Friday, June 24, 2011
Friday Links: The June Swoon Edition
So, as typically happens post-blogathon, I fell into a bit of a June swoon. This one was delayed temporarily by the V.S. Naipaul flap, but it arrived nonetheless.
These links have been piling up, and the time has come to share them. I'm hoping that this time of rest in June will stoke my blogging energy again, so that I'll be back more regularly in July. Until then, a lot of links!
The India Links
The New York Times is running a series of pieces about India, and it's not surprising I'm finding them fascinating. A couple of weeks ago, they ran a piece about Gurgaon and how the city has been built up basically without any infrastructure. I had never spent any time in Gurgaon before Sunil moved there, and it is a very strange place. I went to one mall that is glitzier than any mall I've ever been in in the U.S., and I've watched Sunil's street being torn up for a very belated installation of sewer pipes. I've seen the fleets of cars waiting outside the multinational companies whose offices are in Gurgaon, and I've bumped along the truly terrible roads right next to them. It's rare to think of Delhi as organized in any way, but compared to Gurgaon it is.
Jim Yardley's article on Gurgaon
Jim Yardley answers questions about the piece and Gurgaon
The NYT Gurgaon slideshow
The slide with evidence that more than one pink-topped rickshaw exists!
My final India link is unrelated to Gurgaon. A few weeks ago, I had one of those frantic meet-in-the-aisles-of-Trader-Joes catch-ups with an old friend. She had her 3 month old baby in a front pack (last time I'd seen her, she had only a toddler; now there are 2!) and was supposed to be buying food for dinner. While her very patient baby waited, we gabbed hurriedly in the frozen food aisle. And she told me about a blog I'd never heard of about Indian food. The blog, Eat and Dust (a play, of course, on the title of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's 1975 novel, Heat and Dust, made into a movie in 1983 with Julie Christie, Greta Scacchi and Zakir Hussein) is written by a British woman, Pamela Timms, who's lived in Delhi for a number of years with her family. (Her husband is the South Asia correspondent for the Telegraph.) Her specialty is Delhi street food. I've only begun to explore the blog, but it's right up my alley.
A Telegraph article about Pamela Timms (They call her the "Delia of Old Delhi.")
The Obituary Links
It seemed an interesting coincidence that on the day when there were already all these India-related pieces in the NY Times, there was also the obituary of M.F. Husain, one of the most famous painters to come out of modern India:
Husain died at 95. It was clearly a bad week for talented nonagenarians, as the next day, obits for the travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor appeared.
I had only vaguely heard of Fermor before Anthony Lane wrote a fascinating profile of him in the New Yorker in 2006. It may only be available to subscribers, but it's totally worth a read.
Anthony Lane on Patrick Leigh Fermor, 2006
Anthony Lane's response to Fermor's death, June 2011
Patrick Leigh Fermor Guardian obit
Patrick Leigh Fermor New York Times obit
The Local Links
We've had good news and bad news here in Western Massachusetts in the past 10 days or so.
The good news is that Amherst College, my alma mater, has named Carolyn "Biddy" Martin to be its 19th president. She will be the first woman president and the first openly gay president. Amherst was founded in 1821 and went coed in 1976. That's 155 years of being a men's college. When I was there in the mid-late 1980's, it felt more like a men's school that let women attend than a truly coed college. That's changed in the past 20 years, certainly, but this is a big step, and I'm delighted that they've finally taken it.
Amherst's announcement on Biddy Martin
New York Times piece on Biddy Martin
The bad news came a few days later. Our beloved local video store, Pleasant St. Video, announced that they are closing in July. They've been a fixture in downtown Northampton for 25 years. I've been a member for 16 of those years; I joined when I moved back to this area in 1995. Not only do they have a great collection, it's the kind of place where you might run in to pick something up and end up staying there much longer than planned because you're chatting with the folks at the counter or watching whatever movie is playing on the TV in the corner.
They are going out on their own terms, at least. The store didn't close overnight, and they are undertaking a fundraising effort to save their huge, varied, quirky collection by having people donate to the Forbes library in Northampton. For every $8 donation, they'll give Forbes a DVD. They're letting people donate generally or to save specific titles. (I wanted to save "Slings and Arrows," but someone else had claimed it, so I saved the films of Mira Nair instead, even though I haven't actually seen all of them.) It turns out that you can donate credits to save films also, and I have more than 30 credits on file with them. (I always bought credits in advance, and I have to admit that I wondered when I bought my last batch of credits last fall whether I'd use them all before the store closed.) I've already donated some to bolster my crush on Bill Nighy by saving the UK version of State of Play and a somewhat obscure but quite wonderful British film called The Lawless Heart, which Alex and I watched years ago and which I've always wanted to see again. I have a bit more time to decide. Meanwhile, according to the local NPR station, they raised $20,000 the first week, about a third of what they need to save whole collection. Let's hope the momentum continues.
Pleasant Street Video's Save the Catalog page
The local NPR station on Pleasant Street's Closing
The Valley Advocate on the end of Pleasant Street Video