Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Pacific Shift

At 6 am, Eddie woke up and gave an early start to this my third Chuseok in Korea. For the coming three days, almost everything will be closed in otherwise crazy busy Seoul as millions of Koreans head back to their “home villages” to celebrate this traditional harvest festival or “Korean thanksgiving” as my American friends like to call it.

The coming of Chuseok also means that we have made it to the autumn equinox and that everything is a busy is it always is at this time of the year with a long list of new exciting projects, including an invitation to write a book review for the journal Environmental Values. This year I am offering three classes, including one new class called “Development and Inequality in a Globalizing World” which so far has been a stunning success with students from countries as diverse as Afghanistan and Bolivia bringing a lot of real-life experience into the classroom. 


Sunday, September 01, 2013


With Eddie falling asleep in the bassinet already before we had finished crossing the Baltic Sea, my first flight with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner could not have come off to a better start. As promised, the windows are visibly larger and equipped with cool electronic blinds, the cabin air does feel somewhat less dry and the “mood” lighting in the ceiling brings at least some of the intended ambiance. So far, so good in other words. Next to me I have a group of actors on their way to Nepal to shoot some commercial and, when boarding, it seemed like Qatar Airways once again had been able to fill an airplane with its distinctive mix of old Philippine ladies in wheelchairs, Emirati people flying premium cabins and European holidaymakers. And yes, the pre-dinner Italian Pinot Grigio tastes more than okay.

With those words, I think I had enough Tyler for one day. The massive barrage of superficiality leaves me somewhat exhausted, uncertain about where to go next and to what extent my professional role as a university professor constrains what I can or should say. Perhaps, all I want to say is that it is painful to see the suffering of this world, to learn about those heinous chemical attacks on children in Syria and so brutally face our collective shortcomings as a species. This is 2013. Not 1943. We should not be here yet I am afraid it will take much more of the same until we wake up to our shared responsibilities and fully recognize our common humanity.

Crossing over Ukrainian airspace. A little more than four hours to go until Doha. I think about the roles we play, how much more most men talk than most women, their lecturing style and narcissistic obsession with their own trivial anecdotes. I guess I am also guilty of doing this at times. And I guess all we can do is to remain self-critical and to rethink our own behaviour, to aspire for something better rather than settling for what we are.

(and yes, all this was posted using the inflight-internet)