Thursday, June 28, 2012

Travel hair


I love the hair tutorials on Cup of Jo. I think this messy "perfect knot" may be my perfect travel hairstyle.  To be honest, I've given little thought to my travel plans, which start next Monday: overland travel in Indonesia, a day in Malaysia, a flight to Kolkata, and then weeks in northern India and maybe Nepal.  It is going to be a hot and humid summer!

I am looking forward to fresh air and green scenery, to train travel, to boat/ferry journeys, and to new places. I have less than two days at work.  Will I be able to decompress?  Or, will I carry this work with me? 

Last summer, as I was traveling east from Kazakhstan, my organization and others were targeted by the Government for our work on the Railways project.  My team did a great job of keeping this information from me while I was away, but it eventually made its way to me.  In a dark internet-lab in Lanzhou, China, after over 36 hours of hard travel in the August heat, I read the news, and worry set in. 

The pace of work at this organization is so fast, so hurried, that you often do not have time to process.  It was only yesterday, as I was speaking to Dana, the bright-eyed American legal intern, that I realized how much of a threat we functioned under in May, when we traveled to the Manila meetings with the two community members.  Yes, it was a good time in Manila, if not surreal.  Evenings soirees at the Sofitel were filled with the fanciest canapés I have seen and free-flowing champagne.  But there were also meetings, and in those meetings with diplomats and politicians from European, Asian, and American constituent countries, we tried to impress the risks we faced when traveling to meet with them - perhaps we wouldn't be allowed to re-enter the country, or perhaps the organization would again be threatened, or perhaps the communities would face repercussions.  As I spoke to Dana about it yesterday, it dawned on me how nuts the landscape is here. 

Earlier in the week, I had a farewell breakfast with G, an American lawyer who has been working on land issues in Cambodia for many years.  "Sometimes, during your years of work, you leave people behind," he commented. "You have to learn to do what is best for you. Listen to what your body.  Do not apologize. Do not feel guilt."    

I wonder: Does it get easier?

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