The Gift

Samden gathered his papers, stuffed them into a backpack and, with the briefest of nods to an acquaintance, skirted the quickly coalescing lines for the buffet and walked rapidly out of the lofty conference hall. He backed out his motorcycle and manoeuvred it with some difficulty through the honking masses of SUVs heading out of the hotel grounds. Climate change! They could take their climate change and stuff it, all the way to Kyoto, Bali and Copenhagen. Hot air inside and outside, it was all a farce. He gritted his teeth at the thought of having to write an editorial for the Herald, and cursed himself for volunteering in the first place.

The city's traffic absorbed him all the way home. But as soon as he walked into the relative peace of the ground-floor flat he shared with his wife and daughter, frustration overwhelmed him. He couldn't quite understand why the conference had bothered him so, in the final analysis. It wasn't the enormity of the task of dealing with climate change. He was familiar enough with the problems and the solutions, and the two-day regional meet had done a good job filling in the gaps. But nothing could mask the emptiness of the speeches from those who mattered the most – the empty, cynical exhortations by talking heads who did not even understand what climate change was, did not really care, and prided themselves on riding the 'green wave'. Yes, it was this that had maddened him.

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Himal Southasian