By the time you read this I'll doubtless be in Bogotá. And I will doubtless be treated with great kindness. Such has been the nature of 99% of my experiences outside the U.S. (and in!) over the years.
Yet for reasons beyond simple logic, I must pause and offer a big-humongous "thank you" to my hosts in Abu Dhabi. I can't measure it on any scale, but the kindness and thoughtfulness and engagement I experienced are way out on the tip of the tail of a normal distribution that encompasses all 3,000 (more or less) of my speeches.
One tiny episode is characteristic. Quite unusually (thank God), I picked up some damnable airplane bug-virus, and my voice was, almost instantaneously, cracking and unclear and sliding downhill. During the coffee time before the seminar, while croaking to one of my hosts, he suddenly turned on a dime and said, "We must get you hot water with honey and ginger." Magically, he managed to make it happen in a flash.
If you were a 100% cynic you could call it a matter of self-interest. But the genuine concern with which it was done was, well, wonderful. Throughout the croaky day, various folks told me to "calm down, save your voice." Etc. Etc.
The wee example is indeed characteristic—but the overall warmth from everyone I crossed paths with will nurture me for a long time to come.
(I think it's why I keep doing what I'm doing.)
(FYI, the honey-ginger-hot water mix was a great help.)
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.
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