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The Global Soul at the Jaipur Lit Fest

Iowa Review blog, Jan 2013

As a twenty-year old in Italy, I once spoke four languages in the space of an hour. It began when an Englishwoman asked me where the bathroom was, in Spanish. I answered her in the same language, but as we walked to the bathroom we discovered that we had another language in common, which was English. Then, the woman in charge of the hotel where we were staying gave me further instructions, this time in Italian. When we wandered out, a Pakistani-Italian stallkeeper started chatting me up in Hindi in the Piazza Bra.
“Where are you from?” he asked...

Read the rest on the "Iowa Review" blog.

The Holy City of Varanasi, August 2009

At six in the morning, the alleys of old Varanasi gleam with last night’s rain. One path just wide enough for two men to walk abreast leads past shops down to the holy river Ganges.
It’s barely sunrise, but the alleys are already in chaos. Men jostle women, women jostle fat bullocks, bullocks narrowly avoid stepping on children. Everything is for sale – small bottles of holy Ganges water, larger bottles of branded mineral water, tiny figurines of the Lord Shiva, whose town this is. Tourists, almost invariably wearing colorful harem pants, brush shoulders with locals...

Read the rest in "Smithsonian." 

Jaisalmer Fort maintains a silent vigil in the far northwestern corner of Rajasthan, India’s desert state. Although the local airport is closed to commercial traffic, nearly half a million visitors somehow make their way to the fortress each year, even though it sits uncomfortably close to a contested border with India’s longtime adversary Pakistan.
The pilgrims follow a 400-mile-long road from Jaipur. They drive through fierce desert winds that blow all the way to Delhi. In summer, they endure 105-degree heat. They come to an area where, for the past 2,000 years, water has been in short supply.
They come because there is no other place on earth like Jaisalmer.

Read the rest in "Smithsonian."