This gallery contains 18 photos.

It is spring in Geneva in green and lavender bloom. Martin Khor tells us that the problem we have traveled here to address is among the most serious of our time. Martin directs the South Centre, supported by and advising … Continue reading

A Certain Peace


This gallery contains 33 photos.

No one quite smiles in Basel. Not on the tram and not in the café.  Each of ten men sits at his separate table on a Sunday, reading the paper quietly. Our access to medicines team doesn’t quite fit. We’re … Continue reading

South Africa’s Space Cowboys


This gallery contains 8 photos.

December 2013 — A few days into our conferences, we attend the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in Cape Town stadium. There’s a sense that the formal and relatively conservative Johannesburg ceremony seen on world television may not have been … Continue reading

Morning in Cape Town


This gallery contains 8 photos.

It’s a perfect Cape Town dawn, my first. Table Mountain looms large from the waterfront. I’m staring through plate glass windows and a well-kept garden of succulents. Morning’s long light is gentle on everything. The Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet … Continue reading

Passing through Doha

I am in Doha, Qatar tonight on a long layover between Washington and Hanoi. Qatar is a small Middle Eastern country with wealthy citizens, many migrant workers and a large expat community. At the recommendation of friends, I pass by the Museum of Islamic Art, an exceptionally beautiful white structure by the architect I.M. Pei. It makes art from tradition, and sits across the water from Doha’s flamboyant downtown skyscrapers. Then I move along to Souq Waqif, an old market rebuilt with new money.

I think for a moment about opulence living with conservative Islam. Many, perhaps most people are dressed to cover their wrists and ankles, and in many cases their faces as well. Yet the fashion indus175try in its vulgarity is on full display in advertisements and on television sets, and conspicuous consumption seems to have the elevated position typical to wealthy urban neighborhoods. Or maybe that is for the tourists.

I stop in a Syrian restaurant for dinner and a musical performance. A man dances, whirling bright and lit cloths, with fans and a skirt that would be considered feminine in the west, yet with powerfully masculine movements. I drink tisane, a hot tea.

I am traveling alone, as I most commonly have. I am not lonely. I wonder if I have outgrown it; the years advanced such that I feel my life and friends with me even when they are distant or past.

A clay pot dish of burghul and hot tomatoes arrives at my table, and the musicians begin.