Hello from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


Lost, but found: passport – thank you, Matthew, for running back with it.

Long,  but worth it: the Dubai – Chennai leg of today’s trip,  which included being bumped to Business class: Veuve Cliquot for breakfast and a massage chair that stretched out into a bed.

I’m  in Mamallapuram, a sort of Indian Capitola-Tahoe City-Grand Marais (when it’s hot). Or, “…like the coast of Florida, only with more elephants.”

It’s on the Bay of Bengal, and  best-known for the stone statues,  still done (with electric “knives & chisels,” I noticed), and for its 5th-7thc. temples on the beach.  I walked out to visit the Shore Temples, which Elizabeth and I had seen a few years ago, but not entered.

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I was there with hordes of schoolgirls – those matching uniforms – and families in electric orange.

My driver, who decided to walk there with me,  said all  the orange was for the lotus. Somebody else said it was to show they were a family; still another person said… you get my drift: I’m back in India!


Consequently, the assault to the senses has begun: this hotel is on the main street, and horns replace turn signals outside the window of my 2nd floor room. The hotel seems full of agents and porters tripping wonderfully over themselves to help people like  Maggie Smith and Judy Dench.  DO TAKE 3 MINUTES to watch that clip, because it is iconic of  the colors, the dust, the energy of India: it [all] teaches me something.

So, a few photos in this  note from my hotel room,  where the a.c. is   going [more or less] strong, and where the Internet is doing similarly valiant, if spotty service.

As I was finishing this post, I looked up to see a 3-inch flying…?bee?beetle?…landing on a light fixture.  Those of you who know me, know I do not do flying or scurrying critters. One of the men from downstairs helped me. Full disclosure: I stood 10 feet away, calling out, “What are you going to do?  Where will it go? Shall I open the door?” The man wisely ignored me, swatted the thing onto the floor and out the door (bare-handed), and now I’m going in search of some re-vivifying seafood.

It’s good to be back.

A Child’s Christmas in Vienna

I’ve been here for several  days, now, delighting in Leilani and Matthew’s warmth in sharing their new city. We’ve had grand meals,  both at home and out. Lei makes her own tortillas in Vienna (yes, yes, she does).  We did Caffe Diglas  for a lunch of schnitzel and goulasch, and then a melange…

MelangeI’ve  visited the place where Matthew spends his days, and seen the view from his study room:








Mary seems to own Dad’s study room, or at least the string controlling the blinds — 

Our  nights have been  full of Christmas markets: Stephantsplat, Freyung in the city center; there’s one in the Ehrenhof, outside the Belvedere Palace; the one we did last night  in Spittelberg is full of lanes, crowded with stalls selling handicrafts (think, llama blanket with polar bears) , art ( think waxart, which as we left, was going for 50% off), and chocolate of every color and flavor.

 lights 3afterXmasdinner

3 in St Stephen's
St Stephen’s for Mass: Haydn for 2 hours. Still, it was Haydn. Still, it was 2 hours.