Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to.
Or, is it the beginning.
I am not a big fan of forced fun on the last day of the year. Or to be more exact, the last few hours.
But, my wife likes to part and we are in a large hotel, which offers several forms of evening entertainment...most over-priced. We have done this before in Thailand...and Dubai...and the United States. Each seems much the same, with only the digits changing. Che Sera.
We chose the Chinese restaurant version for tonight, because the main celebration was too exorbitant (the Chinese one is only exorbitant) and one must sit outside. Both will be able to enjoy the same fireworks, which is the main purpose for the celebration. Because our room has view of the river, where barges will shoot off the fireworks, we probably could order room service and have the same show.
But, my wife likes to party...
As you can discern from the lack of photo, sunsets in Bangkok are worthless. And, there are no hills from which a fool can see the world going by. One tall building has a famous bar, but that is booked solid weeks in advance. We stay close to sea level, which fortunately is the level of the river and canals this time of year.
In case no one has told you: life is not fair.
Someone might win the lottery of being born, but circumstances into which one is born or is able to achieve in life vary widely. I have been lucky. Although having been born into modest circumstances in one of the better societies into which to be born, that put me well above the majority of people on this planet. That also gave me the opportunity to improve my lot in life, which I achieved through a good education, job choices, and marriage.
I was reminded of these truths about Life and about my life, as I stared out the window of an airplane traveling over rural Romania and Turkey, one of Europe’s poorer countries and a country with many parts living not unlike in the Middle Ages but wanting to join Europe.
Scattered villages vie for the title: prototype “isolated village”, with isolation enhanced by winter snow. I try to image life, but have only news reports, cinema films, and books to paint a rough picture. Each of these leaves out smells, sounds, and sense of cold. People living in those villages have no access to modern conveniences, much brands which clutter life in advanced countries. I wonder if many have even been exposed to photos of what I take for granted and have taken for granted all my life. Do young people dream of a better life, whereas older ones settle for lost hope and endurance driven by human nature to survive at all costs?
People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.
During I flight the other day, I noticed that the plane passed over Kurdistan.
Never heard of Kurdistan?
That is because no such country exists. The dream of an entire race is one of many social, cultural, religious, and historical anomalies perpetrated on the Middle East and the world during the last century, when drawing boundaries following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The Kurds now “reside” in Turkey, Irag, Iran, and Syria, but would very much like to have their own nation. Each of those countries, with the help of US, Great Britain, France, and others collude to prevent this nationalism. The most-violent reaction is perhaps in Turkey. The greatest betrayal is perhaps that by the US,
I noticed that the Russian Government has passed a law forbidding adoption of Russian children by Americans. This reminded me (as if I needed reminding) how stupid governments can be. The only ones to suffer from such laws are simple citizens wanting to do good for others and children hoping for a better life.
I recall sitting one evening many years ago with a KGB officer in the gazebo in the garden of a villa in Moscow, which had been the home of a Politburo member and was now a government guest house put at my disposal. We shared a bottle of vodka--what else?--and inveighed against our governments’ attempts to create enemies each other’s citizens. We could find no reason to be enemies, but share a common dislike of deceitful leaders and politicians.
There would be less wars on this planet, if people were not foolish enough to fall for the siren song of patriotism drummed up by arrogant, ignorant, and paranoid leaders.
The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.