Art, History, India

Jodphur Revisited

By the time we got to Jodphur during my fall trip to India, I wasn’t feeling too well, and the only thing I wanted to do was go to bed.  That meant I missed most of what the Blue City had to offer.  Little did I know that I would get a second chance to experience its wonders at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

IMG_1020Peacock in the Desert is an exhibit representing centuries of royal treasures never seen before outside palace walls.  What they represent is the history of the Rathores who are still Jodphur’s royal family.  This incredible exhibit reminded me of so many things I learned and loved during my travels in Rajasthan. 

IMG_1023The lavish life of the maharajas made such an impression.  Whether they were transported by elaborately adorned elephants,

IMG_1045born in splendid palanquins

IMG_1077or driven in a Rolls Royce theirs appeared to be a pampered lifestyle.

IMG_1037 (2)Royal wealth and power were often depicted in art.  A maharaja was regarded in so many ways: a warrior and diplomat, a connoisseur of the arts and material pleasures.

The material pleasures were many be they weapons or beautifully cast pieces of gold and silver.

IMG_1050On the trip, I was very curious about the role of women so it was interesting to study the exhibit in this context.  In the royal environment, women appeared to have a good life.  They often maintained personal shrines, such as this one dedicated to Krishna, where daily worship rituals were conducted.

IMG_1053Royal women had baradaris, a pavilion that could be taken apart and transported from place to place for festivals, game playing or formal state occasions.  It struck me as fun to have a traveling entertainment center!

Then as now, women seem to be drawn to sparkle and adorned themselves with bangles and colorful and bejeweled clothing.

IMG_1056What they received for their dowries wasn’t bad either!

IMG_1061Throughout the exhibit were wonderful paintings that brought back memories of the intricate and detailed pieces that were observed throughout Rajasthan.  

IMG_1072So small are some of the images that one has to look closely in order not to miss them as in this hunting scene.

IMG_1042I loved this piece not only for its detail and color but for the peacock in the clouds which seemed an early reference to flight.

IMG_1038For the boys in the family, I bought turbans so I was quite drawn to this colorful wall of turbans which taught something new.  A turban represents pride and valor. Though made from similar materials, each unique style identifies community.

IMG_1075There was so much to see in Peacock in the Desert, perhaps more than I would have had opportunity to view in Jodphur so spending several hours roaming the space at the museum was a wonderful experience.  When I saw the model of the palace where the royal family lives today, I was somewhat blown away wondering how if would be possible to care for so many rooms.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

entertainment, musings, Random

Hamilton: My Take

23658880_2002841116409422_3647036226683360056_nWhen there is as much hype surrounding an event as has happened with the block buster show Hamilton, one can only wonder if it is as good as advertised.  The answer is an enthusiastic YES! I held off going during its Houston run because the tickets are pricey, but at the last minute there were some single seats available for a somewhat reasonable price, and I bit ending up with a great seat close to the stage.

What immediately grabbed me is the energy of the production which the audience responded to in kind.  Throughout the performance, theater goers were showing their appreciation with cheers and hands together.  I was among them, but there was something else that generated my response, and that is the sheer genius of the show.

41Va8thFjQL._SL500_As the story goes, the creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, was inspired by Ron Chernow’s book Hamilton.  Now, I read the book and while I learned much about Alexander Hamilton and his contemporaries, I got so bogged down in detail that I couldn’t imagine being creatively inspired.  Thankfully, Miranda did not have the same response.  As a result, he presents American history with a lesser known founding father, Hamilton, as the central character surrounded by the more familiar Washington, Jefferson, Madison and others.

There is no question that Hamilton is successful theater, but I think it is more than that.  It is a reminder that perhaps we don’t know as much about history as we might.  Alexander Hamilton has been little more than a blip on the screen with reference to him being that he was the first Secretary of the Treasury and that he was killed by Aaron Burr.  What the play does is enlarge his role among the founding fathers and engage an audience by entertaining with fact.  There were a lot of young people in the theater, and I doubt they were thinking about Hamilton being a learning opportunity but there it was. As I observed their faces and responded to their cheers, I couldn’t help but wonder if they might be inspired to pay more attention to history and current events if it were presented more creatively.

Not often do I leave theater with so many thoughts swirling in my head.  I have such appreciation for Chernow for having written a book about a relatively obscure historical person and for Miranda whose unique creative response has had such impact.  Not everyone will have the opportunity to see Hamilton on stage, but I’m betting its influence will be felt far and wide.  It is not theater that I will soon forget, and it will be interesting to see what the followup is.

Oh, if you happen to have opportunity to see the show, I recommend listening to the music in advance as it makes it easier to follow during the performance.  The soundtrack is on uTube.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

musings, Random

What’s a Parent to Do?

“Mom, Dad, you guys need to start getting rid of some of your stuff.”  

These are the words we are hearing often from our daughters.  While they may be right, here’s what we hear in those words.

  1.  You are getting old.
  2.  We don’t want to have to deal with it when you can’t.
  3.  We don’t want any of it.

Now, there’s probably some truth in all of that, but none of it feels very good.  And, it makes me a little sad that none of what we have seems important to our kids.  There was a time when things were passed down, but these days it appears that is not the case as adult children enjoy more collecting their own things.

So, what’s a parent to do?  Well, the easiest thing would be to donate the unnecessaries.  Eventually, I will do that, but for now I still enjoy having a garage sale.  Of course, you sell for pennies on the dollar, but people who buy think they are getting a good deal and I like the interacting and the deal making which is a big part of a garage sale.

IMG_1008While some clever person actually published a wonderful book of garage sale photos, I’m probably not that ambitious, so I focus on the presentation as if I were doing a shop.

IMG_0991Clothes are carefully organized by style, size and gender.  A simple rack the hubby made for me back in the days when I did shows displaying my woven pieces has been invaluable for garage sales.

IMG_0993The same is true for another of his clever creations which works perfectly for arranging accessories.

IMG_0990Household and kitchen goods are arranged just so making it easy for shoppers to see without having to move things around.

IMG_0992Books are always a challenge, and no matter how orderly I arrange them it doesn’t take long for them to be all askew.

IMG_0999At the end of the day most of the stuff is gone, and I feel good about having gotten rid of some of what the girls don’t want to have to deal with.  My only disappointment is that this top didn’t sell.  Maybe all the stories that go with it mean that it should stay with me for at least one more Christmas dinner!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Travel

Prague: A City of Contrasts

If you’ve heard of only one place else in Czechoslovakia it is likely to be Prague, a city of amazing contrasts.

Unlike many of the cities visited on our river cruise, Prague was not damaged during World War II meaning that the Old Town is intact.  Away from it, everything is newer, more modern indicating that Prague is a thriving 21st century city.

Though Prague is full of attractions, what I liked best was wandering the  streets paying attention to all that was going on whether it was men  restoring an aging facade,

meticulously relaying a cobbled street

or  working to attract a crowd and hoping to be rewarded with a few coins.

Markets were a great place to people watch,

 sample a few local goodies. 

and observe vendors, some of whom were busy demonstrating their skills, preparing food for jostling customers or passing the time until someone came along.

It was surprising to see a canal in Prague.  My first thought was how that resembled Venice.  The only thing missing was gondolas being managed by striped shirt gondoliers!

IMG_0946Walking miles every day means there had to be time for some refreshment, and I liked stopping in at some random place

IMG_0948and having Czech food and a Pilsner Urquell.  Talk about a pause that refreshes!

Yes, Prague has much to offer.  Architecturally, it is a jewel with its buildings representing many centuries.

IMG_0979Oh, and have I mentioned gingerbread and that Czechoslovakia is famous for it?  It comes in many forms, but when I tell you that foie gras served on thin slices of gingerbread is over the top, believe it!  I’d go back to Prague just to have it again.

So much for this journey of three plus weeks.  It’s time to go home.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Travel

On the River

Seven days on the Danube River from Budapest to Nuremberg on the Scenic Amber was all we hoped it would be.

b51aaa22-b43a-4ce2-bb9a-e2f0b11ad1ab.jpegThe ship was a most comfortable way to travel with good food and friendly service.

Without getting off the boat there was much to see that gave glimpses of the life existing along the Danube.

I would never have guessed there were so many vineyards in Austria, some planted so high and steep as to appear unreachable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was entertaining to watch the activity on the water

and along the river’s edge where many people had little get away cottages.

As tranquil and beautiful as cruising was, there were lovely places off the boat.

Budapest
Budapest

Budapest and Vienna were, as expected, impressive with their beautiful architecture and interesting history.

Durnstein
Durnstein

Most appealing, however, were the small medieval towns that were less crowded and had such history.

The Benedictine monastery in Melk was not only beautiful but fascinating.  Thanks to the money earned from its thousands of visitors, the monks are able to keep the monastery and its grounds in pristine condition. RegensbergThough a little larger than some of the others, Regensburg had a special charm with its varied architecture and color.  

It was hard to get enough of this place.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll the stops on the Danube had their own story, none more so than Nuremberg where Hitler held his biggest rallies on this site.  It is a grim reminder of a period that will never be forgotten.

That dark spot in its history does not mar the positives of this thriving city known especially for its Christmas Market.

This post is only a glimpse into what a river cruise has to offer.  There’s a lot to take in, but if that gets to be too much, one can choose to stay on the ship and enjoy the river scenes.  That’s equally as special.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behinderg

Maine, Travel

Moving On

It’s always a little sad for a Foodie Adventure to end as it is a wonderful week with great people and the best ever hosts, Michael and Mary Jo, who work so hard to make it a perfect experience. End it must though, and everyone moves on.

Since we were in Europe, the hubby and I decided to maximize our trip by taking a Danube cruise, long on our bucket list. The timing worked out pretty well, but we had a few days before the ship’s departure. Finding it to be a short trip from Rome to Croatia, we went to Dubrovnik.

With its lovely coastal views, it is a lovely place.

It’s hard to believe that just over 20 years ago much of Dubrovnik was in ruins thanks to intensive bombing by the Serbs.

Today most of the city has been restored and is a major tourist destination.

With its charming Old Town, filled with interesting sights and shops, it is easy to see why.

Nowhere have I ever seen so many eateries as there are in such a compact space.

Because of its proximity to the sea, seafood is on every menu.

In some ways Dubrovnik reminds me of Maine because so much of its economy depends on the tourist trade which is about a five month season. That means people work very hard during that time in order to earn enough money to survive the winter.

From Dubrovnik we ventured on to Budapest, a vibrant city filled with beautiful architecture.

While there is much to do there, what we like best about Budapest is spending time with one of our former exchange students and her family. What made this meeting very special was meeting Lulu, the newest family member named in my honor. Talk about turning to mush, this little one completely stole my heart!

Part of spending time with Lulu’s parents means we get to experience their life which includes weekends on Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe where so much of the activity centers around the water.

After an all too short visit, it was time for us to say good by and board our ship to begin a Danube River cruise that would take us from Budapest to Prague. Wow, this is a lot of stimulation in a short period, but each part of the adventure holds something new.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind