Sunday, June 24, 2007

the may travels 4 - toledo

'The streets of Toledo are desolate, ghosts of what they had once been. A man has come in from the countryside, looking for a book, a book whose name he doesn't yet know but which he is sure will have a lost history in it.... he knows the best place to hunt such things is down is the former Jewish quarter, though now Jews have lived there for a hundred years.

'... the man is wandering down the streets because it is now the neighbourhood of the rag sellers. The old neighbourhood of books and them men who wrote books and the men who translated books for the world has become a place where the books no one is supposed to read anymore are turned into pulp. The man sees a boy with a pile of papers he is trying to sell to an old silk merchant, and he can see they are written in Arabic....

' "... I pressed him to read the beginning , and when he did so, making an extempre translation from the Arabic into Castilian, he said that the heading was: History of Don Quixote de la Mancha, written by Cide Hamete benengeli, Arabic historian." ' - from The Ornament of The World, Maria Rosa Menocal

Saturday, June 23, 2007

the may travels 3 - cordoba

to paraphrase Faisal from Lawrence of Arabia -
'You are a desert loving Englishman... but I dream of the vanished gardens of Cordoba.'

I walked through the vanished gardens of Cordoba; the ruined palace city of Madinat Al-Zahra. In Cordoba itself, I wandered through the huge Cathedral known locally as the Mezquita (mosque), stared at water-wheels, and wondered at the sign advertising Judah Halevi Helados (ice-cream). In a sense this was all a pilgrimage to a world first glimpsed in this book, three years ago.

Friday, June 22, 2007

the may travels 2 - granada

Granada is a town i want to visit again. A town full of history, and historical ironies; where Gypsy musicians, Morrocan immigrants, punks and American students cross paths in its medieval streets, covered with modern graffiti. And arguably, the most beautiful Coca Cola sign in the world.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

the may travels 1 - madrid

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bhowanipore Cemetery, 1907

On my first day in Calcutta, my mother took me to the Bhowanipore Cemetery. She'd been waiting for me to arrive so we could explore the cemetery together. It's heartening to know that I'm the sort of guy people wait to go to graveyards with.

Where they make a desolation they call it peace.
We walk past the gravestones, Mother and I
Reading inscriptions, strange names who died
At 23, 24. Younger than I. Mother shakes her head.

The birds sit on crosses. Seeming peace and calm.
Whenever the war was, the war is long gone.
The sunlight is golden. His T-shirt is red.
He talks on his hands-free, sitting on a grave.

23? 24? Boys knock fruit out of a tree.
Where they make a desolation they call it peace.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hiatus. Explained.

I am typing this in Calcutta, on the computer in my parents’ lovely apartment in Calcutta, which I am visiting for the first time. Torrential rain has knocked out the Internet, so who knows when this will be up on the blog. While driving back home with the parents at 7.30 this morning, the sky turned so dark with the impeding rain that headlights had to be turned on. The crows flying helter skelter were almost indistinguishable against the sky.

The monsoons have arrived in Calcutta, and so have I. I left New York on the 13th of May, so it’s been a month of being ‘of no fixed address’; and, of course, no regular internet access; which explains the hiatus from blogging. The month has seen me passing through eight airports (JFK, Dublin, Madrid Barajas, Athens, Cairo, Bahrain, Delhi IGI, Calcutta); and hanging out in ten cities, towns and islands (Madrid, Granada, Cordoba, Toledo, Athens, Aegina Island, Mycenae, Naphlion, Cairo, Alexandria) before arriving in Delhi.

But the travels didn’t stop in Delhi. Having been away for only ten months, I could sense the city having changed. Having no home to call my own in the city that feels most like home, I continued living out of a backpack, wandering the city in its intense oven heat, spending nights in friends’ apartments, catching up with conversations.

And now it’s time to catch up with the blog. Soon to come, accounts of the travels - including pictures of the most beautiful Coca Cola sign ever; the cohort’s adventures in Greece, and why the 4S Beach Bar in the Anupam Complex (PVR Saket) has the best dance music on four continents; imho.
Listed on BlogShares