In the land of the ancient kings, Egypt is a wonderful place to see. Across the vast expanses of the desert are scattered pieces of a beautiful civilization that has oft been said to be the pinnacle of scientific discovery and from whose depths came the Ethynkera Device whose accuracy in predicting moon patterns hasn’t been paralleled by even modern day computer.
Much that was great now lies tarnished and ruined. Around the great pyramids of Giza lies a sprawling city with little or no planning. The roads remain choked with traffic, the drivers as horrible as those found in New Delhi. Buildings adorned the skyline as I travelled from Cairo to Giza, buildings that were dreams of people lie empty and barren like hellish edicts.
The morning begins on the Alexandria Desert Road; a long day lies ahead as the bus tumbles on, twisting, turning, jumping at every hole or disturbance in the road.
Alexandria was one of the greatest ports of the new dynasty and was under Greek rule substantially. It was the setting of the romance between Cleopatra and Julius Caesar and between Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. It is the biggest port of the country of Egypt.
Now, Alexandria resembles a ghost town. The outskirts have tall buildings with unpainted and crumbling facades, the streets narrow and the people desperate for money. They start urging you to buy their fares the moment they lay their eyes on you.
As I leave Amud El-Sawari, I see a weekly market adorning both sides of the street. The shops sell Burqas, Street Jewellery and quite amusingly Women’s Lingerie in the open. It is a normal phenomenon as such but the presence of outdoor shops selling lingerie and women actually buying them seemed a bit odd to me, especially since almost all the women I had seen till now in Egypt had been wearing burqas.
The thing about Egypt is that, even though it has been oppressed for so long and it seems that it is heading towards another period of oppression, this time religious, the heart of the people remains very strong. Egyptians are the warmest people that I have met. I met a little boy named Ahmed; he came to sell me a book of old Egyptian coins. I told him that I had already bought a few from Alexandria. He asked me what I paid for them and quietly replied that I had been given a good deal.
He did not try to persuade me to buy it again. He stood with me near my bus as I finished my ciggerete; he was not even old enough to be in college. He told me about the schools in Egypt and how they teach. At the end when it was time for me to leave, he hugged me and said goodbye. I instantly reached to check if my wallet was there, it was something stuck in my system. I felt horrible inside, Ahmed did not see me check for my wallet, he had already gone.
Amidst all the utter chaos of broken facades and unpainted buildings stands this majestic building inscribed with words from countless languages, the new Library of Alexandria. You go inside and it does not look less extravagant than the library of congress itself. State of the art security systems, 8 floors of books, I felt in heaven, really.
Just outside the library were the 4 main universities of Alexandria and the coffee shops nearby were filled with students. They were quite an inquisitive bunch and bubbling with enthusiasm, not much unlike me. As I left with the coffee in my hand I felt bad for them, my future had endless freedom written on it, and theirs had Sharia.
You are so ready to feel loved and feel worthy of being loved and yet you are so choosy on what that love would look like. Think of all the various types of love you have received in your life and realize that someone who is always late all the time isn’t really that bad. Some of the people who said they loved you just wanted to find a shortcut into your pants or they called you names, hit you, messed up your head and left you all in the name of affection. Life forces you to reach a stage when even someone remotely showing interested in you, makes you feel like you’ve caught the big fish.
You allow the disdainful courtship to proceed fairly quickly because you want to hear them say “I Love You”. Getting to know them properly with proper amounts of reflection and hesitation is currently not your plan of action. There is just someone frequently finding themselves in your arms, giving you a sense of devotion. You don’t even feel that you deserve more.
You hold on to them very tightly sitting together on the sofa of a posh upmarket café, knowing that the moment you both leave things will be different. You come to get used to the fact that they only give love in minute amounts, yet you cannot get accustomed to it. You feel a certain amount of longing even when they are only a few feet away from you. Their presence at your side is always a pleasant surprise, never something that you can ever take for granted.
You ask them for more signs of commitment and they stall you. You want them to tell you how much they need you but inside you know that they will say it only to please you. You quietly pray to god for a version of them that cares about you as much as you do for them. You quietly wish that they take you to a place with all their friends and proudly present you to every new person you meet. Just think about the life you would’ve had, if you did not know that they somehow felt ashamed about you. You know that they will never declare true love but bring yourself to believe that you don’t care.
But you do.
You feel the grasp of the relation closing around your neck and yet you don’t get a kick in the shin to tell you that “You deserve better”. You tell yourself that you expected worse than this and are contempt with the current situation, shame on you.
You meet a common friend on the road and they ask you “How long have you been in love?” and your ‘lover’ meekly replies “Ohh! We’re just seeing each other!” It suddenly brings you to realize that you are in a platonic relationship but you gave them free benefits, all that you planned with them was just like contemplated suicide, harsh.
Best of luck explaining the situation to all your closest friends who you told about your true love.
You tell them you are not in love.
You know you are.
You tell yourself that you’ll choose wisely next time. You won’t.
Na jaane in darazo me rakka kya hain?
Kya hain woh khilone bachpan ke,
Kuch tute kuch adhmare se,
Jinke saath ab meri khelne ki chaah nahi h.
Ya phir rakhe hain kuch khat,
Kuch yaadein simat kar rakhi gayi hain.
Magar dhool jami hain darazo par,
Kya kholta hoga inhe ab koi?
Raakhe honge kuch purani baatein,
Woh school ke medal aur scholar badge ki yaadein.
Ab engineering padhte padhte unki,
Yaad aati hain khub jamke.
Yah hain bhai ki koi shaitani,
Koi surri bamb ya koi makaude.
Yaah kuch mithai chipai hogi usne,
Chup chupke khata hoga phursat me.
Na jaane in darazo me rakha kya hain?
Inhe kholkar dekhoonga kabhi.
Magar aaj waqt hi kaha hain,
College jaane se phursat hi nahi
Great fields of Olives greeted me as my plane was landing in the Rome Int’l Airport. I love olives and believe it or not, these fields made me optimistic about my trip around Rome. Since childhood I had imagined the awe inspiring structures of the Roman Empire and how it would feel to be amidst them. And in totality my dream did come true. The magnificence of the 3000 year old city knows no bounds; every corner you turn brings you face to face with a monument that cannot simply be placed in this era.
I turned my imagination up a notch and began visualizing how the Romans used to live in the birthplace of civilization. The gladiators fighting in the colosseum, the roman forum full of roman philosophers, the likes of Marcus Aurelius and Plotinus. I was feeling quite majestic myself and it took quite a lot of self-restraint on my part not to pick up a sword and charge.
After reveling in the outer beauty of these wonders I went inside. The art on the ceilings, the intricate and exquisite detail on the statues were an amazing experience. You can never admire them enough, not in front of them and neither in afterthought. Each painting and sculpture had a style of their own, each different from the other. Yet there were some made centuries apart which looked almost the same, it was marvelous.
Having soaked in the many sights of Rome I had a carnal urge to move towards the smells, the famous Roman cuisine. I hogged on everything that I could lay my eyes on, Pastas, Pizzas, Gelatos, everything vanished in a jiffy. The food is definitely worth dying for; I’d happily give up everything to be amongst this kind of food for a lifetime. The varieties of Pizzas, Pastas, Meats and Gelatos available were mind boggling.
Rome is a wondrous city, a city perfect for wanderers, perfect for people who get lost in the city and not the people. You can sit and admire the beauty of Rome for hours to an end, yet every time you begin to write words will fall short. I’ve definitely marked Rome as one of the places I would love to go back to, maybe this time on a Roman Holiday.
I stepped into the world
With a flame alight in my heart
A sound of distant rolling thunder
An echo of lost dreams
I took the first steps with uneasy caution
With a wisdom of an old man seldom lost
A wilderness grew in my heart
Materials lost in the undergrowth
Searching in the hidden, the wild unknown
I found in the slivers, the blades of grass
The wild berries and sweet nectars
A love for the empty road
The dreams I had forgotten
A love for the love lorn wild
A quiet distant fate
A sad broken child within me
I took a long journey
Of self discovery and love
But the best part of it was
The jouney home and above
What do you do for your family, for your house?
Frankly, Yes I don’t do anything. I lie down on my bed all day staring into a laptop screen with headphones in my ears.
Once or twice I feel like going and helping them. I go and say *So whats happening? Tell me what to do?* and I always get the same reply. *No thanks, You’ve done enough.* Well If I did then why blame me all this while? I just don’t understand all this unnecessary use of sarcastic lines. I don’t know when it started. I’ve automatically taken a back seat to my family. I prefer keeping to myself, not that I’m talking or thinking about anybody else at that moment. I just like sitting back and thinking of all the ways my life sucks and about all the things I have to do, the things that need to be.
What am I? An engineer? A photographer? I don’t even know for sure. I don’t even know what I am supposed to be doing. Is *Don’t want to be an Engineer* an optimistic career goal after completing engineering? Or is confusion about doing photography after breathing with a camera for 4 years too wasteful?
I used to write a lot too, where has that habit gone? Do I need to rediscover myself or is it too late?
My parents always told me *Jack of All Trades, Master of None* and yet they didn’t stop me from doing everything I set my eyes on. I did all that I could muster and some things that I could not fathom. I made Music, I wrote Poetry, I wrote Fiction Novels, I clicked Photographs, I made Movies, I made Computer Programs, there’s a hell lot more to this list. Sometimes I wonder how life would have been if I would have just narrowed it down, maybe I could do one thing better than everybody else, maybe I could have rid myself off this utter confusion and despair.
1.5 Semesters to go till I officially pass out of college and I don’t know my next step. I was never one for the ever so thoughtful game of chess. Even in Chess, the future was always clouded to me, I could never predict moves, nor the psyche of my opponent.
I can never judge people, I say things off the top of my head, I am deeply judgmental and I am scared. In this race to always be known, always be regarded by people, I have lost myself. I don’t know anymore who I am, I look back at myself 2 years ago and find myself totally different.
My thoughts aren’t my own, I don’t even know if I think at all. Most of the times I am just vacant, totally hollow from inside. I’m lost like a child in a jungle of modernity and hunger. I walk alone in restless dreams. All I want is some anarchy, some deep rooted anarchy. I’m craving for anarchy in my life, in my world.
In the words of the ancients,
Ύβρις είναι μοιραίο λάθος μου και η ζωή είναι η καταστροφή μου.
After wandering about on the tracks of an isolated train station in the heart of Delhi for about 2 hours, Hunger dug its vengeful claws into my empty stomach. I was dying for a cold drink and some relaxing food. Barnita suggested we head to Satya Niketan and try out the newly opened ‘The Brick House Diner’.
The first thing you notice as you enter is the amazingly cute red décor with the cabins done in the same way. Red Vinyl sofas and chairs, and the only other red thing, the ketchup bottles. No other condiments get in the way.
You get the whole diner she-bang: sandwiches, milk shakes, hot-dogs, burgers, fries and pastas. The menu focuses on a lot of breakfast options but somehow the paranthas don’t really drive home with the theme of the place and without the paranthas the only option left was the Ultimate Stack.
The iced tea tasted very natural, not like the synthetic Monin syrup ones and the Lychee flavored Jell-O shots added a little extra zing and fun to the drink.
The Chicken Nuggets (Rs. 80) were nothing out of the ordinary but the Sweet Chili Garlic Sauce that was served with it was very tasty. Bhuvnesh, the owner helped us out while placing the order and was friendly and gave the place a very comfy informal feeling which is good when you’ve had a tiring day.
He specially combined the Sauce from the African Peri-Peri Chicken and made us a special Peri-Peri Chicken Pasta (Rs. 200) with actual chunks of the steak. It was fiery and yet smooth, but it somehow lacked a zing that usually drives the taste home. Maybe a little more sharpness would have helped.
The Ultimate stack (Rs. 150) came with an Omelet, a Pancake and two Sausages which was a shortfall from the two pancakes written in the menu. Bhuvnesh was quick to notice the mistake and gave us another Ultimate Stack on the house which added a nice touch. The pancakes were golden brown as expected and very soft. A dash of maple syrup and they tasted like heaven in your mouth. The sausages were well done but I don’t think it was made by them, the omelet was very good with the cheese in it and the extra portion of Bacon (Rs. 40) I added was lean and absolutely well done, 10/10 for the bacon.
Somehow we still had place for some more and were searching through the menu. Barnita mentioned Burgers and Bhuvnesh told us that it was their speciality, so we decided to try out the Burgers as well. Being an absolute Bacon-freak I just had to order the Baconnator (Rs. 150) while Barnita ordered the Chicken Grilled Teriyaki Burger (Rs. 100).
A bite into the Baconnator and the different combination of flavors just exploded in my mouth. The crunch of the crispy fried Bacon, the sweet taste of the caramelized Onions, a layer of abundant cheese and the absolutely juicy lamb patty with just a hint of pepper. I’ve had a lot of burgers; I seriously mean a lot and none of them played around with my taste buds like the Baconnator did. The Chicken Teriyaki Burger also did not fail to surprise, the zing of actual Japanese teriyaki was omnipresent throughout the Burger and yet again the patty was soft, juicy and absolutely lovable.
The only dish that actually left us wanting for more was the Peri-Peri Pasta, except that it was an absolutely joyous experience. The ambience was lovely; the Food was a serious touch of class and the 10/10 for the owner, Bhuvnesh.
I’d give it a 4.5/5 and would surely love to come here again. This tiny little diner has a clearly paved way ahead; it is going to do wonders. Bhuvnesh, if you’re reading this, keep the Bacon ready. 🙂