Deception

Right before leaving for Italy, I heard all these crazy stories about the place that slightly freaked me out. Apparently the place is rife with thieves and muggers who use ancient monuments as their allies for their dark deeds. I have heard of a man who stood staring in awe at the Colosseum while someone walked by and nicked his wallet from his pocket before the poor guy could even say Caeser!  I also read various articles cautioning readers against leaving  their belongings in cars as it was possible that the cars could be broken into and the belongings stolen. Considering we were renting a car, this worried me all the more!

Owing to all the things I heard and read about the place, I was extremely careful (bordering on paranoia) in Italy and kept my money distributed between difference pieces of luggage. Even whatever I carried on me, I kept distributed, with a few euros in my wallet, some in one boot, the rest in the other… (told you! Paranoid!). But I had no reason to worry. Everyone in Italy was charming and nice and very excited by a visitor from Dubai (looks like Dubai’s marketing has reached Italy as well! :P). The ladies were kind and friendly and the men flirtatious and amusing.

On my very last day in Italy, we had gone to St. Peter’s Basilica to watch the La Befana parade. After lunch, my friend R and I took the metro to get back to our hotel. It was crowded that day, and it was a bit of a struggle to get into the trains. I was right behind R and inching towards the door when suddenly an old lady pushed in front of me. She looked around 60, was dressed conservatively in black, with red lipstick and badly applied golden eyeliner on her lids. I was a little taken aback, cos this was the first time someone had cut in front of me in Italy! I was used to better behaviour. So I said ” okayy..?” and she looked back at me and frowned, before pushing on ahead into the train. I got in as well and stood beside R and we started chatting. 

The old woman was standing a little away from us. She promptly came forward and started speaking to me. She asked me where I was from, whether I was from Spain (we got asked this question a lot, apparently Indians and  Spanish people look similar), when I shook my head and said India, she said ” aahhh! Indiyaaa!” and then was saying something more when suddenly, something fell down between us. R and I looked down and R exclaimed ” OHMYGAWD!! THAT’S MY WALLET!!!!”

The lady was talking to ME to create a distraction so she could steal from R!!!!  Sneaky huh! It was extremely lucky for us that the lady had a bad case of butter-fingers that day (God’s intervention really!). But she played it tres cool! Acted like the she had nothing to do with it, like the wallet had decided to jump out of R’s purse and into her slippery hands! She kept talking to us like nothing was wrong and we were just too shocked to react!  She left the train at the next stop and that was that!

Every time I played a scenario of us being mugged or robbed, it was always of some delinquent guy with a hoodie and a gun, demanding that we hand over everything to him <insert menacing tone> “OR ELSE!” Never in my wildest imagination had I pictured a crazy old lady trying to get the better of us!

So… the moral of the story is… beware of old ladies!  CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

CONSTANT_VIGILANCE

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Hating It

I’ve to go to Oman again next week, from Sunday till friggin Tuesday, and I’m just pissed off. Pissed off that the stupid place gives me no business and yet I have to spend time there. Pissed off that the clients there are the laziest bunch of people I’ve ever met with absolutely no drive or ambition whatsoever. Pissed off that I have to fly in so fucking early cos there is no later flight. Pissed off that there are no good hotels in the city. Pissed off that I have to spend time away from my home, and I get ABSOLUTELY no benefit from it. 

ARRRRRRGH! 

Feeling Blue!

Where we buy our tickets for the blue grotto

The ticket “booth” :D

“You have to sit on the floor!”  “The flooooor?! But it’s wet!”

“Wet? Ah, it’s all natural water from the sea!”

“Does that mean I won’t get wet?!” I muttered to myself. But I had to sit down at the bottom of the wet little dinghy anyway. There was no other way to get into the cave, it was nearing high-tide and the opening was almost too small even with all of us laying down flat. The oarsman (in my worry of wetting my bottom with “natural seawater”  and the thrill of getting into the cave, I forgot to ask his name, so let’s call him Ricardo shall we?) was quite a character! I was with my two travel-buddies, they were sitting on one side of the rowboat, and me on the other, with Ricardo standing in the middle talking to us in a loud booming voice. If the tide allowed it, we could go into the blue grotto, if not… *shrug*

The tiny entrance to the cave

The tiny entrance to the cave

I was sitting with my back to the entrance, but when I craned my neck back, I could see that the entrance was hardly anything. Then Ricardo asked us to lay down flat and he crouched down low as well. I didn’t think we could get in there, but Ricardo somehow managed to pull us inside with a rope and we went from bright sunlight to sudden darkness in an instant. I blinked a couple of times to get my bearings and sat up. Ricardo rowed us deeper into the cave and then he yelled “look back!” and this is what we saw.

Inside the Blue Grotto

Inside the Blue Grotto

It was amazing! My eyes widened and my skin tingled. Where was all that light coming from?! Why was the water so brilliantly blue?!! But before I could even begin to think of all this, dear Ricardo started singing. He had a powerful voice, and whatever he was singing in Italian worked its magic. Of course, there were other boats in there, and when Ricardo started singing, the others joined in as well! The sound of their voices echoed around us and sounded magical and surreal in this dark cave with the strange blue water.

We came out of the cave and back to real life way too soon for my liking. But our manager at the hotel, Mario (who was shamelessly flirting with us and said I’m to be his second wife :P) said he has a boat and asked us to visit in the summer cos we can go swimming there as well!

So if anyone can sponsor my trip to Capri, please mail me and I’ll sort out the rest of the trip for you! :D

The Years Just Fly By!

Happy New Year folks!

I hope you all had an awesome beginning of the year! I, for one, will definitely miss 2012, though it seems to have just flown by so quickly that I’m a little out of breath just thinking about it! It started out awesome with a new job, which was the big change of the year. I kept traveling, and went to 5 new places – Lebanon, France, Goa, Nepal… and Italy!

Yeah, that’s why I didn’t put up any year-end posts. I was too busy planning and then being on my year-end holiday that spilled over into the new year. If you’ve been following my twitter feed, you’ll know that the itinerary was Rome- Amalfi- Capri-Sorrento- Naples and back to Rome.

I’m trying to gather my thoughts about the entire experience so I can put it down in some sort of coherent manner. It was wonderful in SO many ways that I’m torn about where to start and what to say.

So I’ll just wish you the best for 2013 and be back soon (hopefully) with a more detailed review of my Italian sojourn!

Cheers!

Sunrise in Rome

Sunrise in Rome