Friday, June 20, 2008

36 Hours in Mumbai: the Niswarth version

Since I am an avid reader of the New York Times (and I know there are a good number of readers out there who may feel the same way), I thought it would be appropriate to take a look at the Times' recent article in the Travel section, 36 Hours in Mumbai. The lead, "it's the Jazz Age again in Mumbai," paints a picture of this city that can only be understood by New York Times readers in their comfortable Manhattan apartments. For those who decide to venture out of the luxurious bubble this article creates, a trip to Mumbai can be an eye opener, to say the least.

Juxtaposition abounds in a city that is challenged in many ways. Exquisite high rises and malls dot the skyline as slums cluster around their perimeters. Americans live like kings, eating extravagant meals at the price of a meal from Subway. But outside of these oasises lies a completely different world- of hunger, strife, and hope. For those foreign to a developing land, both the comforts of home and adventures of an unfamiliar culture will be a memorable experience.

As Americans traveling to a foreign nation- essentially tourists, as much as I hate that word, we are constantly trying to find a happy medium between both our tourist tendencies and our service learning. While the New York Times article highlights some of the wonderful tourist options in Mumbai, we all know that you can not always read a book by its cover.

In the past few days, I feel that we have made an admirable attempt to read our book, yet also admire its cover. At some point, however, I have come to question whether or not we can really do both. Can we, as American tourists, completely remove the book jacket? Should we doing this? My perspective is as follows- sometimes I will pick a book by its cover, sometimes I will read a book and frequently refer to the cover, and other times I will simply throw away the cover. Right now, however, the cover still exists on my book.


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