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Slumdog glory

February 24, 2009

The newspapers, which every day since we arrived in the country have carried some story about the Slumdog film, are now exultant. Every single page of The Hindu has at least one story about the film and/or A R Rahman the ‘Mozart of Madras’, as they call him. He is the first Indian to wina double Oscar. The Indian Express, which fills its entire front page with a photographs of the composer and Keralan sound technician Pookkutty with their Oscars, describes last night as the evening when Hollywood embraced Bollywood. Which I think is a slight exaggeration that is surely allowable in the excitement. We still haven’t seen the film. I hoped we would watch it when we are in Trivandrum on Friday night, but it stopped screening yesterday!

The eagles that Nick’s been trying to photograph this past week (see the photostream, right) are apparently not eagles at all but some kind of kite, according to an Indian bird of prey expert. Whatever their name is, they are pretty amazing creatures. They come so close we can practially touch the tips of their wings, teasing the crows which hate them and flap over pecking at their feathers. And teasing poor Nick – as soon as he’s ready with his camera, they’re off far away again. Three French paragliders have been joining the birds, and they’re almost as acrobatic, swooping this way and that and doing tricks like landing gently on top of a lamppost. I asked one if he would take me with him, but the policeman here wouldn’t allow it. He gets twitchy enough about their flying – nobody wants a tourist death, especially not on his beat.

Tata’s much-anticipated Nano car – the world’s cheapest car – is likely to launch next week, finally. It was the source of much media hype last year when it was supposed to come out, but politically motivated dispute over land rights at the factory’s site in Bihar (a terribly poor state that would have benefited enormously from Tata’s presence) meant that the company had to relocate to Gujarat. Anyway, the Nano is being driven from temple to temple to receive all important divine blessings, and is tipped to be launched at plants in Pantnagar and Pune on the Tata founder’s birthday next week. The price is still a little uncertain, but Tata has plans to market the car from India to the rest of the world, and there is certainly a market there – car ownership is soaring everywhere. But with the roads and other infrastructure unable to cope with the heavy traffic of two-wheelers, more cars promise congestion problems of hideous proportions. And that’s not even considering the pollution issue…

Tomorrow we head into the backwaters on a houseboat to serenity.

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