Sunday, September 18, 2011

From the Archives: A Confession

I found this as I was going through my drafts today. I should have posted this a year ago. But the elusive right time never came, and eventually, I forgot. No worries, though. The word is out, and everybody knows what I did last summer. So here is a much-postponed letter to my dad.

Play along, try not to google the clues. Just pay attention and hopefully you'll figure it out. Have fun!

Dear Pa,

I feel you deserve to know a secret. I went exploring in a foreign land this summer, without you knowing. But you'll have to guess where. The day I ventured out here, I was in transit. In three places (in different corners of the world) but not wholly in any one of them.

Well before I ever came here, I dreamt about being here. In a long, long tram ride. In real life, this tiny city has 73 kilometres of tram tracks, and more than 110 trams! No wonder that's all I could dream about.

This incredibly cool city was one of nine European cities of culture in 2000, hosted the 2007 Eurovision contest, and held the 1952 Olympics. Blah blah blah.

It snows for more than one third of the year , and has an average of 51 days without sun in the winter. Imagine that! So when Carl Ludvig Engel designed this city, he very fittingly wanted it to be The Great White City of the North. His neo-classical architecture was so convincingly Russian that the Gorky Park film crew decided to shoot here instead of Moscow, where the park originally consecrated to Maxim Gorky is. Here, have a picture example of all the Rusky business.

Like me, people who live here love all kinds of fish, except, perhaps Tomato Baltic Herring, which isn't quite so much a fish preparation but a method of punishment in schools in this country.

Where there is fish, there must be water. And my, is there water. This city is built on over 300 islands. Three hundred! But it also has rocks. Big ones. The world's largest continuous rock tunnel is here.

You've probably guessed by now which city I'm talking about. Please, please tell me you peered at the picture above with a magnifying glass, at least?

I had such an awesome time there. It was the perfect last bit of holiday adventure before I went back to being in Delhi's belly again. More fun because it was on the sly, of course. And because while I was there, a giant rainstorm struck the city, and everything got soaked, and my plane washed away. That last part is not true. Unfortunately.

But almost! Because, when I got back to the airport (almost rain-soaked, but well in time!), they told me my flight was delayed. And so I had fun window-shopping in duty free and taking up kind strangers' offers for coffee and conversation for the rest of my time there. I can be such a happy, hippie hobo.

Please don't be mad, Dad.

All my love,


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