Embers of Europe

There are times when you want to reflect over your experiences before you pen them down. Now that the fog of war has been lifted and before the embers die down, I believe it is time to write something about it. Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Munich and Salzburg. A gaudy list it may be, but I believe anywhere you travel, knowingly or unknowingly you learn something — about yourself or the world around you.

There’s a purity within people. Everywhere around the world. I don’t think I’ll ever not believe in that. There are differences on the outset. But, this time in Austria, when a bunch of twelve year old boys, brash and loud, stop the bus shouting at the top of their voices so that an old woman in her crutches can get on — you tend to believe.

In Munich, when a Canadian woman who is on a six month vacation after quitting her job tells me that I need to “chill out” and be actually happy about the position I find myself in — you’ll want to believe her. Or when a random drunk guy tells me that I shouldn’t be wearing my suit in this warm weather, rather remove it and hold it with my fingers with the suit hanging back and walk with swag — you’ll want to believe him more.

I wanted to write a travelogue of sorts, jotting down every detail of what I experienced. But something stops me — its the same feeling which stops me from taking pictures of every monument or moment around me. But still, I’ll try to list down a few things :

  1. Around a hundred people gathered under a rail bridge in Vienna watching a movie being projected on the wall.
  2. On reaching Budapest, you step out of the railway station, only to hear a street musician play soothing music, forgetting what you were about to do.
  3. Tasting wine after riding several kilometers on a bicycle in Wachau Valley.
  4. Dipping your feet in the almost ice cold waters of the Danube river.
  5. Eating curly fries at McDonald’s because you don’t get in India
  6. Looking at paintings by Monet and Picasso, and realize — holy hell! You are looking at the actual paintings by them!
  7. Watching The Tap Tap : Nefnňuka at the Národní divadlo (The National Theatre) in Prague, not understanding a single word, yet swaying with the emotions.
  8. Listening to live Jazz music, on a boat on the river Vltava, whilst drinking Merlot.
  9. Listening to live Jazz music, in a Jazz club in Budapest — not understanding any of the musician’s Hungarian quips, yet enjoying it all the same. And be surprised when he speaks the odd English sentence.
  10. Looking up (the roof!) at the paintings at The Austrian National Library and stare at it in amazement.
  11. Listening to “The Four Seasons” by Vivaldi concert in a church in Prague for an hour and not even realizing it was an hour.
  12. Meeting a random American in Salzburg who used to teach Martial Arts in Bangalore. He didn’t mince any words about the traffic there.
  13. Having beef goulash and at that moment wondering how you managed to live without it.
  14. Walking towards the Allianz Arena stadium only to be amazed by the size and structure of it with every step towards it.
  15. Trying your hand at photography using your friends DSLR and realize you can click half decent pictures.
  16. And I love the way this picture came out!

17. Walking in solitude on Nußdorfer Straße in Vienna to only to look at the streets, sights and buildings and remember — oh my god, I’m in Europe!

I could keep going on, but I think this list is good enough for now.

It’s moments that stick with me. Random moments. When I remember things, these moments flash by me. And the feelings they evoke tell me how those moments went by. What’s a better excuse to travel than to collect and treasure these moments?

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