…was so quaint and cute and beautiful all at once. I wish I could write more about it, but my time there was mostly spent working, so I had limited time for adventuring. Prague is a pretty decent city to get lost in though (which is not difficult to do).
I must have walked the Charles Bridge 5 times or so in just a handful of days.
Since my mind is still a bit burnt from my days there, I’ll just share via the limited photos I have accessible on my phone. I forgot my camera’s cord in New York.
The first thing you do in Prague, of course, is drink Czech beer. I like mine dark. Oh, and eat fried cheese and potatoes with tartar sauce.
Like I said, getting lost in Prague can be a great thing.
Prague, how did you know I love fireworks? I also love you now.
An iPhone 4 camera doesn’t even come close to doing the Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle any justice. Even when you try to Instagram it. Clearly.
Absolutely gorgeous IRL.
The food wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, though not aesthetically pleasing.
As bland-looking at that last picture may look, it was actually really delicious. Unfortunately, I had 5 minutes to scarf it down before heading to a meeting. Timely and efficient service is not a high priority in many parts of this city. S’all good though.
Perhaps more photos, if I ever upload them. (It’s been more than a year since India and no one has seen a single photo from that. Shrug.)
The reality is that I know nothing about Africa. I have never even stepped foot on the soil of the continent (yet). Therefore, I do not pretend to be knowledgeable in matters I am not well-versed in.
And also therefore, it’s important to hear from the voices of people who are actually tied to these countries.
TMS Ruge, founder of Project Diaspora, writes an honest and real post about the #StopKony campaign, African agency, and respect for the people of central and east Africa.
“Let me be honest. Africa is not short of problems, epidemics and atrocities. But it is also true that it is not short of miracles, ingenuity, and a proclivity to surprise. We as Africans, especially the Diaspora, are waking to the idea that our agency has been hijacked for far too long by well-meaning Western do-gooders with a guilty conscious, sold on the idea that Africa’s ills are their responsibility. This particular affliction is called “white man’s burden” in some circles. Please don’t buy into this. Africa’s problems are our own.”
While I don’t believe in absolutely no aid or collaboration with any non-Africans, I do agree that more local/grassroots empowerment is needed to bring any real change.
Ugandan journalist, Rosebell Idaltu Kagumire, made a video response to this Invisible Children debacle. She takes a very calm and diplomatic approach, I think, but gets the point across that what the IC video represents isn’t going to cut it for the people of central and east Africa.
Rosebell implores us to focus on “intelligent campaigns” that are geared towards “real policy shifts rather than a very sensationalized story that is out to make one person cry, and at the end of the day, we forget about it.”
She adds that how the story of Uganda is told might be more important than the story being told:
“If you’re showing me as voiceless or as hopeless, you have no space to be telling my story. You should not be telling my story if you dont believe that I have the power to change what is going on.”
Some favorite quotes I’ve been seeing fill up my feeds today:
“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”
Life has been a bit crazy and stressful for me lately (hence, a lack of updates…even more so than typical). Between work, and side projects, and family, and relationships, and interviews, and ideas, and meetings, and financial issues, and being nomadic, and life decisions, I just have been non-stop moving, sometimes robotically, which is completely not my style.
I’ve been feeling especially disjointed these past few days. Waking up this morning was difficult because I was just drained — mostly emotionally and spiritually but a bit physically too.
Eventually, I got up from the slab of ice I slept on last night (no heat), went to my computer, and got on my grind. After a while of working, I checked my TweetDeck and saw more than one tweet about the Holstee manifesto (see below). Evidently, they launched a new a LifeCycle film of the manifesto.
It totally made my morning better and reminded me of who I am and what I believe (sorry if that sounds cheesy or dramatic or cliche — but there’s no other way to say it). You can read their manifesto below or just watch the video.
Many of my friends have heard me say something to the extent of, “Isn’t it crazy how…[insert something relatively normal in our modern society]?” I always find technology, and how far along it’s come, to be absolutely fascinating and something my mind sometimes needs a moment to really think about. When I tell people about my wonder, they tend to think I’m weird. Understandable, since we live in a hyper-connected, super tech-savvy society where 10-year-olds spend recess downloading apps to their phones and the concept of putting pen to paper to communicate with someone seems like an ancient one. It’s amazing though, right?
Brian sent me this clip this morning with the added message, “This should be the official video of #firstworldpains.” Louis CK on Conan O’Brien about how amazing our world is today and how nobody appreciates it.
I had posted this TED Talk a while back on my previous blog but recently came across is again. I think it’s great, and Jacqueline, as I had said in that old post, is an amazing woman.
The video is a bit lengthy but it’s really great, I assure you. Among the many inspiring stories she tells is one of a little girl during the United States’ early stages of desegregation (around 14:25 in the clip), which is a favorite for me.
Jacqueline Novogratz is the author of The Blue Sweater and the founder of Acumen Fund.
Though Kolkata was my last stop on my trip, it was the place where I felt least homesick. In fact, as I’m sitting here in the Kolkata airport waiting for my flight to Delhi, I’m not totally ecstatic to be leaving here. I really do hope that I can return soon — whatever soon may mean — but in the mean time, I need a coping mechanism.
Being sick the last three days of the trip (high fever and intense nausea) has been helpful in me wanting to go home, I guess, but I’ve found that negative thoughts aren’t the best way to overcome things. So let’s go to something positive.
When people find out that Kolkata is my end destination before my return to New York, they tend to ask me what I’m looking most forward to. Initially I had a tough time answering that because I try not to “long” for home whenever I travel (it makes traveling less fun, obviously) but I really did start to think about in about a week or so ago.
Here is my list, in no real order, of things I have missed and/or am excited to return to after a summer away:
Family + dog.
Our list of things to do.
New York City — truly no city like it. And the best there is. I still stand by that.
An appropriately temperatured shower.
Not having to drink out of a bottle all the time.
The plethora of food options in New York.
A real bed. With a real mattress.
Normal clothing, etc. — my clothing, etc.
Less bugs. Less variety of bugs.
And with that, the beach.
Not having a layer of grime consistently as my second skin.
CUSTOMER SERVICE. God bless America’s tipping system & general politeness (believe it or not!).
I had about half of this on my way to the airport this afternoon and I realized maybe the thing I am looking forward to the most…no offense to friends and family…and the dog…and the boyfriend…but truly, CLEAN AIR.
I feel like I haven’t breathed in over two months. Not a single place I went to had anything remotely resembling clean air.
So there, clean air is the winner as of right now.
And so for the next 23 to 24 hours until I land and see Popsicle’s face at the arrival gate, I will focus my thoughts on the positive things that I am returning to in order to deal with leaving Kolkata, the wonderful people I’ve met here, and the super cute kids that I played with pretty much every day.