Sunday, October 14, 2007


Ever since I found out that Eau de Cologne meant water from Cologne and that Cologne was a place I have wanted to go there. And this was since I was ten or so I found it incredibly romantic to think that somewhere was this city where the water smelt so glorious, so full of blue skies and golden flowers. The almost cone shaped, ribbed bottle , with its golden coloured , precious liquid would stand nestled amongst my father’s spotless white handkerchiefs and every morning a few drops would be carefully dropped into the neat knife like folds of one of them and set beside his suit of clothes for the day by my mother. One had to pay a big price to inhale this heady delight but it was worth the price and more. Oh the joy of feeling that aroma waft out of the ice cool wet folded strip of cloth on my fevered brow ; it made the fever and the cold ache inside the bones of my throbbing body almost welcome. A few drops of Manna from heaven.

Back to Cologne; the place, the city that I actually went to, almost five decades after all that longing and wanting to be there …and to see those bottles, in different shapes and sizes, peddling that precious once so exclusive and special liquid from every visible display window .Well, it wasn’t the same. Of course in the intervening years I had realised that the Eau de Cologne did not flow through that land like some river of honey, but Hello then again maybe it did.

We got onto to the train to Cologne from Frankfurt. The really kind and lovely young lady who shares her last name with Wagner ( all the foreigners recognize my name she says with a pretty blush) at the ticket counter in the station suggested we take the train that took a longer time but cost some fewer Euros and went hugging the Rhine all the way there …and I found the river of Honey , my Eau de Cologne swelling and swaying beside the train all the way following the curves it hugged , all the way into the city of my fevered brow , I mean dreams !!!

Nothing can be more dramatic that the vista that unfolded before our eyes as we approached Cologne. The awe inspiring grey twin domes of the famed Cathedral reaching high up into the sky, challenging the charcoal clouds crouching around them to just chill if you please, the now mellow Rhine reflecting the biblical sky over it and the girders of the bridge looming alongside , letting us glimpse the city in its fractured tantalizing beauty through them . .

Germany would never have been a chosen tourist destination but work brought me here and some convincing brought my husband there with me. No regrets. Beautiful country, breads and beers to die for and people who smile and let you take it all in alone ; streets you can take to the other end of town, trams that you can jump into when you tire and gardens you can cool your sore toes in .

And Hotel Chelsea, bang in the middle of town with its café spilling onto to the side walk where you can sit and nurse your beer for hours till the resident pigeon wants its share of the dregs in your long drained mug. Hotel Chelsea with its black and white floors, its walls modestly displaying some amazing art work and local poetic outpourings , its dark brown wooden tables and chairs reminding you of hey the Irani restaurant on Grant Road back home and the warm and friendly eyes of the most charming waiter ever.

And the huge picture windows in our room up on the fourth floor that open all the way to let in the golden summer light even at ten in the night. And on the building across the street the picture windows each reflecting a different vista like someone had stacked picture post cards to play a last game of Solitaire before the light faded from the burnished heavens above still raining its Manna


PentaTwo said...


Raji said...

Alovely word picture of the beautiful city, complemented by the lovely photos.
But the bit I like best is the evocative description of the cologne and Babuji's handkerchieves - made me feel so nostalgic.
A handkerchief soaked in cologne laced water and placed on the 'feverd brow' was a sure cure indeed.
Smart title, too.

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