After a delayed flight out of India, then not finding a stand-by seat out of London, I finally made it back to Calgary on Saturday. I was welcomed by the warm arms of my wife and the icy embrace of a Calgary cold snap. It was nearly 30 degrees when I got on the plane in Kolkata. When I got off the plane in Calgary it was minus 40 degrees with the wind-chill. Who needs anything like as amorphous as 'culture shock' when the landscape offers you actual physical shock.
My time home, however, will be short. I will be abroad again by mid-February visiting the West Bank Security barrier, the fencing around the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, and the fallen wall on the divided island of Cyprus. I've been to Israel and Palestine several times and I am excited to return, but I am most looking forward to Cyprus. Aside from a little history, I don't know very much about the place, but I can't imagine a Greek and Turk-populated island in the Mediterranean can be anything less than beautiful. Certainly the weather will be better.
I will spend the next couple of months writing down the material I managed to glean from my time in India. As I mentioned before, I will have to return to Kashmir - and visit the Pakistan side - in the spring or summer of 2009 to do my research on the Line of Control, but I probably have enough material on the Indo-Bangladesh border fencing. I won't know for sure until I get writing.
Another task I have to accomplish before I leave is to prepare a lecture for a monthly gathering of the Canadian Author's Association in Edmonton. I was honoured when they invited me to address their membership in January and speak about travel writing. Still, I am nervous. I have no problem reading from my work in front of a crowd, in fact I really enjoy it, but I have never stood before an audience and talked about my own writing process and philosophy. I am sure it will be a useful exercise but I am feeling rather jittery.