Ok, Sir, put down the magazine and step away

I’ve been trying since the 2nd half of 2007 to catch up on my New Yorkers. For a long time I remained about two months behind, unable to break that 8 week barrier. I’ve made progress though, and I think it was the switch to reading backwards from the most current issue that has somehow sped things up. Who knew? But it’s given rise to the unexpected — I’ve begun to think about my life as a New Yorker article.

The following is an excerpt from an article entitled “Diplomatic Isolation” which appeared in the Profiles section of the April 30, 2010 issue of the New Yorker:

At some point in 2008, FSOwalla realized that could no longer run the magazine as a second job. The 8-6 workday that diplomacy required simply left too little time and too little energy. “I was exhausted all the time,” FSOwalla said, “and I tried everything short of illegal to keep going.”  The most common result of those efforts, he recalled, was finding himself asleep on his living room floor or nodding off in the office after a cup of coffee at 10am.  His body couldn’t handle the exertion and he worried about the long-term impact on his health.

Later that year, FSOwalla resigned from the Foreign Service. “If I could have lasted until 50,” said FSOwalla, who is now 41, “I would have had a decent pension and probably seen more of the world.” He paused as if reconsidering for a moment and then sighed. “But I guess that’s the whole point of risk taking.”

The immediate risk he took was to move back to Calcutta — the job, the multi-membered household staff, the club membership gone. “I hate using the word ‘surreal’ but that’s what it was,” he told me when we met at a tea stall in a narrow street near the offices of Overdose, a platform for artists of which he is now a part. “When you live in a city in India, and I’d say this is true of any city here, you immediately lose all sense of your place in the world.  You become smaller than the proverbial brown dot on the map.  It’s a sobering realization.”


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