Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So, anyway...

the Oxford admission came through. I am still ridiculously excited and it has made all this decision making much easier, since it really was my first choice above and beyond anything else. Still don't know details of college and funding, but keeping my fingers crossed and hoping things work out.

In other news, off to Bali for a week today. Will be back with photos - and yes, more need to be posted.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Back - photos, links etc.

Back after almost a month on the road - with so many stories and close to 2000 photographs as memories. 

I got back a couple of days ago and went out and bought my new computer - a macbook! - and it has totally hogged my time when I should actually be doing other stuff - like packing. I have to wrap up five years of my life and some of it is already in boxes but just looking at everything around has me reeling. Most clothes, bags, shoes will be given away but its the books that are everywhere that are giving me a nightmare. And I have today and tomorrow to finish off all this - my mom is visiting me (it's the first time she has really, save a brief stop for graduation) but then I am off to Bali for about 8 days and then get back and leave for India immediately. Sigh, time. 

In the midst of all this, this blog also turned three sometime this month. I can't really believe what started as a lark has actually continued for so long - I haven't been writing much on books or movies over the past year because my reading habits suffered greatly at work but I have all summer and hope to rectify that. When I started off here I was just getting interested in photography and I think more than anything this blog has been a great platform to share photos and has helped me get better at it, too - or so I hope and think.

Meanwhile, while I was on the road there were a number of posts that just reiterated why I love blogistan so much. Things you must read. There were two conversations over at Chapati Mystery I followed every time I had access to the net - the conversation between Qalandar and Conrad Barwa on this post about Wendy Doniger's The Hindus - An Alternate History and Doniger's response here. (I read bits and pieces of the book a few months ago - a family friend in the publishing industry had sent over an advanced copy - before my uncle usurped it, but am itching to read the whole book). Also Sepoy's post on Anurag Kashyap's Gulaal led to an amazing and very informative conversation between Qalandar and Conrad Barwa again. Qalandar's reading and knowledge of movies always blows me away but this was just amazing - I had nothing remotely interesting to add to the conversation that was taking place and was just happy to sit back and read it. Qalandar's review of the movie here.

Over at Beth's blog Teju Cole had a wonderful guest post with photos on Italy, Angels in Winter. And The Cassandra Pages itself turned six, prompting a wonderful and introspective post from Beth herself. And finally, via Rahul, Matt Taibbi on what really happened/ is happening at AIG and the stinky details of the bail out.

To end, some photos. Lovely, peaceful Buddhas.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hanoi Blues

Hanoi is an assault on the senses. I spent a few hours here at the begining of the Vietnam leg of the trip while waiting for the night train to Danang but I didn't hit me as much then - maybe because things quiten down in the evening. But I think its mostly that I am making my way here after spending the last couple of days in Ninh Binh, which have to count as the most amazing, beautiful and peaceful I have had on the trip so far.

I wasn't even staying in the town - more like ten kilometers outside of it with the most amazing landscape outside - rice paddies galore with lime stone karsts abounding in the background. I saw more shades of green than I could care to name. I went motorbiking one day - my adorable motorbike driver spoke no English and I had to use more French than I have in years, but he was lovely and utterly amused that I wanted to stop everywhere to take pictures - I didn't take nearly enough (some three hundred or so), mostly because after a while it just seemed pointless and photos just couldn't capture anything, really. We made our way through back alleys of villages, riding on the soil boundaries that demarcate the paddy fields, to ponds where people were fishing for escargots. It was bliss. I didn't see another tourist for miles, I was the only one staying at my guesthouse and the only sounds I heard apart from the patter of rain and the rustle of the rice fields, were of the ocassional motorbike.

And now Hanoi is just noise and chaos and full of touts and American accents. I think I just need time to recover and I might like it, but if I could I would be on the next bus back.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Wat Si Saket, Vientiane

Lovely as Vietnam is, I miss Laos terribly. I adored the place and the people and was lucky to have some wonderful traveling companions who I met on the road (though that has been true of Vietnam too).

Am exhausted as I write this, having spent the day on a motorbike visiting old tombs and rice fields around Hue, now waiting for my pick up for an over night bus ride. Only another five days of traveling left.

In other news, happiness abounds - I got through Michigan, Ann Arbor (with a fellowship! Though it sadly doesn't cover all my expenses) and also Harvard (first without any funding, but now apparently they are offering me some, though its very minimal). All things considered I think I would still go to London, though my family is having a collective heart attack that I would even consider (gasp!) rejecting Harvard. Let's see - but London >>>>> Boston!

Monday, March 16, 2009