I’m driving down the national highway in Trivandrum and a billboard catches my eye…

Technically I was not driving, of course, because that would be ludicrous. Instead, I was riding in the back of an Uber, riding down the national highway in Trivandrum, when I noticed a billboard. It was an advertisement from the school the kids attended last year, TRINS. They have an annual show at a large theater in town.

Oh, I thought, that’s a photo from last year’s show!

Then I looked more closely. No, that’s a photo of my daughter, on a billboard on the national highway!

I didn’t have to ask the driver to pull over, when I started reacting, shouting, “Oh my gosh, James LOOK! That’s ALICE!” The driver’s reaction was immediate. He pulled right to the side of the road.

I think he thought I was having a medical event.

“Please,” I asked, “That’s my daughter — on the billboard! May I jump out and take a photo?”

He shook his head in what could only be described as the universal sign for, “Uh… whatever, lady,” as I bounded from the car.

Screen Shot 2019-12-31 at 5.23.52 PM

That’s Alice, on the far right in the TRINS’ loose retelling of the NEMO story.

I am back in India for a short time– really too short of a time– a week on the ground to finish up the National Geographic project. I’ve brought three UHart students along and met up with frequent collaborator Katie (a researcher with South Asian waste expertise who I met through Fulbright), two Indian students who are Naropa Fellows, an Indian filmmaker, and the team of students and faculty from the Department of Environmental Sciences. We’re doing some tourism, learning about the problems of waste and debris here, and creating a video that demonstrates the methods I promote.

All in a week.

It’s a tall order, but the opportunity to use the remaining National Geographic funds presented itself and I wanted to make the most of them.

But a week is not much time– particularly when working in a location that we reached via an eleven hour flight, by a quick jog through the Doha, Qatar airport, and then a 5 1/2 hour flight. And that was one of the most direct routes available. It’s ten days including travel.

I brought James along, but it is difficult to be here without Mike, Willy, and Alice. Everything is so familiar and yet so many things have changed in six short months.

The Department of Environmental Science completed a new three story building. The butterfly garden planted out front has expanded incredibly.

The national highway that runs North/South through all of Trivandrum is still undergoing a massive renovation, with large areas now shut down and only side access roads available for the voluminous traffic. Buildings along the side of the road beyond the construction area are being torn down– brick by brick, with piles of rubble lining either side of the highway. The trees that stood there have been cut down, all for the expanding road being built.

But it has been wonderful to see some friends and reconnect.

But, Katharine, you’re thinking… seven months and… nothing?

I know.

We have been terrible at updating the blog. If it is any consolation, “Update Blog” has been at the top of my to-do list for seven months. But my to-do list is four typed pages in word, and sometimes things get “pushed down” rather than actually “done.”

We left you after the magic of Japan and south east Asia. After that we ventured to Alaska via Hawaii (a stopover, not a true visit to Hawaii).

Alaska deserves and will get its own post.

But our journey ended and we jumped right back into life at home. Life has a funny way of taking up all of one’s time, doesn’t it? The children began camp and then throttled through the end of the summer to the beginning of the school year. Mike and I did the same (minus the fun of camp), but we all relished the feeling of being back in our own beds, walking the streets of our own neighborhood, and seeing the friends we had missed so dearly.

Then summer turned to fall and then to winter.

But late is better than never, I think.

And I’ll share more about this week and hopefully in future do a little better at keeping up.





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