Saturday, December 30, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
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
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
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.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
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
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
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.