Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Catching Up

Sorry, faithful readers, for the long delay. I was away -- in India.

A few thoughts about my time away:

* On the first day of my trip, India-themed Slumdog Millionaire won the Best Picture Oscar. As I've mentioned before, that was a good picture, but the love interest was not compelling. Let's face it, Jamal spends the whole time mooning after a woman he barely knows. So I liked it but I wouldn't put it quite in the "best picture" category.

* While we're talking about the film, there was an indignant article in the Hindustan Times criticizing the film for its "'factually incorrect' portrayal of foreigners’ shoes being stolen at Taj Mahal, and touts harassing tourists." Having now traveled to the Taj Mahal and many other tourists sites in India, I can certify that (a) no one ever tampered with my shoes, even though I had to leave them at the door many times, but (b) boy, was I harassed by touts. I had a marvelous time and I recommend India to others, but you definitely have to be prepared to have unwanted products and services thrust upon you aggressively many times each day.

* I worked my way through several India-themed books: Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake by the same author, George Orwell's Burmese Days (set in the period when Burma was part of India), and Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance. All quite good but very sad. I presume happy things happen in Indian literature sometimes. But not in these books. I recommend any of them, but reading them all in a row was rather depressing. Don't try that at home.

* I visited Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, and Varanasi. Highlights of the trip included the Presidential gardens in Delhi (magnificent, but only open in February), the Taj Mahal in Agra(however high your expectations are, it will exceed them), the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur (it looks like a bizarre, abstract sculpture garden, but it's actually an 18th-century astronomical observatory), the Fort in Jodhpur, the palace in Udaipur, and a sunrise boat trip on the Ganges in Varanasi.

Back to business.

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