Size matters. And few countries know this as well as Lux. Imagine gully cricket in a random street in India. As the big, bulky 19-year old adults are playing, in walks a short, 15-year old kid to bat. The adults are laughing and deriding him. But no sooner has the first ball been bowled, than the mockery turns into embarrassment as the adults get demolished by the kid’s prowess. Sachin was that kid. Luxembourg can be that kid.
Luxembourg is understated, often dismissed off by businessmen and travelers. It hardly features in anyone’s Top 10 countries to visit in Europe list, including mine. Hence, when a friend and I decided to make it a place for a reunion of sorts, I was quite skeptical. It seemed like a typical European destination with not much to offer except churches, cathedrals and cafes. All touristy expectations had swooped down, which ironically, was instrumental in making Luxembourg an unforgettable experience. The more important factors in this experience were IITB and Autumn.
The years of undergrad education are arguably the most formative years of adult life. And IITB is no exception. On one level, it’s like the mother that builds a protective shield when you go out of your home to face the world. On another, it gives you a chance to make umpteen lasting, selfless relationships. I say this because I have seen the “selfless” word gradually vanish with age. And hence, it is always a pleasure to relive the memories of undergrad through the lens of one such relationship. And so the expectations on that trip with a batch-mate were about the talks of nostalgia and not about Luxembourg.
The final icing on the cake was Autumn. I have already mentioned how the red and yellow shades of Autumn have impressed me in Belgium and Croatia. Perhaps here, the shades were even starker and, combined with the sparsely populated city, they created a beautiful urban landscape which overwhelmed us with joy. The first brush with this landscape was at the Vianden Castle, which epitomizes the hardships that this little country had to go through, caught in wars between its big neighbors.
It’s a bittersweet feeling to walk in Autumn in Lux, for the cold is unbearable but the
scenes, unmissable. Nevertheless, the best way to explore Luxembourg City is by foot, for all the touristy places are quite close by the city center. More importantly, the best way to meet your old friends is through a walk, as conversations provide the energy to walk miles unknowingly. Luxembourg City Promenade is another beautiful urban landscape, with a tinge of bucolic added by the huge city walls, providing the perfect audience to our reminiscences. A little out of place for this landscape is Philharmonie, which is a building shaped brilliantly as a harp.
As the 19-year old adult, it’s easy for me to dismiss things that look as trivial as the 15-year old kid. But who knows, in being dismissive, what beauty I might underrate; what friends I might forsake; what experiences I might miss! And THAT is my defense for the pursuit of optimism, for having hope because:
“Hope is a good thing, may be the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”
All pictures used are mine and should not be reproduced without permission.