Thursday, July 30, 2015

An Amorous tryst with Venice

We got off the gondola and turned around to take in the vast expanse of choppy waters. All we could see was white, foggy mist forming a blanket over the Grand Canal and dark clouds softly gliding our way, ready to engulf St. Mark’s Square, once called “the drawing room of Europe” in a thunderous shower. We tucked our hands deep into the pockets of our jacket and made our way to St. Mark’s square. It was 4th of December, and the damp, chilly air was seeping into our bones. On reaching the square, as I looked back, I was confronted with a white sea of mist. Like a stalker, it had stealthily followed us into the square and was now upon us. I stood stock still, mesmerized, trying to soak in the sight in front of me. The whole of St. Mark’s square was drowning in mist and it was suddenly difficult to see beyond 10 feet. Through the mist we caught a glimpse of the onion shaped domes of the Basilica di San Marco.

The first St. Mark’s was built in 828 next to the Doge’s palace when Venetian merchants stole the supposed relics of St. Mark the Evangelist from their original resting place in Alexandria, Egypt. The present basilica, which incorporates the earlier building was completed around 1073 and is believed to have been modeled after Constantine the Great’s Church of the Holy Apostles (no longer standing) and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. While the basic structure has not changed much over the centuries, its decoration has changed greatly over time and now comprises Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic art. The exterior depicts a variety of artworks from antiquity to the middle ages, magnificently illustrating St. Marco’s tales as well as scenes from the Old Testament. On entering the basilica, our first impression was that of a dark gothic monument, with wooden floorboards laid out to facilitate walking in case of floods. However, a few steps ahead and we were dazzled by the spectacular gilded mosaics covering a total area of about 8000 square meters on the vaults and cupolas. Dating mostly from the 12th century, the interior mosaics proclaim the message of Christian salvation through events from the New Testament.

Opposite the basilica is the Campanille di San Marco (Bell tower of St. Mark). Standing at almost 325ft, it is the city’s tallest building and offers unparalleled views of the Lido, the roof of the basilica and the whole lagoon. On a clear day one can even see the dolomites in the distance. We were however not that lucky. The clock tower was originally built between 888 and 912. However, after having collapsed into a pyramid of rubble in July 1902, it was rebuild exactly ‘as it was, where it was’. It is said that the Holy Roman Emperor Frederik III rode a horse to the top of the original in 1451.  Round off the square’s attraction with a visit to the Doge’s palace, once Venice’s political and judicial hub. Of course, don’t forget to walk across Venice’s famous Bridge of Sighs which intended to connect the old prison and interrogation rooms in the Doge’s palace to the New Prison.                    

Exit St. Mark’s square and immediately get lost in a web of alleys. It is an absolute must for anyone visiting Venice. The charm of Venice lies in its narrow streets and alleys, various squares and serendipitous meetings with quaint, narrow bridges tucked at the end of inconspicuous alleys. Wander aimlessly for an amorous tryst with Venice.

No trip to Venice is complete without a tour of the Grand Canal. Flanked by erstwhile palazzos of the Venetian ruling class, the fairy tale atmosphere of the lagoon is only enhanced by Venice’s ubiquitous vaporettos (water buses).  Hop on to the slow #1 vaporetto that runs the length of the Grand Canal and buckle up for a mesmerizing tour. Halfway down the Grand Canal is the Rialto, the 16th century bridge hosting the Rialto Market, which has been whetting appetites for centuries. The lagoon city has a glorious culinary tradition based on fresh sea food, usually procured from the stalls of the Rialto. Indulge your taste buds with fresh fish or crabs, or get adventurous and take the plunge with baby octopus or inky squid. Personal experience behooves me to warn the uninitiated against the local pizza. It is mediocre at best and usually of the frozen variety. Instead opt for polenta (a regional specialty) with fish or meat.

Winter or summer, drown yourself in the delicious sweetness of gelatos from Boutique de Gelato, a tiny outlet on salizadda San Lio. Bid sweet adieu to the lagoon city with the tantalizing flavours of Frittole (famous Venetian fritters made of eggs, flour, sugar, raisins and pine nuts) lingering on your tongue and creating lasting memories. 


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Anney - Venice of the Alps

Nestled in the French Alps, Annecy will charm its way into the hearts of even the most jaded travelers. Less than two hours away from Geneva, it is a popular day trip for tourists visiting the Swiss town. Perched on the northern edge of Lac d’ Annecy, the town is crisscrossed by a network of canals and streams, thus earning itself the tag, “Venice of Savoie”.

Indulge the romantic in you by strolling hand in hand with your paramour by the impossibly azure waters of lake Annecy or crossing the Pont des Amours (lovers bridge) situated at the edge of the lake.

Wander around the charming Vieille Vile (old town) surrounded by pastel coloured houses bedecked with lego windows and flower pots.

Stoke the historian in you with a visit to Palais de l'Isle. Appearing as a ship stranded in the middle of the waters of the Thiou, the Isle Palace has a long history, having served as the first residence of the Lord of Annecy from the 12th century onwards to being the administrative centre for the Counts of Geneva and finally a prison until 1965. The former castle today houses a local history museum. The Annecy Chateau, built between the 12th and the 16th century, situated on a hill overlooking the city and its surroundings, is also well worth a visit.

Stop by one of the multitude restaurants lining the Thiou canal and sample the gastronomical delights that the city has to offer. No trip to Annecy is complete without dipping into the heavenly Savoyarde fondue.

Friday, February 7, 2014

For Aakanksha, on her wedding...

You are the heera of our family
Precious and pure
Abound with love, integrity and vitality
Happy you will keep Ron, of that we are sure.

Blessed with a heart of gold
You epitomise beauty with brains
After you, God broke the mold
Ron sure did pick the diamond from a million grains.

Enjoy this wonderful journey called marriage
Face each task with solidarity and courage
I wish you both happiness and love
Always stay together, hand in glove.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Platinum day of love

Paris is truly the most alluring and bewitching city in the world. One’s appetite for the wonders of this stunning city cannot be satiated and a single visit can stir eternal cravings. It has aptly been christened the city of romance, of love and sex. So it was only befitting that I commence my European honeymoon with Paris.

Finding our“illustrious” hotel Des Arenes was no sweat but coming to terms with the size of the room definitely was. The hotel room was so small that we marveled at the genius of wide angled cameras. The internet pictures had certainly not prepared us for these midget sized rooms. An exceptionally narrow hallway which accommodated only one person at a time led into a room which actually restricted the concurrent movement of 2 people. “Bienvenue a Paris”, said my husband gallantly as he tried to usher me into the room.

We, however, weren’t too bothered with the size of the room, as the hotel was located in the heart of the city near the festive Latin Quarters. By the time we freshened ourselves it was early evening. Not the ones to waste any time we put on our winter clothing and set out into the freezing Parisian street. As we stepped out of our hotel a strong gust of cold wind hit us and we were suddenly reminded that we had no gloves on.

Undeterred, we trudged along the street towards the subway, hand in hand like the perfect honeymoon couple. I was in a state of bliss, to be ambling in the most romantic city in the world along with the love of my life. I think the gods had conspired to give me a peek into heaven. Before taking a subway to the Eiffel tower I grabbed a quick bite at the local boulangerie. Why delay sampling the gastronomical delights of Paris?

By the time we disembarked at the station for Eiffel tower the sun was down and it had turned dark outside. The embankment area was lined with bare, ghostlike trees, giving the impression of being frozen in time. The street lights cast long shadows on the pavement, unsuccessfully trying to create an illusion of warmth. And suddenly, caught completely off-guard, we sighted the Eiffel tower. A vision in blue, shimmering against the night’s sky, assaulting our visual senses. We stood at a distance, staring mesmerised.

We took a lift to the top, excited like children. Atop the Eiffel tower, the city lay below us, bejeweled and glittering in its full glory. Being December, the sharp cold winds cut through us. However, I was completely unaware of the chill, conscious only of the city below me and the man beside me. Ours was a love marriage, so we were certainly no strangers to each other. Nonetheless, as his eyes arrested mine, we felt like we were playing parts in a movie, aware only of each other.

My husband wrapped me in his arms and leaned forward to kiss me softly on my lips. For that split moment in time, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. As our fingers entwined, the platinum rings that we had given to each other as a symbol of our eternal love and commitment, clinked softly.

That day, at that moment, entwined in an embrace, levitating over a shimmering Paris, I found my platinum day of love. A day that was pure like the fire that witnessed our union, rare like the devotion in his eyes and eternal like our love.

This post is for Indiblogger's Platinum Day of Love contest.


Monday, December 31, 2012

Which way will the wind blow? : My entry for the Get Published contest

The Story

In a society that is steeped in dogma, but is constantly struggling to break free, two individuals are thrown together by their respective parents, in the hope that a marital alliance is created.

Ashwin and Rhea are two strong, independent individuals who are perfectly amenable to the idea of an arranged marriage. However, after having gone through the increasingly annoying process of meeting an infinite number of prospective partners in the recent past, each views the other with a sense of frustration and mistrust. At first glance, one feels that there is hope. That this might just be it. However, a quick succession of flash judgments and trivial misunderstandings make both, Ashwin and Rhea, weary and defensive. This story is about a boy and girl, who spend a day together in the city of Delhi and how as the day progresses, both discover a little of each other. It is a day of shedding inhibitions and realizing that first impressions often need to be discarded. However, the question that begs to be answered is whether a day is enough to make this all important, life altering decision? And ofcourse, which way is the wind finally going to blow?
For Ashwin and Rhea it might not be about falling in love at first sight but about sharing a lot of firsts.

What makes this story “real”

Every strong and understanding relationship does not a marriage make and it is not necessary to marry your best friend to have a perfect marriage. Having observed couples from my grandparents’ era to now my younger siblings, I have learnt that marriage might be about a lot of things, but mostly it is about shedding preconceived notions and making an effort to understand your partner.


As they made their way from Vasant Vihar to GK, Ashwin couldn’t help but get drawn into the city passing by. This was his third visit to Delhi and he lamented the fact that he had not yet been able to see it. He was very keen on making a trip to the Red fort and then to the surrounding area of Chandini Chowk. He also wanted to see the majestic steps of the Jama Masjid and sample the kebabs made from “only god knows which meat”. Maybe after that he would drive down to India Gate and the President’s House. Some shopping from Janpath was also on the cards as he had promised to bring his friends back home “Indian stuff.

“Ashwin look, the driveway is so long and impressive!” barged mommy dearest into his thoughts. And the house, wow! It looks absolutely palatial. Are the pillars out front in marble? Son, you must marry this girl.

"This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India."

 Vote for me here: Promotional link:


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Under the night's sky I lay                                                     
Thinking of my deeds during the day                                     
Same as I did when yesterday began                                      
Hoping to wake up a better man
Endless desert
Sun bearing harshly down
On donkey’s back