Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.
– Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
One of the timeless classics that belongs to my list of Books that I Have Been Planning To Read For Ages is Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. To explain why I have not read it, I will have to go a little back. All the way back to my college days in fact. For as long as I can remember, I have read about Calvino’s If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller. You can say it has been haunting me for a while now. It still sits on my book shelf, not forgotten but pushed to the back of my reading list. The entire novel known for its narrative felicity in second person leaves me a bit cold. I always believe that books choose me. I think this book hasn’t chosen me yet.
And now, I can feel the pull of Invisible Cities. (It helps that I am submerged in another Calvino book Hermit in Paris: Autobiographical Writings.) Of late, I seem to find it everywhere either as a quote or a memoir or an article. It’s as if the book is calling out to me subtly. But I am a bit shy now. I think I will wait to be chosen by it overtly. The reason I started talking about it is that with a camera in hand, I can truly understand what Calvino was trying to say when he wrote Invisible Cities. It’s as if there are layers to a city that peels away as the photographs develop. What is a city but a reflection of my own state of mind? When I saw these photographs, I was astounded by how much it revealed not just about the city but about myself. I am the traveller that is discovering the city and myself simultaneously. The following photographs are of the cities both near and far.
On this thoughtful and pensive note, have a fantastic new year 2012!