Giza was incredible. Our driver Mustafa handed us off to some bedouins, who took us out to the pyramids on camels. Watching a camel run is one of the most awkward things I have ever seen an animal do, and riding one while it’s happening is expectedly unpleasant, but man was it worth it.
At that moment, the two pieces of white bread burnt with grill marks, sandwiching a thick layer of golden sweet sticky kaya and slices of butter, paired with the chocolatey bitterness of the coffee and creaminess of the eggs were one of the most delicious and indulgent meals I have ever had.
Growing up when a Tizita song played, I would watch as the chattering adults slowly quieted down and enter a sort of trance.
From where I sit, I can see cacti from Mexico and other parts of Latin America. There are succulents from all over the world. I think to myself, these plants didn’t come here of their own free will. And I wonder how many did not survive this transplantation? I’m looking at the living, not the dead.
I am particularly fascinated by a three-story high, one-meter wide, Casa Escondida (Hidden House) which stands between a Carmelite convent and the Igreja do Carmo for priests. There is nothing spectacular about the tiny house that stands between them, except for the fact that it was made to prevent fraternizing between the nuns and the priests. I want to know more.
At each turn a hidden art gallery, a local ceramic store, a poetry inscription on the wall, a panoramic view of the Mediterranean.
Imagine walking down The Mall, the main thoroughfare in Rawalpindi since the British colonial days, heading west. Near the end, before The Mall becomes Peshawar Road, on your right, at the corner of the last intersection, is the white building with the light blue signboard outside the gate announcing “PAF INFORMATION AND SELECTION CENTER” in gold lettering, the Shaheen (شاہین – falcon) insignia prominent at the top, with there being no need, really, to spell out PAF because everyone knows, even people who cannot read, that it stands for Pakistan Air Force.
“First, tell me about the Visigoths while we walk to Rome.” Anniqua looks up at me from the old Roman road next to the mosque in Toledo, Spain.
“I want to shed identities that no longer reflect who I am. I want to get off the plank with the nail, and stop spinning with my irrelevant selves.”
“But you have a way of saying things that makes the world seem like a wonderful place. That’s as good as lying from where I stand.”
Was she cursed because once she had garnished a pot of lentils with a fried gecko? A gecko that had fallen off the wall into the frying pan? It had been an accident but it had cost her a much needed job.
The sunshine, the bubbles, the cathedral, and the history of Cádiz inspire me. And in From Cádiz to Málaga I pay homage to Gloria Fuentes, Carlos Edmundo de Ory, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Allen Ginsberg. All these poets are connected through time, space, and words.
Boabdil’s mother, Aixa, lived in the Hall of Two Sisters, Sala de Dos Hermanas, named for two marble flagstones on the floor. But it’s the ceiling that takes your breathe away.
Simone de Beauvoir is a stranger to me. Her exotic name is familiar, but I know nothing of her work, until, of course, I pick up the Economist at the airport, and open it at the review Fiction, feminism and philosophy-Simone de Beauvoir’s lost novella of friendship.
The surrender of Alhambra would be the final war of ‘Reconquista’, with Spain now essentially seeing itself as the guardian of Catholicism.
The mathematically precise splendor of Monasterio Real de San Lorenzo de El Escorial pulls me through the last stretch of our uphill walk from the Phillip IItrain station. It’s exquisite.
It was in the days of love that I first met him by chance. It was a frugal evening with the wind keeping tune with my heart-beat; nothing was said out loud, almost like the mahogany on the skies. Raqs.
“Some holes in the heart are impossible to fill,” wrote a dear friend to me once. It is especially true when you have lost someone who happened to be the centre of your universe, as my eldest brother was mine. May he rest in peace, although, knowing him, he must be regaling his fellow heaven-dwellers with his yarns, and laughing his hearty laugh out loud. Here are a couple of his letters for us to join in.
I fell in love with the moon when I was five years old. My mother forced me to sit still in front of the television and watch as the Eagle crept down and settled on the powdery surface of the moon.
“But…” I complete her unfinished sentence, “this is what I do. I can’t help myself. Winter crochet or summer knitting, it doesn’t matter. I create.”