Showing posts from March, 2010

Love and Pudding in Old Calcutta

No money no honey, No chicken no curry, Full power twenty-four hour, No toilet no shower. —Obnoxious Indian Rhyme Rather than let this become a tale of three cities, my narrative will proceed quickly to Benares, as quickly as I traveled. It was 27 hours by train from Madras to Calcutta, and I thought to break this up by visiting a city halfway between in one of the states scarcely attended by tourists. The city I visited in Orissa is worth mentioning only once and in the following way: do not visit Bhubaneswar. It is interesting only because of the nearby Sun Temple, and the annoyance of the city’s rickshaw drivers, newly come down from a strike where they blocked all the roads and halted the city. At issue was the municipalities proposal of a few local city buses, which would have deprived them of business, and this in the context of a recent hike in gas prices to 50 rupees a gallon (and that’s more expensive than in the states). I arrived there in the morning and left at night; anot

The Southern Point

Open the door in front of me The sun is now shining down on me! Meet me as soon as you can, Bring me the money you owe for me. I’m taking my head out of the sand. Oh maybe I’ll go see the world! There’s plenty of places to see, Voices I never have heard, Look at the way it ought to be. Oh I’m all alone, oh I’m all alone, I know you're still listening to me, Isn’t a lot as far as I see. —The Walkmen I did not do much before we left Kochin. I bought a pair of jeans and leather shoes from a shop, and found on the street market a few weird Indian shirts and a blue Michelin vest with the crest of the Man stitched onto the breast. It had apparently been donated to the needy of India, only to be sold in a street corner. I sent all this stuff home in a package, sewed up in a white sheet and sealed with wax, as per Indian law. I ate Keralan food, spicy beef malabari , and a sort of curry with coconut and pineapple called shahikuruma . Lola and I left Kochin via a late bus an hour south to

Looking For Holi and Haveli

Tell the boys back home I’m doing just fine, I left my troubles and woe. So sing about me, For I can't come home, I’ve many more miles to go! So don't cry for me Because I’m going away, And I'll be back some lucky day. —Tom Waits The state of Kerala is distinguished from the rest of India by its small size, its muggy jungles and backwaters stretched along the feet of the Western Ghats; by its independent history and colorful culture, its matriarchal traditions, its kathakali story dances and kalarippayat martial arts, its traditional customs and devout Catholicism; its language, Malayalam, a relative of Tamil and as distinct from northern Hindi as is Russian; and by its freely elected communist government, the world’s only, which gives it India’s highest literacy rates, standard of living, and suicide count. Amma, the Hugging Mother, who lived at her massive pink ashram in the middle of the austere Keralan Backwaters where she grew up, who sometimes spent twenty hours hu