Saturday, May 05, 2007

Heading to the other side of the planet

Tomorrow's a big day in my crazy life when I step out of the family minivan at the airport and kiss my brood goodbye for a few days. They'll head home, and I'll get on a plane that will take me to another plane, which will take me to yet another plane that will ultimately carry me halfway around the world.

By the time I land, I'll be in Shanghai, China to attend a major mobility conference hosted by HP. I've been invited there because my research often touches on the mobile space, its impact on business, and on the lives of the people who use it. I write about this stuff because I use it every day, and I love the sense of discovery that typifies this market.

It's difficult to describe what I'm feeling right about now. I'm nervously excited (or excitedly nervous; I'm kinda flip-flopping.) I'm hoping that I perform well enough within my peer group that they feel confident that they invited the right guy. I work in an intangible business where our currency is our intelligence. My track record as an analyst got me invited, and I'm hoping my onsite contributions ensure future invitations. I'm retentive that way.

I'm bringing a camera - alas, not the Nikon because big cameras with big lenses don't always mesh well with some places on the planet - with lots of batteries and memory cards. I'll do my best to capture the spirit of this place, even as I try to adapt to a time zone 12 hours ahead of home. I'll be in a place where I understand barely a word of the local language, and will be surrounded by an environment that's so different from my own that I hardly know what to expect.

But that's part of the adventure, after all. Knowing it all in advance wouldn't be nearly as much fun, and part of me looks forward to learning about a place I've only read about in books and online.

Over the next week or so, expect postings to be somewhat chaotic. I've advance-written some draft entries, and will do my best to publish them from my oriental venue. But in case I don't, please feel free to dig into my archives - there's lots of old material to read - and share a thought in a comment.

Or you can visit my wife so she feels a little less alone. Granted, she'll have plenty on her plate as she keeps our three kids and furry being on track through the week. But a happy word from a reader will probably make her smile.

I'm also bringing a notebook. Spiral-bound and paper-based. With a pen, too! In case the technology thing doesn't allow me to connect into my usual haunts, some ink on paper will hold me over until I get back. I have an image in my mind's eye of sitting by an aircraft window thousands of miles away from the nearest land, silently scribbling my idle thoughts into my notebook. For all my techno-geekiness, there's something elementally comforting about reverting to something that doesn't rely on a battery or a cable.

My hope is that the solo business travel eventually morphs into something a little more family-friendly. For all the times I've left them alone, they deserve to experience the world alongside me. Time will tell.

Your turn: You're alone in a distant, strange place. Paint the scene for us, please.


YellowRose said...

Hi Carmi, off to Shanghai I see! What fun!!! These are the things that make life interesting...enjoy and I'll be checking in to see what you are up to in China! :)

Safe travels! Oh and Michele sent me today!

sage said...

I had to come hear what's up with China. Have a blast. I've been to Asia twice and they were both trips of a lifetime. Take plenty of pictures and make plenty of notes for future entries. Good luck.

Catherine said...

Have a wonderful trip! I like pen and paper myself, I still prefer to write poetry that way. And I like to edit on paper too, I used to write my "mature student" assignments on the computer, but I would print them out and scribble corrections on them before editing in the computer. Paper is somehow friendlier than the screen.

Diane said...

Can't wait to hear about your trip, and while you'll miss your family, I think that sometimes travelling alone opens one up to a whole new world of experiences!

Michele sent me

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh I just want to say I hope your trip is very very successful...I KNOW IT WILL BE CARMI...I don't think you could dissapoint...And I believe you will be invited back, too!(lol)
Safe traveling, my dear...!

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I bet you'll have some gorgeous pictures to share when you get home. Enjoy your trip and have a safe one.

here from Michele's today..

Unknown said...

Oh, I'm so jealous. I would LOVE to visit Shanghai. I've read a lot about the former Jewish community there (isn't that an oxymoron?) and it's history between the WWs. It's a fascinating place.

The place I've felt the most alone and out of my environment was when I got sick in Morocco and spent 6 weeks in a hospital. First in Fez, and then in Marrakesh, where they moved me. People spoke Arabic and French. I spoke English, Hebrew, and Spanish. Let us say communication was at a standstill when someone from the embassy wasn't there to translate.

~Alexandra's Friend~ said...

Hello Carmi
Thanks for just leaving your wonderful comment at my place :) I love your writing and so I really appreciate your comment even more!

Shanghai.....I'm so jealous. You'll have fabulous pictures and we can't wiat to see them. And good luck with the work!!

Oh, and I mainly write on my laptop but I love writing letters by feels like I'm really making an effort :)

Bobkat said...

Just popped over to wish you loads of luck - what an adventure!

Be sure to capture whatever you can. I knew someone who lived inShanghai as an ex-pat. Be prepared to be taller then the locals and to stick out quite a bit. I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time. All the best! You'll do great I know :)

b13 said...

I hope you have a wonderful time. Just don't indulge in the dog there. They are meant to fetch... not be filleted :(

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an adventure. China's likely to heat up and inspire your already on fire inspired lens.

Anonymous said...

Hope you have a nice trip in Shanghai. I've heard that the food there is great according to my Chinese friend who hails from Shanghai as well.

Anyway, Michele sent me!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Travel safe, love.

Wish I'd been better organized; one of #1's school friends' moms is currently there. She's a Chinese National. Would have been a good resource for you if you needed her.

Anna said...

When I am alone and feeling out of place....I grab my camera and make myself at home. :) Something tells me that you will do the same!

Have a great trip Carmi...

Take care.

Anonymous said...

First time in China? How exciting! I hope it goes well. You'll be great!

Anonymous said...

Have fun in Shanghai! I've never been anywhere but America & Canada (& then only about 10 miles over the border from Pittsburgh New Hampshire!) I envy you your travel but hope to do some myself once my kids are all grown up!
Here from Micheles tonight.

CG said...

Good luck and enjoy, Carmi, will miss you. I agree with anna...a camera helps me every time!!

Lifelong Learner said...

You will LOVE it over here. I will enjoy seeing the images you come up with. Sometimes being over here, we forget what it was like to step off of that plane and experience China up close and personal for the first time. (If only you could send smells over the internet as well!)
Enjoy the noodles, the bustling city life. I'll wave to you from across the straights. And plan to take the wife and kiddos with you. China has to be experienced first hand!

I'll have to post about my time on the other side of the planet some other time. It really is an experience.

Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Geeze, mean to tell me you can't find a Chinese restaurant somewhere in your neighborhood?'re not going for the food?
Seriously.......Bon Voyage to you! Congrats on being chosen to be there. What an adventure you have ahead of you! Come back and tell us all about it.

Carli N. Wendell said...

Have a good time. I finally understand your gmail tag.

longspider said...

Good luck on you big adventure! I've always wanted to visit China... such a different world from our own. Can't wait 'til you come back with photos!

Btw - I love writing with a pen on a pad of paper and frequently write down my initial thoughts or story ideas by hand... it is like the paper inspires a different kind of creativity, or something. Something about the media being the message, I think. And I love the smell of paper - like when you open a new book for the first time :)

longspider said...

that would be *medium being the message.. think I wrote media but not sure because of your comment moderation, hehe

sonia a. mascaro said...

Just great, Carmi!
I hope you have a fantastic time!
Good luck and all my best to you!

Moon said...

Can't wait to see pics...have an awesome time..memorize many moments ..the camera will help lol...what an awesome place to visit.
My sister was there last yr for work, went back last Feb with her husband for vacation. She also traveled all over for her photography career and China was one of those places that she said, every time she turned a corner her first thought was '' I wish Glen (her husband) was here to see this with me. So they went back together...I bet u will feel the same and wish your family was there to share the sights along side u said..maybe some day.
Have fun, good luck, and get home safe and sound. Look forward to u sharing your travels with us all.