Sunday, September 23, 2007

Travel potpourri

I am currently in Bangalore for two weeks with my parents, and am lazing around and enjoying the food, the cricket, the excellent weather in Bangalore, and, less happily, pondering my US consulate appointment that's coming up in a couple days – with all these things, I haven't been able to write anything substantial. So I thought I'd put up a potpourri post, based on some of my recent travels.

Here are a few of my pictures and notes from trips this summer:

1. I took this picture from the window of my hotel room in St.Etienne, France, immediately after checking in. I'd arrived at the St.Etienne train station at about 8 in the evening, tired after a twenty-hour journey. The streets of the town were such a maze – crooked, some of them narrow and intersecting at all possible angles – and my hotel’s location so obscure, that I was disoriented and clueless. I found the hotel after nearly an hour of roaming around parts of the town and went to my 8th floor room, ready to collapse. But when I opened the large window in the room to let the air in, I was soothed and gladdened by the view. I stayed up, sat by the window and took pictures from different angles while it was still light.

2. The first picture below shows shoots of either yuccas or agaves (I am always unable to tell the difference between the two plants). Their thin protrusions and flowers dramatize the arid landscape of the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. This particular set was just outside the archaeological site of Casas Grandes, in the northern Mexican state of Chihuaua, which I visited in May. The next picture is of a flower of a prickly pear cactus - I chanced upon it when our group stopped by the roadside on a highway in Mexico.

3. Finally, two pictures from my trip to South Dakota. This was a long road trip on Interstate 90 which runs east-west through the state. En-route, at the Badlands National Park, I spotted these sprightly, long-eared jackrabbits.

And at the western end of South Dakota, the monotonous, gently undulating prairie does a jig and transforms itself into the pine-forested and mountainous Black Hills. The rocky top of one of these hills, Mount Rushmore, has been meticulously and brilliantly sculpted to mimic the grim, thoughtful countenances of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln.

But let me ask with a mischievous wink: Will Dubya's face ever find its way to Mount Rushmore?

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