While going back, we saw the house where the Nazi flag had been hung. We then went further into the countryside and saw a few lakes. Soon, I realized that we were in Salzkammergut again. We went to the church where we had gone earlier, the one where Maria and Captain Von Trapp had got married. We were too polite to say anything about already having visited this place. So we just went around and explored the cafes that we had seen earlier.
We went to a cute little cafe called ‘Babo’s ’. Papa got a sandwich and I got a muffin. As everyone started towards the buses, we did too. We started moving towards the city again. The tour guide started playing the songs from the movie. She sang along and soon everyone else joined her. I didn’t know the songs but I enjoyed them; they were very lively.
Soon we had arrived in the heart of the city and I could see our hotel at a distance. We went a few blocks further and arrived at the scenic Mirrabel Gardens. The rose gardens aligned perfectly, the many fountains and last but not the least, a tunnel of plants and flowers. This garden was where scenes of the song, ‘Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti’ were filmed. At that time I didn’t think of it as very special, but now that I look back at it, after having watched the movie, those moments seem so very precious. I had actually had the fortune of standing where the great people involved in the making of this legendary film had once stood.
We walked back to the hotel and went up to our room. It was almost five in the evening. We stayed in the room for some time and had some really disgusting tea. Since we wanted to make the most of our limited time in this beautiful city, we decided to go out to explore more. This time, I took the lead and took mummy and papa to various famous tourist spots in the city. We went to the huge Mozart Museum, which was closed! It was like Mozart didn’t like us and closed the door at us each time.
We wandered around for a long time, going to various places. All were closed. We saw a few bakeries, with many creative products. Breads and cookies in the shape of animals and many such things. I saw a cookie resembling a white cat and I was reminded of Mishti. When it was around seven thirty, we went back the way we had come. We took a right from our hotel and went on a path that was mostly deserted. It was nice, walking alone on a dimly lit road in the twilight.
We arrived at an Indian restaurant called Taj Mahal, which a friend of Papa’s had recommended. As soon as I stepped inside, I felt a sudden sense of familiarity. As if I had suddenly travelled back to India. Punjabi songs blaring from the speakers, Rajasthani decor adorning the walls, waiters wearing coatees, kurtis and salwar and the Indian man with a very Indian-looking moustache coming to meet us. He had been expecting us, having have heard about us from the mutual friend .
He gave us a seat in the very middle of the restaurant and offered us complementary drinks. A native Austrian lady came up to us and took our order. Dressed in a kurti and salwar, she spoke a few words of broken Hindi and smiled at us. She pronounced the names of the dishes quite fluently, probably because she must be having to say those regularly. Mummy and I ordered some simple dal and rice, having craved the simple dish for long. Papa ordered a thali, including a lot of things like roti, dal, sabzi, papad, and rice.
The food was good. It almost felt like home. Almost. No one can recreate the magic of the food made by my mother. We bid the owner good bye and were on our way back. On the way, I saw a letter written by Nitu Ambani, who had dined in that restaurant. She too had expressed her happiness at having being welcomed in such a warm, homely manner. We once again went on our way. I saw a cat and tried to pet it, but it ran away and hissed at me.
Back at the hotel, we packed our bags, as we were leaving the day after. By then, our luggage had become almost impossible to carry. We had been given so many gifts and had bought so many things that our bags were overflowing and we had to use paper bags. A few of them tore away. It had become really difficult to pack. But somehow, Mummy managed to fit everything into the bags. Mothers really have magic wands inside their hands.
Next stop: Zell am See
Photographs by Insha Faridoon