Europe’s “Flashing Eyes” on Film

My Mementos From 8 European Cities on 35mm

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Artists love Hugh Laurie for his craft and his profound take on life. The English actor-comedian once tweeted about his travels,

It bothers me how quickly I can fall in love with a city. I swear my vows, and then another city comes along and flashes its eyes.

I felt it and saved that tweet.

I’ve had the privilege of living in metropolitan Mumbai, Bangalore, Paris and London. At this time in my 20s, I love big cities. That’s where things happen. Be it a recent revolution or an upcoming concert by your favourite artist, big cities are where things have happened and will continue to happen.

In the last couple of years, I explored many European cities, travelling from Paris, which served me as a home base. For many of these travels, I carried an analog camera with me. I used it to capture the cities’ “eye flashes.”

Paris.

I spent a year in Paris. Though it was tough getting used to the ex-pat life in France, I fell in love with the city within months. Below, my memento: Notre-Dame shining in all its glory on a fine sunny afternoon.

London.

London and New York are two truly global cities in every sense. London is a diverse metropolitan which remains one of the world’s most remarkable cities. Here is me on top of the Greenwich Royal Observatory, where the prime meridian line lies, which decides what time it is anywhere in the world.

Berlin.

If you are a fan of history, then Berlin’s World War II and Cold War landmarks will keep you amused. They certainly did that to me. I am standing next to a guard at Checkpoint Charlie, a crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War.

Bratislava.

The capital of Slovakia is one of the cities where I enjoyed myself the most. The locals and the visitors have no problem mixing, interacting, and having fun together.

Budapest.

I would leave everything behind to move to the beautiful Hungarian capital of Budapest.

A guard at duty outside Sandor Palace, which serves as the official residence and workspace for the President of Hungary.

A look at Hungarian Parliament Building from Széchenyi Chain Bridge on river Danube before sundown.

Hamburg.

Kayaking in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, as it is officially known.

Rome.

Rome feels as if you are walking through a museum or visiting a giant movie set. It is spectacular at every step!

Vatican City

The world’s smallest country is quite spectacular in its history and art exhibitions.

Here is a view from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica.

All photographs in this essay were shot between February 2019 and December 2019 on either disposables or my Nikon FM10. They were processed at photo labs in Pune, Paris, and London.

Perhaps, once the COVID-19 crisis is over, I can go back and roam the streets of those cities again. But for now, these photos, my mementos, will have to do.