Blue Doors and White Walls

Designed to make you knock.

And there was another one. The whole place is full of them. Doors. Blue. Intricately crafted. Sturdy, bolted and blue. Why blue? That was the question. It was like going into another dimension. A realm where even zebras have blue stripes. Blue doors painted on white walls. Blue windows drilled into white bricks. Blue gates connecting white fences. Why blue?

Looking around you could almost believe that once a long time ago, a house owner with an obsession for the sky did the unthinkable. He painted his whole house in blue. Unknown to him while he slept, the white clouds above conspired. Jealous of the homage paid to their blue father, they gathered their immense strength and poured over the blue house. Such was the torrent, the blue was completely washed away. Except, for the door. Unlike the smooth walls, the wooden door absorbed the color and stayed loyal to its master design. Thus the first blue on white house was born.

When the neighbors woke up, they could not take their eyes off the white house with the daring blue door. Never have they seen something so simple and yet so artistic. Even before the sky obsessed man woke up, all the houses along his street were repainted with white walls and blue doors. Thus it begun. Before the season turned, all the houses in the town were repainted with white walls and blue doors.

Now, if you find yourself on endless streets filled with blue doors and matching white walls, do not be alarmed. There is only one place in the world where you can be. Welcome to Sidi Bou Said. A child of Tunisia and a tribute to the Mediterranean sky above.

Capital of India’s Intellectuals

Chaotic, confusing and tumultuous.

I usually like to imagine the cities I have been to as ladies. Each a woman with sensuous appeal that attracts and repels but eventually entangles your heart. Not Kolkata however. Calling it a woman will be like calling Margaret Thatcher sexy. Kolkata is anything but a woman. It is a brawler. A shark which will eat you alive without blinking an eyelid. Rough, tough and harsh. You will do well to stay clear of its temper. Blending in will be the only way to stay alive. Admittedly, it will be difficult for anyone born in a color other than a shade of brown.

Of course, that wasn’t a problem for me. With Indian blood cursing through my veins albeit 2 generations diluted, I was as local as you can get. The shark that is Kolkata never knew I was there. I paved the streets and sat in its taxis without rousing any attention. That was until I opened my mouth. Because in my accent, lay the seeds that blew my camouflage. The shark smelled blood and there was no escape. Swim as I may, Kolkata takes no prisoners. I was eaten.

I found myself in a belly full of confusion and chaos. There I contemplated my demise. With clarity only Buddhist monks in Tibet experience, one distinctive thought bubbled to the surface. Look at this mess screamed my mind. I looked. And found it beautiful…

She is a woman after all.