Sun, 29th Dec '02, 12:55 am::

Hello from Salt Lake City, Utah! This has been one eventful day. I started at Newark, New Jersey at 6 am, then flew to Cincinnati, Ohio. There I had a nice pretzel with nacho cheese @ the airport and continued to Las Vegas, Nevada. En route, the pilot decided to be nice and took us on a 10 minute tour of the Grand Canyon! While I'm sure it's 10000 times more better in closeup, the view from the tiny little airplane window was breathtaking nevertheless. Once @ Vegas, I got to see a few casinos from the airport lobby, like the Stratosphere, MGM Grand, and Mandalay Bay etc. From there, I flew to Salt Lake City, Utah - my final destination.

I'm sure you're wondering why I took such a weird route (that took over 9 hours!) Well I bought my tickets a bit too late and this weird long route was the only thing I could afford. If I wanted a direct flight from Jersey to Utah, it would have cost me over twice the price I paid. Plus it was all fun. I got to be in 4 states in one day! Hehe.

Anyways, I'm here @ my grandma's sister's house. She's pretty young actually (about as old as my dad) and her daughters (technically my aunts) are same age as me. It's been a few months since I last saw Purvi & Priya (at Sneh's Sweet 16) and so I was pretty excited to meet them. Well, we had a nice lunch and then just relaxed for a few hours. And later in the evening, Purvi and I went and rented some ski equipment for me! Tomorrow I'm going skiing!!!!! While I'm excited, I'm still not sure what it's all about. So more updates on skiing AFTER I do it. Oh and I got an email from my dad cautioning me not to ski! Hehe. You know what that means! I HAVE to ski now 100%! Haha.

Along with ski equipment, we also got two movies tonight: Mallrats (upon Priya's request) and Monsoon Wedding (Purvi & I hadn't seen it). First we saw Mallrats and it was a pretty fun movie. In fact so much fun that I was not at all interested in seeing the other movie, because I knew it wasn't a laugh-out-loud comedy. But then since we had nothing else to do, we decided to see Monsoon Wedding after all, and well, let me just say that it is one of the most thought-provoking films I've seen in months, probably years.

Here is my interpretation of Monsoon Wedding: If you want to know as much about India and us Indians in as little time as possible, then just go to Blockbuster and rent this movie. While I am not an avid supporter of the high-profile pseudo-artistic foreign-film-festival-fodder Indian movies made by pretentious directors who prefer to portray modern India as a backward, uncultured, and crime-ridden confused country rather than a slowly but steadily developing nation, I have to admit that this movie totally negates any preconceptions (rather misconceptions) I had about it. This movie very honestly and truly depicts everything that happens on every street corner in India every day. From the ostentatious marriages in rich families to the poor "event manager's" simplistic romantic saga, the movie attempts to give a magnified view of how life goes on in a country chiseled by customs, traditions, class divisions between the rich and the not-so-rich, and the strong bonds that somehow integrate every family unit. India is not just about Taj Mahal, elephants, snake-charmers, hunger, beggars, Kama Sutra, Computer Software engineers, or cheap skilled labor. It's about the people, and this film successfully draws a vivid portrait of my huge one-billion strong Indian national family.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but thanks Mira Nair and keep up the good work. While a few of her past films failed to impress me, this one succeeded. Maybe, because this is her first movie that I have seen outside of India. But I didn't see this movie with the eyes of a foreigner. I saw the movie, as if trying to remember and reminisce, the first 20 years of my life back home. I am glad I haven't forgotten what India is. And I'm glad that there is a movie like this to remind me in case I forget.

Four words of advice: GO RENT THIS MOVIE NOW! Ok, it's five words, but still, you get the point... it's worth it!

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