When I’m done with my chores, I sit at my window and observe. There’s a lot going on here to keep me busy. I see children growing up, families moving in and moving out. Lives being nurtured and destroyed. The best stories are woven on my street.
Because I need to tell them and I need to hear what others have to say. I need to get out of my little shell and explore. Because my life isn’t your life nor your thoughts mine. You don’t share my experiences, my way of life, or my religion. There are doors I want to open that I never knew existed. I want to hear new voices and opinions, concordant and discordant. Pretty and not so, often downright ugly. So many worlds exist within this world. I love me a good story.
Maybe you’d like to read some of my stories? If so check them out here.
Site of the 1929 Ibero-American Expo, this grand 50,000 sq meters plaza is a must see for all who visit Seville. It was designed by Seville architect Anibal Gonzalez as the site for the 1929 Ibero-American expo and has a unique palace-plaza structure with four bridges and two towers. It also has a moat like canal surrounding the perimeter that can be traversed by boat. We visited the plaza in the morning briefly and then returned in the evening for a lazy stroll and were wowed as it was lit up and the fountains played. The 49 Spanish provinces are represented by beautiful tiles. Again, we admired the blend of Renaissance and Moorish architecture and walked through the gardens nearby. It was an unforgettable experience. And for those interested in pop culture you can spot the plaza in movies like Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and The Dictator. Loved it!
During our visit to Barcelona, we took the optional trip to Montserrat (meaning serrated)- a multipeak mountain range that is the site of a Benedictine Abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which houses the Virgin of Montserrat. The mountain is located approximately 50 km northwest of Barcelona. We took the tour bus, though it can also be reached via cable or the Montserrat Rack Railway.
A functioning monastery with over 70 monks in residence, it was founded in the 11th century and rebuilt between the 19th and 20th centuries.
We were in absolute awe of the magnificent church facade, the dome, the sculptures, and beautiful biblical scenes. It is the home of one of the oldest boy choirs in Europe (from perhaps the 14th century) consisting of thirty boys who live in the monastery.
Btw, the gelato (tiramisu flavor in particular) is fabulous. It was a short visit, wish I could have stayed longer.
If you are in Spain don’t miss visiting Seville, the capital of Andalusia, a city with many charms. The highlight of this city is a walking tour of the Jewish quarter, a lovely labyrinth of narrow streets bordered by beautifully upkept houses, and charming shops that one can spend hours exploring. A highlight of this tour is a visit to the Casa de Pilatos that is a stunning blend of Mudejar (moorish) and Renaissance architecture unique to Spain. Get transported to another era as you walk through the grounds, beautiful courtyards and gardens. You will never want to leave.
Interview with author Katharine Nohr – Novel Times with Simi K. Rao
It’s about nurturing memories.
I love every aspect of the process. The idea, the planning, the anticipation, the getting there, the realization you are there. The sound of unfamiliar tongues, the excitement, the anxious confusion–Where to go, What to do? The myriad choices and lack of time. Always the lack of time. The flavor of the food, the hubbub on the streets, so on and so forth.
But what I like the best are the wistful recollections once I get back.
Were you surprised by the crowds on the Paris streets?
Yes! And that they smoked. All of them!
And they were all so smartly dressed. Just like we’d heard and read.
And remember the guy with the mustache while we were waiting in line to get into Notre Dame?
It felt surreal like I was watching a movie or something. He was a handsome dude. I couldn’t stop staring. He must’ve felt embarrassed.
Doubt it. It looked like he was enjoying the attention.
And Notre Dame– what an awe inspiring experience! Climbing the spiral staircase was a test of stamina, both mental and physical.
Rodin was something else though. That guy is… ahem!
I lost count on how many Caprese sandwiches we ate in Italy. So many I almost got sick. But the cappuccino and gelato! Couldn’t get enough. But then we had to buy the water! Can you believe it?
Yeah, but then we got to climb the tower in Pisa.
I was trying to keep a straight face while looking at David and the other sculptures at the Uffizi.
The Belgian waffles tasted so good. Because it wasn’t a DIY
Do you remember the seagull scavenging for ice cream?
And the not so scenic drive to Palomar but the Hale Telescope was awesome!
We chose to take a guided tour to Canyonlands National Park- a sunset tour, promising the best views. Let me state at the offset that even though most places can be seen on your own, I personally prefer guided tours because I feel you can get the most in the least amount of time plus you are saved all the legwork.
We had to drive to the pick up point at the junction of HWY 128 and US 191 about 14 miles from the lodge. The scenic route is through a canyon along the Colorado and well worth the extra drive.Continue reading
Where to: Moab, Utah- Gateway to Arches and Canyonlands National Park
Travelling from: Denver, Colorado.
Tip: Avoid summer months.
It is a long road trip, one of the longest I have taken- over 6 hours, more with stops. It is the only way given the lack of accessible airports. Fortunately, the drive promised to be worthwhile and scenic- through various landscapes, initially through the Rockies then desert . It started to rain when we started in the morning. The forecast promised it’d be light followed by clear skies later in the day. Rain turned to sleet as we wound through the mountains on 1 70. It was nerve wracking and fun at the same time as the drivers wouldn’t slow down hitting 80 mph, and higher on the steep grades and sharp bends surrounded by snow capped peaks passing through the Eisenhower tunnel- the longest at 1.7m and highest point in the interstate system.Continue reading
I couldn’t believe it, I was living a nightmare.
Was it fair? All this talk about mental health but what about us? Our mental health? We, who are constantly surrounded by sickness and death, who work our asses off trying to save others, who don’t have a life.
“Then why do you do it?” pops the inevitable rejoinder.
“Why did I do it?” I’ve actually asked myself this question several times. And each time the answer is the same. Because I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. Sounds cheesy but it is true.
I cried when I saw that miserable creature. It is not easy for me to break down because of the wall I’d built around myself but I couldn’t help it that night. Her body was tattooed with horrendous scars. She was a heroin addict who had been in recovery but the pandemic had made her relapse. She had lost her job and her house. She flinched at the slightest touch. Her body was dotted with pockets of pus where she had injected herself. She asked me not to judge her. I didn’t. I wept instead before steeling myself and moving on to my next patient.
Work, work, work. No chance to get a snack, even to pee. Phone going off constantly. What I wouldn’t have given for a five minute break. But no. Keep going, I told myself. Just keep a couple more hours then I can have a break- a break of three whole days.
I’m done finally. I get to go home and then the fatigue hits. Music helps. I drive on autopilot, the route is imprinted in my subconsciousness and the sun is directly in my eyes. I feel discombobulated. I turn up the volume. Oh no, I drove through a red light. The streets are empty though, it is the weekend and everyone is sleeping in, while I…
I hear that voice, that magical voice. His voice. My serotonin. What keeps me going. I’m okay, I tell myself.
I make it in one piece. Three dizzy flights of stairs then I stumble into my apartment. I’m greeted by the drooping fronds of my fern, my faithful companion of five years, ever since I’d moved in. I dump a whole jug of water in it. No way was I going to let anyone die on my shift, human or plant.
I open the refrigerator. Nothing looked remotely appealing, anyhow I didn’t have the energy to heat anything up. I just needed sleep. Just a few hours then I’d be fine. I took a shower (it’s a must, I could skip food but not a shower) then passed out on the cold bed.
I was choking, fighting for air, struggling against this heavy weight pressing on my chest. Help!!
I sit up with a start.
“You okay? You were screaming,” mutters a low husky and very familiar voice.
“Whaaa ..” my chest was pounding. No.. no it wasn’t.. isn’t. I blinked and kept blinking. He laughed– his trademark soft rumble that made me love him so much more.
It’s him. The man in my dreams. I raise a trembling hand to his beautiful face. I can feel his skin. It is soft, silky; his honey eyes droopy with sleep and he is smiling.
“I.. are you… ?”
“Yes, I am,” he nods. “Remember we met at that party last week? The one that you hadn’t planned to go to but your friend forced you to come along? I need to thank her, I haven’t done that yet.”
I still didn’t believe it. “Pinch me,” I said.
“Enough, now just Stfu!” Then he pulled me down and kissed me.