unflagged’ surface, it’s possible they might forget what country they’re in, and we wouldn’t want that, because…
  • Second observation: …visitors to the “land of freedom” are instantly treated like criminals. Virtually everyone in the non-U.S. citizen line was complaining about the fact that they had to be fingerprinted, even if they were just passing through the U.S. on their way somewhere else (i.e. they wouldn’t leave the airport).
  • Third observation: Americans are fucking fat. Want to pick an American out of a crowd? Just look for the strongest gravitational field. Note: cheesecake-on-sticks and cinnabons get sucked into this gravitational field at very high velocities. Use caution.
  • Fourth observation: Americans have absolutely no business making fun of the beret-wearing French or turban-toting Arabs/Indians, because cowboy hats are nothing but goddamn clownwear. Period. And on that note, what’s that our commander in chief is wearing?
  • Fifth observation: at the entrance to Terminal A, I noticed a special area for firearms deposit/check-in, and only then did I realize that pretty much anyone outside the airport doors could be packing.

Yee-mother-fucking-hah, kemosabe!