It has been long since I posted on this Blog.I was actually very busy in my professional life that I hardly found time even to access internet other than for work.Now , I can spare some time for this blog from the busy schedule and would try to complete the series of travelogue about Europe ,which I started.
It was 14th Feb.Ah ! Valentines Day.I don’t have any special memories of it as I was always single and happy. 😉 Though I remember a small incident from our college days.It was a beautiful and sunny day and I was in my mechanical Lab for the end-semester practical exams.Yeah , everybody was cursing the scheduler of University for that.There was only one girl(The only visible proof of his/her being girl was that we KNEW she was a girl 😉 ) in our branch.She came to me and asked which day it was. “Wednesday” or “Thursday” ? I don’t know what prompted me to say that but I replied , “Umm , Its Valentines Day”. She smiled and disappeared.Before your smart brain start working , I would like to say that she was not the type of girl any guy would like to be linked in romantic way, for the reason I mentioned above , and I , absolutely NOT ! If she is reading this , “Sorry” ! 😉
Anyway , I was talking out our second day in Rome , Italy which happened to be Valentines Day also was one of the memorable in our life.After having breakfast at the hotel restaurant, we headed off to the Bus-Stand.And then , once again , traveled without ticket on the Bus(Not our Fault , its just we didn’t know how to buy tickets 😉 to the metro station.After reaching the metro station Euro-Fermi , we boarded the train and got off at Piramide station.From this station we had to catch a train which would take us to Ostia-Antica , Ruins of an old city in the neighbor hood of Rome. The train which goes to Lido operates on the different line from metro but come under the same administration and our Roma-Pass is allowed to use on that also.After animatedly inquiring with at least ten locals we finally found the right train.We entered in the train and took the last possible seat in the compartment , so that staring from the locals could be minimized.(Yes , as the only Indian couple in around the Rome at that time of year , we were stared a LOT. ) Train compartment had very basic infrastructure.Sitting option with two row seating with every row having two benches which could accommodate three persons each. But train was almost empty.Some young school-going couples were utilizing the time and privacy to the full of their romantic fantasies.They were smiling , giggling , hugging and kissing each other in a cyclic manner.
It was kind of cute and very beautiful.I find the sight of couples being cozy with each other very beautiful.No , it has nothing to do with voyeurism but plain liking for romanticism.And I was observing it in a way that they don’t get bothered or conscious , but they were frequently seeing towards us and smiling.We smiled too. They were , I think , acknowledging my presence. And that was when an aged guy , dressed in a suit and looking neat and clean, came and sat in the front of us.He was looking fine to us till he started staring at us un-apologetically as if he had some issues or thoughts in his mind.Then he opened his mouth and said some words.I didn’t understand , they were in Italian. He repeated those words.I said “English” , “English” ! Obviously , He didn’t know English.I doubt even if he knew that English was a language in his part of world.. I ignored him but he continued to bother me and kept blabbering something in Italian.I just kept seeing in his eyes with an expression “Dude , when are you going to Shut up , or should I just stick your mouth with Feviquick ?” And then he became silent for a moment and then shouted ‘India’ , ‘India’ in a questioning gesture of hands pointing towards us. Yes , we said.He started speaking in loud voice so that anyone at the end of coach can hear it and started shouting “Kashmir” , ‘Kashmir”.Obviously this guy either had big issues with India or with Kashmir.Or , may be he was plain curious.Till this time , many passengers had boarded the train and it had upgraded from ‘Almost-Empty’ to ‘Almost-Filled’.
The biggest surprise for me was nobody seemed to concern that an old man was verbally stalking to tourists, who don’t understand Italian. No, I didn’t want anyone to intervene.But I expected them to be AWARE and ACKNOWLEDGE what was happening around them.But most of people sat in their seat as if they were Blind , Deaf and Dumb ! No offense meant , but sometimes ‘some’ Europeans act very “Robotic” and “self-contained” (I know they call it their “right-to-privacy” ).After failing to fetch any response from me , he became silent and comfortable in his seat and imagination.He started talking to himself .He was visibly very upset and if that is what doctors say ‘psychological problems’ then I sympathize with such old people and pray God to make them healthy.
As train started to move leaving behind the city of Rome , we also left behind the irritating experience with oldman as he got off from the train after two station.People are same everywhere , I got to know.
We reached the ‘Ostia-Antica’ station which was in the midst of a very calm , peaceful and very green surroundings.It was a small town or should I say Village.Very small station.It reminded me of small station in UP when I used to travel between Kanpur and my native town on holidays by train.The obvious difference was the number of people present at station.
We had gone to Ostia Antica to see the ruins of an ancient city predating the Roman Empire.Ostia Antica is a large archeological site, close to the modern suburb of Ostia that was the location of the harbor city of ancient Rome , which is approximately 30 km to the northeast. “Ostia” in Latin means “mouth”. At the mouth of the River Tiber Ostia was Rome’s seaport, but, due to silting and a drop in sea level, the site now lies 3 km from the sea.The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics.
After we came out of station , we saw a Snack-Bar(This is the term for a Fastfood/Restaurant in Italy) just in the left front of station.There was no person out there except the owner of Bar.We decided to est something there.We went there and started scanning what was available to eat.And then a very funny incidence happened.As we asked the owner if he had something vegetarian for us , he spoke something in Italian and pointed toward a poster on the wall behind him.I thought it was a Menu but when I came nearer , I was actually a calendar.I was still to figure out what did he want to convey to us.We asked for vegetarian food and he is showing us Calender , but WHY ? Are there some specific days in Italy to have vegetarian food ? Absolutely Not !
He was saying Lunedi , Martedi , Mercoledi , Giovedi , Venerdi , Sabato and Domenica alternatively and would point in the calender( for those who don’t know these are name of days of a week in Italian Language )
After much of brain-storming with the gentlemen I came to the conclusion that he actually wanted to convey us that ‘Ostia-Antica’ site , for which we went there , was actually closed that day and he was telling us the days on which it is closed and remain opened. Damn ! we won’t be able to see what we have come to see all the way from India to Italy.
We as Indians looked like clueless tourists to him , so instead of answering my question if he had any vegetarian things , he instead choose to tell us that we have actually come at the right place but on wrong time. But then , we wouldn’t believe him and after sitting for a while on the chairs out side the bar , we proceeded to actually see and then believe if the ancient site was REALLY closed today.
It’s not that we didn’t believe local gentlemen but It was because of communication gap that deep in my heart I was telling myself to go and check by our self.We did go there and found that uncle ji was right in suggesting how we had missed an important link in otherwise impeccable plan. Timing is very important , indeed.
We then went back to the station and boarded another train towards the only beach near the city of Rome , that is , Lido.To get to Lido we first had to get off at the station , Columbus.And from there we boarded a bus which would take us on the road in front of the Lido beach.After disembarking from the bus , as we were feeling hungry , we went straight to a superstore and bought some cakes and bananas.We proceeded to the beach eating bananas and cakes.On the way , we found a big empty park with a some benches and Jhoola(rope-rides , is what you say it in English ? ) in the middle.We went there in the middle , sat at the Jhoola and started swinging our self in the air holding our hand firmly on the rope.It was kind of nostalgic for us , and also strange.I used to swing in this kind of rides at our old home in UP and now I was re-enacting that childhood activity in a foreign land , 5000 km far from India.And when we got bored or tired of what we were doing then we got off from the that and sat on the on one of the two benches which were available nearby.
It had just been five or ten minutes after we sat on the bench just in front of ride we saw an old lady following her cute dog.That doggy was very naughty.He came straight to us and started licking our feet.My wife screamed out of fear.I was laughing and teasing her.By this time old lady came near to us.She was watching us in a very strange way as if she wanted to say something to us which she was not very sure about.My wife then broke the silence and asked her if she knew English. Inquiring about the knowledge of English was the first thing we used to do before starting any communication in Italy.She said “Yes , a Little Little”.After formal greetings , she came on the point very quickly and informed us that the seat we were sitting on was her ‘Unofficially-Reserved-Seat’.We offered to vacate the seat but she insisted that we remain seated there.Actually she was acting like a typical Aunty Jee of India.Her intention was just to let us know that the seat belong to her and and that she was actually doing a favor to us by letting us sit on it.Another similarity between India and Italy to draw ! ?
We sat there for half an hour talking to each other in most romantic and doing some *naughty* things over there before we left the park for the beach.Beach was just across the Road.Crossing the road was not very difficult as there was actually a pedestrian crossing there.After crossing the road , we got the see the huge sea.We weren’t actually on a beach but on the side of a road which was separated from the beach by a metal railing.Along the road there was many beach-side bars and restaurant which we , unfortunately , closed as this was winter there.It was mildly cold there.we sat there watching the vast amount of water in front of our eyes holding hand and saying nothing.Leaning on the railing was a couple who were very young , energetic and obviously romantic.They were enjoying their valentines day to the full.We were sitting there on a bench.I was wearing a jacket which I removed and now I was wearing just a pair of jeans and a cotton shirt with arms folded.It was ten degree and is quite cold by Indian standard and may be even Italian standards.And that is why few people who were present there were looking at me as if I am an alien as they all were either in heavy jackets and/or in overcoats.After some more romantic moments , we left the place and went straight to the bus stand which was just across the road.That was literally a deserted place.Two buses came and left.We were not sure which bus to board.Then came our rescuer.A mid-aged woman.We smiled at each other.And then she said something in Italian. “Coppia Bella”. What ? , we asked. Beauty , beauty .. both .. , she said in broken English..for those who don’t know English she was actually saying “Beautiful Couple.Then I asked her about the bus which would take us to Columbo station.She didn’t understand.She said , “Italiano”.She probably wanted us to know that she only knew Italian language.We then left our hope with English and started speaking in Hindi. 😉
We did have some interesting discussion in our respective language.She kept talking in Italian and I kept talking in Hindi and my wife kept laughing for whole.Though , we still didn’t get to know which bus to board but we then decided that we would board the very next coming to this stand.And we actually did.After reaching at station we boarded the train and changed at Piramide station to proceed to Termini.
Wow , It was evening of Valentines Day in the Saint Valentine’s own country on our honeymoon.It couldn’t be better and perfect than this.Really.I insisted on giving my wife a big bunch of rose which was available in the market but she became emotional and said that you brought me here in Italy on this special day which is celebrated for Love and it can not be compared with anything in the world.I then decided to have a dinner in a good restaurant.We , after roaming around and checking with the menu , price and ambiance , decided on a decent restaurant with a decent menu.We had pasta , bread , pizzas and some wine.It was most romantic dinner I could ever have.
We reached at hotel and went into the relaxing mode to recharge our self only to unleash our touristic and romantic vandalism in the floating city of VENICE.
Good Nite , Rome !