The day after I landed in Mumbai on vacation, I started reading Pico Iyer’s Tropical Classical. Pico Iyer’s one of my favorite writers of any kind now. He is ostensibly a travel writer. However, his writing resonates as not just a chronicle of new places, sights and sounds, but of journeys within.
But the problem is, reading Pico Iyer while traveling yourself doesn’t seem to work. India is home, but it’s also a journey of sorts, as every trip here is an exercise in melding the familiar with the unfamiliar.
Going to a completely new place is one thing. Going to a place that’s at once familiar (and holds memories) and seeing it changed in 18 months to something that’s different (though not different enough) is disorienting. It’s disorienting enough that reading of religiosity in Ethiopia or tango in Buenos Aires seems just redundant.
Finally, I just gave up. Reading Gurcharan Das’ The Elephant Paradigm seemed more appropriate.