Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tourism in Dracula's Kingdom

This is my offering for a magazine's inaugural issue. Am still researching for the rest of the article. But I think it starts pretty well and so I decided to share it with you all :)

Innocent women run for their lives as a shadowy vampire snarls in pursuit, baring oh-so-white fangs in his bloodthirsty desperation. Blood-curdling shrieks, strings of garlic, and a suspiciously pale, tall, menacing figure form the popular imagination of that place called Transylvania.

But the reality belies the myths and legends surrounding the region.

Verdant mountainsides undulate into the distance, and occasional tall spires poke into the skyline, the unusual green of their old copper reminding us how ancient this land really is.

Immortalized as the home of the sun-hating and haemoglobin-guzzling Count Dracula (ordinarily, but no less creepily, called Vlad the Impaler), Transylvania lies in the western part of modern-day Romania. In reality the Carpathian landscapes of the region are pleasing to the eye and hold no terrors, neither in the bright hours of sunshine nor after dark. Don’t forget your camera.

Monday, July 14, 2008

That Blood-sucker

Vladdy hell, we're talking about Count Dracula (also known as Vlad the Impaler). My pet project at work right now: projecting Transylvania as not just where Dracula came from. It's involved bumping into fascinating Eastern European words like Szekelys, and realising that Transylvania basically means simply 'beyond the forest' (all it needed was a sandhi-vicched).

So while some windows on my screen focus on the serene and sylvan settings of Dracula land, the others are personal blogs with images dripping blood, lots of garlic ringing the screen, and Flash-animated bats winging into the twilight as Dracula comes forth.

What do you guys know about Transylvania? Anyone ever been there? Would love to hear about it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hunger pangs

I'm at work right now. And while there are deadlines threatening to devour me, I'm also really hungry. I ran through the options in my head - there's a nice food court nearby that I usually love. But what I feel like eating right now is an entire experience:

Greasy street-side chowmein. Served on just-washed steel plates to be eaten with tin forks that jar your ears when they strike metal. A white non-absorbent paper napkin with fading red borders - offered just because the dhaba is trying hard. Balancing plate while resting gingerly against a parked scooter or car. The spice making your eyes water just a little bit. People jostling past you in a busy market area. You balance all your shopping bags in one hand - slinging them through to your wrist so that the same hand can also hold your plate. The other shovels fat noodles into your mouth. Orange carrots stray from your fork and withered cabbage sticks resolutely to the plate bottom.

This was not good therapy. I am even hungrier now.

While I can just walk across to the food court anytime I want, there are millions who have no such option - and Aunty G just shared a great idea to help them. I can't believe it is so simple and yet a genuine way to help. Try it.