I had travelled to India, for a bit of family fun ,catching up with some good old friends and a bit of sightseeing . Travelling in India for me is full of nostalgia and fun, yet extremely overwhelming and exhausting. It is never a leisure trip. Having been born and raised in India, my formative years were spent in India. I have many memories associated with India, some good and some not so good. I often think of life as a series of experiences and memories, like a large beautiful painting made with different splashes of colours and Brush strokes. Some strokes are crisscross, some not very clear, and then there are smudges of paints, some are vibrant and some a bit dark, but together they make a beautiful painting, without these colours and strokes, the canvass would be blank. So a trip to India is always a walk back in to the memory lane for me, with many fond memories and some not so fond ones and making some new memories on the way. It is a very emotional journey for me and I usually find myself in a perpetual state of frenzy with fraught emotions. I heavily rely on a set of friends for emotional support while I am in India. And on our way back home, I usually find myself saying to my husband , in a very crestfallen voice, ‘I need a holiday !!!!’ I love the country that I was born in and raised, but the country that I go to now, is alien to me. I have this place in my memory, which used to be my home, and then there is this place that I am visiting now, very different to my memory. I have changed as a person and the place that I am visiting now has changed. I am a person who has a birth country and home Country. I belong to both cultures, but in heart now I am a Londoner. Home to me means, London, I need my Victoria Sponge Cake or a Sticky Toffee pudding to perk up my spirits, Mind the Gap on a tube station is music to my ears, to be able to bolt to a museum as soon as I feel like is a fact I love, when I am away, I start missing the grey overcast sky of London . I love the fact that I am part of a city which is a multi cultural melting pot. When I feel like having a Masala Chai I could head in to any Curry house or head to East Ham for a Idli or head to Leicester Square for a steamed dumpling, or head to Turkish Street for a Turkish Tea and Biscuits.
“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I do like a Literary jaunt and often I try to infuse our travel plans with a bit of literary trail.
A decade and a half back when I moved to UK, I found out about the Jane Austen Festival in Bath. Being a Jane Austen Fan, I was immediately curious to see and experience the festival. When I visited the festival back in 2008 I had hand written on a little note pad my first impressions, with an intention to include it in a letter to a friend back in India, who is also a Jane Austen fan.
Interestingly when I read it now, I can see my child like enthusiasm of knowing more about my favourite writer. I find it strange to read my own words a decade and a half later and find my naivety and my wide-eyed observations very amusing.
“She lived in Bath for five years, after her father retired. She knew Bath from childhood since her grandparents were from Bath and though she was not wealthy, but she had wealthy relative. In fact, she disliked Bath and had written to her sister mentioning it being very unpleasant to stay in Bath. And even in her books the characters from Bath are described as silly overly pompous or slimy.
It was very interesting to know about Jane Austen as a person. She did not marry because she did not believe in marriage without affection. She in fact has supposed to have got a proposal at the age of 27 from a rich man, when it is considered very late in those times. She is supposed to have accepted and within twelve hours withdrawn it. She was told by many that it was wise to do so, and it will secure her a comfortable life. She was driven to poverty and had to live in slums, when she became unwell her brother helped her out and moved out to coun. In those days even in England, not being married was looked down upon. I can relate to this woman, she may not have been very brave and powerful, yet she had some conviction.
I bought a book at Jane Austen Centre, which is compilation of her letters to her sister Cassandra and her niece. It is said, in those days the girls were taught good letter writing skills, it was the way ladies made their mark on social world, exchanged views about fashion and gossiped. A good writing skill was must for all girls. Jane Austen’s letters are mere exchange of thoughts, views, and communication with her sister. Her sister was her confidante, her support and good friend. I read the first letter, she wrote it when she was 20, and she mentions flirting with a guy named Tom Lefroy(the person with whom she falls in love as per the movie Becoming Jane), and how she has spent her money on pink petticoats and laces for the ball, which man is eyeing which woman, etc. Her letter is very much like a letter I would write to you!!“
I still find it a bit quizzical as to why the Jane Austen festival is held in a place which the author disliked very much, yet it sits in my memory very closely associated with Jane Austen and I have very fond memories of my visit.
I have always enjoyed reading her books. I loved her story telling, the description of the English countryside in her books, the regency era picnics, and her writing style,which in beginning I struggled with. As a young girl in India reading her books, I had to get used to her language, her style of writing and narration. English language has evolved since her writing the books, words do not have the same meaning as they did in when she wrote the book. Her way of describing things ,choice of words, the old way of describing age, what does ‘coming out of a girl’ refer to, words like insipid and unattached fascinated and puzzled me at the same time. It gave me the love for English countrysides, an understanding of the era and it also improved my vocabulary immensely.
I admire her courage and strength, for staying true to her heart, in spite of the difficulties in her way. I find it an extraordinary feat that a woman who never travelled out of England has managed to capture the hearts of many around the world with her words. They have an audience even two centuries later. Her books have been translated in many languages and have been adapted to movies and series across the world. I find her tales are timeless and are relevant across cultures.
I personally prefer reading books to screen adaptions. I am always a bit sceptical whether they capture the essence of the book, and sometimes I find reading a book more engaging and it is more soul satisfying. But I do watch the screen adaptations too, and not averse to them.
I have a few favourites from Jane Austen s book adaptions on screen. I love the BBC Mini Series 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice and a movie in Tamil called Kandukondain Kandukondain, which is the adaption of Sense and Sensibilities. And how can I forget the modern rendition of Emma ; Clueless. And I also loved the reference to the book Pride and Prejudice, in the movie You’ve got mail
“Confession: I have read Pride and Prejudice two hundred times. I get lost in the language; words like: Thither. Mischance. Felicity”.
Kathleen and Joe s exchange on Pride and Prejudice throughout the movie is very interesting. I have read Pride and Prejudice many times; unlike Kathleen I have not kept count of it, and I personally prefer Sense and Sensibilities over Pride and Prejudice.
I have been recently wondering whether her books are popular with Millennials and Gen Z. Will her stories and tales live on? Can her characters and stories be relatable to 21st century?
As her avid fan I hope and wish her stories to be alive and read for many more years. I also happen to know Mark Twain, disliked Jane Austen’s work and he has vehemently criticised her work. Years ago, when I read about his views, I was a bit disappointed. I do like both the authors, and admire their command over storytelling, their wit and humour. I am also not too sure, if I were to give the book to my husband and say “ Read it , you will love it “, as Kathleen says to Joe in You’ve got mail. I doubt he would be as enthusiastic as I am about Austen s work.
Charlotte Bronte did not like Jane Austen’s writing as it did not have enough poetry or passion in it for her. I loved reading Bronte s Jane Eyre. And I am certain Bronte and Austen would agree that they both had very different styles of writing.
So it is a ‘universal truth ‘that not everyone likes her books and writing style. I understand we all have our own preferences in reading, and not all books have the same fan following and not all books are written for everyone.
In her stories, I found the extreme pressure on woman of finding a man narrated well and with a bit of humour . She depicts very well the plight of women in that era , and how marriage was her ticket to a comfortable life, the whole charade involved in finding a suitor with prospects was interesting and insightful for me. I originate from India, where arranged marriages are very common and I could see the parallels of it in her books. And I believe in the present days as well there is an immense pressure on woman to find someone by certain age, which can create anxieties and stress. She has taken all the immense pressure turned it to a story and narrates it with a bit of fun and humour.
Besides that, I found her stories transported me to regency world, the social gatherings and picnics and parties. She seems to have been a keen observer, with great social skills and has narrated the stories rather very well. Perhaps the writing gave her the solace she needed and it was her form of coping mechanism with the immense stress on her of finding a man. She gave her heroines what she did not find, a love match.
In her letters, I could see a brilliant vivacious girl, with a great penmanship, who had to play by the rules the society had laid down for her and every women. She expressed and rebelled in the way she thought best. I have often pondered what if Jane Austen lived in the current days. I think she would be an influencer, would have many followers on her social media posts, she would be creating funny videos on Tik Tok and writing funny, sharp and edgy blogs.
If you are an Austen admirer and fan of Regency period, I believe the Jane Austen Festival in Bath is worth a visit. It is an immersive and fun experience.
I did enjoy the festival a lot ,it is also the best way to see the city Bath. Unlike Austen, I love the city of Bath; with its Roman Baths, the Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey, cobbled streets, pretty cafes to site by and do a bit of people watching.
I had been wanting to visit the festival again for a while.
Last year we were passing by Bath, during the Jane Austen festival. We decided to stop over and experience the festival again. The festival is usually held during September, and there are various Jane Austen themed events that are organised. There is festival Fayre, whereby there are stalls full of Regency articles, hats, and silhouette artists. There is a country dance Ball, Regency themed Tea parties.
We attended the hilarious 20-minute version of Pride and Prejudice, which also has a funny recreation of Mr Darcy with ‘wet shirt scene. I enjoyed the show and had a hearty laugh.
The Pump Room, which is mentioned in the book Persuasion, has been the social heart of the city for a long time. It now has a Regency style Ball during the festival time.
The grand event which was my favourite from both the visits is the famous costumed Regency Promenade. The promenade is a procession of people dressed in regency costumes, walking in Jane Austen’s footsteps taking in many of Bath’s famous landmarks. The parade takes an hour to finish and ends at Parade Gardens. The costumes are so colourful, and it has joyous vibe to it.
There are many places in England associated with Jane Austen some of which I have visited, perhaps I will write about them another day. But the one which remain close to my heart is the Bath Jane Austen Festival and the costume promenade.
Bloggers with a view !!!Check out my video contribution for Vero’s Bloggers with a View initiative. It a way of connecting with the outside world and other parts of the world. I have contributed a Snowy view from my window and the Goodness of having someone to watch it with.
I love this initiative and am so glad I could join in. It so reminds me of the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society, where they formed a community group to read some books during war times, for a connection to the outside world , a connection with other human beings. Connecting with outside world and others is so vital in these strange days and times that we are currently in.
Goodness of the blogging Community and thanks for Vero s Initiative.
Bloggers with a view
March 2021… We’ve made it! More or less one whole year of COVID!
As the world continues to grapple with coronavirus pandemic, some countries seem to have it under control (well done New Zealand, Australia, Singapore…). As far as France is concerned we’re still deep into restrictive measures and sinister perspectives!
But thanks to blogging and social media, I’ve managed to keep my window open to the world. The little videos we’ve put together with Bloggers With a View helped me greatly (keeping me busy with filming, editing, and interacting).
For the last vlog of this epic winter 2021, I wanted to focus on what’s good in our lives. I’ve asked our little community to show me what “goodness” meant these days.
I hope you’ll like the next 3 minutes. They are filled with snowy fun days, sunny coastal walks, plenty of outdoors happiness and also gratefulness for those who…
In these times of pandemonium and chaos, it is sometimes difficult to find a bit of calm, respite from the uncertainty. It is time to reminiscence, and indulge in enjoyable events of the past, bask in their glory. I am thinking of our wonderful time at Isle of Skye in September last year.
I was looking for a time away from my daily monotony, a time away from my work from home desk, a time out in to the nature, perhaps a sensory challenge. Nature and woods with its multitude of sights and sounds changing with the season, has a way of drawing me out of the slumber. We do go out in the nature , trails and walks, it is our way of getting fresh air, a bit of outdoors, but it is not for long. It was that mellow time of the year, before the onset of winter and darker evenings, when the leaves and trees are a range of colors, there is an all round glow of yellow and oranges, the leaves breaking away gently from the trees, carried away by autumn breeze and finally findings its way to the earth, the gentle swishing the boots make over the russets and pinks on the ground, now and then there is a thud of a conker landing on to the ground, and there is a hint of tranquility hanging about in the air. Its hard not to yearn for the outside. We have had our days out in nature earlier in the Summer by way of picnics in the woodlands. Perhaps the heart desired a bit of more.
Winter is one of my favourite seasons to travel. The festivities , the lights, meandering through Christmas markets aimlessly, wrapped up in warm coats and hats, with smell of melting chocolate and hot cocoa wafting around, fills my heart with warmth and longing. The perfect cure for this is to embark on a journey and if the journey involves a few train travels, it renders the journey magical. I am sharing some of my favourite markets from this years Interrailing trip.
Beautiful Bergen with its colourful wooden houses, vast emerald green coastline, mountains and fjords, made me fall in love with it instantly. It is often called the Gateway to Fjords , it is the second largest city of Norway, is also the European city of culture. It is surrounded by seven mountains and hence is sometimes referred as a city between mountains.
I have not written much on the blog for a while partly because I have been bitten by the Netflix and binge watching bug and the rest is due to me just being listless. It’s not particularly uncharacteristic of me slipping in to an ennui now and then, often it leads to a bit of reflecting and pondering. I often find such times far too comfortable and retreat in my cosy cocoon of solitude. It’s here that books, blogging and travelling often help me shake out of my slumber and remind me that it’s a beautiful world out there to be experienced. In England it is that lovely season of Autumn, when the warmth of Sun on your skin feels like a sweet dollop of honey on a warm toast, the Sun rise and set paints the morning and evening skies in spectacular colours, trees with their leaves in beautiful shade of russets, yellows and pinks, and gentle sway of falling leaves on to the ground look magical , I believe it is Mother Nature tenderly nudging me out of the boredom reminding that there is more to life than the binge watching and being glued to screen. Autumn is a season when we travel a bit more.
August this year, we travelled to the Dutch capital, Amsterdam.The city famous for its beautiful canals, liberalism, coffee shops, red light area and cheese. This was a much anticipated trip as I had been wanting to take the Eurostar to Amsterdam from London, for a very long time. Also given that it is the 25 th year of Eurostar, as a train enthusiast I was super excited to have picnic on the train to celebrate. With a packed picnic bag, I arrived at the St Pancras station a bit tired as I had been overzealous in preparation of the picnic. But all was well once we boarded the train and I was calm and joyful. As soon as the train rolled out of St Pancras Station. like a child, I kept asking my husband every five minutes “ Shall we eat now?”. I am still not sure what was I more excited about the picnic on the train or the train ride.
Manchester has become one of my favourite cities in England. I visited Manchester first time in March this year. I have been to the city three times since then. This is also attributable to cricket mania which had engulfed our home for the last one month. The city has managed to capture my attention with its industrial heritage, which was once upon a time known as Cottonopolis and played a pivotal role in the industrial revolution. I would like to explore the city more. I have so far only been able to explore the Science and industry museum and The John Rylands Library.
Manchester has earned the title of UNESCOs city of literature. It is home to four world class libraries Central, Portico, John Rylands and Chetham’s and gave the world the works of Elizabeth Gaskell. I have a predilection for books and libraries, and invariably I have a tendency to gravitate to a library or a bookstore.On all three occasions I have visited Manchester, it happened to be a Sunday, and John Rylands library is the only library open on Sundays. So my choice of library was easily made. Having visited John Rylands Library once, I wanted to revisit on the next occasion. I found John Rylands library a subliminal experience. It tells a tale ; a story of books, a city and a library
Spring is very stunning in United Kingdom. I love the burst of colours on the road side, the chorus melodies of the birds in the morning, the gentle breeze of the spring swaying the buds and flowers, bumblebees and butterflies in the garden. It is the season for picnics, garden parties and outings to the beach. Spring is also considered as a great time for star gazing.
In March 2019, I had travelled to India after a gap of two years. In this post I am going to share some of the photographs and anecdotes from the trip and from my memories. I am not sure if these are very touristy, but they most certainly have a nostalgic value for me. India is a vast country, with diverse natural beauty, food, culture and architecture, with lots of history. I have often seen photos and write ups about India in magazines and travel videos, I have never been able to relate to them. I understand that, living in a place and experiencing it , is completely different to visiting a place as a tourist, the perspective is completely different. We see what we seek, perhaps I am seeking something different. This time like every time around when I am back in India, I went seeking the place that I grew up in, the one which is in my heart and mind, like the courtyard where I have played hide and seek with my cousins. the mango tree at my maternal grandparents house that I have climbed up and jumped down from, the garden that I have sat with my mother and aunts, while they sunned the pickles,stringing the jasmine and other flowers in to garlands, their hands deftly garlanding the flowers while gossiping away to glory, the temple courtyards where I would occasionally see peacocks and elephants. sleeping on the terrace gazing at the starry night and falling asleep and waking up to an orange sky with the Sun about to rise, looking at tiled orange roof tops from the terrace of my paternal grandmother s home, then to lie down flat on the hot surface of the terrace, peering down the small sun roof in to the kitchen watching my grandmother and mother stirring the pots , clanging the vessels, cutting vegetables, and garnishing,which often reminded me of symphony. Why? Because they would always move in perfect sync with each other, if my mother added tomatoes, my grandmother would add salt, one would add coriander, the other would add turmeric . Believe me I could never function that way, there would be all round chaos in the kitchen, followed by a serious meltdown. I firmly believe in too many cooks spoil the broth, but apparently it did not hold true for them. I love to walk back in the memory lane, trying to conjure up the past from my memories, with the present colliding with it and creating a mishmash of new memories.
The first time I heard about Garmisch-Partenkirchen, was when I was trying to find the train route to travel from Munich to Innsbruck,during our Interrailing trip last December. Munich to Innsbruck via Garmisch-Partenkirchen is considered to be one of the panoramic routes, although it not the quickest route. On that particular trip we decided to skip the scenic route and take the quickest route. We usually prefer travelling somewhere in February, and this year we thought we will visit Garmisch-Partenkirchen as part of our February travel tradition.