Slumdog Millionaire – The story Hollywood left behind

by Shelly Seale

By now everyone has seen, or at least knows about, the movie Slumdog Millionaire and its astounding sweep of the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and millions of movie-watchers' hearts worldwide. For good reason – the film is affecting without being affected, has great multi-dimensional characters, and gives us phenomenal cinematography with brilliant India as its backdrop.

Now available for purchase in TheTrip Shop!This tale of life and love in the slums of Mumbai alternates between heartbreak and triumph. The story follows two brothers who live in an underworld of abject poverty, far removed from the country’s glitzy upper class or technology and business boom. Their lives become even more brutal after they are orphaned.

Following them throughout their childhood and into early adulthood – along with their friend Latika – we see them fight against exploiters, brothel owners, child abusers, and even each other, in their struggle to survive.

Slumdog Millionaire is a fictional movie ending with a bizarre twist of fate. However, the reality of the story is that for millions of children in India, the life portrayed in the movie is a a world away from the rags-to-riches ending of the film. Today there are 25 million Indian children living without parents, on the streets or in orphanages or other institutional homes – some good, and some bad or corrupt like the one portrayed in the movie. They live in orphanages, slums, railway stations or on the streets, where they are highly vulnerable to abuse, harassment, HIV/AIDS, and being trafficked into child labor if they're lucky - brothels if they're not.

Slumdog Millionaire shows us a side of India, and a way of life, that hundreds of thousands of children in Mumbai alone struggle to survive every day.

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You Cruise, You Lose

by Paul Ross

A vacation on a large cruise ship is a lot of things: convenient, easy, hassle-free (unpack once!), planned and scheduled, largely affordable, entertaining and unchallenging. You’ll know when, where, with whom and pretty much what you’re going to eat, who won the knobby-knees contest at the aft deck pool between the disco and life raft station zebra and exactly how long the “endless night soiree” will last. What’s not to like? At times, and on specially-themed outings, there are even opportunities to learn something. But, mostly, there is relaxation--especially during those long “days at sea.” Yes, vacation cruising can be many things. But it is not travel.illustration © Paul Ross

Travel can include difficulty, surprise, expense (both monetary and personal), challenge and always a chance of the unknown, which necessitates awareness. There are “lessons” aplenty but they’re rarely pre-digested and aren’t spoon-fed. You not only learn about the places and people you visit, but also about yourself.

You’ll have to find eateries on your own and they may be native and weird. Or, as an adult, you might even enjoy a brand new taste sensation. There may be a schedule--which can vanish in the instant it takes to get a blown out tire, be caught in a storm, or meet an unexpected situation or person of interest. Cruising is Disneyland afloat. Travel is what happens behind the scenes, beyond the gates and out in the world. The challenge is real but so are the adventures, discoveries, revelations and delights.

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Keep the Americans out of Cuba

by Patricia McGregor

Now that the US ban on Cuba travel seems about to disappear, and hordes of American travelers are poised to save Cuba from itself, I say, keep the ban. It will make very little impact on the average Cuban’s lifestyle and merely serve to line the pockets of the rich.

photo via Flickr by Robyn JayFor periods of time over the last four years I have lived with a musician in Havana. Because of him, my Spanish improves and his friends become my friends. I live like he does. I become Cubana.

Parties and discussions are our entertainment. His friends feel that they have nothing to gain by having American tourists in the country. Tourist money will not filter down to them.

Although there are many hotels, with the current tourist numbers it is often difficult to make a reservation. An influx of Americans (one estimate is 1 million per year) will put pressure on the tourist infrastructure.

Where will they stay? If they bump out tourists already on a Cuban holiday routine, hostility will surely grow.

New hotels will have to be built. Most Cuban hotels, like the Sol chain, are financed by foreign interests. Are these companies stretched to their last euro in this time of financial difficulties? Will they start up dozens of projects only to abandon them half-built? Will American companies be allowed to invest? Construction workers and such might be busy for a while, and then it will be back to the old life. If they are thrifty, they will save the money. There is no unemployment insurance.

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I do not love Venice

by Vera Marie Badertscher

Everyone must visit the three sisters of Italy: Rome, the serious one dedicated to preserving the glories of Italy’s Roman heritage. Florence, the studious and artsy one. And lastly Venice, the flashy younger sister who knows how to flaunt her beauty.

photo via Flickr by Brian WallaceSo say the Italy travel experts. At the risk of having the pigeon poop of San Marcos Square dumped on my head, I say: Not Venice, the beautiful darling that everyone falls in love with before they have even set foot in Italy.

Venice? Don't bother.

“But it is so ROMANTIC,” Venice fans sputter.

Ahh, yes, the famous romance. Funny how they have been able to continue that marketing campaign. And right after advocates tell you how romantic Venice is, they say, “You MUST see her at night.”

Well, of course you must if you are looking for romance. Gilbert and Sullivan had that wonderful line in Trial by Jury, “She may very well pass for forty-three in the dusk with a light behind her.” Old hags look so promising by candlelight.

Like everyone else, I thought I would fall in love with Venice. People travel by boat instead of car-- romantic charm! Bridges arch gracefully over canals--aesthetic charm! And history lurks in every doorway, down every cobbled street--historic charm! Oh yes, Venice is lively, too, with residents shopping at open air markets and having a coffee at the neighborhood bar.

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Killing whales loudly, with their song

by Eric Lucas

If it’s August, whales are suffering.

I live on America’s Pacific Coast, a world-famous summertime visitor destination where hordes of ordinary, well-meaning people harass, torment and torture some of the world’s most charismatic wild creatures. The whales that ply our seas—especially the breathtaking, much-loved orcas of inland Northwest waters—wake up each morning, June through September, to the approaching howl of boat engines. They spend their days dodging a huge fleet of boats packed with googoo-eyed tourists who think they are at a Roller Derby match, an impression exacerbated by tour-boat operators who “honor” their so-called voluntary guidelines just like athletes do steroids prohibitions.

There are less than 100 Puget Sound orcas left. Holdovers from the days this inland sea wasn’t an exurban pond, they forage in waters fouled with urban runoff and toxic contaminants; they chase down remnants of our once-massive salmon runs, now reduced to trickles of minnows; they come up for air amid the whale-watch hordes to breathe clouds of engine exhaust.

And, underwater, all day, they listen to unspeakable nonstop caterwauling.

“Like a rocket ship taking off,” reports a Canadian scientific researcher who studied the noise impacts of whale-watching on the industry’s victims. He hung a hydrophone in the water and measured the decibels.

Try to imagine life, 10 hours a day, with a hundred or so helicopters buzzing a few feet overhead. That’s what it’s like for Puget Sound orcas.

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