Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Walk Across the Sun

I just started a book club with some friends and our first title is A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison. Three perspectives are interwoven to illustrate the reality and devastation of human trafficking. The story is fictional and dramatic, but not once does it overstate the terror or cruelty of this global scourge. I say this because it is a story, with plot twists and a happy ending that I'm sure are unlikely for the vast majority of victims of human trafficking and sex slavery.

A quick overview: Two teenaged sisters in India, both minors, are left orphaned and stranded after a tsunami wipes away their home and family. While traveling to their boarding school for sanctuary, they are abducted and sold as sex slaves. Across the globe, a high paid lawyer in DC is forced to take a sabbatical, due to politics in his law firm. He decides to take a year long fellowship in India with a non-profit that rescues sex slaves and prosecutes their offenders.

Addison adds many elements to his tale that are perhaps unnecessary given his subject matter. I agree that it is a novel and the characters should have backstory and depth. But there seems to be a disproportionate amount of time spent on the lawyer from DC, Thomas Clark.  I learned too much about backstory, and not enough about his character. Clark is cast as the hero but I don't see it.

It follows that I think that there should be more about the two sisters. While I believe they were underrepresented in the book as a whole, I enjoyed their characters and the portrayal of their love for each other. Too much about the sisters suffering would have rendered it meaningless. As it stands it is shocking and brutal, and we see enough violence to comprehend the desensitization process. I also appreciated the Indian myths that were incorporated. They added a level of truth and metaphor to the sisters story that was lacking or forced in Clark's perspective.

I would have loved to learn more about some of the characters that are sidelined in the book - other sex slaves, or the lawyers and policemen fighting trafficking and corruption in India. In the end I though this was a decent novelization of an extremely important subject. The pacing and elements of suspense meant I was hooked until the last page. I probably would have been just as happy with a non-fiction book on human trafficking, or India, as both are fascinating subjects.

I already started The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander as my non-fiction fix. She writes on how the criminal justice and penal system replaced slavery in the United States. I already love it. And next, more about India, in The Beautiful Forevers, a non-fiction narrative about a slum in India. I love books, they are like reality on crack.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I like lichen!

Lichen that I like
In case you can't tell, I like lichen. It's weird and comes in fun shapes and grows on rocks, which I also like (thanks, geologist dad). It's both fungus and algae, and symbiotic! I took this picture of lichen last year in a cemetery in Manchester, VT, where I was living at the time. Cemeteries are another of my favorite things (add the Sound of Music to that, too). They're big parks with interesting things to read and funny names and no dog poop or family reunions (hee hee, I just realized that cemeteries could be family reunions, albeit in a very macabre way).
Unfurling flora

It was the beginning of Spring, which rolled in around mid-May in Vermont last year, and all sorts of flowers and plants were unfurling. Spring came quite a bit earlier this year, thank goodness, but I haven't gotten out on a good sunny day to get some nice pictures! This one reminds me of fiddlehead ferns, which look quite similar, and are considered a delicacy in the area. My co-op has a gorgeous display of the in the front of the produce department. Actually, they remind me more of rolly-pollys (the bug) than anything else, and I haven't had any desire to eat them. Yet.

Burlington Sunsets
Speaking of co-op, I bought a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share last week. It starts in June and I am super pumped- CSAs are a great way to get fresh produce (every week! downtown pick up!), support local farmers AND try new and unusual veggies and recipes. I can't wait to stretch my cooking muscles. I've fallen off the wagon a bit in the cooking department and need a little inspiration!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I ate two cups of gelato in one day and in two different cities.

Tuesday May 1, 2012

I just enjoyed a lovely weekend in Washington DC and Baltimore, MD. Most importantly, I ate a lot of amazing, and vegan, food. 
Wire scene setting!
Just as awesomely, I went to Baltimore, home of The Wire. If you haven't heard of The Wire, get new friends. If you have heard of it and you haven't watched it, why are you wasting your life? The Wire is a TV show focused mainly on  Baltimore police and drug trade. There are five seasons, each of which focuses on a different facet of Baltimore, and this shit is real (not reality tv- comparing "The Wire" to reality tv is like comparing "People" magazine to War and Peace* (side sidenote- no one actually reads "People", do they? I always thought it was kind of like Playboy- you're only in it for the pictures)). It’s a masterwork of detail and character development and holy mother of god continuity. It's the absolute pinnacle of television. Even Mad Men, with its hidden depths beneath that smoky sleek period gloss cannot touch this. Go put it at the top of your Netflix queue.

Spoiler Alert! Also, foul language and violence. Watch 100 Amazing Wire Quotes at right.

Fell's Point
However, while I was in Baltimore, I did not go wandering around to any "corners". It was exciting enough to spot familiar Wire landmarks. Instead, I experienced a very lovely and welcoming city. There was lots of gorgeous old architecture, a picturesque harbor and a very trendy neighborhood with insanely delicious gelato. This magical gelato shop had a satisfyingly wide variety of vegan sorbet flavors, including the rare dairy free chocolate flavors. As in their most popular flavor, chocolate noir, which is the chocolatiest, smoothest, most intense sorbet flavor I have ever tasted. After capping lunch with this deliciousness, taking the train back to DC and going to Chinatown for dinner, I spotted someone walking with a gelato cup from the same place. Apparently, Pitango Gelato is a chain, based in DC. Unfortunately, they are only in DC and Baltimore. But yes, I had another gelato after dinner. For those of you keeping track at home, that was gelato #2 of the day. I paired my chocolate noir with passionfruit sorbet the first time and raspberry the second. I have it on good authority that their actual gelato is equally delicious, though everyone in my party agreed the chocolate noir was the pinnacle of awesomeness. 

Taken from
I am now a convert to the "Charm City". I like interesting places, places with stories and challenges and changes. Baltimore certainly has all of those, though if things that are difficult or different frighten you, you can always stay in this neighborhood (to the right), called Harbor East, an antiseptic experiment with the repressive and elitist air of some sort of gated expat enclave.

Other delicious restaurants I sampled while on vacay:
Sticky Fingers: DC Vegan bakery and lunch counter! Cupcakes and fake meats/cheeses galore.
Jaleo : DC Spanish Tapas restaurant, omni and a half a block away from a Pitangos.
Cazbar: Baltimore Turkish restauarant, omni with lunch specials.

*Disclaimer: I have not read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I plan to.