This week's tablehopper: a passage from India.


A Chowpatty beach night vendor.

Namaskar! After three remarkable weeks in Southern India, I am back! Well, almost: I am still making my way through 1,300 emails and 2,500 RSS feed headlines, but I’m getting close. And this jet lag is no joke: I’ve been falling asleep stupidly early and waking up at 6am, which is the polar opposite of the usual Marcia: I feel like I’m a mom, or I’m a working stiff with a long commute somewhere. There is no espresso strong enough to keep me awake past 10pm. WTF. Just call me grandma.

It’s funny how many people have asked me, “Why India?” And to that I say why on earth not? True, it’s not for everyone—things can be a bit grotty, cramped, crazy, and heart breaking, but for me, this was the most important trip I have ever taken in my life thus far. I met some of the most curious, kind, lovely, and warm people ever; the food was incredible and revelatory (we only had a couple “meh” meals, and my sis and I didn’t get sick until my last day, huzzah); and almost every place we went to was quite fascinating, if not totally beautiful. It was heaven to go away and get a blast of heat and beach time in the middle of our winter. And Mumbai? I can’t wait to write to you about it—it was my favorite.

I have never felt so far away from everything—well, except Burning Man (those of you who have been know what I’m saying). And in a weird Burning Man parallel, it’s definitely been an adjustment since I’ve come home—things are quieter, more orderly, concrete-covered, and less colorful here. I guess I got used to having lots of people around me at all times. I’m also trying to sort through a lot of Western guilt that came up while I was there—I am so blessed with my comfy and healthy life here, I can’t begin to count the ways. But I’m going to try to, because this trip away gave me one hell of a perspective on how much we have. America can be such a strange bubble. It was good to leave it so I could be reminded of that.

India was indeed a life changing experience, and I am so pleased I was able to take this trip with my fabulous sister—we had such a great time together. We laughed a lot. I am cranking to edit and upload my slew of photos by next week, so stand by! Let’s just say there are 1,100 images I’m trying to pare down and caption, whew. And there will be a writeup of the trip as well! I’d love to encourage people to go—I can’t believe it took me this long to go there, and I’m already plotting my return. Although next time I will bring some 750ml bottles of wine in my bag—I was craving some vino something fierce out there (it was all about Kingfisher beer).

And so … now it’s back to my San Francisco life. It was exciting to come home to an advance copy of my book in the mail, that’s for damned sure! The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion comes out March 9th, which is coming up fast. I’m lining up a bunch of fun events and signings all over the Bay Area—I’ll have a calendar and updates on a few events for you next week.

You ready for a beast of a column? Rawr, here it is.

Looking forward to seeing you on the town,

Marcia Gagliardi

View tablehopper Newsletter from Tuesday, Feb 2 2010