Mr.and Mrs.Joglekar sat next to each other holding hands on seat 34A and 34B. Mr.Joglekar was next to the window.He touched the window with the back of his fingers.It was cold.
'How much longer?' Mr.Joglekar inquired.
'Its about 15 hours from Bangalore we are only into the sixth hour my dear.'
'I cant wait to see Lake Como'.
'Be patient darling it still will be about two hours from the Milan airport.'
This was the first international holiday for the couple,and they had waited twenty five years to fulfill this long cherished dream.Mrs.Joglekar was a professor in the prestigious Wellington College and she worked hard to keep their life moving through the everyday challenges.
It was her idea to go for this vacation.The choice of destination was Italy. Simply because the place was loaded with history,and they loved the mysticism surrounding the country for its art,culture and tradition perhaps the only match with the Indian civilization for its evolution and brilliance.
First stop was Milan,then to Bellagio, moving to Verona,Venice and then to Rome,Florence,and back to Milan completing the circle.
They arrived in Milan at one thirty in the afternoon local time.
'Where do we go now, have you got the baggage's?'Mr.Joglekar inquired.
'Relax, I have everything, besides most instructions are in English, so its not a problem finding the way out of the airport'
A fresh cool breeze greeted them exiting the automatic glass door.A distant fragrance of pine trees,mixed with some remnant petrol hung around in the air,as they waited for the pre-paid cab arrived.
'Ciao' Luciano greeted them.Dressed in a nice grey suit,shoes polished and shining speck-less.
'Hmm that's a nice perfume'
Luciano looked a bit surprised, commenting on perfumes was perhaps invading his personal space.But Italians are known to be friendly and warm people,and he certainly didn't want that perception to change.
'Grazzie - that's Salvatore Ferragamo'
'Oh is that the best?'
'Well certainly one of the best, there's of course Versace, very close and very expensive.'
Happy with the information Mr.Joglekar and Mrs.Joglekar made themselves comfortable in the Mercedes and set off for Bellagio.The distance between Milan Malpensa airport to Bellagio is roughly two hours depending on the traffic.As the road rushed by, Mr.Joglekar's eyes had a tear threatening to burst out,but Mrs. Joglekar held his hand with a tight reassurance.
'Open the windows please I want to inhale the moment'
Luciano looked from the rear-view mirror and saw Mr.Joglekar's moist eyes.He slowed the car and moved into the extreme right lane meant for slow moving vehicles and opened the windows.
'Are we close to Lake Como?'
'Yes how did you know' Luciano asked Mr.Joglekar.
'Well the water smells fresh and wind in the air has become cooler so I noticed the change - tell me what else do you see?' Mr.Joglekar asked Luciano.
'Err the usual some trees, some houses and the lake of course'
'Well I see the trees are multiple shades of green - like tropical green,moss green, bottle green,pale green, and they re are interspersed with a splash of orange,some red and some lilac thrown in.'
'Ah so you are a poet?'
'No a retired professor - my wife still teaches.'
'This has got to be heaven' Mrs.Joglekar smiled as she set foot on Bellagio.It has long been famous for its setting at the intersection of the three branches of the Y-shaped lake, which is also known as Lario. Just at the tip of the peninsula separating the lake's two southern arms, with the glorious Alps visible across the lake.The view is like a valley and a serene river flowing through it.Just like a pearl in the ocean Bellagio is one beautiful spot on the Lake Como.
'I am hungry can we eat something here?'Mr.Joglekar interrupted.
'Well you could try the 'Splendid cafe - the pasta's are delicious and the buffalo cheese salad is something to pay the extra Euro for.'
'Can you explain there fragrance?'
'Well the pasta is on white sauce,which has a salty and cheesy taste,since some of the sauce is heated,baked at a particular temperature it gets a different flavor like a little smoky perhaps and it is very soft,it melts and then glides down gently and smoothly.The buffalo cheese is a specialty for its quality -its served in huge chunks and tastes like fresh cream and cheese mixed together.It is usually served chilled so it adds to the flavor.And to complete the meal you should have the Chianti wine.'
Mrs.Joglekar's smacked her lips in delight.
'But how do I know it's a good wine - what if I don't like the taste?'
'Ah good question -you see to be eligible for a wine to be called Chianti - it has to go through say 20 rules, if any of the rules of wine making for that region are not followed it cannot be called a good wine, likewise, if all the rules of wine making are followed strictly,since its all about perfection,then it is called a good wine - whether you like the taste or not is immaterial.Taste is something which you culture,mature and develop over the years of wine tasting.You acquire the taste slowly and then you will understand the difference between the quality of grapes, the color of the wine,the fragrance of the cask,and other finer aspects.
Mr.Joglekar was pleasantly surprised and satisfied with the answer.
'Ah - that's because I want to inhale the view ...I want to live every moment, feel every drop of water on my fingers, taste every little bit of cheese and savor the flavor for a lifetime,know every color the trees change and the smell of every blossoming flower....since I really I cant see any of it now.I have lost my eyesight in an accident a few years back.My wife is my only guide and she has a fantastic vocabulary,she explains every little detail and I don't miss seeing them.'
Luciano dropped them in a small motel and gave Mr.Joglekar a warm embrace. Luciano left the couple with a lump in his throat.