Tuesday, February 9, 2010

India - A Passage to India

If you look, you will find many books and movies about India. Just last year, if you recall, the movie Slumdog Millionaire won best picture in the Academy Awards. I watched it in the theater with Christa (in the end, everyone applauded) and, later, when it came out on DVD, I watched it again with Kevin and John.

Earlier that year, the kids and I rented the movie Gandhi. I had seen it before, but it was a treat to watch with my children and to answer their questions. Why did someone kill Gandhi? Why did the British put Gandhi in jail? Why didn’t Gandhi wear regular clothes? They were mesmerized as they learned about one of the most admired men in history. There are so many lessons to be learned in this movie! I reminded my children that we don’t have to resort to violence. Look at Gandhi, he brought down an empire through persistence and courage, not with guns.

My mother’s favorite book series was Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott. The novel is set in 1942 in a fictional city in a British province of India. In 1984, the Jewel in the Crown series was made into a television movie about the final days of the British Raj.

Another favorite is E.M. Forester’s book A Passage to India. It was also made into a movie, which I highly recommend. It is set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s.

In a less serious characterization of India, Elizabeth Gilbert goes to an Indian Ashram in her book Eat, Pray, Love. She was newly divorced, fighting depression and hoped to find herself through travel. She wrote that in India she, “wanted to explore the art of devotion,” and I suppose that if someone were to run away, in search for the meaning of life, or something, one would chose India.

One can travel to India without ever leaving their chair, it seems. But to be spiritually captured and never set free, to experience somewhere you’ll never forget, whether you love it or hate it, one must go there - I can only imagine - I was so close when I lived in Burma, but never did I set foot in India.

To find Indian cuisine is as simple as finding a book on India. Indian restaurants are plentiful, and to make my life easier, we got our meal from an Indian restaurant in Oakville called Coriander Green. We ordered Samosa, roti, butter naan, chicken tikka – chicken marinated in yogurt and cooked in Tandoor, Palak Paneer – spinach cooked with cubes of cheese, spices, garlic and butter, and Shrimp Masala – shrimp cooked with onions, green/red peppers, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and other spices.

Kevin and I loved the food. The kids weren’t as crazy about it, especially the Palak Paneer. I admit, the spinach and cheese didn’t particularly look good, but it was delicious and it put me in the mood to watch or read a book about India.

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