Return of the Jabberwocky
A&E Channel for many years entertained us with the extraordinary travelogues of one Michael Palin, known to quite a few people in the world as one of the Monty Python boys. Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole and a third one taking a giant circle trip around the Pacific Rim -- all extraordinary serial adventures by every conceivable mode of conveyance.
The man was willing to go anywhere, do anything, eat whatever and generally entertain people around the world who have no idea who this mad Englishman is, or why there's a BBC film crew following him around.
Luck of the Draw
So we happened to be watching World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel when we saw a commercial for a new series on Mondays. Michael Palin's Himalaya. No one does travel like Michael, absolutely no one. We've seen three episodes -- they did two the first night -- and it is already enchanting. Who knew the Dalai Lama watched the BBC and had watched Michael Palin's previous travelogues? And the Victorian houseboats on the lake now used as hotel rooms in disputed Kashmir...
I think what I find most appealing about Michael Palin's presentation, is how respectfully he conducts himself as a guest in odd places, manages to find people to explain what is going on, and to mostly show things which I have never seen elsewhere. In a world where tensions have been high between India and Pakistan for a long time, to watch the official daily flag lowering ceremony at one border crossing, where two elite military units do elaborate steps and gestures of contempt for the other in a choreographed kind of dance, all to the roaring crowds of partisan spectators -- and the actual flag lowering is conducted with such precision that neither flag is ever dipped lower than the other -- there is something even magical about such a spectacle, which the humorless Cold War never achieved.
And fearless -- hiking and acclimating himself to conditions over 13,000 feet. Yikes!
I guess there won't be an episode of Himalaya on Monday, The Fourth of July, so the next one is 11 July 2005.