• europe,  Travel

    A Day in Lund

    As far as university towns go, traipsing around them in Europe awakes in me the urge to go back to a life as a student. Now that is stating something. The day I finished labouring over science in high school, which only drove me into the arms of my original love, English literature, I was doing fifty jigs a minute. And, that day that I held my first paycheck in the offices of the Times of India: Exquisite. I was empowered. By the control I had over my own life. I had left the world of studying and loathsome exams behind. Yet finding myself in university towns like Leuven or…

  • europe,  Travel

    Granite and Gallurese

    It is but providence that we winded up in the Gallura region. Parul and I had laid our hands upon one of those travel deals that threw in a four-day stay at a resort and the cheapest flight they could source with Ryan Air. The rider to the deal was that this resort was in Olbia, far away from the southern parts which we wanted to see, and Adi was thunderstruck by our impulsiveness at not checking anything before booking our island holiday. My friend and I were both non-drivers, you see. On an island where everything is dependent upon your own mode of conveyance, this was not a happy…

  • europe

    Sardinia’s Wild Heart Beats in Barbagia

    The isolated mien of the island of Sardinia is compounded by its insistence on keeping to itself and shying away from mainland Italy. The Sardinians do not repose faith in Rome. Their grouse is that they have been sidelined, rather monstrously. A politician who doubles up as a tour guide, the vivacious Enza, told us about the political climate of her country as she drove us in her trusty old car through the winding mountainous roads of Barbagia. I was enamoured of that dramatic landscape. Villages with their bevy of granite houses and terracotta roofs sat comfortably in valleys that seemed to have been scooped out of limestone mountains. Swathes of…

  • europe,  Travel

    The Classical Bandits of Sardinia

    They live in Orgosolo, they say. But in the same breath they maintain that vendettas and violence have long vanished from the inland villages of Sardinia. In the spring of 2015, around this time, a girl friend and I took a flight into Alghero. To land upon the island that sits in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea, surrounded by the Balearic islands, the Italian peninsula and Corsica, and yet is a world unto its own. A rugged land where the air is ripe with possibilities. Here there are no high-street chains for clothing and coffee stores, no concrete jungles to feel lost in, and certainly none of the big…

  • europe

    Pest to Buda: The Road to Yesterday

    From the busy bohemian affair that is Pest, Buda is a world away. It is as if the Danube which bisects these two cities injects the air with a change that is palpable as you make your way to the capital of medieval Hungary. The good Welsh folk would declare us tup to have opted for a walking tour on a morning that proceeded to get distressingly foggy and frigid. But we will run with Kurt Vonnegut here. That “bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.” There was drama on the square outside St. Stephen’s Basilica. A bomb scare. Police arriving officiously and dawdlers scuttling equally hastily. We had left…

  • europe

    Portraits from Pest

    In the flat plains of Pest, which the Hungarian calls Peshth, we took over the city on foot. It drove our friend Vee up the wall, those long evening walks by the Danube when the fingers ached with a strange intensity, startled by the piercing cold of the night when even breathing seemed like a bad idea. Lights twinkled through the fog that sat thick upon Gellért Hill high above us as we crossed the Liberty Bridge, the bridge that looks like it was fashioned out of turquoise metal and ebullience. The kind of ebullience that comes with freedom, freedom from the Nazis. But then the smothering of that very…

  • europe

    Inside The Ghetto

    In the tiny bakery known as Boccione within one of the oldest Jewish ghettos in Europe, we queued up for a slice of Jewish pizza. The woman at the till, her hair tucked carefully into a plastic cap, doled out a rectangular piece of dense cake which tasted more like a biscuit as the moreish taste of raisins, almonds and dried fruits came together in a a perfect ménage à trois of sorts. Then the beauty of butter. Eternity is encapsulated often within the briefest of moments. A few metres from us was the atmospheric restaurant, Nonna Betta, which declares that Anthony Bourdain could deign to eat only within its august interiors in…

  • europe

    Colours of the Night in Florence

    Now wait, did you think I was done with Florence? You do know my proclivity for banging on about one place till I have flayed it to its core, right? Because the mind finds itself wedged between the atmospheric alleys of an old city, it refuses to let go of memories acquired under the half-light of twilight. The old towns of Europe, they come alive under the warm yellow lighting ensconced within the vintage street lamps as you trod upon uneven cobblestones coating those old roads. You walk down narrow alleys charmed by everything you set your eyes upon because is it not all a living fairy tale? A pastel…

  • europe

    Romanced by Florence

    I saw Florence once again through the eyes of my love. In it, I found inordinate pleasure. That was another time it seemed when I had caught the train from Milan to Florence in the spring of 2016. Though it was not quite long ago. I had set out on a walking tour with a middle-aged artist with a long, gaunt face, dishevelled hair covered by a tweed flat cap, his ample girth covered by a capacious coat that had seen better times. He had drawled about the finer points of Florence which could not be missed by the most absent-minded person that ever existed. Mouths gaped open then at…

  • europe

    Ambling Around Rome

    I have been neck deep in eating, hence the absence. Hedonism in the new year. Indo Chinese and biryanis and street food and what not. All of that would be fodder for another post. I am in Calcutta at my childhood home which means that I am persevering to achieve Zen. A tall order given the frequent squabbling with my mother who remains the most headstrong woman I have ever known. But because I am home alone — something I ached for as a child when my parents refused to leave me to my devices as it would involve my racking up the phone bill to palpitating figures — I…