Tuesday, August 12, 2014

By the blue sea

Last month came a trip out of the blue and into the blue.  The location was the place where the blue of the sky mixes seamlessly into the blue of the sea, viz. the Greek island of Rhodes. The blue of the sea has to be seen to believed.  Turquoise and azure mix within 20 feet of the shore and darken into indigo. Beyond the horizon looms a grey blue shadow, the shore of Turkey.

For all Turkey is so near, the Turks and the Greeks share a complicated relationship, from medieval times to modern times. Rhodes was home to the Knights Hospitaller, who left behind a fortified enclave, and a harbour. The island boasts several places of worship, which have maintained their function, but alternated denominations during its chequered past. The  hostility lurks underneath the surface, even to this day! The Knights Hospitaller left behind the medieval portion of the town, which is a World Heritage site, with fortifications, the Palace of the Grand Master,  mosaics of the nine Muses, medieval streets (with markets selling modern bric-a-brac) and a quaint harbour.

Antiquity is a little far away. The famed Colossus succumbed to an earthquake in 226 BC, and its fragments lay around for nearly 800 years, until they were sold as scrap. The remnants of antiquity on the island   can be found in the broken pillars of the Acropolis at Rhodes, to which we could not make it, alas! As for modern times, they are embodied by cheerful teenagers enjoying the pristine beaches. They do seem to get a tad drunk and noisy at night, but they are on holiday, after all! The Aegean idyll was sandwiched between, the new international airport at Mumbai, (the White Peacock is indeed beautiful, may it last) , and Air India preening itself at Frankfurt, on having finally made it to the Star Alliance (long may that last too!). Altogether, it was a wonderful week, out of the hot summer in India, and the conference was pretty good too. Here's to the next time!

This blog post by Neelima Gupte and Sumathi Rao.

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