Day 15, Granada : A city of many worlds | travel | Hindustan Times
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Day 15, Granada : A city of many worlds

The Albaicin is a hootch-porch pile of whitewashed, red-roofed houses connected by pebble-stoned steps and inclines.

travel Updated: Feb 04, 2011 16:26 IST

"So, is this is the road that comes from the direction of the airport, and this is the island of Haji Ali, then about 30 minutes down this road is where my friends live," he says. 
"How long was I on that train? Am I back in Bombay?"
He laughs. "Well, in Spain you must pronounce it as Boombai."
I am in the lobby of Granada Homestay talking to Victor Orvies who owns and runs this B&B (and moonlights as a Boombai cartographer?!)
"I love Indian films," he tells me as he leads me to my room. "My favourite is Sawariya. Yes, I know nobody in India likes it, but I love it!" Methinks Sanjay Leela Bhansali needs to take note.

A little later armed with a map, again designed by Victor but this time of the right city, I set off to explore Granada. The Granada landscape is dominated by two hillocks. One is crowned by the Alhambra and the other houses the old Islamic quarter i.e. the Albaicin which is where I am headed today. I take the bus all the way up, to San Nicholas Square whose main raison d'être is to provide a view of the Alhambra. And how well it does that! About two dozen people stand on the square everybody's faces turned towards the old royal city stretched out over the hill. There is a barely sound except for the clicks of the camera shutters as each one trie sot capture the magic that the eye beholds. It is a good half hour before I tear myself away and start meandering down.

The Albaicin is a hootch-porch pile of whitewashed, red-roofed houses connected by pebble-stoned steps and inclines. Ever so once in a while an ancient surviving structure peeks out from in-between the slightly more reformed houses. At the bottom of the Albaicin just before it integrates into the Granada of today, is the Moroccan market. Shop-lets selling Moroccan tea, tea sets, scarves, jewellery and other goodies line the streets fighting for space with the teterias i.e. Moroccan tea houses. I step into one for tea and couscous. Wooden tables and chairs piled with embroidered cushions crowd the small room lit by vibrant stain-glass lamps. Shiny silver hookahs are placed on each table and the walls are mounted with other Moroccan symbols. It is a world within a world.

Later that night I am battling the cold for a visit to the gypsy world of Sacramento for a flamenco performance. Traditionally, in Granada the flamenco was performed by gypsies in their caves. Some of these caves have been converted into intimate venues which host these performances. I don't know enough about flamenco to understand the performance but it still manages to enthral. There are three dancers, one singer and three musicians on the stage. As one dancer starts to perform, the others tap their feet and clap in tandem, occasionally bursting into an encouraging 'Ole'. The performers seem oblivious of the audience before them and I feel like I am prying into their private jam session.

Before we head back to the city, a guide from the flamenco restaurant takes us to the San Nicholas Square for a night view of the Alhambra. The vista is even more spectacular by the night. Lights placed at its foot have given it a shimmering hue and the palette of the night sky makes it appear even more mystical. Having paid homage twice today, I can't wait to make my pilgrimage tomorrow.