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Sunday, 28 October 2012

Postcard from Tenerife - 1

I moved to Mumbai from Tenerife when I realized that there is no other place like Mumbai. I love Mumbai because it offers me independence and freedom to live my life on my own terms. But I do visit my brother regularly and each time I go I see the city with new perspective.

I shall start with Mount Teide, which I can see from my balcony. This is brown during the year but dressed in white during winter. The best sight is during sunset, when Teide is coated with red cloak of red sunrays against the blue cloudless sky

Mount Teide, a volcano at the height of 3718 meters (12,198feet), it is the highest summit in Canary Islands and a largest volcano in the world. It remains active and its recent eruption occurred in 1909, destroying the surrounding villages of my town. This volcano is surrounded by National park with an area of 73 square miles. It was declared as the world’s heritage site (by UNESCO) on June29, 2007. In winter it makes a beautiful sight when dressed like a widow in white..

Monday, 15 October 2012

Sagrada Familia - An Architectural Beauty

The first time I saw Sagrada Familia, I was stunned by its beauty. Late evening, it was my first day at Barcelona and my BIL and my cousin took me for a drive to show me few monuments around the city. Even in the dark, I could not help gaping at this artistic architecture. My BIL promised to bring me back the next day.

Sagrada Familia is the Roman catholic church designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. It looked incomplete and there was some construction still going on although it is the world heritage site, BIL informs me that the construction has been going on since many years, since its commencement in 1882 and it will be completed in 2026, the centennial year of Antoni Gaudi’s death.

The present design is based on restructured versions of lost plans as well as modern adaptations. In the 20th century the stones were carved by hand but the current technology allows the stones to be shaped by milling machine. You can see the contrast in the type of material that is used and the color of the stones.

We made one complete round around the church, it was late evening, so we waited for light to brighten up the church and give it 3D effect.

The interior is complete with light seeping in through stained glass windows and artistic carved high pillars.

Worth a visit.

Monday, 8 October 2012

An evening at Rambla Walking Plaza

It is the pleasant evening, there is a soft breeze and the sun is warm and golden. I am walking down the Rambla walking plaza for a leisure walk with my cousin. The first thing that attracts me is this woman dressed in gold, from head to toe, standing on a golden box with her golden wings spread out, looking like some sculpted fairy from outer space. I wouldn't have noticed her if she hadn't moved. While she stood still in the stiff golden garment, her head moved slowly, while her hands moved from her sides making a smooth curve in the air, till they came together in front, near her chest and joined in a greeting.  

There were many more street performers on this street. It must take a great skill to be able to stand still for a long time, without moving a limb and having a controlled movement, staring into empty space appearing to be in a pensive mood. What must be on their mind while they stand still? Will they be thinking about what dinner they will cook when they reach home? Whom did they meet? What did they chat? Are they happy people? or they have too much of a complicated life?. What if some bird sat on their head and poo, thinking it is a statue? Aha, here they have advantage of shooing the bird. Otherwise they stand still, not speaking a word, just staring at empty space for hours. How boring it must be? Is this better than holding 9 to 5 job?

Little further, I saw another performer who was still painting his body with oils. This is the risk they take of using oil paint on their skin. Does it cause rash? It must an effort to wash off the paint at the end of the day. He looks into the mirror and  paints around his eyes, working on every stroke to get the right expressions.

There is creativity in the design of their costume, in the colors they use, it might resemble some science fiction character or a known personality from a hollywood film.

Many people, (mainly tourists) stop by to click a picture, paying the artist for a pose. "I was there with this artists on the streets at Barcelona" will be their caption when these tourist will update their Facebook status. Many of their friends will 'Like' and some may even 'Comment'

We passed many such street performers as we walked down the plaza, admiring their creativity and their discipline in standing still as statue.

Further down the street are another set of artists who paint beautiful designs and caricatures on their canvas, some paint, making strokes with a great ease, creating designs in seconds. I am awed by such intricate designs which I know, it would take me hours to create such designs. 

There was a wax museum in this street too, wherein I had just met Picasso. He was such a great artist that he was frozen in wax for eternity. 

Lucky are those artists whose art-work lives for hundred years after they are gone but here, there are some who struggle and have a humble beginning……not sure how long they can carry on…..

The street is also dotted with artistic water fountain in bronze, placed at regular intervals that had clean drinking water, I know it was clean because I saw many people stop by to take a sip

It was an interesting walk. On the either side of the street were buildings with beautiful architecture and a typical grill-iron balconies. 

There are many bars along this path too, where I see people enjoy the Spanish cuisine and drink coffee or soft drinks or just relax and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the street. The street is crowded with hundreds of people walking at their own pace as if in a carnival parade.

After a long walk down the Rambla walking plaza for more three hours, We look around for some place to sit. We find the heavy iron chairs, all in row, but all are occupied. The tiredness shows in my eyes as I look at the people comfortably seated, do they see my tiredness? Should I ask somebody to get up and let me sit? I decide against it because they look too comfortable and are very relaxed. 

I walk a bit further, in a distance I see someone vacant the chair, I speed up my pace to occupy the chair before somebody else grabs it, (I am reminded of the musical chairs that i played during social events and my cunningness in grabbing the seat), soon one more seat is vacant next to me and my sas too sits next to me. For next one hour, we sit, people watching, catching up on our chat and enjoying the cool breeze that sweeps over the city of Barcelona.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Visit to Monastery of Montserrat.

It was my first day in Barcelona and the sky looked angry and dull. It was such a gloomy, wet day, I felt the cold envelop me. Every hour I walked out to the balcony and showed my fist skywards punching into empty space. While travelling, every day counts, to spend the day indoors was quite depressing. 

In the evening, my host suggested we go for a drive. My face beamed, going out for a drive in this wet weather would certainly change my mood. 

 We drove through the city, passed through broad expressways and were soon driving through curved winding path, backdropped against the cliff of large rocks, shaped in mysterious large cylindrical shapes. We drove up, above the thick clouds and the scenery was spectacular.

The sky had calmed down, there was just a faint drizzle. We decided to walk up the tiled pathway leading to the Monastery of Montserrat. 

There were lots of tourists at this point braving the wet, biting cold weather. I snuggled tightly under my shawl and increased my pace to feel the warmth.

There were rail tracks too for the people who had reached at this point  from the city by train. 

A tram coach rolled through the steep curves going down the hills offering the view of sloping plains.

Another tram coach rose up the cliff at dangerous angles to reach the top of the cliff. I am sure there would be a reward of beautiful view and a strong cold breeze at the top of the cliff but I wouldn't dare sit in that tram, it looked too steep. 

Monastery is what draws people here, there is a statue of black Madonna inside the church which is believed to have powers of answering prayers. Some people, who have faith in miracles, walk up the steep path for more than five hours on an empty stomach to reach this place.

At some places it seemed like the church is clinging to cliff for support, the cliff resembled at some places like a huge idol of elephant Gods. 

I was drawn towards the architecture of this church, the floral dents above each window, the droplets at the rims, the symmetrical curved walls 

Inside the church there were etched murals depicting an inspirational story of faith.

The huge stained glass windows allowed enough light to brighten up the dark corridors

Jesus and his apostles were etched out on the facade of Montserrat basilica. The church inside had high gold plated ceiling that was quite ornamental. We walked up the steps, and arrived at tiny inlet at the end of the church that housed the statue of black Madonna, people called it 'Morenita'. The six o'clock mass was being conducted, peace surrounded the walls, the hymns resonated, echoing, bouncing back from the ceiling.

Soon the bells began to chime and it was time to leave. We spend more than one hour going through corridors, visiting different rooms. One room contained offerings (including shoes, wax limbs, books and even bridal wear), other room had hundreds of burning candles each flickering with promise to be fulfilled, and yet another room had just a lone bench for a private chat with spiritual being. 

Every person had their own reason for visiting this place and all found the peace in their own way.

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