22 October 2014

Book Review: The Stone Raft by José Saramago

It's been a while since I have read a José Saramago book. So for this time, I picked up The Stone Raft, another one of his fables where some extra-ordinary premise happens, and the ordinary citizens affected by this extra-ordinary premise needs to deal with their changed surroundings. I loved these novels: in The Double, Saramago tells the story of a man who realizes that there is another man out there that looks exactly the way he does; in Blindness, he narrates a story of an unnamed country where everyone (with the exception of one woman) becomes blind; and in Death with Interruptions, he tells the story of an unnamed country where people just stopped dying. Here, in The Stone Raft, he narrates a story when the Iberian Peninsula suddenly breaks away from the rest of Europe and floats toward the Azores.

And yes, I am again impressed by Saramago's story-telling skills, and how he can tell a story both at the macro- and the micro-level, showing the effects of this magically realistic occurrence both on a country, and on its individual citizens.

20 October 2014

Cavorting with the Companion: British Museum

London is filled with world-class museums. I should say that even though I didn't have a good feeling about London in general, I still enjoyed my stay because of the museums that we visited. We visited the Tate Modern, and after that, we also visited the British Museum. And perhaps the more awesome thing is that visits to the Permanent Collection are free!

18 October 2014

The American Meat Market

I was back in the USA recently. I flew to Buffalo for a conference. I arrived in Chicago O'Hare International Airport, and sure enough, the moment I stepped out of the plane, it felt like a market. A meat market, metaphorically, so to speak.

16 October 2014

Cavorting with the Companion: Tate Modern

After 11 days in Tuscany, we flew from Pisa to London. To be honest, I wasn't too looking forward to this leg of the trip. I never had a favorable view of London: it never excited me, and as someone who have strong associations of foreignness to travel, somehow, the idea of visiting London wasn't too appealing to me, as I felt that it wasn't foreign enough. I admit, I wasn't on my best form when I was in London: I hated the crowds, I was depressed, and the weather sucked. But at least, there were interesting museums to visit, and they were pretty much all free of charge. So one of the things we visited was the Tate Modern.

14 October 2014

Those Bitchy Travel Bloggers

I read several travel blogs, as well as follow thru social media the travel activities of several bloggers. Typically, the travelogues of these bloggers provide inspiration about where I should travel to next, or how to go from one place to another. While I am not substituting research using guidebooks with blogs, I still read travel blogs every now and then.

Except that sometimes, I read something and get annoyed, thinking at how much attitude they reek, sounding all elitist and privileged and all that. This happened to me a couple of months ago, when one travel blogger moaned about the hassles involved when flying from Asia to the Americas, with a transit in the United States. See, in this itinerary, the blogger's luggage had to be picked up twice, instead of being sent to the final destination. And that was a problem, apparently.