(one of the more extraordinary dancers, who preformed many solo dances)

We were so excited to hear about the Indian Festival, held last weekend in Pioneer Square in downtown Portland -- we chanced upon this celebratory event last summer and I wanted to make an effort to attend this year. It was a lovely afternoon, full of traditional, bangra and bollywood style dancing as well as delicious food. From my first bite of masala dosa with coconut chutney, I was completely transported back to South India. Being surrounded by all the good foods, scents, and dancing brought me back . . . It was then I realized, almost one year ago (September 2nd), we launched ourselves into the unknown, into the sub-continent. It affected us deeply -- leaving a deep rift in my mind of a life lead without so many expectations (thus constantly being happily surprised), unending generosity, attention to color and beauty, and a simpler way of being . . . not to mention the rivers of high quality chai-ya teas I imbibed! Absolute bliss.

(the ladies shake it -- look at those gorgeous smiles)

The Indian Festival inspired me to reconnect with Indian goodies -- such as the local Indian grocery near my work and renting some classic Indian films from the library (I have the biggest crush on the library, I know). I'd also love to take some Bangra dance classes and am doing my best to find some in the neighborhood -- perhaps that video my mom sent me, The Bollywood Dance Workout, will get some use . . . I love the 'feed the chickens' move, to be sure.

(my fav peanut brittle Indian candy)

At the grocery, I met a Punjabi man, Amit, who spoke very little English and had a wonderful mustache. Just walking into the grocery hit my nostalgia buttons like a brick ton -- smell is so intertwined with memory and experience, it all came flooding back . . . walking to the market, hitching the bus around town, buying spices from my man, being fired by my tailor over my complex duvet cover idea, riding the scooty through the coconut groves, singing the Indian National Anthem at the movie theater, before the film began, 'treating' ourselves at the fancy restaurant in town, Sheri-Punjab, for 300 Rupees ($6.00). The smiles, the sweat, the bumps along the way . . . I still often think about our experience there. Of course, I can't wait to go again and explore the North East part of the country, and maybe even get into Nepal and the base of the Himalayas.

(a still from Abhimaan, the female lead "Uma" gives her man orders)

The last portion of this India nostalgia was renting (or in my case checking out) an Indian movie. I cannot recommend this enough -- Abhimaan is a classic made in 1973 about two love birds who become famous singers . . . Indian films are a fun window into seeing some of the customs, dances and courtships of the country -- of course, they are over the top for the most part and completely different than Western movies, in a great way. My favorite one so far is Lagaan. In fact I watched it again while getting the best pedicure of my life in the spa of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, whilst sipping on a sweet rose lassi -- I was so happy, I almost exploded.

(When the newlyweds first meet the neurotic assistant -- he does not approve of this marriage)

So there you have it -- sometimes our lives can get so routine, so local, so 'let's get a burrito for dinner' then do work on the computer till bed . . . It's good to shake it up with places or themes that inspire you. For me, that means tapping into a little India every now and again, amongst other places, people and themes.

What places inspire you?


    It's not always places, it's usually people that inspire. When I read this and think of is invariably the smells, tastes and the laugher of enjoying a place WITH someone. I can't imagine how some people travel alone....But---can't wait to visit Portland soon!!!

  2. This is such asweet post. You're so right about the smell-memory association....there are some scents I really miss.... there was this one tree that used to bloom at night and it had a honey-ish smell..thick and sweet. Sigh!

    If you liked abhimaan, you will love "umrao jaan" and "ijaazat". Have you seen them?

  3. I'd have to agree with Mr.Ross--Portland AND people are inspiring :). Especially people though, they can literally transport you to fresh scenes and new perspectives. xo!

  4. that is so cool that portland inspires you, my darlings!!

    and i'll definitely put those other films on my queue, GB. Thanks for the recommendations.