Saturday, December 30, 2006

Year End Post

Am back in London. Italy was amazing. Visited Rome, Florence, Siena, Venice and Milan. Had the most awesome time ever and I definetely have to go back there. It's crazy that one country has sooo much to see. (Apparently Italy has about 50 - 60% of the World's Heritage Sights). Shall post pictures soon but am kinda lazy right now. Still one of Venice at sunset. More later because I want to write nice long posts to bore everyone with.

The flight back to London was uneventful except that it was delayed and I saw Isabella Rossellini at the Milan airort. In London the trains were not running because it was Boxing Day and I had to take the coach from the airport which took almost two and a half hours to reach Victoria Station. Not to mention the fact that the toilet door in the bus kept opening up and caused a huge stink and everyone was sitting with their noses covered. Even though a gazillion people tried the door wouldn't close, till finally this very beautiful Italian guy (he had hair as great as Pirlo, I tell you) went and kicked the door so hard it stayed shut. He got a huge round of applause from the whole bus as a result. Oh and my cab was waiting at Victoria and left because I had no idea the Gatwick Express wasn't running. And I couldn't call the driver because my phone credit was over and the Vodafone top up lines were down. It was a bit of a nightmare really. But oh well, it ended ok.

London feels almost like home now. Have been here for what seems like eons now. I don't need a map to get around anymore. I remember the general directions and haven't gotten lost yet. The other day I walked from Knightsbridge to the National Gallery without a map and didn't even once think I might be lost! The city is sooo full of life right now its amazing. The sales are going on and it's complete madness. Oxford Street was almost mobbed on the first day and every time you cross Harrods people are spilling on to the streets!

By the way, did I mention British TV is pretty fun? You can see amazingly cool people like Ian McKellen and Peter O' Toole on random TV programs. Ian McKellen was doing some skit thing for some year end quiz show and I was so terribly thrilled. He is awesome! This was reinforced when I saw The Da Vinci Code recently(it was late night, I was packing and wasn't sleepy). Gosh, was it awful. Except for McKellen of course. He is excellent even playing a charector called Teabing. The man can do no wrong. Oh and on TV here 'Fuck' is said more than 'Crap' or 'Shit'. Even on family type quiz shows. That would never happen in the US.

Ok. This post is longer than intended and has no real point. Before I end one last picture. The London sky day before. Quite pretty it was.
And to end, wishing everone in advance. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

When in Rome...

I leave for Florence early tomorrow morning. Rome has been fabulous. Simply Fabulous.

Since I had already done the touristy bits I walked aimlessly today. For close to seven hours. From the Bocca della Verita and all around Trastevere. The Jewish Ghetto. Largo Arentina, where Ceaser was killed. It isn't open for humans, but is full of cats. I counted close to thirty!

There are small meandering cobbled streets. The river Tiber and bridges every few miles. The autumn colours can still be seen. In the afternoon people spill out into the Piazzas and the cafes surrounding them. The coffee here is the best.
I found my way back to the heart of Rome - Via del Corso and made my way to the Scala de Spagna. It's full of tourists and not the best place to people watch really. I heard too many American accents for my liking. Off the Spanish Steps is the Via dei Condotti. My favourite street in Rome. It has all the most fashionable, swanky designer shops. The display windows are gorgeous and the men shopping at Fendi, Gucci and Zegna the most beautiful ever. Terrible fun.

I also stumbled across Via Margutta in one of the by lanes from Via dei Condotti. For those poor souls who don't know, Gregory Peck's Joe Bradley in Roman Holiday lived at Via Margutta 51. It exists. But its only a door. Undergoing renovation to become some fancy museum or so.

Oh and the gelato here is amazing. I never thought I would say this but pistacchio gelato is fabulous. It is one the most popular flavour in Italy apparently. Along with cioccolato and nocciola (hazelnut). A mix of chocolate and pistacchio is heavenly. Really.

The Italians are wonderful as well. I take a long bus back to the suburbs and am often mistaken for an Italian. The only thing I can say is "Si, quaranto quatro" if someone asks me the bus number. They often start talking to me animatedly after I answer them and I keep saying "No Capito". I found very, very few Italian who can speak English. (this is unlike the French, who often can but don't). And when you tell them you can't speak their language they look at you with such pity! (Again, unlike the French, who would just look at you with disdain). Almost like they are saying you poor thing you don't know what you are missing.
It's really fun to hear them. And to watch them. On the bus people talk to each other like they have known each other for years. Though they have just met! (I can understand enough to make that out). And when their stop comes there are huge goodbyes. "Arrivederci, Ciao!!!"

Oh, and in all my time in Rome I kept looking for Vespas. And I couldn't spot even one. Not one Vespa in Rome. How terrible. Then today on the bus I saw one. A white Vespa parked in one tiny little road corner. It's a surprise I even spotted it. Its terrible that I was on the bus and couldn't take a photo. But really, there should be more Vespas in Rome. Some of the cars I spotted were interesting.
Roman traffic is really bad though. I kept wondering why it felt so weird. And then I realised because Italy is technically Europe. And its just weird to hear so much honking and such little regard for traffic rules. It is very much like India and the Italians really do remind me of Indians. You can apparently even bribe people to jump the line at the Vatican Museum!

Rome also has its own version of the changing of the guards. I just happened to be there. It was five minutes till the ceremony was to begin. Unlike their English counterparts however, the Italian guards were busy finishing their smokes. Someone called out to them to get in order and they shrugged it away. A couple of tourists came by and asked them what was going on and they shrugged at that as well! Sigh, it has been fabulous fun. Hope Tuscany is as well.
They really know how to live La Dolce Vita here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Only my first day and I still managed to take some sixty pictures. It's glorious! The weather is fabulous. Sunrise at 7 am!
Saw a bit. Well, quite a bit. But thats still a puny amount by Roman standards probably. There is just so much history everywhere. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a place like this perpetually. Oh ya, there's a Bernini. And there a Michelangelo. Artistic overload!!!

But I love it!!! Piazza Navona has been taken over by Christmas Stalls (selling stuff that is 'Made in China'). But it's still great fun. There are a lot of tourists but it's not half as bad as I expected. The food is fabulous. And there is gelato everywhere. Oh, and the clothes!!!! I think Italian fashion is better than French fashion. There I said it. The clothes!! And the bags!! And the shoes (which, would never fit me, but still)!! Not that I have any money to buy anything much. But I still spent time trying out stuff in D & G. Muahahaz. Am Evil.

Am exhausted from the non stop walking. And dodging cars at the zebra crossings. Waving my hand like mad, screamin 'Scuzi, scuzi!!' to avoid getting hit. And being on the guard against pick pockets and thieves. Have another three days here. It's magnificent!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

London Colours

It's not true that there are no colours in London. Because black, grey, brown - those are colours too. And these are the colours of London. Even the trees are bare and stark. If India stands for colour, London stands for greyness. It says something about the city that it is so welcoming even despite the dullness, the rain, the perpetually grey skies and 3 pm sunsets.

I tried to find some colour, and had some success at Camden Market. Quite interesting it is. Not a stretch to say you could easily find anything there. Including food from all over the world. At a reasonable price (by London standards anyway). Loads of punks. Really. Loads of them. With mohawk's, funny platform shoes and pink hair. And here I thought the punk movement was passe. There were tons of roadside tattoo parlours. And stalls selling really weird stuff - like furry handcuffs. I asked A who the hell buys that stuff. She just pointed to crowd lined up waiting to pay for their purchases.

Camden was the exception of course. There isn't much colour in London. It is a vast expanse of brown and greys. Almost everyone wears black. There are only occasional splashes of colour to break the monotony.

Like the pink London taxis. Florescent Pink. You cant help but notice them because they stand out like a sore thumb. Or the area around Leicester Square. Because theatre lends itself to neon signs and billboards.

The vast expanses of green in the heart of the city. Woods, gardens, squares, even the courtyard in Westminster Abbey. The lush green contrasts with the brown of the abbey giving it a dash of colour.

With London that's pretty much as good as it gets. If you like browns and greys, this is your city.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Photos from Londres

More here.

Also am just back from watching Cillian Murphy and Neve Campbell on stage. He was excellent. We met him afterwards as well! And I really liked him in 28 Days and Batmans Begins. So now have meet Hollywood types in London as well. Heee....

Friday, December 08, 2006


Is really great. It's bustling with life and people busy doing their Christmas shopping. I reached early, early morning and by now, late evening, the signs of a jet lag are cropping up. I am tired.

I walked like mad. From Baker Street all the way till Westminster. On the way from Trafalgar square to the Parliament it started to pour like mad. And my umbrella was of no use because it was so terribly windy that it kept getting upturned. I resorted to using the umbrella as some sort of shield keeping it in front, rather than over my head, to keep the wind away. I had to eventually take resort in a corridor of the Old War Office!

Hadn't planned on visiting the National Gallery today but decided to because of the rain. There was a great ongoing exhibition on Impressionist, Neo and Post Impressionist painters titled "From Manet to Picasso". It was a fun day. And it's cold and I love that! Plus it's actually nice to see a European city properly after dark, when the lights are lit up. I have always visited in summer when the sun refuses to set.

A will be in from Lj in a couple of hours and I get to meet her after almost six months. And it is my birthday tomorrow (i.e. the 8th)! Am happy.

*Will try and post pictures

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


This post by TR got me all nostalgic. For me Roshan Seth has and will always be Jawaharlal Nehru. I didn’t think any actor has been as good as he has, playing a particular historical figure.

Of course, I wouldn’t really care much about how good a job Roshan Seth has done portraying Nehru on the big and small screens except of course for the fact that I really like Nehru. I always have. I think it all started when my mother bought me an abridged version of Letters from a Father to His Daughter when I was in class three. The unabridged some 1000 pages plus book is today known as Glimpses of World History. I don’t think a nicer, more intimate introduction to history has ever been penned. It kick started my fascination with Nehru. How wonderful I thought, that even while he was in jail he wrote these letters to his daughter covering everything from the beginning of time till the Russian Revolution.

In class nine, I discovered an old copy of his Autobiography in my library. I struggled with it for a month and reissued it thrice, before I could finish it. Of course it helped that there was no waiting line for people wanting to read it. My cousin once told me reading the autobiographies of Nehru and Gandhi offer such a contrast of character. Gandhi could come straight out and write things like, I wanted to give up sex but couldn’t (I am paraphrasing of course, but the gist remains). Nehru on the other hand would take some two pages to say anything concrete about, well, anything, by which time you have forgotten what he is trying to say. It doesn’t matter though because it is a wonderful read anyway. Then there is of course Discovery of India. I am so possessive about my copy that I was even reluctant to lend it to my grandmother when she wanted to borrow it for research!

Now that I am older and have a bit more intellect I think I can look at Nehru’s politics a bit more dispassionately. When I was small I would always fight with people who criticized him and because my argumentative skills were at best limited I would eventually break down in tears because I didn’t understand why people blamed him for everything wrong in the country. I still don’t. I think Nehru failed more than he succeeded, but I don’t think Indian politics has or will ever have a statesman like him. I think he is to blame for the license raj madness and a lot of other policies but, really, his daughter (and her thuggish son!) don’t get even half as much blame as they deserve. This is not meant to be an analytical post or some such. Just a sentimental one. I think my judgment when it comes to Nehru shall always be slightly biased

By the by, in school I once had an argument with someone who said Nehru had no moral character because you know he had an affair with Edwina Mountbatten. I mean, really!! Not like that was the only affair he had anyway. Though the story of Lady Mountbatten in her negligee, caught by the paparazzi opening the door of her house for the Indian Prime Minister in the middle of the night always makes me grin.

* The first picture is of Roshan Seth as Nehru in Gandhi. The second, a potrait of Nehru himself. The third is the utterly cute picture of Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten sharing a joke. Her husband looks so oblivious.

Friday, December 01, 2006

... anger, despair and what else? ...

A couple of days ago a friend of mine and I were talking about feminism. He mentioned some of the blogs on my sidebar saying that well, the posts always generate such heated arguments but it was hard to believe everyone commenting felt that strongly about feminism. It would be nice, he said, to believe that feminism was an idea men floated so that women would be more open.*

I hate the idea that feminists in general are often caricaturized as men hating, bra burning types without a sense of humour. Isn’t it about time we moved away from that stereotype? I don’t doubt that men can be feminists too, I dislike male bashing and I do think it is very important to have easier communication amongst genders. And I think most feminists would agree.

It’s easy to say feminism is over rated. Then you have to read stuff like this and feel at a complete loss as to how to react. Is there even a way to react? When you say patriarchy is still existent isn’t this a real life example of that? I think a lot of us are lucky because even as girls we have had freedom to live life the way we choose to. I always thank my stars that my parents are so liberal. And it makes me wonder – I need to say thanks for freedom? I still need to argue against people who think that wearing revealing clothes means I am asking for it? What feminism fights for are women’s rights. Bringing attention to issues that everyone knows about, but, if a hue and cry wasn't raised would be swept under the carpet. Like any movement feminism has evolved over time and in relation to the issues that are facing women today. It’s not always femi-narcissism. And it is still important. Whether it’s fighting against abuse or for a woman’s right to wear a hijab.

* Ok, I have been asked to clarify that that was a jocular reference and I very nicely took it out of context. I apologise. The whole point is that it is easy to write off feminism but the fact remains that in spite of all the progress we have made there is still so much left to accomplish. Feminism is as important today as it ever was. Having more people believe in and supporting feminist ideals is important.

P.S: This post was just a very knee jerk reaction to reading the NYTimes article. If it came out as a rant, I apologise because it isn't meant to be one. And I would have put more thought into writing this, but I have my Advanced Macro final on Monday and, therefore, a barely functional brain.