Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Is there anybody out there? Probably not!

Rowan and Colette. I love this pic!

Hello! I expect a few regular readers have given up on me in the two and a half months since I last updated this blog. Apologies. I hadn’t forgotten. I have wanted to write something, but there just always seemed to be something else to do…

Hopefully a brief account of what I’ve been up to since November will act as some penance. :)

My usual themes are: working in the development field, life in Sydney, and travel. And as usual, I’ve got a little to say about all of these things.

When I last updated the blog at the start of November, I’d just returned from an inspiring trip to India. I was full of enthusiasm for a non-microfinance project for mentally-ill women in India’s poorest state, Orissa.

Since then, I’ve been working to formalise processes for supporting both this project, and any future non-microfinance projects that we might wish to fund. Otherwise, the last three months at work have been typical of any three-month period since I joined Opportunity, in that there have been big changes in personnel, and responsibilities. And being such a small organisation, any changes inevitably affect me. Since I last wrote, four of our six-strong leadership team have, at least temporarily, left. Our donor relations director and investment director have moved on, and our programs director, Mark, has moved to the

Philippines for 2 years, while, Chris, the head of our Strategic Services Department (and my boss) has moved with his family to India for a year.

Right: At Ed's wedding.

This has changed my typical working day. Not least because, with my boss moving to Hyderabad last week, it has been somewhat quieter in the office. I am now a one-man department (though I still rely on several volunteers to keep me company) and I’m looking forward to the extra responsibility this year, both informally – as I will be the main person available to help develop and present our strategy – and formally, as I’ve now taken on responsibility for looking at the potential for new programs in Nepal, China, Indonesia and other SE Asian countries.

I didn’t take any leave over Christmas. I even worked in the office on my own for two days. I already feel like I’ve hit the ground running in 2010 and I’m enjoying the job a lot again. Plus, I’ll be going to Nepal with work for the first time in a little under 3 weeks. Though I usually kick and scream when I’m dragged out of my comfort zone, I find work inspiring when there is change, new demands and a variety of work areas. I grow bored when I fall into too much of a routine. I don’t think I’m going to be too bored in 2010. And I should have plenty to write about.

Christmas Work Do

The last time I wrote about anything other than work on this blog… hmmmm, I shouldn’t even say (blush). The subject was the ‘Spring on the Rooftop’ party. Seems like about, I dunno… four seasons ago now. I’ve hosted another rooftop party since then. Great party. Same people, different season, and a different rooftop. At the start of October I saw an apartment for lease that I liked. I’d been looking casually for 6 months. It’s nice to look when you don’t have any need to take the plunge as you can afford to be very fussy (I’m sure there’s an analogy with dating there, but I’m not going to say it).

I love the new place. A one bedroom apartment feels like a big improvement from a studio, and the building itself is impressive. Harry Seidler was Sydney’s premier architect for decades and has designed some of Sydney’s most distinctive modern apartments and public buildings (including the Ian Thorpe Pool, built after his death in 2006).

My apartment block is one of his earlier, more modest efforts, built in the 1960s, but it’s still an interesting design, with the rooftop overlooking the Bridge and Opera House the highlight. I’ve moved closer to the harbour, closer to a nicer, quieter part of town, and there’s an icing on the cake. Where my last place had a gym that I never used, this place has a rooftop pool that I’m cooling off in at least three times a week. And it’s been a blessing in the last few months. Yes… get ready to start throwing bricks, I’m going to talk about this summer’s weather.

In the interests of keeping it brief, I’ll just mention today’s weather. It’s a Saturday, so I can’t tell you what the weather was like before 10am. Damn hot I’ll bet. By 11am when I got to Bronte beach it was 37C. The peak was 41C at 230pm, but that all changed when the temperature dropped 15 degrees in an hour as a storm barrelled across the city. As I write this it’s almost impossible to tell what will happen in the next few hours. There’s a free open-air concert in the Domain tonight but I’ll be taking the safe option of watching the Australian open on TV instead.

There seems to be a weather record broken in Australia every week. But if Sydney takes the biscuit, Melbourne takes a large cake, a cake platter, and a set of 12 side dishes. When I was in Melbourne with work last week the lowest overnight temperature on the first night was 37C. Yes, that was the ‘coolest’ temperature during the night. Not that I noticed, tucked up in my air-conditioned hotel room. But I did notice the 43C temperature at 5pm that afternoon as waves of heat reflected off the pavement. I seriously considered frying an egg on the pavement, but my brains were boiled and scrambled and I just wanted to get indoors. When I left two days later, the peak temperature had dropped to 23C.

Ok, enough amateur meteorology.

I couldn’t mention the last two months without breaking a bit of a personal taboo. Since I started this blog, I haven’t mentioned romance, aside from a few unheralded references. But there can’t be anyone I haven’t already told about Alise Grinfelde, so it will come as news to no-one that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the last few months corresponding with a girl that I met at Ed and Dace’s wedding in October. Alise is a fellow European, but unlike me is still braving the frosty European winters. In Riga the temperature is currently -30C. Apparently if you could go from +41C to -30C instantly you would perish within a few minutes. Ok, I just made that up, but I will be able to shed some light on that theory when I head back to Europe next month. Alise and I will be spending some time together in Paris, Scotland, and Latvia when I go back ‘top-side’ in Feb/March. And of course, as you know already, I’m really looking forward to spending time with the family and celebrating Granny’s 90th birthday.

Aija and Alise

So, I hope that all goes some way to explaining the lengthy silence in the blogosphere. If I’d written as many words on this blog as I’ve sent to Latvia in the last 3 months, I could probably publish another book. On the plus side for the blog, at least I will be able to post some travel snaps with someone good looking in them this time. ;)

Famous last words, but more updates will follow soon! I’ve written an article on my friend Dom’s art Mardi Gras exhibition that I just have to talk about.There’s the trip to Nepal, and I have plenty to say about going back to Scotland. But next I’ll stick on some pics of two great parties – Summer On the Rooftop (with some pool action), and New Year on the Rooftop, which was spectacular.