• 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…

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    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…

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    The Sassy Winter Spirit of Budapest

    I overheard a conversation at a Christmas stall in Bryant Park in the first couple of weeks in December last year. No darling, I do not make it my business to stand around people earwigging, but in this case I was hovering near a stall of fairy lights wondering if it was the owner who was gabbling rather animatedly with another woman about the dilemma between choosing Budapest and Prague. I was tempted to squeak in with my two bits about both but it seemed then that the other woman had a handle on the situation. She noted: ‘For me, it is Budapest.’ Those five words settle Adi and mine…

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    Night Streets of Rome

    It was the morning of Christmas eve when I wrote this but life right now is caught in a tornado of socialising in Delhi where the days are pleasant and the sun is ripe with mellow beauty. The skies are blue and I am getting a few sunrises into my kitty as I head out for early morning runs with the cool wind in my hair. Here I feel the need for four stomachs as I did in Rome (as I always do) for my mother-in-law has been rustling up feasts every day for meals at home, you see. Time at hand is a bit tight so I thought I…

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    Malmö

    The road from Copenhagen to Malmö is charmed. In just a matter of 186 Swedish Krona (20 Euros) and 40 minutes, we were in another country, and more importantly we were on the Øresund Bridge, synonymous with the Scandinavian crime show, The Broen (The Bridge). There was heightened anticipation thrown into the mix though it is a matter of some relief that you are not stopped by the discovery of a body, cut in half, lying on the bridge (here I refer to The Broen, so calm down and keep your hair on). The bridge is impressive on its own without the need for added drama for it is the longest road-and-rail bridge…

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    Copenhagen

    Life is not life without a polar bear on the piano, another on the guitar and a third on the violin. That is unless you find yourself in Copenhagen on a frigid November weekend staring at three benign polar bears playing music (because it is the food of life, dear knucklehead) to drown out the chattering of your teeth. It was 2015, I was going to turn 35, and my husband had decided that it had to be in a nation that declares itself the happiest in the world. There we were in a smart city, where the people are smart enough to reduce their carbon footprints by cycling everywhere,…

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    Christiania in Whispers

    Two years ago for my birthday, Adi booked us on a flight to ultra hip and modernist Copenhagen. The emphasis in the Scandinavian city — where everything is cutting edge, where nothing is stick-in-the-mud or capable of inducing ennui — is on going green. Cycling is the national mantra, hotels and restaurants are overwhelmingly environment friendly, organic food and beer is de rigueur. There hygge is embraced by bringing the outside into the inside — inexpensive, cosy elements which transform the interiors with an intimate and warm touch at once. It is just fitting that there should be a green quarter in this city. Truly green. Christiania. Utter it and you are usually…

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    Saskia's Adventures in Beautiful Bruges

    If you can imagine a fairy tale town from one of the fairy tale books of your childhood, it would be Bruges. A medieval town in the Flemish region of Belgium, it is easy to get to from the UK, for a long weekend. We went in July, the weather was glorious and the beer cold. Where to stay Our two-night stay for the weekend was at The Hotel Dukes Palace, a palace from the 15th century which was absolutely perfect. It is right in the centre but has secure parking in the underground car park, and as we drove, this was essential. This is a luxury hotel, so it’s a real…

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    Torcello

    “Don’t look now,’ said John to his wife, ‘but there are two old girls two tables away, looking at me all the time. I don’t like it. There’s something very strange about their eyes.’ The wife, Laura, turned and saw what she saw and laughed as she commented that they were two men actually. He said: ‘…You mustn’t laugh. Perhaps they’re dangerous. Murderers or something going around Europe, changing their clothes in each place. You know, sisters here in Torcello this morning; brothers tomorrow, or tonight, back in Venice.’ We walked past a trattoria where Daphne du Maurier’s John and Laura might have sat as they demurred about the identity of the two…

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    Glass for Princes in Murano

    A mile north off Venice is the cluster of islands called Murano. We crossed in a vaporetto (water taxi) from Venice to Murano on a day that was joyously sunny. The kinds that come wrapped up in a bow only once during a few miserably cold and foggy winter days spent in Venice. When we got off the boat at Murano, the first sight that greeted me was that of a bearded local dragging a sizeable carton on wheels . He looked like a fisherman, the lines of the years marked out on his weather-beaten face. A rustic, atmospheric introduction but what lay after was anything but unassuming. Workshops, boutiques and factories cropped up…