Love Beyond All Barriers

Posted by Kate Strathmann • Monday, September 6. 2010 • Category: Crossing Cultures
I recently read an article in the New York Times entitled “In India, Castes, Honor and Killings Intertwine”. Over the six years or so since I made my first journey to India, I have recounted to friends and acquaintances at home some of the anecdotes (I wince to use this word – as if abuse of women should ever be relegated to a mere anecdote) I have encountered in first, second, or third person regarding the ways in which women are abused, maimed, or sometimes killed, as in the case of the young girl in the aforementioned article. I always want to defend or make excuses for the country that I love. It’s true, there hasn’t been a case of sati [immolation of widows on their husband’s funeral pyre] in years (though I hasten to point out, there has been in my lifetime), but I recall reading of daily “kitchen fires” in the police blotter in the Bangalore newspaper years ago; and discovering that this was a twisted and polite allusion to an intentional act of violence often resulting in homicide, not an indication that the country needed to examine safety standards of stovetop ranges.

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Ecosystem of the Train

Posted by Kate Strathmann • Thursday, July 1. 2010 • Category: Crossing Cultures
I recently found myself on a cross-country, East to Left coast, train adventure on Amtrak, the national railway company in the United States. We were a group of twenty like-minded artists, journeying to a conference together and intent on spending three days talking, ideating, and drinking whiskey together. Amtrak is the transportation of Amish families who eschew automobiles, elderly couples, and young vagabonds; there’s a curiosity surrounding train travel in the United States. How quaint and old fashioned (!), we think. One of my artist companions fully expected chandeliers and an elegant service in the dining car for dinner and was disappointed when Tony, the waiter, shouted the dessert options to the entire car en-masse between off-key snippets of Elvis tunes. It was a disappointing and high-priced meal, with an atmosphere only notable for its similarity to crass and cheap small-town diners. (I should note that seven of us, gratefully not including myself, fell ill after this meal; apparently a lack of sanitation standards for train food is an international phenomenon).

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