The best thing about being in the international animation business is that work takes you to all sorts of amazing places. Shona Nivedita Chakravarti’s love of travel and exploring new cultures was embedded in her at a very early age, but the wanderlust grew exponentially. Check out the culmination of her desire to see the world as she travelled to Venice.
When I began accompanying my father on business trips at the age of 13, I was in the eighth grade, and I was just starting to love the world. Much time has passed since then, and I have visited a number of exquisite destinations from where our business clients operate. But only one city has truly managed to capture my undivided love: Venice!
I was recently required to travel to Frankfurt, Cannes and Venice on what then seemed to be an exhausting, tightly planned, two-week business trip. Venice was on the itinerary as the 2014 Pulcinella Cartoon by the Bay awards show was being hosted there, by Italy’s state broadcaster RaiTV. By the time I was through with my meetings in Germany and reached the last leg of my five-day conference in France, my entire being was ready and eager to dump everything, hop onto one of those low-budget European airlines, and fly straight to my favourite country to visit.
Your first glimpse of one of the world’s most beautiful cities is from the oval window of your aircraft. It’s a magnificent criss-crossing network of land and water that makes up the islands of Venice! The moment you step out of the airport, you’re greeted by fantastic weather – bright sunshine and a crisp chill. One thing I really look forward to in Venice is the taxi ride to the hotel. It helps, of course, that the taxis there are actually sleek speedboats! The experience is simply exhilarating – gazing out the back of a speedboat moving at furious speed, wind lashing in your face, water foaming all around you.
The hotels usually have abysmally small rooms, but those facing the canals have windows from which you can observe the plethora of boats and ferries moving about what is essentially the city’s transportation network. When I finished my meetings at a grand arena in the centre of town, I changed my heels for trainers and wandered about Venice. The regal, historical architecture is a constant presence in every nook and cranny of the city, whose streets are lined with tiny shops selling famous Murano glass artefacts, Venetian masks and other souvenirs. The best way to unwind is to buy a large gelato from one of the dozens of shops hugging the streets, or to find an open-air café and order a cappuccino. Either way, you can simply sit back and watch beautiful men and women go about their business. It can be both entertaining and enlightening to simply observe people’s body language and fashion, their dogs and babies, and their unique cultural nuances.
Piazza San Marco is another place you simply must visit when in Venice. It’s arguably the most tourist-laden spot in the city, with a view of the beautiful clock tower and Basilica di San Marco. The huge, historical square is lined with bustling bars and classy restaurants. Each seems to have its own outdoor orchestra that belts out timeless classics amidst the yellow lights of the square, transporting you to a different time and era, all while you enjoy a hot dinner and authentic tiramisu. What an experience!
If you’re a lover of art, history and food, this city is the place to be. Few others can or will infuse your being with romanticism and happiness quite like Venice does. Just walking through the streets in the chill of night, among the vibrant people and the sound of moving water, is ethereal in every sense. Whenever I get off the water taxi on my way back to the airport, leaving Venice behind seems like the most daunting task in the world. Nonetheless, I always look back, chuck a penny into the sea and say to myself, ‘Until next time!’
..... as told to Rahul