• europe,  Travel

    Upstairs, Downstairs in Paris

    Sheets of rain came pouring down the morning we stood in a queue to enter the network of tunnels, better known as the Catacombs, deep beneath the enchanted city of Paris. Down there, the enchantment wears off a smidge. There has to be balance after all, or you would be in danger of becoming inured to the beauty of that old city. The queue for the Catacombs was long and our patience short, e’en though we were armed with a sturdy umbrella from the boutique hotel we had just shifted into, from The Grand Hotel. I have always been curious about them, ossuaries. There are 40 such houses of bones scattered…

  • europe,  Travel

    The Hilltop Neighbourhood of Paris

    In Paris, I was part of Bresson’s world. Only here, I was the one behind the camera, a silent witness to the flow of people on the streets, making way for the natural synthesis of scenes to happen to the camera. Each corner I turned around, there was a frame lying in wait. On the streets of Paris, as you know, the frames are numerous. You are hard-pressed to let go of any. Such as on the noon before we walked to Montmartre – when we sat in a tiny, packed café to a meal of succulent roast chicken, fries and red wine. At the café’s counter, a man sat perched…

  • europe,  Travel

    Love, Loaf and Hugo

    If you asked a Parisian, what love is, he would thwack you with the golden loaf in his hand, and say, ‘Why, it is this, you numskull?!’ Here you would roll your eyes, and say, ‘Oh com’on, the baguette is such an overworked stereotype!’ Yet every time we stepped out on the streets of the city, there it was. A slender baton of crusty goodness staring back at us, tucked within the elbow of the old man in the long overcoat and beret, or sticking out of the tote of the young woman as she walked ahead of us. We even saw an old lady nibbling at the end of…

  • europe,  Holiday Stay Reviews,  Travel

    Mr. Basu’s at Le Grand Hotel, Paris

    The city was shrouded in mist that afternoon we landed in Paris. The cold was not blistering, but you know what happens after a 10-hour flight. Bleary-eyed and shivery, you are properly keyed up for a deep sleep. That’s all. All those plans of showering and taking the city by storm? A big, fat zero. The flight from JFK had taken us into Frankfurt for a three-hour layover. We discovered a private sleeping pod, but at the tail end of our wait. The irony of it: shattering. There you were desperate for some shut-eye and (huzzah!) you located a comfortable bed in the privacy of a cabin. Ding! went the…

  • Asia,  Travel

    Delhi to Calcutta

    It is bright outside. The sun has the personality of summer, its glare reflected off the veneer of ice that coats the road. I can see great slabs of ice on the Hudson beyond, but I am tempted to step out for a few minutes even though it feels like -20°C outside. My great temptation is the resident Great Bernese of our building who is swaying her beautiful, big body through the park. Plus I have not met her yet in person and that seems a shame. How different it seems to my time in India. For I felt a curious tug to Calcutta this time. Curious because here I…

  • Travel

    We Were in an Apartment in the Air!

    To start with, I wanted to tell you about the terrific manner in which one may travel nowadays. Think beyond Business. As a frequent flyer informs me, ‘Forget it, everyone flies business nowadays’. The thing is that one can actually have an ‘apartment’ or even lord over a ‘residence’ in the air. Here I see you rolling your eyes and thinking, ‘what on earth’, before proceeding to inform me that it has been around for some time. But in 2014 Etihad amplified the definition of luxury in the sky. This made the first-class cabins of European and American carriers look like old fogeys. The first-class suites of Singapore (the old ones)…

  • North America,  Travel

    Winds of January

    When I woke up this morning, the temperatures outside (the real feel of it that is) read -25°C. I could hear the wind howling outside as I went about my workout in the rooftop gym, watching bony trees toss their heads around. Yet it looks so charming outside. The soft sun lighting up the park, touching upon grey wrinkled barks and casting long shadows into the afternoon, the shimmering blue waters of the Hudson that are clearly visible every winter… it could almost lull you into thinking of it as a beautiful spring day. Almost. Till you look down and notice the man at the bus stop cowering in his jacket and…

  • North America

    Fantasies of the Season

    I wanted to traipse around the city today. For another gander at the holiday windows along Fifth Avenue. But a run and high-intensity workout followed by a session of packing suitcases (we leave for France tomorrow) has done me in. I have been daydreaming while writing this post because oh travel brings with it sweet anticipation (even though my family did make some pother about it because we head to Paris and Strasbourg), so it took some time to get about putting up these vignettes of NYC’s famed holiday windows from last season and this. The champion of all the narratives was that of Saks Fifth Avenue. They come up…

  • Travel

    What, The Last Month of The Year Already?

    It astonishes me how the days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, till another year is going to come to an end. Time never ceases it seems till you are caught in a situation where you are trapped in a slow train with people around you conversing in another language, you have missed the last bus at a lonely place where the ocean batters the cliffs, or better still, you are sleeping in an unreserved train compartment with batty coppers and convicts for company. And here’s time sprouting wings, so that autumn’s been too brief a spell. Sparse brown leaves cling to the branches in the park, loathe to…

  • Travel

    Sweet Autumnal November, I Was Waiting For You.

    I have a natural affinity for November. I was born on the 9th day of the month. With the passing of this day every year, I spot tangible changes in myself. Physically and mentally. It is a bouquet of mixed emotions. Wisps of grey hair, fine lines upon the forehead, a wistfulness that the years are going by in a jiffy, the recognition that I am changing as a person too. Subtle changes. Like how I used to love being social. Now I am content in the company of my husband, the geese and the squirrels (they who have taken the place of the English sheep and horses). The gulls…