29 November 2012

A swim AND a book review (no, you are not seeing things)

Earth-shattering news today.
I visited the pool this morning, got in the water and swam!  First time since OCTOBER.  And not October as in Halloween October.  October as in it's-still-practically-September-and-the-leaves-are-still-green kind of October.  I think that could be considered my longest break from the pool since I started doing triathlons more than 5 years ago.  I didn't forget how to swim and my flipturns were mostly OK.  But I have almost zero endurance and my arm muscles were wondering what the heck I was doing to them.  200yds into my warmup, my arms were on fire, screaming Uncle!!  Enough Already!!!  Kendra and I didn't have a set workout so we came up with one on the fly and made sure it included lots of time at the wall to recover (and chitchat - critical to the successful offseason swim session).
Like they say for running - the first step out the door is always the hardest one.  The first visit back to the pool is always the hardest; now that it is out of the way, hopefully December will have more frequent swim sessions (and I'm sure they will because Jen is pulling me back from the edge of offseason oblivion - all hail the return of daily Training Peaks emails!!)

I've not done a book review lately (been single-mindly focused on reading AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE so I'm not screwed in December and facing 20 books to reach my goal of 50 in 2012).  But this week I read a book I simply had to tell you about.  Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan.  As a way to kickstart his trip around the world, Grennan decided to volunteer for three months at an orphanage in Nepal (a way to off-set the self-indulgentness of such a trip, but also - in his words - impress the ladies).  In his book, he was very frank about his minimal (or nonexistent) experience with kids; but through his writing you could see how quickly he came to truly care about these kids and how this experience changed his life.  Nepal was in the midst of a civil war (govt vs the Maoists) during Grennan's many stays in Nepal - and over time it was revealed that the kids in the orphanage were not actually orphans.  A network of child traffickers had been preying on the fears of poor families living in areas cutoff from the rest of the country by the Maoists and for large sums of money, they promised these families that they would take their children out of harms way and enroll them in a boarding school in Kathmandu and make sure they were well taken care of.  Instead, the traffickers dumped the kids in the streets of Kathmandu, leaving children as young as 3 and 4 years old to fend for themselves.  When he learned how these children were really arriving in Kathmandu and why, Grennan makes it his mission to start finding some of the families in the hopes that someday these children could be reunited with their parents.  This book was extremely well written, engaging, humorous, and painted a sad/hopeful/beautiful picture of Nepal.  It wasn't a self-serving/self-aggrandizing book (it was not like Three Cups of Tea); instead, it was simply an honest account of one man's actions to help those less fortunate because it was the right thing to do.  Even though I only spent about three weeks in Nepal back in 2009, on a regular basis I still find myself thinking about the people I met.  Reading Grennan's story, how everyone refers to each other as brother or sister (dai or didi), the daily meals of daal bhaat (lentils and rice), and how caring and helpful and generous the Nepali people are, brought back alot of good memories.  Sadly, even though at the time I spoke about going back someday and trying to make a difference, I allowed life to get in the way and I've not returned.  I admire Conor Grennan and  his devotion to the children in the orphanages in Nepal.

If you only read one book between now and the end of 2012, make it this one.  It is a truly enjoyable read and proceeds from the book help fund Next Generation Nepal, Grennan's nonprofit organization.   Next Generation Nepal offers temporary care and education in transitional homes for these trafficked children while they await possible reunification with their families.

Kids are kids, no matter what country

With Sanu.  Lots of tikka = lots of luck


B.o.B. said...

How cool that you went to Nepal! I want to go there! I may need to pick up this book. Thanks for the review.

BTW, I haven't swam in a very long time either. I know my t-rex arms will be miserable.

bringonthepaincave said...

Conor was a fraternity brother of mine at UVA. Really cool to see his book and non-profit take off like they have.