Sunday, October 16, 2005

Blogging India at the Washington Post

This past weeke the Washington Post began running an interesting piece by Staff Writer, author of Suburban Sahibs, and (former SAJA President) S. Mitra Kalita’s ongoing Washington Post blog, India 2.0, chronicling her eight week trip to India.  Accompanied by photographer Andrea Bruce (see her recent WP Photo Exhibit here), Kalita departed for her trip before the recent earthquake disaster in India and Pakistan.  The scope of her blog looks to be very interesting and falls very-much into line with some of the things we like to focus on here.  Since her departure, and subsequent arrival in Delhi, Mitra has blogged on the departure pangs that many of us go through before leaving for the country of some of our parent’s birth, especially post liberalization of the early 1990s. 

“Yet again I am surrounded by suitcases and piles of clothing -- the bright pinks and oranges and magentas of East and the tans and blacks and navys of West -- and engaging in the giving and taking that foreshadows the semiannual rite of my hyphenated life: a trip to India.  Will I really wear these jeans? Or should I pack another salwar kameez? What's the point of taking so many saris if I still can't wrap myself in them properly.  These are familiar questions, posed since I was a little girl spending summer vacations in the land of my parents' birth. But as I look around my bedroom, I am struck by a stark difference between then and now.  There are no Nikes. No Walkmans. No Tang. No Pringles. No Guess. No Gap. No Minoltas. No socks. No razor blades. No microwaves (I swear we took one once.) In fact, I am taking no gifts, just a few requested items for my husband's cousin's family, who are hosting me. Among them: a Bose iPod speaker and Livestrong wristbands. I do not have an iPod and didn't know what the heck those bands were. Already, this American cousin feels she has been living in the Dark Ages.”
 She has also blogged on the South Asian earthquake and, the burgeoning mall culture that has taken over, not just India, but from my recent travels to South Asia, Sri Lanka as well.  She writes of a recent mall opening,
“Make no mistake about the "mall" moniker. In India, that means marble floors and glitzy storefront displays. Like many conveniences taken for granted in the West, the Indian counterpart tends to be equally rooted in providing the customer experience. (McDonald's, for example, might have a worker who pumps your ketchup.) So the opening of M.G. 2 (named for its location on Mehrauli Gurgaon Road and because it is adjacent to M.G. 1) served up a heavy dose of pomp and importance alongside glasses of Coke and mineral water, with trays of tofu triangles and asparagus bruschetta circulated by waiters.” 


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