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April 04, 2007

India At A Crossroads, Part 2

Necklace from gem palace in Jaipur
Back from India, the Materialist was actually more moved by the holy city of Varanasi than by jewelry shopping in Jaipur -- where she bought this necklace.

by Wendy Perrin

If you were following our sister blogger The Materialist's travels through India, you know that she got so ill she projectile-vomited 12 times. Now recovered and back in the office, she is so effusive about Varanasi -- the subject of Tara's last post -- that we asked if she'd like to weigh in. Her take:

"La Perrin has been good enough to let the Materialist -- fresh back from India and 2 pounds lighter! -- butt in and add her two cents on Varanasi.  In doing so, the Materialist is going to become, for a few lines, uncharacteristically serious and DEEP and say that of her entire trip (including the jewel shopping in Jaipur), it was Varanasi that moved her most.  The Materialist will speak more of this in the India Iconic Itinerary feature she's writing for the September issue, so will say here only that no place more intensely nor truthfully captures the polarities, the brilliance and contradictions, of India -- its poverty and splendor; its despair and joy; its squalor and spectacle -- than Varanasi . . . .

Continue reading "India At A Crossroads, Part 2" »

April 04, 2007

India At A Crossroads

Man overlooking Ganges River
Man overlooking the Ganges from Varanasi in early March.
Photo: Ahmed Shihab-Eldin

By Tara Kyle

Our sister blogger The Materialist, back from two and a half weeks in India, was telling us today that, of all the places she saw, it was Varanasi, Hinduism's holiest city, that moved her the most. Varanasi came up because of a post we saw on one of our favorite travel blogs, Worldhum, about a five-part series NPR is airing this week, "The Ganges: A Journey into India."  On a 1,550-mile trip beginning in the Himalayas, Philip Reeves chronicles the complexities of a nation where burgeoning economic might coexists with abject poverty. The Ganges, which now hosts rafting trips for India's growing middle class, remains a key symbol of India's contradictions, particularly along its 7 kilometers passing through Varanasi.

Coincidentally, several classmates of mine at Columbia University's School of Journalism were just in Varanasi too, to report on India's religious traditions. In her daily dispatch, "A Sacred Space Soiled," Columbia grad student Neha Singh Gohil describes the dangers (typhoid, dysentery and polio among them) facing those whose faith compels them to bathe in the Ganges' polluted waters, and the battle to clean it up.

Continue reading "India At A Crossroads" »

October 05, 2006

Packing For Places With Scary Food

061005_foodsafety_1
Street stalls in India
Photo:  Indian Ministry of Health & Family Welfare

By Wendy Perrin

In my last post--the one about business travelers who take baby food with them to West Africa so they'll have something safe to eat--I asked readers what they pack for snacks when traveling to hygienically challenged parts of the world. After all, you can eat trail mix for only so many days.

Loyal reader joe_kayaker, winner of this month's prize for Best Comments Posted, shared this advice:

"As a regular traveler to India, and sometimes wilder places, I always pack several freeze-dried camping meals.  They're tastier than baby food (yup, I've tried it) and much lighter and more compact--big plusses when traveling. They're available at your local REI or camping store. You do need a source of boiling water, but in India there is almost always a tea kettle available. Boil suspect water for at least 15 minutes; better yet, boil bottled water."

Great idea, Joe.  Maybe I'll branch out from Clif Bars.  Thanks for all your enlightening tips.