Calçada – Portugal’s Distinctive Mosaic Pavements

I first spotted the distinctive patterned street mosaics on Senado Square in Macau, in 2009. Then again, a couple of years later, in Rio de Janeiro.  They were strong reminders of the stories of the first global explorations, of the age of discoveries initiated by one of the largest colonial empires in history. It is…

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Thanjavur – Sublime Chola Heritage

I am not a temple goer.  I find the energy and fervour and the attendant din of a crowded temple distracting. Rare visits on special occasions are more nostalgic concessions to tradition, rather than opportunities for communion with God. But the vibe at each of the three temples that constitute the UNESCO inscribed ‘Great Living Chola Temple‘ ensemble was different. And visiting…

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The Dancing Girl And The Goddess

A primitive dancing girl and a Tantric Goddess trigger reflections on the current status of women in India.

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Venice – Angel Of The City!

Peggy Guggenheim’s irreverence and sense of humour is evident from this 1948 Marino Marini sculpture presiding over the canal side entrance to her old home: Palazzo Venier de Leoni (Now home to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection). The bronze male nude astride a horse is hardly what you would expect to be titled ‘Angel of the City’! Serious…

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The Gilded Bas Relief Of Wat Mai

Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham on Sisavangvong street, was once the principle royal monastery, the residence of the chief Laotian Buddhist dignitary (Phra Sangkharat), and the repository of the 33″ high, gold alloy Buddha icon (Phra Bang), that Laung Prabang derives its name from. It also once held the famed Emerald Buddha, that was moved to Vientiane, before being carted…

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A Passion For Egypt

Plundered art and antiques, should rightfully be returned to their countries of origin and displayed in situ. So I believed, very passionately, until I learned of the burning of the Institute d’Egypte, near Tahrir square in Cairo in December 2011. And of the destruction of almost all the precious manuscripts it contained. Among them, it…

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Better Brown Than Brassy!

I used to be partial to browns a few years ago when I went through an ethnic phase. My colour schemes usually ranged from pale beige to taupe to dark mahogany, with warm colour highlights. Of late, however, I find myself leaning towards the more contemporary white/grey palette. Strange how our preferences evolve. Here’s a…

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Paris – L’ancien Et Le Moderne

Much of the Paris we see today is the product of the gargantuan nineteenth century ‘remaking’ of Paris by Baron Hausmann, that ripped out and restructured entire neighbourhoods, with scant attention to more than 2000 years of accrued history. Its ancient labyrinth of narrow, snaking streets and cramped dwellings, transformed into this sumptuous and alluring…

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A Blooming Statue!

This giant flower sculpture of a West Highland White Terrier puppy is part of the permanent collection of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Designed in 1992 by Jeff Koons – an American artist renowned for his “Neo-Pop art –  for an art exhibition in Arolsen Castle, Germany, it was purchased by the Bilbao museum in 1997 (after a short stint in…

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