In honor of my first ever cooking class (Indian themed) that I am taking next week, I thought I’d post an entry about India, a country I am both anxious and afraid to visit. Anxious because I don’t feel there exists a country in the world that is more exotic, colorful, mesmorizing (and crowded). Afraid because even though I’ve been whispered lewd comments by men in Latin American countries who thought I could not understand them, and gaped at by small children in South Korea as though I were a scary monster, I have never been asked by someone if they could touch my hair. A fellow red headed traveler told me that while at the Taj Mahal, she was an attraction as big as the famed 17th century palace. Apparently while touring the grounds, visitors flocked around her as if she were a rock star, some even requesting permission to touch her red hair. Being a shy person, I know this kind of unwarranted attention would majorly mess with my chi not to mention put a damper on my own touring experience of one of the “modern” wonders of the world.
As a lover of foreign cinema, I thought I would mention two excellent films about India. Both are set during colonial rule so they’re not exactly the happiest of stories, and yet what film about colonialism ever really is?
Image from dvdactive.com
Image from Junglekey.com
The one film, Before the Rains, takes place in the waning days of the British Raj (Raj is the name given to the period of British Colonial rule in South Asia between 1858 and 1947). The other, Cotton Mary, is set shortly after India achieved its independence from Britain. While very different, both films explore the delicate balance of culture, tradition, and the effects of colonialism.
Each film takes place in Kerala, a state located in the southwestern portion of the country. Described in Frommer’s India as being the country’s “most verdant state” and offering visitors a “seamless landscape of palm-lined beaches that rise to meet the steamy jungles and planation-covered hills,” it sounds like the most idlyllic of destinations. Of course the magic of cinematography is a major reason on why I enjoyed these films as much as I did. The “spice-scented cardamon hills” in Before the Rains, the lush pairing of English style architecture with the tropical brightness of India’s natural landscape as seen in Cotton Mary, made me feel as though I were in Kerala myself.
Image from Indialine.com
Image from Keralabackwatertour.org
And in closing, the India themed dinner I made tonight:
Baked chicken curry, coconut rice and my own parathas
Julie is a librarian by day, die-hard travel fanatic and writer by night. When she’s not traveling, she’s either testing out a new recipe or being a foodie in Pittsburgh. If you're interested in seeing where she travels to or what she makes next, follow along via the links below!