Long winding roads, verdent mountains, dotted blue skies, fresh chill in the air, and yes– The Choo! Choo! train.
“Bye, bye Choo choo train!” says a mother to her toddler as they descended the train. The nostalgia and the romance of the steam engine is unique. It brings an immediate smile all faces and a faraway look in those of us who have experienced traveling long distances in them. The sharp sound of the whistle and the smoke plume billowing over the length of the train has a plaintive ring to it– as if seeking for a lost era.
The Duomo, as Florence’s cathedral is fondly called, sports the largest masonry dome in the world. It sits across the Baptistry- the oldest religious site in Florence. Florence is a city in central Italy and the capital of Tuscany region.
The construction of the cathedral was begun by Arnolfo di Cambio at the end of the13th century, while the dome was added in the 15th century. It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1146). Unlike designers and builders nowadays, Brunelleschi did not go to architecture school, rather he was trained to become a goldsmith. But thanks to the Renaissance, which encouraged and patronized art of all kinds, he became interested in architecture, and worked to enhance his knowledge and skills. He designed and invented an array of sophisticated hoists and tools in order to bring his ambitious design to fruition. It is even more astonishing to note that the cathedral dome is entirely self-supporting. It is actually made of two domes. An inner dome made of sandstone and marble and outer dome made of brick and mortar. A copper clad, two ton stone ball that sits on top of the dome provided the finishing touch in 1469. It was built by Verucchio and his students, among whom happened to be the incomparable Leonardo Da Vinci.
To see this and many other wonders visit Florence or Firenze, Italy- the cradle of Renaissance.
Khanak turned on her heels.
“Surprise. Surprise.She also wears cute glasses. Soon she will change into a bat and make me her latest meal. I’m loving it.”
“You!” Khanak rushed to remove her glasses.
“No, don’t. You look like a pretty nerdy prof. And ridiculously sexy on top of that.”
As she looked at him in nervous confusion, he came up to her, took her glasses from her hand and put them back on her face, flicking the tip of her nose in the process. She tried to back away as he moved closer and ended up getting hedged into a corner. She leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes, knowing that looking at him would make her thoughts run wild.
“Get away from me;” She croaked.Continue reading
Being me is a poem from my collection of poems and short stories ‘Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree‘. Check it out here.
The complaint I often hear from omnivores is that they would like to go meatless but don’t have enough options. Sorry, that is a myth. Infact, there are so many delicious options that you will not crave meat anymore. And many of them are very easy to prepare. Here’s one of them- Mung bean lentil soup. Mung beans are a great source of plant based protein, fiber, B vitamins, minerals, antioxidants plus, they are easy to digest.
Pressure cook split mung bean lentils (without husk) 1-2 cups, add grated ginger and sauteed red onion. Add turmeric, chili powder and salt to taste. Top off with tadka of mustard and cumin seeds in ghee. Garnish with cilantro leaves. It’s absolutely delicious on it own, or as a side dish with chapatis, naan bread or rice. Try it!
I’m not old, I think. Not yet. But I’m getting there. Everyone is getting there. Maybe I’m a little ahead in the line because I’m thinking about it. About getting old.
Am I sad? Not really. Maybe, just a little disappointed. Because I really didn’t have much of a youth. Because I spent most of it preparing for the future– for getting old.
I don’t think I’m old because I’m still a productive member of society. People still seek my opinion and try to take it seriously (I hope). My opinion still counts for something. I’m not just someone to be tolerated. But then what is ‘old’? It is a state of mind. There are people who are old in their youth and others who are young when they are old.
I think I’m at the best time of my life. There is still a skip in my step and I’m not preoccupied with the condition of my joints. I still get excited to see new things, experience new places.
I don’t have any regrets. I’ve dealt with them all. In fact, I’ve dealt with them so well I don’t even recall what they were. My desires are limited to traveling, reading, assimilating new ideas, and perhaps guiding others to live a better, more informed life. I’ve reconciled with my ambitions and disappointments.
But a day will come when I won’t matter any more; my opinions will be just that–opinions. So, I’m collecting keepsakes. Little memories– that’ll keep me company and help me pass the time. It could be anything– like the flavor of something delicious– from a long time ago–that perhaps I’d never get the chance to taste again. It could be a bird call; a chance conversation with a stranger; timeless streets through which I walked and walked but wasn’t afraid of getting lost because I had wonderful company. It could be the brilliant blue of the sky, the soothing silence of the forest, the dust on my shoes as I embarked eagerly on a different trail.
I hope that time will be short. I hope I won’t become bitter. I hope when you think of me it’ll be with a smile.
Someone to lead
Someone to follow
Someone to hold my hand
To clear the path
Help me make my way,
through this wide wicked world.
‘Those who donot learn history are doomed to repeat it’.
How true is this quote by George Santayana. I was reminded of it as I read this beautiful and timely book by Callie J. Trautmiller about a time in American history that has been forgotten. Perhaps because it is matter of collective shame. Still, it is important to talk about it especially now because of the circumstances we are living in. Because we humans are fond of creating barriers among ourselves. Despite being citizens of the same nation, some of us are considered to be less than others and are required to prove our loyalty.
Becoming American is about Executive order 9066 when in the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the hysteria that followed, tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were relocated to hastily set up camps in Western US. Entire communities were uprooted and their civil liberties were violated. This thoroughly researched novel has been written with tremendous sensitivity from the perspective of Allu Noguchi and her brother Robbie who are young and therefore unscathed with the scars and cynicism adults carry. Though categorized as Young Adult this book is a must read for all ages. Highly recommended!
It’s a Sunday. Not just any day. A day of so-called rest or restlessness. Let’s take a trip downtown. The weather is chilly, the sky is grey. The streets are deserted. Parking in the Whole Foods garage will cost you unless you spend $10 on groceries. Two boxes of cereal and some lemonade- $11 and change; not bad at all. Pick up some coffee at Starbucks (there is still no sitting inside) then wander along the streets.
The trees are finally springing leaves- makes for a nice contrast against the blue of the building across.
Walk through the Union Station which happens to the center of action to 17th street. A man wearing a purple cape slips into an alley covered with striking graffiti. Oxford Hotel, the oldest in Denver- had no clue.
Now back to the parking garage. Money well spent.