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The Unusuals


Exploring the unexplored

On Dracula’s Footsteps III

Monday, 20 June We left for Sibiu. Fivos chose a country road that passed through Agnita. It was an unimaginable splendor, valleys and fields, lush forests, magnificent trees, distant horizons, and old villages, untouched since the 19th century. Keeps and donjons of fortified evangelical churches, with their imposing ramparts, defended by secular oaks. Birds sang…

On Dracula’s Footsteps II

The countryside we drove through was less sumptuous. Fields with gentle valleys as far as the eye can see, with few scattered villages and even fewer inhabitants in the opulent landscape. We arrived at Sighisoara, a lovely little 19th century city built around a plateau upon which rises the old city fortress. The Park Royal…

Lady Freemason

At the end of the 18th century, the daughter of Lord Doneraile was only an adolescent, but she was intelligent, independent, cultivated and full of character. She loved nothing more than passing the time in the library, huddled beside a window with the curtains closed, lost in a good book, usually History, sometimes poetry. It…

On Dracula’s Footsteps

Sunday, June 19 I left for Romania with Tigran and Darius. My friend Fivos accompanied us. A Greek, he speaks Romanian. I had never been to this country before, and I decided to discover it with my eldest grandsons. We flew Aegean Airlines; the flight was comfortable. The airport in Bucharest is clean enough, very…

The Gaffe of the Old Princess

In the blue room of the Royal Palace in Brussels, reserved for members of the four princely families of Belgium: Croy, Merode, Ligne, and Arenberg, all the talk was about the Spanish flu. Early in the 20th century, the epidemic was ravaging Europe and horrifying the people, nobody knew how to deal with it. The…

The Baroness and the Child

The Baroness Buxhoeveden once shared with me from her passionate memory an extravagant anecdote. She was a child, and still living with her grandfather in the country near the Volga. “I often rode the pony that my grandfather gave to me. He was incredibly fast. One autumn day, when I was only six years old,…

The Munity

The obedient and submissive posture adopted by the Oudh kings proved insufficient in the eyes of the English. After dethroning the last of them, Wajid Ali Shah, they annexed his kingdom, and unwittingly set off a chain reaction of events.   It all began with a rumor that spread amongst the Indian soldiers, the Sepoys,…

The Begum

On one of my trips to India, I met a rather exceptional maharani. Her husband owned the most beautiful library in India, filled with ancient manuscripts dedicated to the study of medicine and botany. The maharani herself was short and round. She wore the garlands of an actual Christmas tree as a necklace, and on…

Mithra

When the Orient arrived at the gates of Rome, it brought with it a rather discrete deity. This god was born to a virgin on the 25th of December. He was frequently represented as an infant, seated upon the knee of his mother before a group of kneeling wise kings who offered gifts. He was…

The Sultana

It was during the 13th century, in a world of men, that one woman would distinguish herself. Shajar al-Durr, once a Turkish slave, was the wife of the Sultan of Egypt, Al Salih Ayyub. Shajar possessed a tremendous character and refused to be locked in the harem, so she followed husband, even to war. Before…