This post is for friend and regular reader Phyllis, who shared my pilgrimage to Flannery O’Connor’s homestead in Milledgeville, Georgia, where we met descendants of two of Flannery’s beloved peacocks.
The Seattle Art Museum, which has a so-so standing collection but brings in spectacular traveling shows, is hosting an exhibit called Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India — 15th century artworks beautifully preserved an on exhibit in India at the vast Mehrangarh Fort. If you saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, I think this is the same Jaipur where the hapless crew of old Brits arrive to live out their days in decrepit former luxury. We asked a docent if that was so, and she said no — but after looking at a map of India, I think the docent is wrong. I think historical Jodhpur is now Jaipur.
Louise was struck by the gilded luxury of the rich in India, set against massive poverty then and now — but I think that’s true of a lot of countries, our own included.
That inlaid mosaic swing is made of stone, which must make it very heavy.
I liked the elephant best. When I was a kid, five or six, there was a program on TV about an Indian boy who had his own small elephant, and I was deeply smitten. I remember making the case to my parents why our garage would have made a suitable home for my own miniature live elephant — to no avail of course. Nor did I appreciate what wintering over in frigid New Jersey would have meant to an elephant of any size.
This is a painting of a peacock, not the real thing. They are beautiful creatures, but they have a blood-curdling screech. Flannery had 60 or more. I was quite bowled over by the sound of two.