Sorebrek's Musings and Ramblings

In search of the holy grail of an MBA (class of 2008 hopeful), this space will hopefully chronicle the search and my other quixotic pursuits.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Trying Really Hard To Like Seth Stevenson

Check out this article on Slate describing Seth Stevenson's effort and my e-mail addressed to him:

Ref: Your article:

When you mentioned the piles of garbage, homeless people, the urine stench and the panhandlers, for a moment I thought you were referring to the Tenderloin district in San Francisco. Well, not quite - the drug-peddlers were missing from the picture; but hey, Lord Ativan must've compensated for that. Anyway, when I get a little home-sick (me having taken the hi-tech route to the Silicon Valley from India), I hang out in the Tenderloin to soak in the ambience. In fact, I do better, I volunteer at soup kitchens for the homeless to absolve myself of the brown-man's guilt. Oh, I do actually cut checks, rather big ones for my favorite charities for the homeless in structured and figured-out America. Where do you get off (your high horse) Hunter Thompson?

In taking exception to Stevenson's myopic piece on India, I am also quite convinced that he would try hard to like any other country without the minimal effort required in understanding what makes a country tick. Case in point is his misanthropic views of other tourists. Having said that, I admire his gumption for opening his mouth to voice his albeit misplaced views in a world of politically correct travel writers and their readers. My beef with his rhetoric is that while he has nothing but pure disdain for the common tourist, he himself never rose above their ilk to reveal another dimension to the country that thrives amidst its chaos. Furthermore, he harbors a thinly-veiled disgust towards those visitors on a spiritual quest. Why so? Stevenson's balck and white world is limited to his immediate perception; everything beyond his comprehension cannot be of any worth. His other gaffe is his failure to recognize the parallels between the inner cities of his figured-out and structured backyard. Besides over-the-counter Ativan, his cultural takeaways are as shallow as his faculties of observation.


  • At 10:54 AM, Blogger aregon23 said…

    I did write that presumptous ass an email, but think it is a waste of time to debate issues with someone whose mind is so closed!

  • At 11:32 PM, Blogger franky said…

    What he says is true too ... Let's accept facts, the conclusions not. I know quite a large number of foreigners who visit india on a regular basis, trust me this guy will be back and again and again. Send him something 5 years down the line :).

  • At 10:45 AM, Blogger aregon23 said…

    It wasn't what he said that gets my goat, it is the arrogance. Having travelled to quite a few countries, I can tell you no country is a bed of roses, be it a third world country or a bed of roses. Come to think of it, nothing in life is a bed of roses, but you have to look beyond the thorns and see what people are making out of their lives with the limited resources available to them.

    It is really easy to look at a couple of incidents and use them to draw deductions. People like that go through life shallow as the day they were born, unfortunately they convince others of the same, by virtue of their podium.

  • At 6:28 AM, Blogger franky said…

    Out of those countries that are not a bed of roses take out switzerland. I will agree to any list you make thereafter :).

  • At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was born and brought up in India (Mumbai specifically) and also came and stayed in the US for high tech. work. I also recently visited India (this summer) with my wife and 3 American (born) children (first for them)..(visited Mysore, Bombay and Goa..similar to Seth)

    I actually thought Seth's article was quite astute in its observation and described many of the same feelings I had about India..i.e. I don't see a myopic view nor did I take it personally...

    Basically, there is chaos which you grow to love (and hate)...and you do feel like leaving after a while...! (and maybe re-visiting soon after...and Tenderloin district or not - the fact remains that almost 100% of the people who visit San Francisco don't have to try hard to like it ..They love it!! Mumbai (and India etc..) you do have to try...

    its just how things are..


  • At 9:10 PM, Blogger sorebrek said…

    For what it is worth, my argument is about this guy's tunnel vision. I was using the San Fran Tenderloin example to show how tunnel vision works both ways.

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