I watched “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” on the flight to Delhi this week. If you don’t know the movie, it’s about a group of British retirees in various states of elder-hood who move into a retirement hotel in Rajasthan. I thought that the movie’s romanticized prism of India’s charms would put me in the right mood for returning home.
The movie has a talented cast but it doesn’t move beyond the stereotypes of what makes India incredible. There are a few sweet moments and a healthy offering of funny ones. The rest only lightly scratches the grimy surface of this country. However, it did make me feel good about coming home because for all the chaos and the sadness and the absurdities that prevail here, India is an interesting place to live.
(Remind me that I wrote this if I whine in later posts…!)
I landed in Delhi just after India’s staggering power blackout. More than a colossal 600 million people didn’t have electricity for over two days. That’s nearly two times the population of the US. It’s still unclear whether egregious mismanagement or a perfect storm of risks caused the grids to collapse.
The Government of India proved itself removed from its constituents when, in the middle of the black-out, it promoted the Power Minister to Home Minister.
I am easy prey to jet lag.
Tired of reading yet still awake last night, I watched my second movie in two days. This time it was one that took me out of India and back to my summer: Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Ah, Barcelona… what a civilized city! I rented an apartment there for two weeks and enrolled the boys in soccer camp. Barcelona is beautiful, flanked by sea and mountains, and hums with a pleasantness that’s highly inviting. There weren’t enough scenes of the city in the movie to satisfy me completely, but it was still fun to revisit on-screen the unforgettable Sagrada Familia and other structures designed by the Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi.
We spent a good amount of time on the highway driving across Spain, into Bordeaux and up to Paris. The long drives led to many silly road conversations. Eddie says that I’m a “sarcasm-er” and I learned that he thinks the word “biodegradable” means sex. (This is what happens when information filters through older siblings.)
I am grateful for the ubiquitous traffic circle in Spain and France. I know only a few polite words in Spanish or French and I am unfamiliar with the roads in both countries. I rarely took a “wrong” turn because I would drive in circles until my brain registered the correct exit. I can still hear the kids screaming, “We’re dizzy!”
We also survived seemingly endless hours on the road by listening to iTunes and local radio stations. Lala can belt Titanium (“You shoot me down, but I won’t fall… I am titanium”) like no other 13-year-old that I know, but she has to sing scary-loud to hit the high notes. I think there are still echos of her somewhere in France. I discovered Train’s new album “California 37” which has Drive By, the most-perfect road song. (“Oh I swear to you, I will be there for you, this is not a drive by — eye eye eye eye eye…”) The kids BEGGED me to stop singing.
I can’t say whether this is our last season in India, but I am going to pretend that it is and savor the goodness of it all. The stuff that drives me batty will be OK… because, as one of the characters insists in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, “Everything will be OK in the end, and if it’s not OK, then it’s not the end.”
(Pardon the many photos – they’re for the moms.)
We started our summer in Greece on a Livieratos family adventure to search for my grandfather’s village. In Athens:
Views from Agia Thecla, my grandfather’s village:
Beach days with the uncles were always a blast:
I call this one a beer with a view:
Our last day in Greece:
On to Barcelona and Futbol camp. Stretching beneath the Olympic torch:
Lala on top of Casa Mila:
A reunion of Global Girlfriends, Park Guell:
George in Sitges:
Eddie learning how to carry his surf board in Hossegor, France: (There are other great photos of him “surfing” on my Facebook page.)
Our nightly walks after dinner in Medoc:
Mud wars. This is what happens when mommy takes too long (and fails) to get the fishing rod to work. The beasts get restless and make their own fun…
I was running up a long hill one morning in Medoc and a cyclist, cruising down the hill at a fast pace held out his hand for me to catch this rose. I was reluctant to reach for it, fearing that I may knock him off balance, but I did, and it landed squarely in my hand:
On our last day in France we rode a ferris wheel in the Tuileries….
… and the kids declared it their best last day of vacation: