Staring is not the same as looking


When you stare, you pierce my face.
My body. Sometimes, my soul. Even my thoughts.
Can you read through my mind?
Can you hear my silent protest?
Can you feel my loathe?
Can you smell my fear?
Can you taste my disgust?

When you stare, you question my confidence.
As I walk on the road with my head held high,
your stare punctures my poise. My belief
that I belong to this space.

When you stare, you make me wonder.
Are my breasts too big for your pleasure?
Or too small to entertain your pervert thoughts?
Are my legs too hairy? Or too long
To let you imagine how you’d twist them
when you assault me sexually?
Is my bindi too distracting? Does it
make you wonder if I am married or loose?
Is my sari too bright? Allowing you
to get diverted and provoked?

You haven’t said a word
and yet I hear you.
I am filled with anguish,
as I interpret your leers.
I am filled with pain,
as I become an object for you to devour.
I am filled with regret,
as I doubt my own judgment .

When you stare, you question the reason for my existence.
I wonder why I am living this very moment
Of a piercing gaze penetrating through me
Your eyes overpower me. They strip me
with each passing moment.
And, suddenly, I am naked
in the split of a second.

No,staring is not the same as looking.

Love, Liebe, Liebster


I begin this blogpost with a sincere apology for not being regular. Travelling. Working. Discovering. Breathing. Existing. And living. I have been doing it all and rather handsomely. In short, I have gathered plenty of colours that are dying to be spilled into stories that can be shared and read. But I have been rather lazy and unorganized in doing so. Hence the apology.

Thankfully, I got a very good reason to update. My friend and fellow blogger, Nupur (whose blog has the most awesome-st name, btw: ‘Tugging My Luggage‘) nominated me for something called the ”Liebster Award”. To be frank, I have no idea what this is about. But she nominated me. So my guess is it’s pretty huge. Many many thanks for the honour! The word liebster comes from liebe which is German for love. So I am already touched and humbled by the gesture. Danke! :-)

award

I have never looked at Colours on my palette (Have you liked it yet?) as a travel blog. I look it as a blog, yes. A medium of expression. Of thoughts. Words. Experiences. Discoveries. Inventions. Conversations. And stories. They all form the different colours of this palette. However, travel is an extremely crucial part of it. Most of my stories and experiences come from my travels. Fictional, imaginary, real and/or otherwise. I read a quote somewhere that aptly explains it all: “Travelling: It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” :)

Continuing the tradition of all this ‘liebe’, I answer Nupur’s lovely questions in this post:

What got you hooked to travel?

I don’t really know the answer to that. I have travelled since a kid. Mostly with family members, as a child. More with friends, as I grow up. And occasionally, alone. As a girl from a small town, a large part of my childhood was spent in touring “bigger”, metropolitan cities, visiting my grandparents and planning family holidays. Today, I am hooked to travel for many reasons. One, it helps you switch off- a real art. Two, it helps you give time to yourself-something we often forget or ignore. Travel is an addiction because it helps us understand ourselves and the people around us much better. And it never ends. Both the travels and the learnings.

What is your favourite thing about travel?

That I get to meet and embrace multiple cultures, cuisines and colours. That I get to collect souvenirs(not necessarily material). That I get to switch off. That I get to discover and pen so many stories waiting to be told. In different narratives. From different perspectives. In different colours.

One place which you would love to return over and over again?

Nice Ville, South France

Puducherry, South India

Cherrapunjee, North East India

One place you would never return?

Vatican City on Christmas eve. Maddening crowd!

If you had to settle down in one place, which would it be?

I ask myself this question every single day! At the moment, I am thinking South Goa. A year ago, I would have said Kerala.

Which is your favourite travel photo?

So many! And so many more that are printed in my memory. But for the sake of answering this question, here’s one:

The break of dawn. Clicked in a small village in South Germany that goes by the name 'Unterjesingen Sandäcker'

The break of dawn. Clicked in a small village in South Germany that goes by the name ‘Unterjesingen Sandäcker’

What do you prefer to carry, hard copy books or e-books?

Hard copy. Always. It isn’t really reading if you can’t smell the pages.

What do you prefer, short term or long term travel?

Both, I guess. Depends on the company I travel with.

Which are your must have packing items?

Water bottle, diary, ink pen, a book to read, earphones, battery charger

How has blogging helped you?

It has helped me narrate stories in a way that doesn’t put the reader to sleep (hopefully). It has helped me connect to other fellow bloggers and travellers. It has helped in expressing myself better. Hopefully, the learning continues.

_______________

Now that I have done my bit, I would like to nominate the following blogs:

Mindblogging @ My Will

Communique | Talking Loud

Rum Lola Rum

Bom Sight & Thought House

Heaven on Earth

Media. Social Issues. Agriculture. Feminism

A Reluctant Ombudsman

And here are my questions:

1) What has travel taught you?

2) One travel story that you never get tired of narrating?

3) What has been your cheapest and most extravagant travel experience?

4) What has been your worst travel experience?

5) One place that you haven’t been able to visit yet and would like to travel to? Why?

6) One place that you have visited and would like to travel again to? Why?

7) One unforgettable souvenir from your travels?

8) If you had all the money you need, what is the one place in this world that you would like to spend it on? 

9) A travel tip that you would like to share?

10) Why do you blog? 

Looking forward to some really interesting answers. Till then, keep travelling! :)

Liebster rules:

-Share your gratitude and link back the blogger who has nominated you

-Answer their 10 questions

-Nominate more blogs (10, if you can)

-Draft 10 questions of your own

Learning about feminism: through the eyes of young girls’


I enter the Tech Center with a lot of inhibitions. About twenty girls who have never seen me before eyeing me from top to bottom. I adjust my dupatta. Maybe they are judging if it matches with the rest of my attire. My colleague, Shivani, who is about to take a session on “Feminism” with these young girls has repeatedly assured me how beautiful and wonderful these girls are. But I have my set of inhibitions. This is my first entry into a world of young girls coming from urban poor slums wanting to know about feminism and curious enough to come together and listen about it. I take out my notepad to make notes, if any.

Shivani introduces me to the class explaining my entry into the FAT team. All thirty pair of eyes on me. I am about to break into some more sweat when they all yell “Hi!” with the biggest smile on their faces. It’s amazing how a smile can break any ice. I smile back at them and get the confidence to reciprocate their friendliness. Things are not as half as bad as I thought. I sit with them to listen to the class keenly.

The session begins with a simple question—what do you think is the difference between a boy and a girl? Girls enthusiastically raise their hands to answer. Some say there is really no difference except their reproductive organs. Some point out the difference in their respective behaviours. Some vaguely mention the word ‘power’ and how its distribution varies among boys and girls. I am amazed at this response and wonder if I even knew what ‘power’ meant at that age except if used in the context of electricity.

Shivani explains the difference between sex and gender to the girls and there is a sneaky giggle at the s-word. I can’t hold back my smile and join them in their curious snickering. The word आज़ादी (freedom) comes up for discussion. Girls react differently. Some look at each other as if it sounds like something one should have but for some reason, one hasn’t got it yet. Some claim they have complete azaadi to do anything they want. When asked if they can go late at night alone on a street, they are shocked at such a demand. But why would we want to do that?, they ask. But what if you want to? You don’t want to today because you do not even have the option to consider it. There’s silence and a lot of musings.

Picture courtesy FAT

Picture courtesy FAT

Shivani throws in another situation. What if your brother comes late at night? That’s okay. He is a boy. That’s allowed, girls agree in unison. Why do you think that is? Girls realize that it’s a question always at the back of their head but they have never explored it further. Where does such a thought process come from? How does the presence or absence of a vagina and/or a penis decide things for people that affect their everyday lives? Girls whisper around and wait patiently for one magical word to answer this inequality. पितृसत्ता. Patriarchy. There’s silence. Girls are still absorbing the enormity of the answer and the weight of this heavy word.

So, how do we deal with this?, asks one curious girl. By fighting patriarchy. Girls voice their everyday patriarchal experiences in the session and these are linked to the idea and concept of feminism—not merely as a term to be understood but as an everyday need and a daily lived experience. Raising our voices against discrimination. Being stubborn about wanting to claim our rights. Constantly asking why and questioning authority. Changing people’s mindset. By dialogues, discussions and comparisons. By perseverance, persistence and patience. By understanding differences, respecting it and negotiating with it. And isn’t that what feminism is all about?

Girls gasp at the F-word. Some have vaguely heard of it before. Some are neutral to it. Some know it because it is the first word in the abbreviation FAT. As the term is unfolded in front of them, the girls notice how their association with the F-word is almost an everyday affair, without them realizing it. Some of them have fought or are still fighting for their right to study further. Some have raised their voices against parental pressure to get married the moment they turned 18. Some have supported their mothers and become their shields when their fathers have raised hands on them. Some have garnered the confidence to travel on their own in Delhi and wear what they want to and what they feel comfortable in. I have been told that girls from the Tech Center in the past have even screened movies on menstruation using community screening as a tool to keep the feminist struggle alive.

Shivani explains how the Tech Center, today, is a feminist space that provides young girls from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds, with the much-needed freedom to come, learn not just about technology and new age communication tools but also foster a spirit of awareness and activism about women’s rights and girls’ issues. It’s a space where girls share stories about lived experiences and do some loud thinking on it, while they simultaneously learn how to lose inhibitions (if any) on using and working with technology. This is what we call a ‘Feminist Approach to Technology’. We are FAT and we love it! The girls laugh and spread cheer. At the end of the session, two of them give me goodbye hugs. My day feels worthwhile.

This post was originally published here.

My journey with Gabo


I have rarely read romantic stories. I shy away from them. I find fiction in the area of romance making me uncomfortable. I rarely pursue them. More importantly, I don’t trust them. But Gabo is an exception. His words, the power that they ooze…these are unforgettable and it’s nearly impossible to not be affected by it. My first Gabo encounter was during my graduating years as I read Chronicle of a Death Foretold. The sheer genius of this man reflected in the title itself. The story of a death that has already been predicted. A novella set in Colombia, it was my first insight into Latin American culture. Its people, their complacency, their guilt, their secrets, their magic and their reality (often the same). There was violence in the name of love. I was intrigued and craving for more.

Instead of picking up another novel, I picked up his autobiography instead:Living to Tell the Tale. Somehow, it seemed more important and necessary to read about his life, his journey, his pursuit of love and career. His personal anecdotes were so interesting, I never bothered to explore any of his other writings. Or perhaps I wasn’t ready for any of it. Until one day, a friend suggested Memoirs of my Melancholy Whores. Again, what a mesmerizing title. It was the last novella penned by him and that intrigued me enough to give it a read. As I stood at the bookstore hunting for Gabo’s not-so-famous novella, I finally struck upon a beautiful cover on a thin book, whose first lines read: “The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.” I was sold. The book costed a bomb (it was an imported edition and no second-hand edition was available) and I paid the price anyway since I knew that somewhere, somehow it was going to be worth it. And I wasn’t wrong. It is, till date, one of the most beautiful, gorgeous, honest and spectacular stories that I have read in my life.

After having Marquezed (almost permanently) this time, I pondered over the next novel. They all praised One Hundred Years of Solitude. But I still had my doubts. At a flea market, I bought News of a Kidnapping. Again, one of his lesser known writings hoping to read a little less fiction and a little more reality. But before I could begin reading it, a dear friend recommended Love in the Time of Cholera. My skepticism towards romance and love stories still prevailed and I casually dismissed his suggestion. This was followed by a statement he made that I will never forget: “If you want to know what love is truely all about it, read this. Everything else is crap.

I had enough faith on Marquez and my friend to believe in such a persistent claim. I went to the second-hand bookstore that very weekend and purchased a copy for myself. I spent the next four months reading Love in the Time of Cholera. I usually don’t dwell so much on a book (unless it’s excruciatingly boring). And this was quite the contrary. But I wanted to absorb and swallow every word of this novel. It was pitted as the quintessential bible for all lovers and for all those who hope to fall in love. It deserved that extra pamper. And it was worth it in every way.

My copy of Chronicle of a Death Foretold and News of a Kidnapping are the only ones that continue to live on my bookshelf. I gifted my copy of Memoirs to a friend. Memoirs holds the record of being the oft-repeated gift as far as books are concerned. I have gifted it to six of my friends. I continue to gift it to those who still haven’t read it. My copy of Love in the Time of Cholera is currently with a friend who claims he is in love and I felt he needed to read Gabo’s advice on this.

There is magic in his name, there is magic in the words he weaved. He lives on bookshelves. He breathes in people who are in love. He talks to his readers. He questions their beliefs. He is not dead. Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez lives on.

No matter what, nobody can take away the dances you’ve already had.

Originally published on Campus Diaries.

The wait…


She was a good ten minutes late. What reason was she going to give this time? Traffic? Left home late? Had work? Lost track of time? All of these true. She hated the way the day had begun. She woke up with a sore throat. She couldn’t find what she wanted to wear. And now she was a good ten minutes late wearing what could best be described as “the perfect last-minute find”. Well, all these issues could be sorted out easily: all she needed was a hot cup of coffee, he didn’t really care what she wore and he was used to her late comings. But it was enough to spoil her mood. She hated that café, to begin with. Far from home, did not serve tea and loud and expensive: this wasn’t her idea of a café. Which café serves just coffee? She rarely drank tea but liked to believe that she had the option to order it. And the sad little cookie that came along with the coffee: that just seemed preposterous.

The café sported a deserted look. A plump middle-aged man enjoying his cup of latte was the only other customer. He was so focussed on his caffeine that the only time he denied it any attention was when the woman made some fidgeting noise with her handbag or house keys. He stared at her sweaty face, while she ignored him. His leching was least of her concerns; the guy she was supposed to meet hadn’t even arrived yet and here she was, anxious that she was late and that he might be angry for waiting so long. This was a rare victory for her. She had arrived before him. That was almost as rare as her wish to drink tea instead of coffee. She mused over the lectures she would give once he arrived decidedly late.  She rehearsed a couple of lines in her head, determined to teach him the lesson of time management and punctuality.

Clicked by Sriram Erramilli

Clicked by Sriram Erramilli

Half-past twelve. Her throat was feeling better. Her anger had boiled down. The plump latte-drinker was gone. And there was still no sign of him. She called him for the seventh time and for the seventh time the sadistic bitch said that the number was out of coverage area. She was drinking the coffee rather slowly, so she could avoid the glare of the waiter, who was trying to figure out what was this woman doing in the middle of a hot day in this sad, deserted café. He was probably judging the man she was waiting for, she thought, and this infuriated her. Who was he to think anything about her lover? She was in good mind to give him her coldest stare but she had other things to worry about. The sadistic bitch on the phone continued to revel in her restlessness.

Her second cup of coffee arrived. This time, the waiter served it with a smirk on his face. She stared right back at him, her eyes defending her lover’s absence. She kept staring at the door, wanting to catch his sight sooner than anyone else. The coffee did not taste good this time. Or perhaps her foul mood had spread through her taste buds. She blew the froth away as the agonizing wait started killing her bit by bit. She tried his number again. Maybe eleventh time would be a charm? It worked. The number rang for about a minute until it got disconnected as no one picked it up. The sadistic bitch, this time, said he wasn’t picking up and asked her to call again. Damn! Well, at least it was ringing. That could be a good sign. He was probably driving and on his way. Good thing he didn’t pick up. It was never right to pick up calls when driving. What a sensible man, she thought. Funny how anger turned into admiration. And it took only twenty minutes, two cups of coffee and eleven call attempts for that to happen.

As she blew the invisible froth for the hundredth time, she practised several versions of speech in her head. How much that sadistic bitch on the phone irritated her; she called him to hear him, not her. How the waiter always questioned her choice by his smirks; she should not be feeling answerable to anyone but she somehow felt compelled and defensive. How the plump guy kept reading through her restlessness. How agonizing the wait was and what it did to her curious mind that leapt at the slightest trigger. She had finalized every single word and every single emotion of her speech. But they all drowned and faded into oblivion. He was here. And all she could think of was to envelop him in her embrace. Nothing else mattered. Not those speeches. Not the smirk. Not the stare. Not the judgment.

Of France, Italy, Spain and “the end”


I have had my share of France when I visited Pondicherry (now, Puducherry) two years back. I remember being fascinated by anything French: from cuisine to the architecture to the literature, probably fascinated more by its European roots as, to me, European, was French. What foreign language do you know? French. What was eight grade history all about? The French Revolution. Where is Simone de Beauvoir from? France. French feminism. French kiss. French fries. France was the quintessential representative of anything European. I thought I had experienced all the French-ness that I could when I visited Pondi, completely convinced that this was my best bet of experiencing Europe in India. I think I spoke too soon.

I began my affair with France by landing in its capital city, Paris. The city that I had heard so many rumours about that it became almost necessary to go there to verify them. I was told that it is one of the most unsafe cities in the world. I haven’t been everywhere but I can vouch that it is as safe and/or unsafe as Mumbai or Delhi. There is nothing in Paris that stands out as peculiarly threatening  to life. I may be wrong. But I am alive to tell the story without having been robbed, mugged or groped. And I have been on the streets of Paris during all times of the day. Well, mostly. I was also told that France is the most romantic country in the world with Paris being oh-so-mushy. Again, nothing in Paris stood out as particularly romantic. The couples I saw making love at the underground railway station were no different from the elderly couple giving each other a good night kiss at an Italian coffee shop.

Eiffel versus Human

Eiffel versus Human

But, Paris felt loud. Its glamour, its fashion and its people. They seemed to scream their existence. Not in an irritating fashion but in a hey-you-can’t-help-but-give-us-a-second-look way. And you would. You would look at the Eiffel Tower twice. Thrice maybe if you go in the night and feel awed at its glitter and extra-ordinariness. The farther you look at it, the more it mesmerizes you. The closer you go, the tinier you feel. You would look at Da Vinci’s painting twice when you visit the Louvre Museum. You would wonder at Mona Lisa’s painting and wonder what the heck is her expression all about and why is the world so obsessed with it. You would stare at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and muse over its architecture and sculpture even if you don’t understand it. Paris is all about wondering why is it so famous. And by the time you leave the city, you wouldn’t know why but you would agree with those who campaign about the Parisian way of life and nod at what Hemingway had to say about the city: “But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.” 

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Louvre Museum, Paris

From Paris, I ventured into French Riveria, wanting to experience more about the country than just its capital. I explored Cannes and Nice (pronounced as niece, mind you), while also visiting Monte Carlo, Monaco, ending up having the best time in these wonderful coastal cities. With the Mediterranean Sea following you along the way as you travel from one city to another, the sea literally never leaves you. Its magnanimity follows you like a shadow presenting itself in different ways in different cities. Cannes, with its red carpets, fashion brands and private yachts. Nice with its feel of French countryside, the postcard picture perfect sunrise and sunset at the beach and Monte Carlo with its richness of people and culture. Each of these was an experience of its own.

A quiet beach in Nice Ville

A quiet beach in Nice Ville

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The city of Monte Carlo

With so much France in my system, I had pretty high expectations with my next destination: Italy. I was greedy for more as I neared my next stop and Italy did nothing to disappoint me. One of the most visually appealing cities, Rome, was my first stop. On first look, it looks like an abandoned city where civilization once flourished and is now just a crucial chapter in history textbooks. Rocks. Ruins. And rust. That’s Rome, in a nutshell. Unforgettable, though. With its wonderous Colosseum and the popular Trevi Fountain. Rome stays with you. Even after you have forgotten all your memory, Rome remains. And never dies.

Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum, Rome

From Rome, I left for Pisa to admire yet another wonder of the world: The Leaning Tower. I have been fortunate enough to have seen at least three other wonders (the Taj Mahal, the Colosseum and the Eiffel Tower). But the tower that leans wins my vote hands down. Its simplicity, its perfection in it imperfection and its serenity is enough to knock your socks away. There is pretty much nothing else in Pisa city except the leaning tower. But that is enough a reason to lure you there. I ended my innings at Italy with yet another oft-spoken of romantic destination: Venice. It’s easier to understand why Venice is touted as romantic (as compared to Paris and the mystery surrounding it). There is water everywhere; the city thrives on it. Paintings. Fresco. Gondola. Touring the city on water. Well, there is a noticeable charm about it all. You can smell and feel love everywhere. In the air. In the waters. In the paintings. In the painter’s brush. In the painter eyeing his muse. In the gondolier’s oar’s strokes. Venice is for the lover. And for everyone who aspires to be one. Also, I had one of the best pastas I have ever had in my life there (in case, you aren’t convinced just as yet).

The city of Venice

The city of Venice

My last European stop was Spain. I could only go to Barcelona as Spain was my last destination and by the end of it all, I was physically, mentally and monetarily spent. Yet, I couldn’t erase Spain out of my To-go list even if it meant only one city. I choose Barcelona as I could fly there for cheap.  Also, I wanted to visit a city other than the capital. Barcelona fit my bill and gave me all the Spain and Spanish-ness I could have possibly wanted. And more than just that. Apart from discovering Gaudi‘s spectacular architecture in the city and hitting the local beach, I also walked along the lanes of Catalonia, a historical lesson I had completely missed and ignored during my school days. A trip to Barcelona was easily one of the most informative ones I ever took in Europe and I came back filled with enough information to last a lifetime.

A street in Barcelona

A street in Barcelona

The beginning of Spain meant the end of my mammoth European tour. And I was already apprehensive of that happening. I began my trip to Barcelona with the constant feeling that this is possibly my last destination and I ought to soak up as much of sun as I can. Literally. And figuratively. And that’s what I did. I probably enjoyed Barcelona a tad more than the others. Just as I enjoyed Prague a little more than the last, both being memorable owing to the fact that they were my first and last stops. If the story is good, you always remember the beginning and the end, no matter how it turns out. And for me, it was all good. Nay, ¡Magnífico! :-)

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Of music and romance


For me, Prague meant Rockstar. Prague spelled theatre, culture, arts, opera and ballet. Prague reminded me of Ranbir Kapoor and the song Aur Ho. But it is so much more. It is said to be the cultural capital of Europe that is host to several Czech and English language plays and theatrical performances. Unfortunately, I did not have the money to afford a ticket to any of these but there is theatre, drama and music on the streets. I found people from different backgrounds and knowledges producing music out of sheer wood. Or a cane. Or a rod. Anything that produces sound was wonderfully converted into soulful music. It’s amazing to witness musicians on the street playing for people, hoping for money and entertaining anyone who lends them an ear.

Musicians from Mexico performing on a street in Prague

Musicians from Mexico performing on a street in Prague

In many ways, Prague reminded me of India. Mumbai, to be more specific. It had been a while since I saw a definite crowd gathered on the street in Europe. It had been a while since I saw a street performer entertaining an audience with his tricks and treats. It was also quite relieving and satisfying to see people not obeying the traffic light when crossing the road. Mumbai just came flying back to me as I ran across the street while it was still red. Prague also gave me an ‘Indian’ feel (whatever that means) as I passed by streets of flea markets that sold stuff at a reasonable rate that was subject to bargaining. This was the first time in Europe that I got a chance to negotiate on the price with the seller. 

A bird's eye view of the city of Prague

A bird’s-eye view of the city of Prague

The much-talked about and popular Charles Bridge was an experience in itself. I went there in the night, which makes it twice as colder and thrice as awesomer, with all the lights. The cool breeze on the bridge can make a chill run down your spine, both literally and figuratively. It’s a must-visit and represents Old City in the best way possible. The best part is that this beauty is for free. There is no entry fee and it’s a public bridge open to all pedestrians. Old City is full of music and merriment. There are people everywhere. Gathered for a wedding ceremony or to hear out a musician or to skeptically look at a street performer’s magic tricks. A better view of this cosmopolitan crowd is wonderfully captured from the astronomical tower that allows a bird’s-eye view of the entire city.

People gathered to witness a wedding on the street in Prague

People gathered to witness a wedding on the street in Prague

With Prague becoming my first out-of-Deutschland experience, I headed to another neighbouring country: Austria. As a kid, I always confused Austria with Australia owing to the missing ‘l’. I remember realizing the difference of not just culture but also geographical location between the two countries. As I learned that Austria is a separate European country, I mulled over its European connection and dismissed it instantly. Who would have thought that someday, I would get to visit its capital city Vienna, touted as one of the most romantic cities of the world (closely following Paris and Venice). I am not a romantic and I don’t understand romance the way it is conventionally spoon-fed to us via media images and literature. In fact, I have consciously stayed away from reading anything that belongs to the romantic/love story genre. But Vienna, as a city, will probably make the unromantic appreciate romance in a way he/she never fathomed.

A tree decorated at a Christmas market in Vienna

A tree decorated with miniature guitars at a Christmas market in Vienna

Romance and the idea of romantic is as subjective as the idea of love. Vienna is a land of classicism and perfection: verbs one would normally not associate with romance. But there is love and romance in music that the Viennese have produced. There is romance in their orchestra. In its harmony. In its choice of violins and the cello and their jugalbandi. In the way the trumpet complements the saxophone in a well-conducted musical symphony. In its disciplined music that demands perfection from each of the musicians who never fail to deliver. It’s the land that Beethoven and Mozart spent many of their years in. And you can’t dismiss them, even if you’d want to.

An exhibit of Mozart's achievements in Haus der musik, Vienna

An exhibit of Mozart’s achievements in Haus der musik, Vienna

Vienna is also the place where much of the movie Before Sunrise is set. But more than just its Hollywood and filmy connection, the city enamours you with its epicness. The streets are wide and long. The people are many and multi. The transport is varied and crowded. The city speaks in many languages, German being the official one. Despite its Deutsche-speaking population, it does not feel like Germany at all. It’s like Austria is trying to niche its own identity, and successfully so, while sticking to the common language. I think I would have felt the same after living in Spain, learning Spanish and then heading to Mexico.

The famous Ferris Wheel in Vienna

The famous Ferris Wheel in Vienna

Next up: France, Italy and Spain

Read Part 1 here