Slumdog Millionaire’s victory at the Oscars last night, just at the time I’m working on Lunatic, reminded me again of the importance of plain old story, told simply and well. It wasn’t a perfect movie, but it had the essential elements that we ALL struggle with every day: love, betrayal, struggle, dreams of triumph, comedy and tragedy, told in an easily accessible way, against a compelling and exotic backdrop.

When I was traveling across the US on Greyhound I looked at my fellow passengers with a cynicism I never felt in Bangladesh or Peru or India.  My seatmates on Greyhound with their plastic trash bags of clothes seemed sad losers; my boat mates on the ferry out of Dacca seemed worthy of sympathy and empathy.  Their plight was, no doubt, the same in many ways.  Still, at least I was looking at those travelers on Greyhound, thinking about them and my own country, and that’s what travel is all about: making you look.  Seeing with a fresh eye, which is hard to do when the venue never changes.

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About this author

  • Carl Hoffman

    Carl Hoffman is traveling for The Lunatic Express, to be published by Broadway Books in 2009. He is a contributing editor at Na…

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