Vicky Collins Online

A Blog With Superpowers


2 Comments

The Camel and the Cell Phone

Andres from Switzerland, his girlfriend, Paola from Brazil and I were riding on camels in the Thar Desert outside of the western Indian town of Jaisalmer. We were in a spot as remote as I’ve ever been, 21 hours by train from Delhi, just 60 kilometers from the border with Pakistan. It’s a flat, arid locale, punctuated by sand dunes and populated by only villagers, camel wallas and shepherds with their flocks of sheep and goats. To me it was a place that time forgot, more like the Middle East than India. It probably hasn’t changed much at all in a thousand years. I felt like a silk or spice trader heading west into the desert. I was deep into my reverie on a camel named Michael when suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by the Nokia ringtone. Dadadadadadadadadadadadada. It seemed our guide, Ali, was a very popular man. For the entire camel safari his cell phone rang. It rang on the sand dunes, it rang under the tree where we stopped to have our vegetables and chapati lunch, it rang at sundown while we were drinking our beer. It rang after we went to bed under the stars and it was the first sound I heard at sunrise. The Nokia ringtone, piercing the tranquility of the desert.

 

Ali and his cell phone

 

The Lonely Planet guide book said the power generating wind turbines that have sprouted around Jaisalmer were altering the historic and mystical qualities of the area, that they made it harder to transport yourself to another time and place. But I barely noticed them. I found it was Ali’s cell phone that kept me coming back to now. I had a similar experience while working at the Olympics in Beijing. Dean, Jim and I took a day trip to hike the Great Wall of China. We climbed in Hebei Province, in Inner Mongolia, about two and a half hours outside of Beijing. We took a 10 kilometer trek from Jinshanling to Sumatai. Up and down stairsteps in a place far out of the way. Yet there was cell service. No place this remote would be served by AT&T in the U.S.A. My colleague, Jim, who probably shouldn’t have been on the adventure because he was so busy with his Olympic assignment as the head technical supervisor of the Bird’s Nest Stadium, spent the entire trip talking on his cell phone. I have no idea how he managed to catch his breath as he scrambled up and down the mountainside. It was truly the most difficult physical challenge of my life, yet he yakked the whole way on his mobile.

We have gotten to a place where we are so interconnected that you can no longer escape, even in some of the most remote spots on earth. While in India I have stayed in touch with friends by Skype, email and Facebook. I tuned in to an computer chat on http://msnbc.msn.com that my friend, Kerry Sanders, a correspondent for NBC News, was holding as he covered the rescue of the miners from Chile. There was really no update from family, friends and colleagues that was inaccessible to me from a half a world away. And even though I am grateful for all the technology and connectedness at my fingertips, and understand the need of the camel walla to stay in touch with his people when he travels through the desert too, I still wish the only sounds that day were my thoughts, the wind and the camels, and not Ali’s incessant Nokia ringtone.

For more on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Hockey Night in Canada

I was in a beer garden in Vancouver’s Yaletown when a guy draped in an American flag strutted in.  He was carrying on like Superman, all layered up in red, white and blue and making lots of noise.  Boy, did he rile up the Canadians.  After all today is the Canada versus USA men’s hockey match and as friendly as we are with our neighbors to the north, this is war.  The crowd started hooting and hollering and singing “Oh Canada.”  I was talking to my new friend, Scott, and he explained it to me.  Every little kid in Canada, no matter what their circumstances, believes that they can grow up to be a hockey icon like Wayne Gretzky.  If you think there is pressure on Canadians to win gold at these Olympics, consider the hockey team.  Hockey is right up there with mom and Canadians are getting revved up already for the big showdown.  Anything short of a gold medal will be a crushing defeat in this country.

On Thursday night when I was coming back to my hotel I noticed it was particularly celebratory.  I assumed Canada had won some coveted gold medal.  But no!  What really happened was the Canadian hockey team barely escaped the incredible humiliation of being beaten by Switzerland at home.  They could not have recovered from such a disgrace and even if they won the gold medal, Scott told me, they would be reminded that they lost to the Swiss.  Canadians still have not forgiven their hockey team for coming in 7th at the 2006 Olympics in Torino.  It is hard for me to imagine what a scene it will be here in Vancouver tonight when one of the most anticipated matches of the games is played.  The 2010 Olymic winter games is being hailed as the greatest hockey tournament ever and already rowdy fans are banging a drum outside my hotel in anticipation of the battle that looms.  It’s hockey night in Canada.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.