• Travel

    A Cliffhanger of a Cabin on Old Smokey (Beloved of a Mamma Bear)

    A band of cicadas serenaded us as we got off our Outback Subaru. Their singing seemed to intensify as we hopped off the car, me casting nervous glances at the cliffs and trees around us, the thought running through my mind that a welcome committee of bears might be awaiting us in the dark. The drive from North Carolina to this chalet in Tennessee, built into the hills of the Great Smoky Mountains, had been one of unimaginable beauty. The sky, riddled with billowing clouds earlier on in the afternoon in Winston-Salem, was suffused now with a crimson glow that continued to intensify till it dissipated in pastel hues. The hills…

  • Travel

    Salem

    Way before we drove into Salem, part of the hyphenated metropolis of Winston-Salem, my mind had travelled before my body. It had daydreamed about The Salem of the witch trials. The prospect of chancing upon stories of witchcraft, swirled in my thoughts, of the detail being in the devil just as in the case of the Pendle Hill witches of Lancaster. Could the famed Lancastrian occultists have given their Salem counterparts a run for their money, who knows (it’s such tosh anyway). In Salem the absence of the bad girls were notable. Where were they? Adi shrugged, saying: “I was hardly interested in the history of any place before you…

  • Travel

    The Colours are Gold & Black at Winston-Salem

    My connection to the southern town of Winston-Salem in North Carolina is my husband. He lived and studied in this sweet sleepy place, laid out by a cigarette baron and his philanthropic wife. It is the town where they till late handed out cigarettes for free in offices, even at the university that the same baron funded in the mid-1800s. Shocking? Hell yeah, but you see how the world has changed for the better, even though we might carp about it from time to time. In more ways than one, the story of tobacco tycoon R.J. Reynolds and his wife Katharine Reynolds is intertwined with the story of this institution…

  • North America,  Travel

    DC En Couleur

    The need to craft words about the city falls away, for once you walk its wide open boulevards, there is no escaping the aura of power that envelopes it. Tangibly at that. Classic row houses lined up on broad, leafy avenues, impressive buildings of embassies and trade unions, grand hotels and saloons, followed by resplendent federal buildings and museums with their decided partiality for classical architecture, the many Ionic column, the mythological figures carved upon the facades… oh, but our senses were awash with these visions of grandeur. And all this, the conception of a Frenchman who in the late 1700s came upon a rolling landscape of hills and plantations,…

  • North America,  Travel

    One Sizzling Day in Washington DC

    If only there were two Tuesdays in a week, I would have been here more often banging on about my thoughts. But we steal what moments we can from life, and here I am,  words fuelled by the mellow gorgeousness of a red wine spreading itself slowly but surely through my senses (written last night). Enough has happened in the last few weeks. In reverse, my in-laws left yesterday, we did a random day trip or two into the American countryside, walked around the city with our noses in the air, primed for the scent of good food, earned myself a second-degree burn while baking eggs (I mean the ignominy…

  • North America,  Travel

    Oh But This Summer of Fiery Sunsets and Fireflies

    Every evening as the sun sets in a riot of colours upon the mighty Hudson, and I saunter along the river, I find myself revelling in the wonder of nature. Adi comes with once in a while. Together we spot so many pinpricks of yellow and orange in the twilight hour. The park is swarming with fireflies and it is difficult not to feel as gleeful as a child. The chubby squirrels of winter have procreated in the last few months it seems. Their tiny summer offsprings have the run of the park, their thin tailed bodies priming up for the harsher months with nature’s nutty offerings. Meanwhile I have…

  • North America,  Travel

    The Strange Appeal of Disused Railroads

    What is it that draws us to old places that have been abandoned? It could be about the vastly different era they have been a part of, the stories they quietly harbour, or just plain old nostalgia for the past. Nostalgia is after all a sort of release into a utopian world for most of us. I suppose one cannot lay a finger upon the nub of the matter but I can tell you with conviction that railroads are lonely, lonely places. On this particular afternoon after a gander through the town of Phoenicia, and before we set out on the trail of covered bridges, we stopped at a tiny…

  • North America,  Travel

    Phoenicia in the Catskills

    The day we drove into the Catskills, the freshness of the foliage was a balm to the senses. It is the kind of lushness that you see as summer sets in, a vibrant shade of green that makes you hum with barely contained joy, when the sun might beat down upon you with all its strength, but humidity is still at bay, so you slap on some sunscreen and shades, and gaze upon the world with benevolence. A world that is ripe with possibilities because you are off to explore parts of it that you have not seen before. And you know the kind of thrill I am talking about,…

  • North America,  Travel

    The Bridges of Delaware County

    In Upstate New York, there is a town called Delhi. This we did not know about and this I can tell you with not enough emphasis that a Delhi we did not expect in the middle of Delaware County. But it is in the unfolding nature of a drive in the countryside that it shall throw your way places that are unforgettable, sometimes by virtue of their outlandish names. There is the congested city of Delhi in India with countless pockets of heritage left behind by the Rajputs, the Tughluks, the Mughals and the British, tucked in within its urban sprawl, and then there is this, its little doppelgänger in…

  • North America,  Travel

    Heavenly Bodies of The Met

    We finally ended up at The Met. It had been on my mind for some time and it being a bank holiday when the sky was swollen for the most part with clouds, Adi gave in. And will you get this, for not one, but two consecutive days. That is the power of love (or, a rainy weekend). A fine museum can be a salve to the soul that seeks more. Up the classic steps of The Metropolitan Museum and we were inside its august portals and soon the senses were buzzing with the wealth of art inside the maze of chambers. We were swept up by burial masks and…