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“India is the mother of all things”, I like to say. And it was with great joy that Marina and I spent a month there in the blessed company of our children, grandchildren and dear friends.

As usual, India did not disappoint us.

India ®Mickael of Greece

On the contrary, it was immensely satisfying. There is such a vast array of wonderful landscapes and countryside, temples and palaces.

And then the fascinating, endless hubbub of towns and cities where there seems to reign a unique form of chaos, but which is ordered by a set of rules that westerners cannot comprehend.

India ®Mickael of Greece

Everywhere one finds the sweetest and most gentle smile of the Indians themselves, and their legendary kindness.

Ultimately, one is in a country and continent where people do not complain and whine from dawn till dusk, even if their lot is far from ideal.

India is the land of escape, discovery and enchantment.

It has provided me with many a story, some of which I would like to tell here.

India ®Mickael of Greece

Adventure

TURTLES FROM THE GANGES

In order to reach Paradise, a deceased Indian must be burned on a log on the Ghats, and his/her ashes be thrown into the Ganges. The cadaver can also be thrown into the sacred river. Many decades ago, the Indian government had trouble with this practice. It greatly harmed the tourism industry. In fact, foreign…

Royalty

THE QUEEN WHO HAD 92 TEMPLES

In the 17th century, powerful kingdoms appeared in the north-western part of India, arising from the decadence of the Great Moghul Empire. Resourceful men had carved out these states which they governed with great efficiency. And so it was that the Kingdom of Indore came into being. A century later, the ruling Maharajah decided to marry…

Adventure

Alwar

In the early 19th century, the Maharaja of Alwar, a princely state south of Delhi, was a tall and remarkably handsome man. He was also a rather scandalous character surrounded by a number of strange rumours. The British had little to do with him until he committed what they saw as an unforgivable crime. The…

Royalty

AUNT ENA’S EMERALDS

During the days of the Second Empire, Queen Victoria visited France and became friends with Napoleon III, and particularly with his wife, the Empress Eugenie. Although they came from very different backgrounds, cultures and traditions, the two sovereigns formed a close friendship. After the fall of the Second Empire, and the disastrous Franco-Prussian war of…

Royalty

THE LAST RITES OF QUEEN CATHERINE

Like every good Italian, Queen Catherine de’ Medici was superstitious. She frequently sought to have her fortune told by her personal seer, Nostradamus, and her astrologist, Ruggieri. “When will I die?” “I do not know when you will die, but what I do know is that you will die near Saint Germain.”  It was a…

Royalty

LOUIS-PHILIPPE’S ACCOUNTANT

Among the employees at the Palais-Royal in Paris, working for the Duke of Orléans, the future King Louis-Philippe, was a young, petty accountant, supposedly in charge of adding up various monthly expenses. In fact, he spent his time writing poetry in secret, which he hoped to one day transform into a stage play. One day,…

Royalty

THE GRIEVING DUCHESS’S TOMB

Ferdinand of Orleans, the eldest son and heir of Louis-Philippe, died in his prime in an accident. When the horses of his carriage ran out of control, he threw himself to the ground to avoid disaster, but his head struck a stone and he died from a fractured skull.            …

Adventure

The Sergeant cursed and Nostradamus’s tomb

A few years ago, the mayor of Salon-en-Provence in southern France decided to move an ancient cemetary in order to enable a motorway to be built. A specialist company was entrusted with moving the graves, one by one, to the new location. Finally, just one was left. It belonged to the famous physician and seer,…

Mysteries

The Marchioness of Serristori didn’t want to leave her Palace

Benedetta is a grand lady and a dear friend of mine who lives in Florence. Her grandmother, the Marchioness of Serristori, was one of the most important figures in Florentine society. The Marchioness owned a splendid palace which was filled with works of art. She loved her home and devoted all her time and energy…

Mysteries

The Fontanelle cemetery and the skulls that grant wishes

Ciro Palladino is a taxi-driver in Naples. He also happens to be an extraordinarily erudite man. He is familiar with every historic monument in the city, every legend, every story, and every noble family. He is the most unusual guide I have ever met, and it was he who introduced me to the skulls of…

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