Category: Uncategorized

Candy from Kazakhstan and other Ladakhi Surprises

As our three-month trip is coming to its end, I am still not sure we really “did India.” Aside from rural Rajasthan, which we fled for some Rajput fortress and desert tourism to recover from a brief and complex taste of Rajasthani village life, we spent a lot of time in the Dravidian south and the Buddhist north, […]

Salawas Village

  Feb 22. Two days ago we flew from Cochin International Airport to Delhi and on to the town of Jodhpur in Rajasthan where we were picked up by Shambu, the second-oldest son of Chottaram Prajabat, owner of a homestay and weaving business in Salawas village catering to foreign tourists. We are here courtesy of Carpediem […]


What about food in India? I wouldn’t know since we’ve only been here for a short while, and most of it here in the hill country of the Western Ghats near Vagamon, Kerala. Since we’ve arrived at our mountain lodge, courtesy of Miriam’s residency at Palette People, the home-cooked meals we are being served here three times a […]


  The future of water is a big issue, we’ve been told. This entire area (Western Ghats), should be verdant but the grassland surrounding the tea plantations is brown and periodically burns. People who didn’t need to do so in the past are digging wells. The water level in the great Idukki dam area, the […]


Malayalam is a palindrome, as Molly, an educator and the wife of our host at Palette People, Cyril Jacob, pointed out when we met her at her tasteful and impeccably clean home in Cochin. Malayalam is also the main language of the state of Kerala, the first state in the world that voted in a communist […]


Sabbaticals are periods when you have the rare privilege of time at your disposal to do what you cannot otherwise. This is my second sabbatical in twenty-three years since starting at BU. In 2002-3 when I was eligible for my first sabbatical, I took a leave of absence instead to teach in Frankfurt and spend time with my mother […]

Why India?

You might well ask, what is Zank doing in India? Actually, few people call me “Zank” these days. Really only one person does, namely, our friend Guy, but it struck me as funny because that’s what they used to call me in school. Everyone was known by their last name, and not just during roll call. […]

Things that bubble up

As I am watching the last pink of the evening sky from our terrace, I think about the weird dreams and reminiscences that this time of pleasant idleness has begun to produce. Last night I dreamed about an undead twin, that was a Jewish me that kept getting up and denying that it was dead. Then […]

First order of business: establish routine

Day five in India and day two in Vagamon. Now it’s time to establish a routine so as not to fritter away this precious time. What better than to take the clarinet case for a walk and find a place to practice after a week-long hiatus. I found the perfect shady spot under a tree near Cyril’s […]

Vagamon, Kerala

Miriam and I arrived in Vagamon, a hill-station in the Western Ghats, about 100 km east of Kochi. Our host, Cyril Jacob, who gave us a ride, is a retired banker who created a little paradise on an eighty-acre lot where he cultivates tea and cardamom and has built a lodge he calls Green Meadows and where he […]