An eco-friendly mine?

Mining giant Rio Tinto has an ambitious conservation agenda in connection with its titanium mine near Tolagnaro, Madagascar. It has created conservation zones that it won’t mine and pledged to regrow the forests that it destroys.

Critics say it won’t succeed, in part because too little will be conserved. NGOs also say the mine has been detrimental to local people, but the government approves because it represents significant foreign investment.

The above photos were taken at the Mandena nursery, where plants are grown to one day repopulate the forest. A few shots are also from around Tolagnaro, also known as Ft. Dauphin. Rio Tinto does not allow photography of the mine itself.

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Why I’m out here, reason No. 1

harleyscreenThere were many reasons why I called it a day in St. Louis and hit the road. Let’s talk about one in particular:

The decline of the American foreign correspondent corps. Sure, the Bigs will continue to pay for top-shelf international journalism. But the papers just a rung or two down on the ladder (indeed, most of the Top 100) should still have bodies in the field across the oceans but don’t, the Post-Dispatch included.

So their readers miss global news. And not just the big international crisis — death, mayhem, flooding, war, locusts, Olympics, genocide, plague — stories. They miss knowing the impact of their local decisions, their local companies, their local products, their local families.

That led to my journalistic model: sell locally focused, international stories to these papers on the cheap. Today, finally, I’ve proven my model, if only once.

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Hey sargin’ buddy…

Hey, guy. Hey, Nicky from Paramus.

Yeah, I’ze talkin’ to yous.

Happy Birfday, ya bag o’ donuts. Weez had one helluva ride the past few years, ain’t we?

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The day after Thanksgiving means one thing…

christmas

Ready to decorate; no place to do so

…Christmas decorations! (And possibly lamenting how much food you ate. And/or more eating.)

As far back as I can remember, the last Friday in November in the Jadhav household marked the official start of the holiday season; we hauled boxes of ornaments and garland and lights and tinsel and nutcrackers and more out of the basement or down from attic. We’d play vinyl from a boxed set of Christmas music almost non-stop. At the end of the day, when the decorating was either finished or on hold (some years it took all weekend), we’d sip egg nog from old mugs.

I have found a store here in Delhi at Khan Market that caters to expats and has decorations galore (photo above). But I’m staying temporarily in a guesthouse. And in 10 days, I start traveling and will be on the move until after the New Year. As much as I want to deck the halls, I have little opportunity to do so.

I’ll make do with this blog.

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Today, I am thankful… to be uninsured in a country where health care isn’t a cluster

For the last two-and-a-half days, I’ve been running a fever of between 100.3 and 103.1 degrees Fahrenheit. This has been accompanied by dizziness, headache, sensitivity to light, pain behind my eyes and graphic gastrointestinal problems.

Today, I decided enough was enough (and complied with the wishes of people back home) and began to hunt for a doctor. A friend, Poh Si, recommended a GP, Dr. Gita Prakash.

Around 5 p.m., I called “Dr. Gita,” as she is known, on her cell phone, she picked up, and she told me to come by at 6:30 p.m.

Think about that statement for just a second.

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Get down with your Sikh self

streetfighting

Men and boys show off during the parade

Yesterday adherents to the Sikh faith paraded with pomp and circumstance through Paharganj. They were honoring their 10th guru, they’re spiritual leader, Guru Gobind Singh.

Free food was served from stalls along the lane; Sikh “warriors” put on demonstrations of fighting — Gobind Singh is known as a warrior poet — and dancing.

Sadly, the little Canon point-n-shoot doesn’t do the visual feast justice, but…

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Hanging out, inside the highway off-ramp

Grassy knoll inside a highway interchange? Indians say let's chill.

Grassy knoll with public art inside a highway interchange? Indians say let's chill.

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Harley rumbles into India

For the last week and a half, I’ve been working a story about Harley-Davidson’s attempts to enter the Indian motorcycle market. Here are shots from a posh launch party in Mumbai, a Sunday morning ride through the city and a portrait of Delhi’s leader of a motorcycle club.

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Uninsured and in pain. Could be worse. At least, I’m in India.

I’ve been walking anywhere from two to 10 kilometers per day. It’s exercise, I see and learn the city better, and it beats the hell out of dealing with and paying for autorickshaw rides everywhere.

But in the last two days, my right foot — though it shows no external symptoms and I recall no major trauma — has felt like it’s on the verge of exploding with each step.

(Think jagged metal Krusty-O magically implanted between my fourth or fifth metatarsal. Sharp, stabbing pain when putting weight on the ball of my foot. Sometimes, the pain shoots up my leg.)

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Getting taken for a ride

rickshaw

I wish they'd just use the damn meter

This is from the backseat of my friendly neighborhood autorickshaw, the same one that I’ve now taken on multiple occasions when I don’t have time to walk a bit.

Now, by law, the rickshawwallahs are supposed to use the meter (little box above displaying the number 10). But good luck finding one who will, because invariably they get more money by simply haggling.

You see, I live at present in a budget tourist hotbed, which means there are plenty of foreigners who A) don’t know what they should pay B) have the money to pay the extortionate rates for which they’re asked.

Normally, when I need a rickshaw for a longer ride and I have time, I walk away from the tourist sectors to get better prices. Or if my destination is under say eight kilometers, I just walk. It’s quite nice.

But when I’m headed for interviews or just need to get places quickly, as was the case this week, I am forced to pay the higher rates from the guys closest to my room.

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