Friday, September 25, 2009

G20 proves frustrating but Pittsburghers a delight

PITTSBURGH -- I just spent two days at the G20 Summit here trying to keep global health on the leaders' agenda, as it had been in Washington in November 2008 when they pledged to work on achieving the Millennium Development Goals. But it was completely absent from their agenda in Pittsburgh. This was a disappointment, but the incredible graciousness of Pittsburghers helped make up for it. A few examples:

The night before the opening of the summit, I was having a drink with a friend at a bar across the street from Pirates Stadium where the Pirates were playing the Reds. I would have like to have gone but we were headed for a party in a couple of hours. Imagine my delight when a man came by and dropped two free tickets on us. Five minutes later we were inside the stadium with a very sparse crowd (people were not coming downtown because of the G20) on a beautiful September evening sitting in very good seats!

We had to leave early to attend a party hosted by Teresa Heinz Kerry to raise support for the fight against global warming at the Andy Warhol Museum which, by the way is fantastic. There was great New Orleans music - Cajun, rock and jazz -- and great food and drink. Not to mention the art of Andy Warhol. When we were leaving about midnight, we could not find a taxi and when we called were told that one could not come in less than 45 minutes. A lovely couple overheard us and offered us a ride to our hotel -- even though it was in the opposite direction from their house!

And on the last day of the summit, two Save the Children colleagues and I were walking to the media center through downtown Pittsburgh with a very high level of security. Even though it was Friday, very few places were open. But when we spotted a coffee shop with the catchy name of "Crazy Mocha" we had to stop. When we walked into the shop, the two employees cheered and applauded us. They were so bored from the lack of customers, that they had to express their joy at seeing us!

Pittsburgh is a far more interesting city than I every imagined populated by warm, wonderful and quirky people and I would go back anytime. A very underated and very American city! I highly recommend it.

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