Saturday, September 13, 2008

BERLIN BONANZA!!feature in fashioncurry magzn

The chronicles of a lady, bitten by the travel bug are vast, full of adventure, excitement and mystery. A yearning to explore the world takes her to the realms of the world, which echo sometimes with the epics of ancient history; romance, with classic exquisite architecture, pure heritage and culture and, at other times, simply virgin exotic beauty! What better place to start the travelogue than the bountiful enigma of Europe and within Europe, the capital of Germany.

Berlin, is one such city which holds a heady cocktail of all these, shaken and stirred into a melange of memories that one carries back home.

With my traveling head firmly on,Scouting the capital of Germany was indeed an exhilarating experience.

Well, I am not as lavishly spoilt, as I am overindulged, thanks to my patrons, so having checked in at the Ritz Carlton, I was all charged up to party, explore the city and paint the town red! No amount of jet lag could bind me to my comfortable king-sized double bed.

My first destination was a lavish reception party thrown at the Charlottenburg palace, in West Berlin. The mammoth ch√Ęteau hosts decorative arts, paintings, Prussian architecture, palatial botanical gardens, a perfect setting to relax my aching joints in vials of pinot noir and medium bodied sweet Italian merlot wine, and sway a soft waltz to the Chello and violins penetrating the intoxicated night! I strongly feel that men outside India notice you more, are excessively romantic, approach you and you stand a better chance of discovering your soul mate, i.e. if such a thing exists!

I will not be delving into the details of the conference or my public musical performances and simply stick to the travel part ,so you don’t have to question the nature of my expedition.

The next day was time for exploring the city, that was once East Berlin, and had been completely destroyed in the air raids in 1943, and what could be more exciting than to jump into a Trabant safari. Incidentally, Trabants are obsolete cars, which were built in 1950’s in East Germany and are quaint replicas of the old station wagon, except that they have a weird two stroke engine under the bonnet! It was definitely a tight squeeze, but the ride was worth the trouble.

The caravan of 5 cars set out on a guided tour, unfolding each building enroute.

They say when you are in love with a city you flirt with everything that comes your way, the buildings, the cars, the bystander, and everything flirts right back at you!

Our archaic, old fashioned cars drew enough attention, as mirth amongst the onlookers was audible. We became specimens to be clicked by spectators, than the other way around.

As the caravan proceeded, we passed by several important buildings, the main being, the theatre for cabaret reviews, now that sounded very interesting, [should go and shake a booty there!!!!], then came the remnants of the Berlin wall laid in a line of bricks, on the sidewalk for 40 kilometers around the city, the river Spree, the Cathedral, the Cemetery for the Jews that had died, the Central Railway Station of Berlin which can hold over a million people at a time. Now that makes me wonder, where so many travelers would be headed, all at once? As each building whisked past, I went through a plethora of emotions, from awe to romance, pity and finally, remorse. Thousands of questions acrobating inside my brain, so much trauma this city had been through, and here I was as if living its past all over again!

The evening witnessed an open air performance on the stairway of Pergamon Museum, where my band and I performed to a sea of gyrating audience, a pure feeling of euphoria and contentment. Ah! A day well spent.

Day three was an exotic date with a handsome German counsel friend, Alfred, from a firm I do business with. The gentleman had planned an elaborate cruise down the river Spree in a motor launch, where wine n cheese and fruits flowed in abundance. We had a heady afternoon with music, live piano orchestrating romantic tunes as if to court a lady!

It made me do some mental gymnastics, although the wine kept fogging the mind, and the breathtaking scenes distracted me constantly, I wondered why do women keep investing in dates the way men keep investing in stock market? My question, as always came to a dead end, with no answers!

But it was a sumptuous tour of the historical centre of the federal capital, on the trail of scenes of World War II, past arches of the city rail road, the old port, Museum Island with seagulls plucking at a catch on the shores of the river, through New Berlin, old national gallery, Nikolai district, to Bellevue Castle. All spiced up with absorbing anecdotes and events by our able guide! It was a perfect setting to jump up, pick up the mike and croon the lyrics of Michel buble’s, Sway, to the strains of the piano, and, did I let the opportunity slip past?? No sire!

Having heard of breakfast at tiffanies, it was weird sitting and devouring breakfast right at the top of legislation!!! Yes our finale day break meal was on top of German parliament, Reichstag building, and what a meal it was, with a panoramic view of the whole city. Reichstag dome is the iconic large glass dome at the top of the building. The dome has a 360 degree view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape.

The last night was a riotous carnival theme, a fun fair which is there all year round at Kulturbrauerei, in the outskirts of Berlin. We had to take the local tube to the venue. Thank holy heavens for chivalrous escorts, or else, what would we, poor damsels dressed in evening gowns do? It was an adventure, i.e. the tube trip to the venue itself, and the fair was exactly what I had thought it would be, with bumping car rides, spinning the wheel of fortune, where yours truly, struck the cupid thrice, which suddenly rang the theme,”LOV IS IN THE AIR “in my ears!

The three hundred square yard area was splattered with cuisines from all across the globe, games, the derby, which I shamelessly lost, balloon popping, pose for the camera, and gingerbread cakes as take away, dominos, and gifts galore!

Someone once addressed me as an interesting mix of facts and fantasy, and I guess the child within me enjoyed even the last evening to the hilt! Isn’t that’s what life all about??

My Berlin trip had come to a climax, but Hamburg was about to begin! I savored every moment of the journey, the history, the memoirs and the people. It was as though Berlin had offered a delectable palette and I had relished it down to the last morsel!