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Kathputli: Traditions of Fire, Puppets, and Magic

by Meredith Mullins on April 17, 2017

A puppeteer performs for his family in the Kathputli Colony in Delhi, showing cultural encounters in the slums of India. (Image © Meredith Mullins.)

A handmade puppet dances for her puppeteer inside a Kathputli Colony jhuggi.
© Meredith Mullins

Cultural Encounters in the Slums of India

The labyrinthine streets lead from one palette of wild color to another—from carnival reds and yellows to candy pinks and lavenders to soothing blue and green pastels.

The stripes and flowers and polka dots of the freshly washed clothes that hang in every possible open space make the colors of the buildings even more festive.

Colorful buildings and hanging wash in the Kathputli Colony of Delhi, showing cultural encounters in the slums of India. (Image © Meredith Mullins.)

The Kathputli Colony in living color
© Meredith Mullins

Smells of curry and turmeric drift in the dusty air. And sounds of daily life and laughter create an uninterrupted soundtrack.

Connecting Through the Universal Language of Music

by Meredith Mullins on May 4, 2015

Two dancers in white at the rue Mouffetard in Paris, showing that music is the universal language of connection. (Image © Meredith Mullins)

Sunday morning dancing on the rue Mouffetard in Paris
© Meredith Mullins

A Reminder of Old Paris: Singing and Dancing on the Rue Mouffetard

I want to make people cry, even when they don’t understand my words.   —Edith Piaf

It’s Sunday morning in the Square St Médard in Paris. I am singing in the warm sun . . . belting out the words “Tant que l’amour inondera mes matins” from Edith Piaf’s “L’Hymne à l’Amour” (The Hymn to Love).

With my limited French, I don’t quite understand what the words mean; but the song swells up inside and puts a little lump of emotion in my throat. I feel an unexplainable nostalgia.

India—Cultural Encounters of the Colorful Kind

by Meredith Mullins on March 16, 2015

Flower seller, car-to-car, cultural encounters in Northern India that provide travel inspiration. (Image © Meredith Mullins)

A car-to-car flower seller in Delhi
© Meredith Mullins

Travel Inspiration from Northern India

I expected sensory overload . . . and India delivered.

  • Bright colors warmed by the sun
  • Labyrinthine bazaars, far more organized than first glance implies
  • Horn blasts and shrill shouts from streets crowded with cars, rickshaws, animals, cycles, and carts
  • Spices that pervade the body—smell, taste, and touch
  • Dust and wood-fire smoke permeating air and clothes
  • Mounds of golden flowers—in markets and on shrines to the gods
  • People living their lives in the open—in the streets, on rooftops, in alleys, in unwalled shops, or in just about any open space
Rooftop in Old Delhi, cultural encounters in Northern India that provide travel inspiration. (Image © Meredith Mullins)

Up on the roof . . . in Old Delhi
© Meredith Mullins

What I did not expect was the depth of hospitality or the pride of place that I experienced from the people of India.

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