An Epistolary Relationship For The Ages

Shortly after I finished high-school I bade goodbye to a good friend. He was headed to the United Kingdom, to join his father–he had taken up a job with a civil engineering firm. My friend would, so to speak, ‘repeat’ high school; he would take his A-levels and then seek university admission. I was sadContinue reading “An Epistolary Relationship For The Ages”

Relativity and the Immigrant

As a postscript to an essay explicating the theory of special relativity–written at the request of the The Times (London), Albert Einstein wrote: Here is yet another application of the principle of relativity…today I am described in Germany as a “German savant” and in England as a “Swiss Jew.” Should it ever be my fateContinue reading “Relativity and the Immigrant”

Readin’ and Ridin’: Transportation within Transportation

Forty degrees and rain, soggy train platforms, and an unhappy toddler–my daughter, not happy at being dropped off at daycare–can make for a miserable start to a day.  It was only partially redeemed by finally finding dry shelter in the shape of a subway car for the ride into Manhattan. After my wife had disembarkedContinue reading “Readin’ and Ridin’: Transportation within Transportation”

Traveling With the Right Kind of Passport

Amartya Sen introduces us to his Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny with the following rather well-known little story: Some years ago when I was returning to England from a short trip abroad (I was then Master of Trinity College in Cambridge), the immigration officer at Heathrow, who scrutinized my Indian passport rather thoroughly,Continue reading “Traveling With the Right Kind of Passport”

Twenty-One Car-Free Years

Over the weekend, thanks to traveling up to Albany to meet an old friend, I was unable to make note of an especially important anniversary: March 30th marked twenty-one years of blessed freedom from car ownership. On March 30th, 1993, I sold my Toyota pickup truck, purchased a mere eighteen months previously, at a drasticallyContinue reading “Twenty-One Car-Free Years”

The Empire State Building: From Picture to Window View

I’m writing this post on the second floor of the CUNY Graduate Center (to be more precise, in the library). My desk is by a window, and looking out from it, I can see the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. That confluence of streets, of course, marks the location too, of the EmpireContinue reading “The Empire State Building: From Picture to Window View”

On Almost Drowning

I’ve almost drowned twice. Once during the whitewater rafting trip I described here a while ago. The other occasion came many years before, on a school trip in India, close to a river known for its fearsome flooding, for the toll it often extracts when its swollen waters disdain its banks and make their wayContinue reading “On Almost Drowning”

Losing and Gaining Citizenships

I became an American citizen more than fourteen years ago. Ironically, my decision to do so was prompted by my leaving the US–for what was supposed to be a two-year stint as a post-doctoral fellow in Australia. I was then a permanent resident of the US, equipped with the famed ‘green card.’ Subject to certainContinue reading “Losing and Gaining Citizenships”

Walking in Sydney: From Beach to Campus (And Back)

I like writing about walking–to work, and around New York City, for instance–on these pages. I like walking through new cities, for it remains the best way–at the right remove–to experience their offerings. One walk that combined commuting with exploration was one I undertook, sporadically, for a few months, in Sydney, Australia, while living inContinue reading “Walking in Sydney: From Beach to Campus (And Back)”

The Nature Documentary and the Failed Hunt

Like many middle-class children, here or elsewhere, I watched wildlife documentaries while ‘growing up.’ There was a long-running Sunday feature whose name I forget that subjected one species to its lens each week; there were the full-length movies–sometimes on the big cats (my personal favorite), sometimes on elephants, sometimes on the primates–my parents took meContinue reading “The Nature Documentary and the Failed Hunt”