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.
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.
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.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Was it true or was I dreaming? I couldn’t wrench my eyes off the scene. In fact, I couldn’t have enough of it.
I checked the clock to be sure. Yes, it was half past eleven. Almost midnight. But outside my window, the world was bright. Like day, yet not quite. It felt like I had stepped into a painting, another universe– a place I’d never been to before.
The blizzard had run out of steam, or taken a pause so it seemed. The air was still. The naked trees were sporting a shiny new coat of snow. The sky was white, so was the earth. There was no sound, nothing moved, yet everything throbbed with life. I was in awe.
It was too fantastic to be true. Yet true it was. I had the proof outside my window.
Drenched in refreshing moisture, earth bursts into colorful melody-
Simi K. Rao
Monsoon in India is a special time. The overcast black skies, the drumroll of thunder, invoke the thrill of anticipation in the thirsty heart. This is then fulfilled by the downpour. And what a downpour it is!
Extending from June- September, the monsoon brings welcome relief from the stifling heat of the summer. The happiness is visible not just on the faces of the citizens but also on the parched earth– the fragrance of the soil, the blossoming of the vegetation, the songs of the cuckoo, the dance of the peacock.
It may sound cliched yet nothing could be truer. A girl who goes on to become a woman has always learned to lead an inferior life. She has learned to be a perennial serf, who lives in the shadows. Who is seen and not heard. If she speaks– it has to be in soft tones or whispers. She has to align her opinions with those of the society — she has to be uncontroversial, motherly, generous. She has to live for her family and the world at large. She is ‘weak’ thus needs to be protected, yet she is also taken advantage of. Hypocrisy much?
If she rebels and asserts herself even in the slightest she at once surrounds herself with frowns and draws rebuke and criticism. How dare she? She is labelled a vixen, a mad woman and cast out or burnt at the stake.
Hence since the birth of time (with a few notable exceptions) she has learned to clip her wings, succumb to the pressures, curb her desires, even censor her thoughts. What a tragedy isn’t it?
We sat in the park. Tim was sleeping in the stroller all bundled up nice and cozy. We were like a family.
Aly. I wanted to tell you something.
I held my breath and waited.
I’ve been accepted at Pepperdine. Law. I’m excited.
I’m excited for you Zach.
I love you Aly. You’re so wonderful. He kissed me on the cheek.
I knew it was over. My pain expanded in my stomach. And spread to my chest to my arms, my head. And oozed from my eyes. I dug into my bag. My fingers automatically scrambling, searching for my crux, my pills. I found one.
It didn’t do anything for me. Absolutely nothing. I wanted to die.
PS: I’m attempting here a series of drabble; scattered ideas; snippets from life/lives. If they evoke some spark in you please give a holler 🙂