So, it happens something like this..On the train to Venice, I am reading this book called ‘The Places that Scare You’- which essentially implores one to sit face to face with one’s discomfort and vulnerabilities till they make peace with them.
And then we land at Venice. It’s after dark. Against better advice, we are lugging suitcases. We find ourselves constantly lifting the suitcases while climbing up and down staircases on the so-many-bridges that are the charm of Venice. What was supposed to be a 10 minute walk from the station, with a little help from GPS, becomes a struggle through a maze of labyrinthine alleys of Venice.
Hardly anyone lives in Venice anymore. Tourists flock in by day, and flock out by night. Except the touristy spots, it’s not particularly well-lit. And if you get into what were once the dense residential areas, God-forbid. Dark narrow alleys leading to dark narrow alleys- old houses upon older houses looking desolate and decrepit..A loud echo is shattering the silence- something following right behind us. Wait, that’s our suitcases dragging.
I try hard to imagine these houses as they once would have been.. lit up on the inside, warm and luxurious. It’s taking will-power to keep up that imagination 40 minutes in. Then the nagging question in my mind, ‘What is this reminding me of?’ suddenly finds an answer: The maze hunt in the Triwizard Cup in Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire! How did that end? I try to recall.. oh yes, Cedric Diggory dies and Harry faces the reborn Lord Voldemort…. Oooooh..
Before a minor heart-attack can set in, my mind reminds me- Wait, that doesn’t make sense.. I was not reading Harry Potter just now.. It was ‘Places That Scare You.’ So that’s what this is about. Getting comfortable with discomfort and fears. And the opportunities don’t end yet. We eventually find our B&B. The owner is not able to meet us tonight. So, we enter this old building all by ourselves. The house is grand on the inside- old chandeliers and drapes..dark woodwork… and red walls! The lobby, the bedroom, the bed-sheets..all red. People who know me well know the lengths to which I go to avoid this colour that my mind cannot handle.
I try to forget about all the red, while lying on the red bed and looking at red walls. I hardly sleep the first night.
The bright side? Things can only go uphill from there!
Do they? Slowly, surely, they do. They do.
Eventually people start filling the streets.. and musicians start filling the air with music..
the pigeons and seagulls fly by..
the boats and Gondolas start making waves..
the bridges do look pretty by day..
the sun decides to shine a little..
We find some interesting corners..
and eventually we find the beauty of Venice at night..
with a picture-perfect ending on Easter mid-night at St.Mark’s square with a beautiful orchestra playing ‘Moonriver’… and a dance floor vast enough to fill the entire town.. including the pigeons!