Rome : A city-sized tableau of history, up-close

October 18th, 2013

(First appeared in Air India Shubh Yatra, October 2013)

Rome is no beach resort to be experienced sensually with the skin, mind locked up. Rome is intellectually engaging as a city-sized tableau the interplay of politics, religion and art has created. So the monuments exist, some in ruins, as they were in the unaltered, timeless settings of River Tiber and the ‘ear bud’ foliage of Cyprus trees. Rome, like most other historic Italian cities, has resisted the modern temptation to grow vertically. Yet, unlike the city states of Venice and Florence, a Roman holiday is a challenge of distances. After all, it was caput mundi (capital of the world). Rome overwhelms you with its magnificence, and the mega scale on the three physical dimensions – plus the sense of the eternal, on the fourth dimension. Wrapped in a time warp are monuments, distanced by centuries, coexisting contiguously. This delightful puzzle has to be unravelled by joining the dots with the logic of chronology. Then one can decipher the entangled ribbon of human history spanning over 25 centuries.

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Andaman Islands: Naturopathy for tired lives

July 10th, 2013

( First appeared in SpiceRoute, July, 2013)

When you touch down at Port Blair’s Veer Savarkar airport, you are in Indian territory that is farthest from the mainland. Geographically closer to half a dozen countries, the strategic importance of Andaman and Nicobar is evident in the special care and attention this Union Territory receives. Result: subsidised, tension-free life in a crime-free region (fire arms are banned) that approximates a welfare state. There are no beggars. And the auto rickshaws do not loot. People are tourist-friendly and multilingual and one can get by with a mixture of English, Hindi, Bengali and Tamil.
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“The New Lighthouse : Great smells”

April 11th, 2013

If you are visiting port Blair’s Cellular Jail, stop over if your expectations are moderate.

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“Anju Coco Resto: Choose from a 28-page menu!”

April 4th, 2013

Arguably among Havelock’s best restaurants, at Anju Coco Resto, I had one of the best fish dishes.

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Slow life, anybody? Is time ripe for an India entry?

March 16th, 2013

( First appeared in The Economic Times, March 16, 2012)

The historic Palazzo del Gusto in the hill town of Orvieto near Rome is an apt setting for the International Headquarters of CITTASLOW INTERNATIONAL and its director, the-smiling- with- his- eyes Pier Giorgio Oliveti, who sports a prophet’s wispy beard, the right messiah for the cause. Cittaslow, meaning slow city, is the antithesis of the fast culture increasingly pervading modern life. It is a counter philosophy, expressed through a different lifestyle and attitude to life. If war and peace were the black and white of hippie perception, globalisation and homogenisation are the enemies of Cittaslow that seeks to protect things natural and distinctly local.

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A Romance called Venice

March 24th, 2012

(First appeared in Jet Wings, March 2012)

When you are in Venice, you have two choices. You can follow the beaten track – becoming a Boy Scout once again and following the tour guide’s flag to hear what happened to the missing left toe of the lion, to the far right of the fresco on the church wall. Or, experience that tourist-friendly city by hitting its cobble-stoned lanes, armed with the excellent Easymap (with Easyguide, from Venice Tourist Board) and a daily pass for the vaporetto (waterbus).

Venice is ideal for the latter choice. Here is why:

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Back to college, déjà vu”

August 14th, 2011

If you are a male, can you claim to have stayed in a girls’ hostel without breaking rules?

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Where the sands turn orange

August 9th, 2011

(First appeared in The Hindu, August 6, 2011)

A must-do on your itinerary, the Desert Safari in Dubai is filled with ups and downs, good food and some great dancing.

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Malacca – a treasure trove of history

April 15th, 2011

(First appeared in The Week online edition, April 2011)

For centuries, it was a flourishing port state bridging East and West. Founded by an Indian King in the early 15th century, soon under the Portuguese who were driven out in 1641 by the Dutch, followed by British rule till the middle of the 20th century…

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Leisure Island

February 2nd, 2011

(First appeared in Swagath, Feb 2011)

The tropical forests, turquoise waters and white sand beaches of Langkawi can dish up a memorable vacation

40 kilometres off the western coastline of Thailand and Malaysia, Langkawi is the largest in an archipelago of 90 odd islands, collectively declared a Geopark by UNESCO. 25 kilometres from anywhere in Langkawi, you can reach the fine white sands and the emerald waters. The southern tips of Pantai Cenang and Kuah town, both with a high concentration of hotels, are well connected to all major tourist attractions, with good roads winding through paddy fields if not tropical forests. An ideal place to drive around. Read the rest of this entry »

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