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47 Aerogrammes: A Passage through India 1969-1970

"Scratch a cynic, and you will find a disappointed idealist."George Carlin's insightful observation accurately described Frank Young on the day of his high school graduation in 1968. Growing up in the small San Joaquin Valley town of Modesto, California, his view of the world was the one he wished it to be rather than the one that existed outside his community. That would change dramatically on a sultry evening in 1969 when he set foot in India.With Bangalore as the backdrop, 47 Aerogrammes charts Frank's journey in a remarkable country that would shape this nineteen-year-old's view of the world and change him in ways he could never have imagined. Landing in Calcutta in September 1969 with sixty-two other classmates from Callison College in Stockton, California, he quickly confronted the reality he would face over the next nine months: how does one break free from one's comfort zone and adapt to a culture that bears little resemblance to your home 8700 miles away? In countless encounters with people and places as he crisscrossed the Indian subcontinent, his passage through India became his passage to adulthood. From the generosity of strangers in cities and villages, to unctuous bureaucrats, to an orthodox Brahmin family who demonstrated that parental love speaks the same language in any culture, his year in India transformed him in ways neither friends nor family back home would recognize. But his biggest revelation came four decades later upon landing in New Delhi as a foreign service officer on assignment in India for the US Agency for International Development: the transformation had never stopped. Through journals, letters and photographs taken a half century ago, this book takes the reader through Frank's many adventures where at the end of the day, "In India, anything is possible."

--Frank J. Young

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