20 3 / 2013
08 5 / 2012
"How soon country people forget. When they fall in love with a city it is forever, and it is like forever. As though there never was a time when they didn’t love it. The minute they arrive at the train station or get off the ferry and glimpse the wide streets and the wasteful lamps lighting them, they know they are born for it. There, in a city, they are not so much new as themselves: their stronger, riskier selves."
30 10 / 2011
"Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey."
20 8 / 2011
You can’t be Lahori and hate the rain. To express any disdain whatsoever for it - no matter how torrential, damaging, potentially day-wrecking it might prove to be - is probably the gravest of sins in a city that breathes just for the next drop from the sky. For many of us (okay, for me), no matter how soul-wrenching living in the city gets, no matter how many chances to escape emerge, it’s the endless love affair with the smell of rain here that always drags us (sigh, ME) back to where I supposedly belong.
Rain in Europe, however, is a different beast all together. It lacks the Monsoon’s magic, the joy, the absolute serenity that it brings. On the other hand, it also lacks the sticky, buggy, hair-destroying capability that we’re forever cursed with. And being an incurable fanatic of precipitation (note: snow not included in this category, that is an abomination), it’s hard for me not to grin at stormy weather. For most, getting rained on during a mismanaged dream vacation sounds like a nightmare. For me, it was a chocolate ganache surprise on top of a very reluctantly baked cake.
The rain in Venice, unlike all its other counterparts in Europe, is the only one that even comes close to matching Lahore’s. Excepting the smell (which, really, no force on earth can replicate… we’ve got that one down pat), it’s got the same feel, and the same sticky humidity to follow. And yes, standing in a tight, brightly lit alleyway with little knick-knack stuffed storefronts in the downpour transported me straight back to Liberty Market. Replacing the smell of samosas for fresh pasta and pizza. With the additional bonus of delicious, life-changing gelato that will ruin you for all other forms of ice cream ever.
But despite the meteorological and gastronomic happenstance that should’ve made Venice the default setting for my dreams, I admit (rather shamefully) to being somewhat underwhelmed. It just wasn’t love at first sight, and I’m happy to hope and beg and plead with God for another chance to fall for it. So here I was, worried and sad and having to leave far too soon to form a lasting relationship with ‘one of the most popular kids in school’ (so to speak), and all I could think was: “How am I going to tell everyone? How can I ever face up to the ones who lust after this place, day in and day out? How will I keep from being killed for not being completely and totally awestruck by the majesty of this place?”
And then, like magic, a lone voice of reason materialized in the overexcited cacophony behind me. “I’m just glad the windows open here. And that the water isn’t covered in a layer of suicidal lovers. Though… to be fair, I suppose they’d have sunk by now.”
Yes, sitting behind me - blonde, blue-eyed, dorky and clad in a t-shirt saying “Speed is sex; Distance is love.” - was what seemed to be the spiritual clone of a very, very dear friend. Suddenly, the quality of my day and the already sublime sunset went up exponentially, because I felt just that tiny bit more comfortable with my surroundings.
The following is a (rather creepy) collection of quotes that I (rather creepily) transcribed while clone-boy sat behind me, summing up Venice as I’d imagine his original version might have done.
“There’s a weird lack of lifeguards. Probably a mistake, considering how many foolish, naive, young couples vacation here.”
“Yeah, I don’t think I could ever live in a place where crossing the road would present such a challenge.”
“Hey, you want this window seat? I don’t mind. I’ll just wiki [the view] later.”
(One of his travel companions commented on the speed limit signs) “That low? Looks more like the recommended speed for ramming into one of the bigger boats.”
“Giglio? Is that supposed to be giggles? Or gigolo? The latter’s probably more apt, considering the setting. There’s 6 guys in my line of vision dressed just for the role.”
(Watching guy blowing large elaborate bubbles at the waterside) Travel companion: “Oooh, bubble in a bubble!” (outer bubble pops) Clone-boy: (bored nerd-announcer voice) “Look at that. And the sub-bubble remained.”
(pulling out iPad) “We could just skip the Murano tour. Here, we’ll wiki it. Faster. Probably less wet, too.”
“That house was totally built by a sadist who enjoyed fooling people into believing they’re fat. Awesome. Totally my kinda guy.”