Dec 2, 2008 - travel    46 Comments

Does it happen outside celluloid?

The first time it happened, I took it in stride. After all, if there are 16 twenty something- college going girls in a room and you announce to them that you are going away for a snow covered weekend to the Scottish highlands, it is but natural that they scream, “How Romantic,” but when normal adult people (men and women both) go gaga over holiday destinations and tell you how incredibly romantic that particular place is, you just look at them in wonder (at least I do) and think if they have lost all their marbles (or if they had any marbles to begin with)?

I remember the first time I went to Paris. I went there on a longish bank holiday weekend (those who live in UK or have lived in UK in the past know how very often you have bank holidays) and was looking forward to doing all touristy things like taking a cruise on River Seine, a walk across Avenue des Champs- Élysées and visiting Louvré Museum and Notré Dam Cathedral. Before I went there, I called my sister who was living in a shit hole called Swindon at that point in time and the minute she heard the word Paris she went into a state unadulterated glee and shrieked, “PARIS!” and went on and on about how romantic the place is and how wonderful it will be for me and maybe I will find someone to fall in love with. A friend back home literally broke down in tears and said that I have to do all things romantic on her account in Paris. I was flabbergasted at that request but I decided not to question that statement at that point. Don’t get me wrong, Paris is ok, in fact it is better than ok. It’s just not what everyone has painted it to be. But then what place turns out like its post card version with a promised dash of romance on the side?

Those of us who grew up on the staple diet of Hindi cinema in the 1990s do harbor similar romantic thoughts about the whole country of Switzerland. I mean Switzerland is a fine country if you appreciate good cheese, good chocolate, sheep, cows and United Nations, but romantic is not a word I would ever use in connection with Switzerland. In any case, if you are a student traveling on a shoestring budget, all romance will fly out of the proverbial window while you are trying to manage expenses in a city like Geneva.

Venice, perhaps, was the biggest let down of all the supposedly romantic cities. I mean everyone I know went bonkers the minute I said the word Venice. It was neither magical nor romantic. It turned out to be smelly, over priced and over crowded, in short, totally oversold to the tourists.

How in the heaven’s name can a place be romantic? A place can be beautiful, aesthetically magical and stupendously out of this world but romantic? Are people supposed to go to these romantic destinations with their loved ones only? What if they are eternally single like me? Are people supposed to fall in love with random strangers in these ‘romantic’ destinations? According to the film industries across the globe, strangers do meet and fall in love in such places, but how many people actually get to live their version of ‘Before Sunrise’ where they seek and find self-fulfillment and self-discovery through a significant other? There is nothing wrong with the idea of finding romance at unexpected places and with unexpected people but why limit that idea to a particular city only? In my opinion, it’s not the place but the people and circumstances that are romantic.

In any case, I want all my readers to answer me honestly if they have fallen in love with someone while traveling/vacationing/holidaying. It does not have to be a so called romantic place, but I would love to know if it happens outside celluloid.

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  • what HAVE you done, study-wise, that you get to travel all over? i think im more wow-ed by the fact that you got to travel so much and not because they are uber-romantic.
    and in answer to your question i think this thing about ‘romantic’ locations is pretty over-rated :S.

  • I have a couple of humble degrees in social sciences which I am told, time and again, are pretty useless when it comes to securing a job that pays a lot of money.

    I did most my traveling in Europe when i was studying in England. Its much cheaper that way and you can easily take up part time jobs selling perfume in a store to pay for a trip to Amsterdam.

    Almost all traveling in Asia is work related but I have been stupid and left that job, now the only places i get to go are Hyderabad, Khairpur and Gilgit.

  • I guess people need excuses to fall in love. Those who don’t find it in their home cities look forward to places where they supposedly will. If the people of a place are beautiful, the place will called romantic.

    And then we have that “Undlas Ka Shehzada,” the prominent Urdu travel writer and people like him who, no matter where in the world, will find a romance waiting in every street and at every turn.

  • i thought romantic was by definition ‘natural’… so scotland yes… not sure about otehr places… it jus depends really how u see it… the thing is all these things hav been spoonfed to us !!!

  • Romance is a state of mind to me and it’s not dependent of certain things or places. That said…

    I fell madly in love with a Finnish hockey player while I was studying in Finland. I didn’t speak Finnish, he didn’t speak English and I spent most of my time just watching him. I wouldn’t call the setting “romantic” since I met him in the hockey team’s locker room (it stinks), I was trying to stuff my gear into a locker that clearly was too small for it all and he helped me get a an extra locker.

  • i think when we say romantic place we usually mean exotic, fantastic, idealistic, no?

  • Love is overrated, but ofcourse it just may be sour grapes talking here 🙂 who knows I say let the rose specs stay on if they dont fall off.

  • Hmmm you’re about that. But, dear, look at it this way… suppose you are at this beautiful place, it’s peaceful, serene, and all the goody good blah bah stuff… then you tend to get a little romantic na?

    Anyway, venice, yes, is terribly over-rated… hey ur lucky to get to travel so much at such an early age 🙂

    BTW…. i’d love to get lost at a strange exotic place and find myself in love with a hunky cool dude 😛 hehehe

    nice one!!

  • Oh n yea… i totally totally LUBBBBBB your about me lines !!!!


  • Good point. Cities are only romantic if you have that special someone to hold hands with. So quite obviously, I haven’t fallen in love because of any city, but I certainly have fallen in love all over again, because of them. The sights generate a kind of ecstasy which is all the more beautiful when it is shared.

    Paris is a romantic city, if you see it by night. Maybe a private cruise or even a taxi cab ride (which we did). They light up the Louvre, the Opera and a million other landmarks beautifully.

    And you thought Venice stunk? You’re not the first one to say that. I’ve heard so many people complain, so when I was headed for the city, I had no expectations. To my pleasant surprise, no stench, no smell, no over-crowding. So maybe it has to do with the season. We went in early June, if that matters!

  • Never really understood what people mean by calling a place or city romantic!! Its all a way to advertise to get tourists 😀

  • Universities are where I have fallen in love…twice hehehhe and KU is not the most magical campus, you wud agree 🙂
    So no, I dont think it is important to go to honalulu to fall in love…but I would still like to go to honalulu nevertheless, with or without a man

  • Gilgit’s beautiful (if you get to see it now that the militants roam the streets).

    I would love to go to Paris but I’d be satisfied with London.

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  • not yet… but my most romantic idea of falling in love is with a total stranger and in a totally new place!

    and i dont think its the hangover of watching ‘the holiday’, which i thoroughly enjoyed!!!!

  • They are beautiful places no doubt, but falling in love with a complete stranger while you’re there? Nah… people are too cynical and cautious for that these days, though it may have happened in the past!

  • I have several times. Unfortunately, it has never been reciprocated. 🙁

  • Yes ! I twice had this happened to me, u can fall into love anywhere, its not exactly the places. The first time it was in the Quaid-e-Azam University, i was in the 1st semester and moment I saw her, i knew she was the one i am looking for, time passed and we also passed-out of the university with a desire that at least i shud have talked to her. Next time it happened in a train journey from Rawalpindi to Lahore and again ended up with a desire that at least I shud have talked to her……..again cursing myself to be the biggest fool……..i traveled extensively in UK and other countries in connection with my studies but never got into a situation as that of Mr. Mustansir H.Tarar

  • In my dictionary

    Traveling to exotic places == Trying exotic foods

  • A place can only be romantic if you already have someone you’re in love with, with you. They’re the ones that make it romantic. Otherwise, its just a beautiful even breathtaking place.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  • Romance is in the eyes of the beholder 😉
    Nah, i haven’t had such experience, but i haven’t done much traveling either.

  • Well I have to say I LOVED Paris but I think people confuse the “romanticism” with something else.
    I did not find the place romantic at all. Sure people were making out more than usual on street corners, but romantic? No.

    The place is definitely aesthtically pleasing to a degree and is very very charming. Their lifestyle and french culture on the whole is very laid back…everything is savoured and done langourously…from a walk in the park to having coffee in one of the cafe’s on the street…these are people who work on average 30 – 35 hours a week…they dont rush through life like the rest of us. So I can see how people could mistake that for romanticism.

    And Switzerland is anything but romantic. Snow capped mountains make people want to hibernate…maybe thats what is considered romantic. But the chocolate is sooo good 😀

    As a fellow eternally single woman, I dont ever expect to meet someone on holiday, I’m always too involved in soaking up my experiences of the place.

  • oohhh Gilgit is supposed to be beautiful! 😀
    Whats all this romantic nonsense! pah!

  • nahh atleast i haven’t fallen in love with anyone whilst traveling/vacationing..maybe i’m too lost enjoying the scenery & stuff rather than looking for someone to fall in love does happens with people but it has yet to strike me though i’m a frequent traveler.

  • I think when people refer to a place being romantic it is because of the vibe in the air… be it a night time cruise on the river siene or an hours gaze at the snow capped mountains in lucern, the setting is postcard so there is more of a chance of sparks flying.

    Personally i happen to find the most oddball of situations the most romantic and have had the misfortune of falling for someone during such an instance but if i were to pick a city which would make something happen in between two strangers it would be Florence. Off course they would both have to be art lovers and standing in line at the uffuzi gallery 🙂

  • Emirates flight from DxB to Bombay. She was an airhostess traveling as a passenger and on the seat bang next to mine! Conversation starter was if Shrek is a cute guy! Exchanged #’s, she called when she was in NYC. What follows cannot be put down in a comment box 😛

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  • No. I have never fallen in love while holidaying. But I am sure it happens. It can’t be that surreal now.

    And I do agree that the romance probably has more to do with the people and circumstances rather than the place itself.

  • that pic is from before sunrise/sunset i think…

    nyways, naah, i havnt, rather i think i ended up hatin smone i was travellin with…

    but i think they cud be fun and romantic too

  • Yar tazeen, it is not the place that make you fall for everything and everyone…..i would rather say, if someone is in love, at times surrounding make one rejoice the relationship & feel romantic….

    Romance is an inner feeling, one may feel romantic any time anywhere….

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  • I fell in love in Dubai. But wasnt there vicationing, was working my ass off us waqt – So I’m sure it doesnt count.
    We went out on a mid night ride one day, on a lake in teh middle of Dubai Media City, tried to evoke romance, but ended up in hysterics. 😀

  • ‘it’s not the place but the people and circumstances that are romantic.’

    You get an A grade for your opinion, i could fall in love in the backseat of my car! 😉

  • I think the reason a lot of us go oh-ah over these European cities is because in some sense they are centres of culture whereas cities in South Asia today are generally centres of employment.

    Really, the big cities of India are for the most part very uninspiring when it comes to romance and touristyness. This is because they arent really home for most of the population who are there to make a living and support their families back home. I guess its the same for Pakistan too.

    But its a different story when it comes to villages. If you observe Hindi movies, the representation of villages is often very romantic and many of us have very romantic notions of rural life. By contrast rural America is just a big bore and seems to be reviled by the urban folk here.

  • NO I haven’t,but I am hopeful.

  • not love, but a few crushes:)

  • I “think”, it’s the fiction mostly that lets you associate different things and moods with different cities and as most of the old romance fiction was based around chivalrous Knights und in such cities, it can very easily lead to this notion today.

    I was in Paris 3 months ago and I didn’t feel like falling in love or “romantic” (as in its prevailing definition). What I did fall in love with was the city’s culture, her history and the architecture.

    I can recommend a book on Paris. It’s by Alistair Horne about the 7 ages of Paris. As I was there and reading the book, I was able to relate all with history and it is so fascinating. That is what is romantic in its original sense. Paris has seen it all.

  • umm… im REALLY sure ive fallen in love while travelling, but i cant remember where… i KNOW it happened. but it’s just one of those things that fades with time.

    there was a belgian though. *sigh*
    he came to lahore and sought me out… over and over and over again… and then left the most adorable goodbye note on my car after saying goodbye to me on various occasions during the day.

    he thought id be grieving for him so the next day he sent an email saying “it’s harder for those who are left behind” while i was like “err? whaa…?!” i did find him incredibly cute though… but it was SO long ago…

    i get hit on by Dubai immigration dudes every time i leave the country; i kid you not. does that count?

  • I am not too sure how much fallin in love has to do with the place/city. Yes, if you have a loved one around in a beautiful locale, the two together makes you feel romantic. To be amidst nature, in a clean, serene place is beautiful and heavenly.

    I though Paris is the Fashion destination more than romance and Switzerland I guess is said to be romantic cause of natures exuberant beauty that is in abundance(even today) out there.

    If one wants to relate romance to a place, then why not the himalayas(heaven on earth)? That’s how I look at it. Most people laugh at the thought and say Himalyas are where Sadhus, Sanyasis, hikers, trekkers and the sorts go.

    It’s all in the mind(attiude, mentality and scenario sets the mood)!

  • Long time no post?

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  • Finally after cleaning my cache memory, I can read your new blogs:)

    Agreed with the many others before me, its the person not the place. Places become beautiful, exotic, romantic, stunning etc etc only if the company you have is beyond that. Paris, Venice, Swiss peaks, Mauritius beaches are not necessary for love to take place.

    It even blooms over a gol-gappa plate at seaview or happens on a crank call.

  • i was the biggest cynic and very, very shy when it came to things like love but … i fell in love (almost 5 years ago) and fyi it was very much like the movies if not better. i miss him so much but it’s too late for such emotions now, i’ve lost him forever. :*(

    tazeen, when your guy does emerge from somewhere and you genuinely feel for him, grab on to him. this incredible thing called love between a man and woman does exist, it’s still hard for even me to believe it, but it’s very real.

  • F**K!! DAMN IT! I thought this comment of mine had disappeared and died.

    Tazeen, can you please delete the comment above? I can’t believe I can divulge this sort of shit – and on a topic as random as this too.
    So sorry! 🙁
    I keep on embarrassing myself like this.

  • its not the place, it is the person that you fall in love with …

    love can blossom in the dump you know.

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