February 26th - 6:10 AM

February 26th - 6:10 AM

A Chapter by Jim Parson



February 26th - 6:10 AM - Aligarh

So much for a good night’s sleep.  The generator kicked back on at 4:30 this morning.  Jetlag and generators - a really bad combination.  So we are all up bright and early, our first morning in Aligarh.  Since there will be no sleeping, maybe it’s time I get around to my traveling companions.


Anil Garg


Anil is a surprise.  He is the only one I knew (slightly) prior to going on this trip.  I had always thought Anil was very dry and businesslike.  Through no fault of Anil’s, I had issues getting information prior to going on this trip, so I didn’t have a lot of confidence in his ability to put this whole NID together (I subsequently found out the issues were with my email and my own fault, not his).  I was wrong about him.  He is organized, pays attention to the small details, is fun and has a great sense of humor.  I like Anil a lot.  I’m glad he’s with us.


He was originally scheduled to go to Varanasi, but because he came over a couple weeks earlier than us and spent that time there helping victims of the tsunami, he switched with Hary Patel to come here instead.  I’m going to ask him to take over as Team Leader.  I was originally appointed Team Leader, but he’s much more qualified.  He’s been on NIDs before, he knows more about polio, he speaks the language and he seems to have a better connection with the people here.

Linda Taylor


Linda Taylor is representing the Rotary Club of Ojai West, but is not a Rotarian.  She is a recently retired high school art teacher.  Although not a Rotarian, she was the faculty advisor to the Interact Club at the school where she taught, I think she said for 13 years, so she still knows a lot about Rotary.  The thing that is amazing about Linda is she knows something about everything and no matter what you are talking about, she can participate in the conversation and probably knows more about the subject than you do.


She is definitely an artist and it has been different seeing things through her eyes.  As an artist, she sees things with a different perspective.  I’m looking forward to getting copies of her pictures because I’m sure they will show many things that I don’t see.  We’ll shoot a picture of the exact same thing that is right in front of us, but Linda will come away with something completely different than I do.


Another fun thing about Linda is she does not travel the easy or simple path, which is to her credit.  I don’t know how to explain what I mean here.  I guess I mean that she knows what she wants and doesn’t settle for less.  For example, she can’t use regular artist’s paper.  She must have hand-pressed, cotton, layered paper that is made only in France.  She won’t use a pencil but must have charcoal made from the ash of burnt armpit hair from a thousand virgins from Somalia.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but perhaps it will illustrate my point.  She just doesn’t settle like most of us do.


Let’s see, what else is there about Linda.  She is obviously unselfish by offering to take the middle seat when it was affecting me adversely.  Oh, and she loves Ojai, which is a good thing since she lives there.  She’s married to a woodworker and has a 31 year old son.  She’s been to Paris with several of her art students.  Oh yeah, she loves the circus and has gone to a circus in every foreign country she has visited.  It happens she has lucked out and there is a circus here right now - we passed the exhibition grounds on our way into town.  We are going to look into it.


[Author’s note:  Towards the end of our time in Aligarh, our host talked to the head of security for the circus who said it wasn’t safe for us - they couldn’t guarantee our safety.  So we never got to go.]



Jay Wright


Jay is a nice man who loves his wife and kids.  I’m sharing a room with him and he is actually asleep right now, in spite of the generator.  He is a member of the Rotary Club of Goleta and he’s been okay to travel with.  If I remember correctly, he has a couple of stepchildren and a set of twins.  I think he has a 15 year old and three 13 year olds (a stepchild and the twins, or maybe it was step-twins and a child).  I don’t envy him in a couple of years when all three of them are 15 at the same time.


He calls his wife a lot, so it’s a good thing we’ve discovered the STDs.  STDs are the greatest.  They are really cheap pay phones for international calls and they are on every block all throughout Aligarh.  Many times, they are in businesses right next door to each other.  They’re everywhere.  The cost is only about 20¢ per minute, as opposed to the $5.00 a minute AT&T wants to charge me on my prepaid calling card I bought at LAX.  I wish I’d known before buying the card!


Jay loves Santa Barbara the same way Linda loves Ojai.  Here’s something that struck me kind of funny.  He is quite proud that his wife is a 9th generation Santa Barbaran.  I tried to do the math and I’m thinking that’s probably about 200 years, which is pretty amazing.  I got to thinking about it and it occurred to me that everyone’s family here has been here since Buddha so it kind of pales the 9th generation thing.


Jay is carrying a duffel that I cannot describe.  It’s like a duffel bag, but it has many zippered compartments.  He has packed for the entire two weeks in that one bag and carried it on so he wouldn’t have to check any bags.  It’s the weirdest thing - he just keeps pulling stuff out and there is still more in it but it never gets bigger or smaller.  I think it’s magic.


Let’s see, what else.  Oh yeah, I think he’s really sensitive and the things we’ve seen here have affected him the most.  He’s great with the kids and the people here really seem to take to him.  A really nice man.

Got to get in the shower.  Will write more later.

© 2011 Jim Parson

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too bad you had to miss the circus, but in all honesty, all this travel certainly sounds like it was enough of one!

Posted 9 Years Ago

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Added on April 9, 2011
Last Updated on April 11, 2011
Tags: India, Rotary, polio, immunizations


Jim Parson
Jim Parson

Los Angeles, CA

I have been a banker for the past 28 years, but my dream has always been to write. I thought maybe it was time to give it a try. I don't think I'm the greatest writer, but I think I can tell a prett.. more..

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