April 5, 2002
| April 5, 2002
Director Mira Nair uses the garlands of marigold, the vibrantly colored tents, and the pulsating music of Monsoon Wedding as a backdrop to examine the preparations for and the complexities of a traditional Punjabi wedding. Like an intricately decorated wedding cake, the plot is multi-layered, with several well-developed subplots that add substance to the story. While the character portrayals and visual delights of the cinematography emanate with color, the plot reveals some of the family’s darker secrets.
Set in the bride’s home in an affluent suburb of Delhi, the film chronicles the days leading up to Aditi’s wedding and culminates with the exuberant ceremony. As the wedding nears and the extended family arrives from around the world to take part in the festivities, Aditi develops cold feet. Although her parents arranged for her to marry an engineer from Texas, she harbors secret affections for a married man. Her struggle to come to terms with her parents’ wishes and to respect Punjabi tradition continues throughout the preparatory wedding rituals.
While much of the film is devoted to resolving Aditi’s crisis, Mira Nair gives ample attention to portraying the personal dramas of the other principal and secondary characters. Not only are we introduced to Aditi’s large family, but we also come to know many of their quirks and conflicts. The flirtation of distant cousins, the budding romance between the wedding planner and the servant, and Adidit’s parents’ struggles with their effeminate son, all furnish the plot with layers of complexity. There are glimmers of Father of the Bride, in that much of the film focuses on the father’s efforts to finance the wedding and his emotional struggles with marrying off his eldest daughter.
Although most of the scenes take place at Aditi’s house, Nair averts a claustrophobic feel by separating individual scenes with beautifully filmed sequences of life on the Delhi streets. Not only are these lyrical interludes a masterful achievement in lighting, but they also convey a social message by juxtaposing the lifestyles of the upper-middle and lower classes. The use of a handheld camera makes the viewer privy to many intimate family moments. Unfortunately, some of the intimacy is lost in the occasional heavily accented dialogue, which left me longing for subtitles.
Nair’s vision, which highlights the activities of an individual Punjabi family, also offers a commentary on the globalization of contemporary India. However, invading elements of the West do not dilute the tantalizing Indian flavor of the film. Amidst the impending rains and the mounting tensions between the traditional and the modern, Monsoon Wedding triumphs as a celebration of the universal values of life, love, and family.
Archived article by Gillian Klempner
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April 8, 2002
Attracting executives and leaders in the hospitality management from all over the country, the 77th annual Hotel Ezra Cornell (HEC) featured the finest in food, leisure activities, and educational programs for its over 100 guests. Students in the School of Hotel Administration hosted the event, which began last Thursday and ended yesterday. Programming This year’s program featured a greater emphasis on educational programs than previous years. The first full day, Friday, included four major presentations by distinguished leaders in their fields. In the morning, Cornell professors Dr. Alfred Kahn, political economics, and Joel Sibley, history, started the day with “The State of the Economy and the Political Climate for 2002.” Next, professional speaker Lenora Billings-Harris, a specialist on workforce diversity, offered an interactive session called “Diversity within a Globalized Workforce.” Jonathan Tisch, chair and CEO of Loews Hotels, gave a presentation entitled, “The Industry After 9/11.” Tisch also chairs the Travel Business Roundtable (TBR), a lobbying organization for the travel and tourism industry, and “New York Rising,” a task force established by NYC & Co. to stabilize and rebuild the city’s tourism sector. Experiences Tisch talked about his experience in the hotel management field and in dealing with national leaders following the attacks of Sept. 11th to boost the struggling industry. “The events of last fall dramatically caused downturn that will have an impact for years to come,” said Tisch. “Individuals who lived very far away from us decided to change our way of life. They used the travel industry to accomplish this.” Following Sept.11th, Tisch met with numerous government leaders in Washington, including Senate majority leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and President Bush’s chief of staff Karl Rove. Tisch and the TBR went to convince them to give aid to areas of the travel industry, especially airlines, and to stress the importance of the tourism sector in the economy. “Immediately, the TBR went to Washington to help bail out the airline industry. America was paralyzed and we had to get the public working with the private sector,” Tisch said. According to Tisch, the travel and tourism industry is the first, second, or third largest industry in 28 states. “It is said that cities unite America. I would like to expand on that and say that it is the travel and tourism industry that unites our cities.” The declining economy has also had a significant impact on travel and tourism, according to Tisch. “This industry is not just about the largest names in the industry. This is also about the moms and pops,” said Tisch, asserting that all levels of the industry have been hurt by Sept. 11th. “The recovery is coming. We are cautiously optimistic that the recovery will continue. The travel industry has always lagged behind other sectors,” Tisch added. Most damaging, according to Tisch, is the major decline in the visits of international travelers, who spend nearly six times their domestic counterparts. America has also slipped to the number three position of countries most visited by international travelers, falling behind France and Spain. Tisch went on to discuss his own hotel chain and his management policy. Loews Hotels is a luxury hotel chain currently consisting of 17 hotels in major cities around the U.S., with another scheduled to open in a few months. “We are tiny compared to some of the major players in the industry,” said Tisch, whose father started the company over 50 years ago. “We will never be the size of our competitors, but we do have a niche in the marketplace.” Tisch also explained the four major partnerships that he believes are essential for a successful hotel chain: hotel management in cooperation with its shareholders, guests, employees, and communities. “Nothing matters more to us than that our guests are taken care of,” he said. Later in the afternoon, Charlotte Bogardus, founder and CEO of Gazelle Systems, gave the lecture, “Knowing is Growing: Customer Relationship Management Applications for Restaurants.” In between the various presentations were refreshment breaks and networking gatherings where students and industry leaders could interact. Throughout the day, several executives, industry leaders, and students offered their impressions of the weekend, especially the shift to more emphasis on educational programs. “We had some discussion this morning about the need to reorient HEC to become more of an industry function,” said Robert Britton, managing director of advertising and marketing planning for American Airlines. “People will always come back,” added Britton, who has been to thirteen consecutive previous HECs. “This weekend offers an opportunity to gather together under the guidance of probably the best hospitality management school in the country.” Lenora Billings-Harris, who spoke earlier in the day, reflected on her presentation about diversity in the workplace. “We talked about how sometimes people in this industry are uncomfortable with the issue of diversity. I hope that I helped the audience to understand that diversity is much more than just ethnicity,” said Billings-Harris. She also explained how the overall HEC experience, her first, has been for the visitors. “Since I arrived, the hotel students have spoiled me completely,” said Billings-Harris. “It’s more like a business conference in that it raises everyone’s level of education, but they have done a much better job with combing that with networking opportunities.” Arjun Baljee is a senior in the School of Hotel Administration who constructed a display in Student Faculty Showcase. Baljee’s project was the result of a design challenge in one of his classes to design a complete hotel room within only 140 square feet. He offered his opinion on how the weekend affects students and visitors. “This is a great, fun weekend because you get to meet the alumni, and for the alumni it is basically something of a reunion.” Friday ended with the annual awards banquet for students and faculty. On Saturday, guests were treated to a variety of activities at Cornell and in the Ithaca area, such as jogging excursions, winery tours, and trips to the Johnson Museum of Art and Cornell athletic events.Archived article by Mackenzie Damon
April 8, 2002
Sun: If you were a small, furry creature, which one would you be? T.D.: I’d definitely be a squirrel. I like squirrels, and I like to climb trees. Sun: What happened as a child…were you hit on the head? T.D.: I was hit on the head once, I fell out of a tree and I landed on a rock. I don’t know if that has anything to do with. That hurt. Sun: Why a gnu? Why not a ferret, or a yak? T.D.: It just sounds cool. I don’t really even know what they look like. They have horns, don’t they? I hope so. Mr. Gnu is blue for some reason [in color]. Sun: Favorite band? T.D.: I like Frank Black a lot, and I like Belle and Sebastian. Sun: Favorite movie? T.D.: Anne of Green Gables, I know it sounds pretty bad but I’m obsessed with it. I don’t own the movie, so I go to the Bangor library every month and I take it out because they have it, and I’m getting kind of embarrassed. I have to give them my library keychain thing so they can scan it, and I also have an Anne of Green Gables keychain, so the lady gives me dirty looks like I’m some kinda…every time I take it out. Now I take off my Anne of Green Gables keychain before and put it back on when I leave. Sun: What will be on your headstone? T.D.:”I’m dead.” Every Halloween, there’s a person on the street, in their yard they have those fake gravestones, and one of them just says “I’m dead,” and I always get a kick out of that. Sun: Nickname? T.D.: My wife calls me Glitternuts. Some people called me T-Man in college. Sun: Advice for a disenchanted college student? T.D.: Quit school. I don’t know…sensual oils are good, get a massage with a sensual oil, take a bath. That helps. I just finished grouting my shower, and I’ve been having to take baths…I’ve been taking a lot of baths. Sun: Most embarrassing moment? T.D.: I don’t think I’ve ever been embarrassed. I’m ashamed of myself. Well…I’m really embarrassed when anyone that I don’t know sees my comic strip. One time, at the humane society where I worked, some lady saw it, she had read it, and she’s like “Do you draw a comic strip?” and I said yeah, Mr. Gnu, and she’s like “Oh yeah, the one in the U. Maine paper, I read it today. It’s about a maxi pad with wings.” I got really embarrassed then. Sun: Most humbling moment? T.D.: When my son was born, and I caught him and he was purple and bloody. That was exciting. Sun: Role model? T.D.: Definitely Henry David Thoreau is my main role model. Sun: Comic strip influences? T.D.: When I was little, I was obsessed with “Garfield” and then “Calvin & Hobbes,” then I got influenced by stuff like “Ren & Stimpy”…but lately there’s really not much that I find interesting. Sun: Pet peeves? T.D.: I was getting pissed off at people’s vanity plates today. A lot of them are really dumb. Archived article by Andy Guess