Tag Archives: Travel. guest post

Four Meals in Croatia Part I

Note:  My friend Jeanine Barone who writes J The Travel Authority, recently visited Croatia. Today and tomorrow she shares with the Traveler’s Library her discoveries in this largely undiscovered country  which were enhanced by her reading of a Croatian writer.

Destination: Croatia

Book: Croatia by Tony Fabijanic

Dreaming of Croatia

by Jeanine Barone

 

 

I spent four weeks roaming through Croatia on foot, by bike and on a bus. Before I started my journey, I read a lovely travelogue by Tony Fabijancic. In Croatia: Travels in Undiscovered Country, Fabijancic returns to his family’s homeland to explore the nooks and crannies of this varied landscape and its people. When I wrote the four vignettes below, I was inspired by some of the dreamy qualities of his often poetic narrative, such as: “…the hazy stillness of the afternoon has put the town peacefully to sleep and I circulate alone, happily” and “…when we enter the interior, houses appear like forlorn orphans — shutters closed, roofs sinking and people long gone…Then Hvar appears below as if in answer — a sudden awakening to culture and tourism.”

 

1. Truffles

I sit alone at a table for two on an outdoor terrace. At the few adjoining tables, couples chatter and stare deep into each other’s eyes. They’re oblivious to their surroundings: we’re atop 13th century fortress walls surrounding the medieval hilltop village of Motovun. While they wait for their dinner, they don’t bother strolling to the edge of the battlements to peer far below at the vineyards, barely visible now as the night begins to cloak the meadows and fields dotted with lavender. I sit alone under a full moon that illuminates the old watchtower that was once used to spy for any Turkish assault. Oblivious, the couples seek the hand of their partner across the table that’s empty except for tall wine glasses. A soft wind brushes against my cheek as my dish arrives: a simple omelet with black truffles that the chef’s dogs dug up this morning. I take a forkful and taste centuries of love. Continue reading Four Meals in Croatia Part I

Seeing Mumbai, Part Two

Today Monica Bhide tells us about her own experience in the slums of Mumbai.

Americans find some familiar sights in Mumbai--McDonald's.
Americans find some familiar sights in Mumbai–McDonald’s.

I went to Dharavi once, it is said to be the largest slum in Asia and it is located in Mumbai.  I went there because I was told I could buy a leather jacket for a good price. I stepped out of my car and saw kids playing in absolute filth. I was holding my young baby in my arms. I could not stop staring. They stared back, smiled and waved at the baby and kept on playing. I stood there, unable to move, unable to react, I just stared. Such horrid poverty, I had never seen anything so bad in all my life. And yet the kids played, oblivious to me and my thoughts. I went to the closest vendor and bought a jacket. I paid full price, although bargaining is the name of the game here.  I couldn’t bring myself to ask them to reduce the price.

My family and I walked back to the car. The kids were still there, still laughing and my brother in law remarked – they are poor but laughter is free, right?  Before I got in the car, I cried so hard, I threw up several times. It was  gut-wrenching as a mother,  to see these little ones in this filth. I wanted to give money but was told not to – “A  hundred others will come and we cant help them all.” So we left, as I quietly dropped a few hundred rupees on the ground before sitting in the car.

Regarding Slum tours, I am not sure what value they provide. People want to go and see other people’s misery? If people want to help the slums, find an organization that does good work and work with them.  But if you just want to go and visit, on your own, guess what … poverty isn’t contagious. You can visit it, if you have the stomach to see how hard life can be for some people. I was on the periphery of the slums for my visit and I still cry when I think of some of the things I saw that day. But trust me, that will never, ever stop me from visiting Mumbai.

You see, the city compels me return, to learn from it,  to write about it. It has stolen my heart.

Monica Bhide

Photograph by Monica Bhide

Thanks, Monica for sharing your love of Mumbai. And how about you, readers?  Do you see Mumbai differently now?