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ABCDE Travel sunday, august 15, 2010


CULTURE CAPITAL


Sun city Hungarian history radiates throughout the colorful town of Pecs. F6


Whohas it tougher on flights: flight attendants or passengers?”


Vote now, and join our live chat at 2 p.m. Monday for more discussion: washingtonpost.com/travel.


SMARTMOUTH


Bread lines A Cape Cod bakery and bistro has patrons begging for more. F6


ROME BALI F EZ


INDIA ‘Eat Pray Love’ takes moviegoers to three foreign lands. But is it all Hollywood?


BY MARY BETH SHERIDAN One of the first people Elizabeth


ITALY Rome


Gilbert encounters on moving to Rome is her new landlady: an old Italian woman, squat and pimpled, filling a bathtub with a boiling tea- kettle. Only one thing really matters in life, she lectures Liz: la famiglia!! Mammamia!! Bring on the Italian


stereotypes. Andthe movie “EatPrayLove” delivers them in spades.


There are the derriere-pinching men in the piazzas, the housewives screaming in the outdoor market, the old crones in black—all of which still exist but hardly define current-day Rome. Struggling to learn the language, Gilbert (Julia Rob-


erts) istaughtthat Italiansareahappylot(partial to “dolce far niente,” the joy of doing nothing). And the proper way of speaking Italian: not just with words, but “con i gesti.” Cue the waving arms! Still, even with the cliches, Rome is lovingly filmed, a


feast for the eyes. And, of course, for the stomach. Gilbert has moved to


Italy as part of her effort to rediscover happiness and wonder. In New York, she had lost her taste for life, cruising on autopilot through an empty marriage. In Italy, food is her new love. She is seduced by its


gorgeousness.The camera lavishes attention on the plates at sunlit trattorias: the pink folds of prosciutto servedwith sweet figs; a golden fried mozzarella that crunches at the touch of a fork. In a lightly comical moment, Gilbert practically venerates a swirl of spaghetti with tomato sauce and basil. The opera music swells, and a blizzard of Parmesan floats down from above. Theimagemarksherevolution,hernewability to enjoy


rome continued on F5


INDIA Mumbai


BY MOLLYMOORE


Special to The Washington Post Julia Roberts’s first view of India


as seen fromthe back seat of a taxi is a “Mad Max” road game of chicken played at breakneck speed with over- loaded trucks, bellowing cows and ambivalent pedestrians. The taxi slows, and it gets no better. She is besieged by aggressive flocks of beg-


gar children and skeletalmen on crutches. Finally arriving at her destination, Roberts, as “Eat


Pray Love” author ElizabethGilbert, bolts—with obvious relief—fromthe chaos of India into the tranquillity of an ashram,where she spends a big chunk of themoviemade fromGilbert’swildly popular book escaping reality, trying alternately to find herself and God, and wearing a new goofy-looking outfit in every scene. And here begins the ultimate India travel cliche. The


only thingmissing is a snake charmer on the doorstep. After living in India for three years as a foreign


correspondent for TheWashington Post, I came to abhor the hippie-mysticism/find-yourself/find-God stereotypi- cal image of an Indian vacation. In the book,Gilbert spends fourmonths in India never


venturing beyond the tiny village outside her ashram doors. In fact, in the book, Gilbert claims to have slept through the entire drive from theMumbai airport to the ashram. And here’s her description of India: “Outside the walls of the Ashram, it is all dust and poverty.” Follow the footsteps and attitude of Gilbert, and you


squander the opportunity to discover yourself,God (if you wish) and one of the most magical and maddening countries on the planet. To be sure, there is a great deal of dust and poverty.But


india continued on F4 INDONESIA Bali BY PICO IYER


Special to The Washington Post The beauty of the Bali portrayed


in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat Pray Love” is that it is Eden with a swarm of asterisks. Gilbert tells us openly that for


her, the island was a perfect, god-filled sanctuary in which to collect herself, to meditate, to talk to medicinemenand warm, spirited female healers. But for them, often, it’s a matter of economic challenge and almost coveting the things she had. The wise medicine man asks, “He a rich man, your boyfriend?” The kind local woman who offers Gilbert counsel and conversation lets her American friend raise almost $18,000 to buy her a newhouse and then takes the money but shows no signs of buying said house. “Dude, why is life all crazy like this?” asks Yudhi, a Christian pal from Java, as he pines for the suburbanNewJersey home he lost when he was deported from the United States as a suspected Islamic terrorist. Gilbert’s book is never more real, in fact, than when


investigating our dreams; it acknowledges that wisdom in India might issue from a loud Texan and love in Bali from a nomadic older Brazilian. The author herself comes across as hopeful, trusting


and sometimes “a victim of my own optimism,” but seldom as naive, and it is the keen intelligence underlying her quest that gives it its fiber. On her first trip to Bali, she confesses, she took it to be


paradise; on her second, recorded in the book, she does her research and excavates a lot of information about its history of mass rapes, slavery, wars and the week in 1965 when 100,000 were slaughtered during a political convul- sion.


bali continued on F4 MAPS BY MARY KATE CANNISTRA/THE WASHINGTON POST; PHOTOS, FROM LEFT: BY PCL/ALAMY; COPYRIGHT 2010 CTMG; COPYRIGHT J MARSHALL/TRIBALEYE IMAGES /ALAMY


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