A Sharqi Pit Stop

“This better be worth it!” R muttered under his breath, as we turned into the pockmarked highway leading to Jaunpur. Great clouds of dust obscured the size of the potholes and our heads hit the roof of our vehicle more times than I cared to count. “Is the Allahabad highway any better?” he asked our equally tense driver, Sanjay.  […]

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The Presence Of Absence

The Armenian church is in Georgetown, the chaotic trading quarter of Chennai that I don’t ordinarily frequent. The last time I ventured into the area was in search of a particular shade and texture of hand made paper for invites to my stone furniture sale! That, I am ashamed to admit, was over a decade […]

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Lucknow – An Ode To Urbanity

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Let’s face it, we are not the most considerate or well mannered of people. If there is a rule to be broken, a line to be cut, or a traffic light to be jumped, you will likely find an Indian elbowing his way to pole position. Any indignant readers quick to rush to the defense of fellow citizens, are […]

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Torcello – The Cradle Of Venice

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Venice owes thanks to Atilla the Hun. Think about it…if the ‘barbarian’ hadn’t torched the Roman city of Altinum, if some of the residents of that great city hadn’t been directed by a disembodied voice to climb their lofty campanile and seek help from the heavens above, if they then hadn’t spied the distant group of islands on the lagoon from that tower, and if […]

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Rialto – ‘The Heart Of The City’

The free and easy style of sightseeing I had adopted in Venice, wasn’t without its drawbacks. I was halfway to the Basilica San Marco to book a place on the 11.00 am tour that would co-incide with the floodlighting of the mosaics, when it suddenly occurred to me that it was a Saturday.  I knew the Rialto markets would be closed the next […]

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Venice – Beyond San Marco

San Marco’s monumental magnificence aside, it was a relief to escape its relentless crowds and persistent fake bag vendors. My second hotel, the Al Ponte Mocenigo in the sestiere Santa Croce was far enough away from the touristy center to feel local, while being close enough to the Stan Stae vaporetto stop to remain connected. In my four full days there – not […]

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Venice – The City In The Sea

One of our friends wanted to know if two days was time enough for Venice. I laughed. That is more time than we had in the city on our first visit nearly three decades ago. Even then, when leisure travel was the prerogative of the extremely wealthy, and we were certain we would never ever step outside our […]

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Echoes Of The Raj

“Oberoi Hotel, Jawaharlal Nehru Road”  we repeated helpfully, as our cab driver frowned at his job sheet. He bobbed his head vigourously in response, “Yes, yes, yes…..Grand Hotel, Chowringhee”.  Turned out they were one and the same. The trend of our interactions with anyone we stopped to ask for directions in Calcutta followed a similar vein: “Anandilal Poddar Street?”……Blank […]

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Surviving Kashi

Boat ride, Varanasi

I tried hard to like Varanasi. There is no doubt that the city – alternately referred to as Benaras or Kashi – is remarkable. In its geography, arrayed against the left bank of the sacred Ganges, as well as its fascinating history, woven with fantastic legends*. I am not sure how its claim to being […]

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The Magnificent Mausoleum Of Humayun

On the couple of sublimely solitary hours we got to spend revelling in the magnificence of this necropolis and the serene silence of its pink stones.

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Giving Delhi Its Due

Changing of the guard at Rashtrapathi Bhavan

Granted my earlier visits had been limited to meetings with modular furniture makers and interior contractors, but charm was still the last thing I expected to find in Delhi! An insidious allure that gets under your skin, even as you wilt in the heat and the pollution smothers your lungs. “Do tourists really get to know […]

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The Frozen Smile Of The Bayon

Imagine for a moment, that you are an early French explorer, stumbling upon these crumbling ruins in the shadowy half light of dense tropical jungle. And making the startling discovery that those tree covered towers are in fact eerie, mysterious faces! Hundreds of them! With hooded staring eyes and implacable smiles! In the vast silence of […]

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