Bhutan is a small Himalayan country one associates with Shangri-la. Physically it is beautiful, and its people and culture are enlightened by Buddhist values and practices. All around, in cities and villages, even the lowliest home or store is decorated with painted patterns found also in temples and dzongs (fortresses).

Bhutan has been a hereditary kingdom for the past 100 years, previously having been ruled by landowning governors. The current king, 32 years old, is the Fifth King; he succeeded his father, the still living Fourth King, who decided to retire a few years ago and abdicated. Prince Charles should be so lucky. The current king and queen were married last year, and their photo is everywhere. The William and Kate of Asia.

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The title of this post should generate some attention! First, PURPLE. As my friends and family well know, I love purple, have many purple clothes. The amethyst stone is my (February) birthstone, and I’m lucky enough to have a few of those, too. I hope you will all note my redesigned PURPLE website.

Now to the PASSION part. Recently, I was honored by the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation with an Immigrant Heritage Award. The event was a dinner with nearly 400 attendees at the Hilton Financial District Hotel here in San Francisco. Fellow honorees were Yuan Yuan Tan, the China-born principal ballerina of the San Francisco Ballet; Vish Mishra, an Indian native and Silicon Valley entrepreneur; and, as an institution, the historic Chinese Hospital of San Francisco. Angel Island could be called the “West Coast Ellis Island,” and the foundation strives to keep the memories of immigrant stories alive through exhibits and oral history recordings.

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First, let me express my condolences on the Oscars. I know you put your heart and soul into all your projects, and “The Descendants” and “The Ides of March” certainly reflected your talent and hard work.

That said, I want to tell you how excited I am about your forthcoming movie project involving the Monuments Men, the art historians and curators whose work in the wake of Nazi art looting tried to bring a just resolution to that segment of Hitler’s war crimes. Despite their efforts and the documentation furnished through German efficiency, this endeavor didn’t totally fix the problems or end the claims and injustice. It’s remarkable to me that today, nearly 67 years after the end of World War II, heirs and other descendants of victims are still fighting battles to reclaim stolen property. There are a few actual survivors who remember the actual occurrences, but fewer and fewer. There’s even a regular online newsletter called looted

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Your support is very important to me. However, through tech world mysteries and (my website guru tells me) some mergers and acquisitions, I cannot retrieve the list of who you are. I am working on a new list service to remedy this problem and keep you informed about speaking appearances and other book news, as well as blog posts. Soon there will be a new sign-up mechanism on my site, but you can assure your spot right away by contacting me directly.


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Lamp Shade Tower at Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art


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You’ve heard of the Tiger Mom? The Panda Dad? Well, meet the Jewish Popo!

Popo is the Chinese word that in Mandarin means the mother-in-law on the husband’s side. I’ve also seen it defined as old woman (ahem!) and grandmother (someday soon, I hope). When I’ve asked my son in Beijing, Jonathan, why there’s a special name for the mother-in-law or grandma from the husband’s side, he said it’s because of the traditional dominance of that side in Chinese marriage customs: the bride would go over to her husband’s family. I’ve also seen a chart of family relationship names, and it seems that all sides have specific words for them.

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It’s Tuesday, June 21, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest in the Southern Hemisphere, which we just left. And, given the length of this trip, this June 21 will be our longest June 21 ever. It’s been a fantastic journey, but we’re looking forward to getting back to San Francisco, where we will have some special guests from Beijing (guess who?) already in residence.

Here are some photos from our four days in gorgeous Cape Town.

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If you’re interested, please recheck the blog for photos now up!

Cape Town blog to follow (maybe from the airport tomorrow night? SOOO much to do in this gorgeous city!).

And, by the way, in case you wondered, we DID end up seeing the BIG FIVE: finally caught up to a leopard or two in Botswana. But once it was at night and once well hidden in trees, so our photos weren’t good  (you can’t really tell it’s a leopard) and we will get some from one of the better photographers.

I thought they’d down (up?) loaded, but apparently not. Will try to add later. Sorry. Cape Town fantastic, a great place to re-enter civilization!

Thursday, June 16

We’re in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (vs. the Zambian side of the Falls, which is outside the city of Livingstone). We’ve been here since Tuesday afternoon, staying at an actual lodge with walls and windows, which makes the nights a whole lot warmer than the last camp and a whole lot less scary than them all (though there’s a watering hole down the hill from the lodge, and reportedly a killer elephant in area).

Having been to Iguassu Falls in Argentina (and Niagara), I can say that Victoria Falls is at least as spectacular, but it’s impossible to compare the three. We were offered the opportunity to sign up to bungee jump or swing (zip line) from the bridge over the falls between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Uh—I don’t think so. Ditto for helicopter rides over. Just being here is enough of a thrill! (And Eli and I DID volunteer to be among the three group members to take yet another four-seater plane ride between Hwange and “Vic Falls.”

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