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.
As she turned the street corner, Ritu stopped to check her profile in the shop window. For a fraction of a second, not more. Guess I look okay, she thought and walked on after giving a brisk downward tug to the form fitting dress that ended just above her knees. It was a pretty dress with a cheery print of yellow and pink roses on an olive green background. “Perfect for the summer!” the salesgirl had assured her with a bright smile.
Ritu hadn’t just bought that two hundred dollar dress. She had splurged– in a way very uncharacteristic of her. She had acted on impulse. The print had caught her eye and the color looked really good on her or so she’d thought at the time. But she hadn’t got around to wearing it. Ever since that day it had hung in her closet to be perused periodically then passed over for something more ordinary and comfortable. Such as the dozen or so pants and blouses that fit her identity of sensible but bland Ritu. But today was different. She wanted to look her best.
The cafe was called Coffee, Tea and Me. The name had evoked a distant memory. It was the title of a book she had read a long time ago. She didn’t recall much of it but the gist had remained with her like some stories have a way of doing. It had something to do with a young woman. Or two young women who were stewardesses and their adventures. She had associated with the book as a young woman; launching herself into an exciting new career, of a stewardess, traveling to new places, meeting people, maybe some romance even. It felt silly now but at the time it had been wonderful. A different life.