Friday, August 1, 2008

Back in Mumbai

Factually we got back a few days back but given that monsoons and our internet connection are mutually exclusive, I had to forsake blogging and facebooking in the interest of harvesting a good crop. As you can see, a worsened sense of humour is one of the side-effects of Europe.

Alright, so how did the trip go? My response is essentially the same as that of music show judges - AMAAAAAZING or MIND-BLOWING or AWESOMMMME. Yeah, it was really that much fun. For one, Adi has turned out to be one hell of a traveller. I was positively freaking out before the fight to Brussels took off. Our boy though decided that enough was enough and conked off the moment the plane started taxiing. Adi and I were travelling business class while my Mom and M slummed it out in economy. As soon as I made the seat flat, Adi decided that the whole bed was for him and sprawled out at a strange angle. I looked this way and that but for the life of me could not figure out a way to fit my five foot seven frame into a 2"X 2"piece of airline cushion. I contemplated drowning sleep in some Dom or champagne cocktails for some time before sleep finally took over.

Brussels is a nice enough place, if you ask me. It has plenty of gray, sarkari-looking buildings where Belgian babus must be typing away merrily all the while wearing the European equivalent of safari suits. But Brussels also has Godiva and lace and the most beautiful city square in the whole of Europe, all of which were internalized in copious quantities. The weather was great and Adi's stroller was put to use as we walked up and down the streets. He tasted everything that we were eating but his staples were still oats and sooji and dahi and boiled eggs when I could find them.

We took a day-trip to Brugge the next day and I cannot recommend the place enough. It is a medieval town, carefully preserved and I think it roughly houses one-eighth the people living in Bandra. The streets were deserted although it was a brilliant day according to their standards. We finally saw some sign of life when we went to a market square where everyone was eating french fries with some sort of cream. Brugge also had some really pretty wooden toys and I picked up some for Adi as a memento. Adi decided that he had had enough of the stroller and started running about on the cobbled streets, giving me a number of coronaries. He seemed to love the place as much as my Mom did, the latter telling me in no uncertain terms that she would like living in that city for the rest of her life. Anyway, so if you can, do visit Brugge. Its lovely.

The next morning was when we took a train to Florence flight to Bologna. I first visited Italy in 2005 when I saw Rome, Florence and Venice. This time though we did not stop in Florence at all, needing to catch a train to Bologna almost immediately. Bologna is where my concert was at, so my temptation to run away from it all and become a Metallica groupie was getting stronger by the moment. We arrived in Bologna and realized that it was a dismal sort of a place. Of course you may have been there and had had a fabulous time but that is where I will have to disagree with you, shaking my head sagely. Our hotel was located at a fair distance from the city center, fair distance meaning a twenty minute walk under the blazing hot sun. This may appear like a strategic mistake but this same hotel was an arm's throw from the concert arena and given that the entire trip was planned around the concert, it all worked out and there was no point trying to pin the blame on someone, anyone. I would have forgiven Bologna all its faults but what really ruined it for me for that there were no decent eateries even near the city square, serving up the pasta and pizza and gnocci that I had taken for granted during the last trip to the big cities. Maybe it was just us, failing to spot the spot where all was right. It did have some lovely 12th century towers though that I would have loved to explore in another lifetime but given fourteen month old in tow, climbing up and down hundreds of steps was not tremendously appealing.

Anyway, so the day of the concerto dawned (by then I was naturally speaking fluent Italian) and after spending the day pottering about the city and looking into the shops lined in a gallery eerily like Connaught Place and after depositing a happy-looking Adi with a happier-looking Mom, M and I took off in the cab specially called for the purpose, Bologna not knowing the meaning of public transport. We reached the Arena Parco Nord just before six and got caught up in traffic comprising the cars bringing the metalheads to their place of worship. Finding a place at the top of the slope, we drank beer and waited for the opening bands to start performing. Sword and Dawn were actually pretty good and though it was evident what the crowds were there for, both of them were given a patient listening. And then...THEN...suddenly...with the strains of Ecstacy of Gold, Metallica was on the stage!! The noise was deafening, thousands of arms raised in tribute to the best band in the world. I was completely lost after that and truly realized the meaning of being overwhelmed. The set they played was incredible. The music was so flawless that even M, whose knowledge of Metallica does not go past Nothing Else Matters, Master of Puppets and Enter Sandman enjoyed himself thoroughly. The crowd was fantastic. A lot of outstation people had come to watch the show because the next morning, the train station was full of people making their way back to their own towns and cities. I stared wistfully at their t-shirts, proudly proclaiming Metallica.

And later, after the concert was over, I thought to myself, well, that's it...guess I need to have another dream now!

The next morning we went to San Gimignano. More about that later....


ιℓℓυѕιση said...

Awesome!! I wana goto Europe!

welcome back home :)

Kiran said...

Oh wow! sounds like soo much fun! do share pics :)

Aneela Z said...

thanks a mill for letting us know that there is hope after bub...have been telling gman that there is a cool girl who has "pursued life" beyond the "divide" so he better not put me in semi-retirement after the "site under development" delivers.

Noodlehead said...

welcome back!! sounds like you had so much fun :) pic please!

btw, what kind of food did u take for adi on the plane? what was available on the plane itself? i'll be travelling with Bonbon soon so just wondering. Thanks in advance!

Alan said...

Great post. Metallica is one of our favorites as well and have seen them here in Seattle. Did you join the mosh pit?

Rohini said...

That sounds like fun!! We want PICS! On FB, if not here...

Mama - Mia said...


sounds like such a great time!!



Penguin said...

Oh wow! So THAT's the concert you went to - I'm SO jealous!

jasmine thakkar said...

Glad to know you fulfilled your dream!

jasmine thakkar said...

Glad to know you fulfilled your dream!

Parul said...

illusion - then save up and go...there is only one to make it happen!

kiran - no pics on the blog yaar...trying to guard privacy and stuff...but if you are my friend on Facebook then you can catch them there.

aneela z - LOL...glad I gave someone hope but should have seen me before the kid...heh heh!!

noodlehead - Adi survived on oats (the instant variety from BAggery's) and pre-roasted sooji that I would just mix with hot water and yogurt (available everywhere). He had three feeds of formula everyday and boiled eggs when I could get them. Where are you going?

alan - mosh pit? are you kidding me? I had a kid to come back to!!

rohini - guess replying is redundant since you have already seen them!

mama-mia - it was, it was!

penguin - don't be jealous, make it happen!

jasmine - yes, it was a long time coming but it happened!