This certainly has been the summer of chance encounters of the best kind for me. It all began with that day in March when I heard from Vienna that I had been accepted into their summer school. Earlier that day I had sent out some random catch-up/touching base emails to various itinerant friends (I do this periodically), among them Hannes Majer, who I imagined was still at Yale. Imagine my utter surprise, when a few hours after the Vienna email I got this response saying that he had been in Vienna for the past 6 months. His message ended his with the postscript: “You really should consider visiting Vienna.” Ha! little did he know. That my visit to in his neck of the woods was already a fait accompli. Not for a short vacation but an entire summer! Don’t get me wrong — I am not his roomie (psycho or otherwise) but it has been great having a ‘local’ and a linguistic native at that show me around or tell me where to take other visitors. Among other things the best eiskafe in town. Hannes and I revisited Yale in a manner of speaking when we went to see the latest Indiana Jones flick, which was predicable, dreadfully scripted (George Lucas is a stictly ideas man and should not be allowed within 10 feet of a movie-script) but enormous fun for all that.

So much for that first encounter. The next one was a little less live. Apparently my old (really old) and very dead neighbor, the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, is visiting Vienna too this summer. Or at least some parts of him and his belongings are. The fact is advertised all over town in posters with the omni-present death mask. The real article, by the way loses none of its power to awe despite the over-exposure and circulation in the rest of the word. Another related familiar face was that of Anubis — the god of mummification — standing several feet tall outside the Hofburg, in the Austrian fußball jersey no less!!! (One of those lost photo opportunities I’m afraid).

The third and fourth encounters were perhaps the less “chancy” of those familiar faces in random places , for Charu/Ravi and Vidur had planned their visit ages ago and we knew that we were meeting (in both Salzburg and Vienna). Ravi Khanna always does things in style, and with them I got a night at a world Heritage hotel in Salzburg, and a glimpse into the former home of Austrian royalty (The Palais Coburn which is now a fancy hotel) in Vienna. Louise, Michel and I had planned their stopover some weeks ago. Details of their visit are on a previous post, so I’ll pass over details except to reiterate how great it was to explore Wien with them.

Saving the best (so far) for the last — completely and utterly unexpected was the chance to meet up and hang out with my cousin and wife, Ravi and Hema, the only other identically spelt Sankarans whom I know besides my immediate family. This meeting was thanks to Guns (a favorite younger brother-cuz) who suddenly remembered mid-chat that these two were planning to pass by Vienna. The miracles of modern technology being as they are (both Guns and Ravi are crackberries), lo and behold, I found out that they were already in town. I spent a great couple of days with them exploring the outskirts of Vienna, riding a bike from Melk to Krems, and sitting around in different places sipping on various libations. A real fun pair who I hope will visit Cairo with their sons while I’m still there.

This is the saga so far. Next week Amma will arrive in town, but I still have a month and who knows whom else I’ll meet here? Anyone out there I know who cares to surprise me? Wilkommen sie hier.

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