March 11th – Last day in Agra.
I’m one of those people who, even if I never took a single item out of my suitcase, thoroughly checks the hotel room for belongings which might have been forgotten. I look in every drawer and closet, under beds, on door hooks and in those tiny desk drawers that can only hold a single piece of paper and some postcards.
In preparation for leaving Agra, I did just that. I opened drawers I’d never opened previously despite knowing that there was no possible way anything of mine could be in any of them.
In one drawer I found a small book entitled: “United States – Art, Culture, Food”. I was intrigued. I really didn’t have time but I couldn’t stop myself from sitting down and thumbing through this book. Was it the India equivalent of Gideon’s Bible?
The introduction said, “Having traveled the world as the Luxury Collection’s global explorer, Andrea Fazzari has had the unique opportunity to capture a vision of humanity as only an artist can: with passion for the unusual and an eye for the inspiring.” What a job!
I love the hyperbole used in just about everything written by people in India. They write exclusively in ode form. An example – from the spa brochure from the hotel: “This therapy will send you on the road to pure relaxation. The healing hands of the therapists will be effectively integrated into an experience that is deep and meaningful at a spiritual level.” or from the salon brochure: “our services act as a fountain of life for your hair while relieving it from daily stress.” You just don’t get that type of language in the US.
Back to the book – it is designed to “share her (Andrea Fazzari’s) visions and inspired photographic guides.”
Looking further into the book I see it is divided into West Coast, The Central States and East Coast.
Oddly the West Coast consists of California, Arizona, Oregon and, Hawaii. I would never thought of Hawaii as West Coast. Central is Texas and Minnesota. East Coast covers DC to Vermont.
In addition the book has Flavors and Culture sections. Flavors is an interview with Charlie Palmer followed by a recipe for “Mom’s Barbecued Chicken.” Culture is an interview with Jay McInerney. The next few pages are just the shreds of the pages that had been there. What did they contain? Why had someone wanted to tear them out?
The last pages of the book are what intrigued me. If I was going to tear any pages out of the book, I would have taken these two. They contain a series of questions, the “Proust Questionnaire.”
1. Your favorite destination
2. Your most memorable travel experience
3. Plane, train, boat, motorcycle, or car?
4. Your favorite guide or other book about travel.
5. Your favorite magazine, past or present.
6. Your idea of happiness.
7. Your most adventurous travel story.
8. Your favorite beach.
9. Your favorite virtue.
10. Your favorite city.
11. Your favorite museum.
12. The restaurant you would travel farthest for.
13. Your preferred airline.
14. Your preferred luggage.
15. Your favorite heroes in real life.
16. Your favorite travel companions.
17. Your favorite fictional traveler.
18. Peace, culture, or adventure?
19. An ideal trip would be.
20. Five things you will never forget.
I could spend a few months answering these 20 questions. What about you?