Sunday, December 04, 2011


£ - It has been a long time since I permitted myself to ramble instinctively. And truthfully. Without having to obfuscate the sentences so as to abstractify the content. I don't remember when I stopped writing for myself. Well, I still do, but I write for the superficial self, not the subconscious one. Actually, I barely write at all. Just dragging it along, with a post a month, just to convince myself that it is not dead, as yet. Barely holding onto the innate ability to spew out typed words without having to consider them rationally. That is a contradiction, right. If it is an innate ability, I don't have to try hold on to it. It is not going to disappear. But then, how can you be sure? What if it does? What if you sit down one day and realise you have been left bereft? What would you do then? Read books, any books, well written books, books in which words are sewn together in such fascinating ways as to arouse both joy and awe symbiotically? Read them all with the prayer that some such magic spawned by someone will unearth that buried aptitude to just let the words flow and semantics emerge without having to create them. 

£ - I always did believe, that real art is not created by the artist. It is not made through a lot of deliberation and holding a conference in the mind. It is actually, just uncovered by him, or her. The artist would not be able to say how and why it came about. It just did. He was fortunate enough to discover it and present it to us. Or she. The best artists are mere couriers.

£ - Isn't it exasperating that English, despite all these years of evolution and assimilation of languages from around the world, has still not managed to provide us with a gender-less third person singular pronoun? Seriously, how hard can it be. A small collection of some three-four letters, perhaps only one of which would be a vowel, would save us from the danger of appearing sexist by using just 'he' or pedantic by using 'he/she'. And of course, also protect us from appearing as if trying too hard to be different, by using just 'she'. I would suggest 'ghe'. Not too hard to pronounce, yet the sound is distinctive enough to avoid any confusion with 'he', 'she', or 'we'.

£ - Do you ever look back and wonder how far we have come? Do you turn around and ask yourself, how did I jump over that fence? When did I run cross that farm? How come I didn't realise I was swimming when I crossed that river? They say (yes, the proverbial 'they') that things look much harder when you stare are confronted by them as compared to when you actually overcome them later. But have they ever looked at the vice versa bit? Have they noticed that often something that has been done, is actually so impossible that it could not have been imagined, had it not actually been done? 

Stepping out of a spiral may apparently unleash an unnecessary profusion of ungarnished thoughts.

Friday, November 25, 2011


tick-tocking silently, a hand marking the seconds
lazily, his eye chases it round and round
the other eye shut, as a resting dog
in his brain, not a thought could risk being found

the register lay open, pages unbothering to flutter
half empty chai glass having an identity crisis
his unpolished shoes lording over the desk
still air competing to be stiller as the sultry sun is.

Then the sand whirled into dust, the gate rattled
wheels scarred the path with a noisy engine throb
his legs swung over to the ground as torso raised itself
he saluted at attention and trembled a “Salaam Saab!”

Thursday, November 10, 2011

galli galli mein kirrkett!

Cricket. India. As a child, when you have finally managed to learn how to walk and are running around the house to exercise your new found mobility, inevitably, a hollow plastic stick will be thrust into your hands and a plastic sphere will be thrown towards you. And you swing your arms. In your mind you are mimicking the very actions that you have seen some brown, white and black men do on the television, day in and day out. All this happens within the confines of your home. In my case, I think it was the terrace of our joint-family house at that time. Or perhaps it was the big partitioned room that served as the flat for my family.

Soon enough, I graduated to small locally made wooden bats and rubber balls. And to the sprawling post-office campus next door to our house. In Berhampur, our house was bang in the centre of the town - with the the police HQ on one side, the central post office on the other, and with the bus station opposite our house. There was also some sort of a stadium beyond the bus station, but we, the common public, were never allowed into it. Anyway, the post office with its vast unused paved areas was my own stadium. Played there with brother, the couple of cousins of my age, whenever they visited, and eventually with some school friends. Occasionally, though, an enterprising shot would go high and far enough to hit a glass window somewhere, leading to a clang, a shout from within the building, and a dash by us to vanish from the crime scene. Some other times, without even having caused any damage, some bloke (possibly just been humiliated by his boss [snigger] ) would come out of the offices and order us out of the premises.

We obviously needed alternate arrangements for these periods when the post office was out of bounds. And that's where divinity helped :P. Oh I didn't mention right; opposite our house on the other side, was a catholic church (yep, there were roads, pretty busy main roads on both sides of our house). It had a lush green lawn lying vacant on one side (not the cemetery side :P). This lawn would become our playground for some period, until usually the church is taken over by some sort of event (weddings perhaps?), with no regard for the sporting needs of the surrounding community. Then, we would sneak back into the post office, rightly continuing the cycle.

The other town that was enthralled by my galli cricket during this period was Tenali - whenever I went to visit my grandparents. Depending on where my cousins lived, we would either occupy their front yard or their rooftop. Always preferred the front yard; playing on the rooftop was more of a stair climbing exercise rather than any fun. Any mishit or a wild shot by someone overcome with emotion would have to be followed by first locating where the ball fell on the street, and then going down three levels of stairs to the road to retrieve it. Sometimes, the ball would conveniently rest in the open flowing drain. Retrieving it on such occasions involved some dexterity of using two long sticks as chopsticks to pick it up from the drain and then rolling it around on some nearby sand to dry it up. The ends we had to go for a few hours of cricketing enjoyment!

As I moved into the teens, I graduated to bigger cities - Chennai and then Hyderabad - and also to true 'galli  cricket'. Yes, at the first house in Hyderabad, I used to play on the street in front of our apartment. It was very limiting though. Only straight shots were allowed. Any slight angle on your shot, and you have likely lost yet another ball. Soon, however, we moved to a different apartment, and clearly a much better one, as it provided two options for playing areas-- the vast square behind the building, which never had any traffic or the basement of the building itself (which was actually for vehicle parking, but a side of it was left unused; this side also got filled up with dirty rain water every monsoon season). I loved playing in the basement the most. Mainly because it was only conducive to my favourite version of the game with all fielders closed in, and airy shots that directly hit the low roof being declared out. Hence, one ended up being 'technical' :P 

Anyway, most of the games of the teens were played in what can be called grounds. The most frequented one being the one pretty close to home. We (me, my classmate, his brothers and some of their neighbourhood kids) would have regular and quite serious matches against the kids of the adjacent 'basti' (slum). With hard taped tennis balls (rather than the rubber ones), sticks for stumps rather than stones, and all the field around the bat being in play (rather than just the area down the wicket), this was a close to proper cricket as I would have hoped then ;). 

Cricket wasn't a frequent activity while in IIIT (not for amateurs like me that is :P). Of course, there were the occasional games on the lawns of the hostel all of which invariably had to end with losing the ball in the surrounding hedges. Only towards the end of the years there, did some of us amateurs also start playing on the main sporting ground. I actually preferred the lawn over the ground though. The lawn with its fast paced game, unexpected events and close-in bantering was definitely more fun than the more sober ground version.

And then the lands where cricket first developed - South England! Ironically, though, there was no regular cricket for me here. Was put off by all the formal games happening all around-- everyone belonging to some or the other club team and dressing up in the whole gear paraphernalia as if going into battle :P But there have been exceptions, of course, involving a 'galli' style version of the game. The first one has been well documented here by a great reporter called mythalez :P A couple of games over the years at the same location followed. However, the whole career spanning over 2 decades came to fruition in September this year, when I had been finally persuaded to play a proper game; to make up numbers for the flailing village team of my ex-supervisor for their second last game of the season. Even managed to get a pair of white, crickety trousers for the occasion! But then, of course, the match had to be rained out. However, patience is the key to playing cricket they say ;). So for the final game of their season, I turned up again, and this time, we did get to play! Wearing those pads and gloves left me completely bewildered for a while though.  Sensibly, did not try putting on the helmet too! Not needed either as we were playing some local church team who didn't seem any better than me :D. And soon I got into the groove and started playing decently. And then, soon enough, got out :P. Thus, I made my debut in the formal game of cricket. Perhaps, that was also to be my last game ..... who knows!  (any comparisons with Dravid's T20 career are welcome ;) )

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Awake ... and this is October

»» Okay, this would be my first post on the new upgraded version of Blogger. This upgrade should have happened many years ago. While others like Wordpress and Tumblr reached the moon, Blogger was still building a boat to cross a river. At least, finally now it has managed to catch up with the others. Oh, and why did I persist with this dinosaur-like blogging platform for so long, you may ask. I can only attribute my dedication to Blogger to my laziness and the reluctance to change my blog URL. Anyhow, google has finally deigned that Blogger needs to be improved, and lo, behold, it has!

«« Why haven't I posted in September? Oh, in case you haven't noticed, over the past year, I have been striving to at least post once a month. And I have managed to maintain the trend. Until September of course. My excuse? I was to wake up when September ends :P. Okay okay, that is quite a cliche now :P. Truth be told, it didn't cross my mind until towards the end of September. And then, surprise of surprises, I was so caught up with work and other activities, that I barely had time to sit down and procrastinate. Of course, such rare busy'ness does bring out my inherently awesome writing abilities. But in this case, they were being put  to task for writing the research papers rather than inane blog posts (this shouldn't be construed as a claim that the research papers are extremely important :P ).  In the end, I decided to let September pass by without a blog-post rather than forcing out a pointless, mediocre post (clearly, the same reasoning doesn't seem to hold for October).

«« Working with the real world is way more painful than meddling around with things that only exist in simulations or in the abstract domain of mathematics. And this real world pain arises out of two things: hardware and humans (or replace 'humans' with 'unaware', to maintain consistency :P). Hardware works or doesn't work as per its fancy. When it works, you start frantically figuring out why it is finally working, and before you make any progress, it would stop working. Then you spend time figuring out why it worked initially. The cycle continues until you replace the hardware and begin a new cycle or, you replace the task and not need the hardware :P.  And as about humans, they are erratic, irrational and afraid of everything. They might exhibit these essential behaviours through an assortment of other annoying characteristics... 

Does the above sound like I might be a supporter of the creation of the Matrix?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

5 years and still procrastinating ;)

Okay, so I have officially completed 5 years of stay in the UK now! Well, to be honest, given the number of trips to India and elsewhere, and their duration (the longest being 73 days!), I guess my actual total amount of stay in the UK might be tending towards 4 years rather than 5 :P. Nevertheless, I have been resident here for 5 years and that does call for an introspective, philosophical, and enlightening blog post with a dash of self-deprecating humour and generous dollops of heart-warming, feel-good factor....

Just kidding :P.

So the question now is, given that I have survived here for 5 years, which is closing onto my record for the longest stay in any one locality since I was a teenager (yes, I specialise in breaking obscure trivial self-set records like this), it might be a good time to move on.

Where to, you ask? As a famous professor at IIIT-H used to say whenever posed with a half-decent question - "I don't know, you tell me." Yeah, I am in the folly of looking for change just for the sake of change. Perhaps, just to make life a bit inconvenient; getting too comfortable here :P.

At this point, I can either talk about my possible options for moving out, or go all nostalgic over the past 5 years or I could just ramble about the city of Southampton. And as we have already established that I have no clue where I should or can move to, and nostalgia has decided to abstain, I guess we are reduced to talking about the wonders of the city of Southampton.

Only that, it has no wonders :P. Nevertheless, one cannot find fault with it for its convenience. And now, given that I am a veteran, its familiarity. Of course this familiarity is restricted to just one long stretch of the city, ranging from the airport, to the university to the docks. The east and west parts are almost as mysterious now as they had been all those years ago.

Anyway, I have been in UK for these many years, right. So there are other places that are also a bit familiar now. For example, there is London, some parts of which have been visited very often - the nested example being Heathrow say :P - another would be Winchester where I 'officially' 'work' (note the multiple quotes :P). Some others in UK would be Oxford and Edinburgh, yeah the really nice cities.

Outside UK - any place that's been visited more than once, apart from India obviously (and unfortunately, airports don't count)? Germany, France and Switzerland. But in terms of cities, I guess only Geneva has that honour :P. Yeah, I can extract more such obscure, pointless data about myself which would be of interest to no one except my biographer. But then, that might be the sole purpose of mythalez's blog!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

after dusk

under the dark moonless sky
with the cold wind grazing on
he shivered with the leaves
and the hours kept passing by

a rodent nibbled his toes brazenly
his leg twitched but stayed put
at least someone may have his fill
so some life may survive this debris

his back resting on overgrown roots
the benevolent tree barren, oblivious
his remaining eye sought any light;
time to give up on all life pursuits?

the darkness was now the only friend
his eye shut itself to seek the clarity
with the truth realised, calm engulfed
he had had his way, now the end beckoned.

I was browsing through the list of drafts and came across the first stanza, written and stored sometime in 2007! Felt compelled to take it to some conclusion and show it daylight (ironically :P)

Monday, August 01, 2011

The places where I was a 'Westerner'

The trip happened more than 2 months ago. I should have written about it at least 2 months ago. But given that my blogging ability over the last few months has been extraordinarily absent, I didn't even bother until now. What more, the whole blog birthday ritual that I go through every year (for example) also escaped my notice. Sorry blog that I missed your birthday :(. Obviously, 7 is not a lucky number aka year for you :P. Anyway, to make up for it, I shall temporarily repeal my law of "no images on the blog" and post a 'picturesque' travelogue this time! Here we go--

Hong Kong. My first doubt was whether it is spelt with the space or without. Also, everyone knows that Hong Kong has skyscrapers. But did we know that it *only* has skyscrapers? I mean, there are no normal buildings anywhere. Really! Perhaps, they refuse planning permissions to any building having less than 25 stories.
The great skyline along the water makes for a great light and sound show if you stand on the other side, that is the peninsula rather than the island. But I wasn't mightily impressed by the show. Perhaps because we could barely see much due to the perennial fog.
Well apart from that, they also have a giant Buddha. Hmm .. perhaps they have a minimum height restriction on any construction. Gondolas take you to the hill top with the Buddha and a monastery that makes a good and unusual vegetarian lunch. However, if you queue up on a sunday, you will be in the queue for 2 hours. These queues will actually be trafficked by policemen as if the humans were vehicles on roads (am serious!). Anyway, we just took the bus to reach the place and returned via the gondolas. Of course that also gave us great and complete views of the Hong Kong airport from which we had a flight to Taipei in an hour or so.
And that obviously brings us to Taipei. Our hotel and the conference centre were both next to the famous 101 (Yeah, the fog followed us all the way to Taiwan).
If Hong Kong had a few temples, Taipei had one every street. Okay, that's an exaggeration, one every three streets perhaps :P. They also had a similar density of night street markets. Often at the same place. The street markets are extremely lively and full of stalls where you can get 'interesting' food ;). Even in general, seeing the number of eateries abound, their affordability and their 'busy'ness quotient, I was sure that Taipei residents do not dine at home at all!
The traffic system in Taipei is also interesting in that, at many traffic junctions, vehicles are only allowed to go straight at the lights. So scooters and bikes wanting to turn left/right cross over to the adjacent road much like pedestrians. However, the best part of the traffic junctions are the pedestrian lights. The green man accelerates his pace as the deadline approaches until he is practically running and then suddenly turns red. We were speculating whether that metaphorically denoted a blood splattered 'run over' man ;). Well, you can also cross roads in the underground subways, where you will be 'watched'.
Disclaimer: the above photo, featuring me and some cctvs was obviously not taken by me :P, do thank ss2. After the conference, we moved on to Taroko Gorge where we spent a few days with the local indigenous people in their resort - nice cottages where we could wake up to the most scenic mornings possible.
Went on a few hikes, didn't fall down the cliffs and pulled ourselves up by chains and had loads of fun.
We also wanted to do the famous 10 hour hike but that was not allowed by the authorities as they deemed it too dangerous due to the approaching typhoon. Yes, you read it right, I did mean typhoon. All we could console ourselves with was to go to the end point of the hike and take pictures. And then jump over the barriers and take pictures from the bridge which was out of bounds :D
We followed that up by visiting places like Tainan (the ancient capital but which didn't have much of note apart from a few Dutch relics) and Jiufen (a village on a scenic route and with touristy markets). Visiting Taiwan was surprisingly good fun. I hadn't expected to see that much of scenic beauty in such a tiny island. Also unlike Japan, it was easy to communicate with the people there; many people especially youngsters spoke English, though with an american accent ;) and even those who couldn't speak English were extremely friendly nevertheless. Hong Kong, on the other hand, just seemed to be made for the rich and every one else was trying to sell you stuff, ostensibly to become rich themselves :P.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Do you ever feel such that you have this great urge to write - write something, anything - but are unable to? No words form in the mind, let alone a topic coming to the fore. The mind is not even calm enough for a few seconds so that you could gather a semblance of concentration for any productive activity. Yeah, I know, I am just elucidating the meaning of being 'restless'. But this is more specific; the context here pertains to writing. Maybe not just writing, but saying, communicating. I can see that I am not doing such a good job of communication right now. Too many commas floating around. Too many jumps in the content. Too much repetition of 'too'. Too many flaws. And too many sentences in this one paragraph.

Why have I written this post and why are you wasting your time reading this, you might wonder. In fact, am sure you will wonder now. Well, the simple answer is that I just had to write something, put something out there. I have been meaning to write the travelogue-ish post about the trip to the Far East, but I just haven't managed to get the mood yet. That is mainly because I haven't had much free time in the last few weeks. Yes, I know, that might sound unusual for me, but it does happen sometimes. Note that I am not complaining that I was busy with 'work'; that would be a lie. I had quite some work, but I am never that busy with work anyway. I think I feel proud of the fact that I can claim to be never overwhelmed with work, a contrast to most people, who moan about being busy with work all the time. I just think it is the most easily accessible excuse they have for not doing whatever they ought to be doing if they were not supposedly busy like that. Moaning about being busy also frees them from the guilt of not doing those other things. Ascribing the blame onto some inanimate and abstract entity like work, frees oneself from any accusation of being scared or lazy, thus allowing one to continue wallowing in the inertia of routine.

Meanwhile, I think perhaps I should stop rambling here and go to bed. After all, I have a 'busy' day tomorrow! :P

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Cars push through, drains overflow.
Some shutters down, some rise,
scenes fly past the busy eyes.
But do you see, he who goes slow?

Trudging along on his battered shoes.
Listless hands and a muddied face,
an antithesis to the surrounding race.
Carrying a pallid soul and many a bruise.

Alone he walks but isn't an only one.
Every turn, bodies stumble, souls die;
you may see them lying on the wayside.
But no time to spare; busy you are ... in your run.

On an unrelated note, the next post has to be on the trip to Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

a meta posta

It's been a while since I rambled here so I thought I might as well pay a visit (yeah I know, it is a free service) and contribute a few more bytes to the overflowing interwebs. So here I am. The question now is what do we talk about. Rather, what do I 'blah' about.

£ Shall I put forth a comical satire about the 40 minutes of nerve-wracking driving I had to do to pass my driving licence test? I am pretty sure that getting a driving licence in the UK is the hardest compared to any other country. In addition to the theory test, the video game test (yeah it is a video game - you have to stare at videos and click upon seeing hazards, and the points you get depend on how quickly you clicked - literally, a video game!), the actual driving test has to be fault-free. Only some 'minor faults' are allowed - that is, a slight jerky start and so on. Any actual mistake and you are deemed fail :P. Anyway, yeah now I have a UK 'full car driving licence'. I wonder when I will get an Indian one. The challenge there is not passing the test, that is easier than I can imagine, but actually staying there for the duration of 1 month that is compulsorily needed between obtaining the necessary learner's licence and giving the driving test.

$ Or perhaps I should talk about my forthcoming trip to Hongkong and Taiwan? Oh yeah, this shall be my second visit to the Far East after my first ever international trip (infact, first ever flight journey), which was to Japan. This trip (or junket as some like to call it) consists of 2.5 days in Hongkong (which is actually a transit stop on the way to Taipei) and then 13 days in Taiwan. So all together this would be my longest ever 'phoren' trip. Only to/in India have I had trips longer than 12 days. For people wondering what I will be doing for so long in Taiwan, the first week will be spent in Taipei, where the daytimes will be spent at the conference center (which is conveniently situated next to Taipei 101). Many trips and activities are expected of the second week. The most exciting of which can be this (even if you have been annoyed by the previous links, do check this one :P)

€ Or perhaps I should talk about something else. Err .. wait .. what? You want more? Don't be greedy now, blog. Go post yourself! :P

Friday, April 08, 2011

Walk not the usual way

Have you ever tried walking with your eyes closed? Perhaps on an wide empty path, where there is no real danger of bumping into anyone or anything?
£ The first 5-6 steps are pretty easy – the mind remembers what lay ahead and believes that it is on track.
$ The next 10 steps or so are the hardest – the mind is no longer sure of your progress. It feels that you are about to hit something any moment. It is worried that you have strayed off the path and are treading where you are not supposed to.
€ The steps after that are easier again – the mind gives up on bothering about where you might be headed and just relaxes to enjoy the experience.
Do we sleep walk through life?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Imposing an emotion to coerce a verse

Adopting nonchalance of a veteran,
disguising eagerness, expectations,
and the nervousness of possibilities

Allusions a plenty, kindled by the support squad
Details suppressed, mystery enhanced for all
Excited restless self, imagining the prospects
The exterior restraint, but a mere facade

Unprecedented, an accomplishment extraordinaire?

To fulfil the dream- your naive mind's flirtation
Had striven the self, selfishly, seeking not pleasure
but your profusion of joy, unbridled twinkle of your eye,
and the sweet dollops of your eternal appreciation

The success, you do acknowledge and share
Yet, arrogantly, in vain, I await your gratitude
'No true benevolence there!' rightly says your attitude :P

[tch tch .. I really seem to have the lost the little ability I had for this form :-s]

Sunday, March 06, 2011

At the extremes ...

I am tired and thirsty. While striding towards my boarding gate at the new, swanky terminal, I pass by a small kiosk selling snacks and drinks. Having walked past, I stop, re-evaluate my thirst and decide to get a drink. So I turn around and approach the kiosk. There is no one there. A few knocks on the counter produces a shop-keeper. I name my choice of drink but he seems confused. As the cooler opens outward anyway, I calmly pick out a juice bottle and place it on the counter. "35 Rupees", he says. I open my wallet and realise that I have only one '10' and one '20', and some '500' notes. I look up to hand over a 500 note and this time there is another one at the counter- a girl, she looks at the note, tries to smile and says, "a smaller note would be there with you?" "No, I only have 30 or this", and try to hand over the note. She persists, "but I will also not have 5 in change." I wave my hand in response and shrug, "fine, take 40." She reluctantly takes the 500 note.

At this, the guy is about to open a jar of some chocolates in order to offer one to me, in return for the extra 5. But she taps his hand and says to him "nahin, isko mat dena" (no, don't give it to him) and hands over the change of 460 to me. Taken slightly aback, I walk away with my drink, satiate my thirst and wonder- did I actually manage to appear like a rich conceited brat to a shop-keeper? Wow, now that's a new achievement :D


I had already been snubbed by 5 auto-wallas. None of them seem even remotely interested to go where I needed to be taken. Quite surprising as I want to go to a busy area, not some remote corner of the city. On top of that, the early afternoon sun was trying its best to burn us all up. I hail down another auto-rickshaw and shout across the street, "City-centre mall, Banjara Hills." I cross over to his side quickly enough to hear is response, "60." It was a bit too high. "Arre, 40 ee ekkuva" (40 is more than enough), I argue. He shakes his head, "akkadanundi malli khaali ravalsuntadi, andukane 10 kalipanu" (I will have to return empty from there, hence I merely added 10). I couldn't agree with his logic at all, "Mall adi! akkada kuda dorakaru ante inkekada dorukutaru? sare 50" (That is a mall, if you can't get customers even there, where else will you get? let's say 50). Perhaps, my bargaining skills have taken a beating and he refuses to negotiate. So I end up agreeing to 60 and jump in.

Through the middle of the journey, he has to break very hard, and just about manages to avoid hitting a guy who suddenly jumped out of a running bus, right in the middle of the road. On resumption of the travel, the driver starts complaining on how it wasn't his fault at all. I completely agree with him though also alert him that one always has to be extra careful when over-taking city buses on the left, as people tend to jump out suddenly like that. Soon our conversation moves over to other things. Eventually, at the destination, I hand him exactly 60. He looks at the bunch of notes and asks, "enta?" (how much?). "60", I reply, trying to guess his thoughts and bracing myself for an argument in case he demands more. He smiles and says, "50 chalu" (50 is enough) and returns 10 back to me. How often has an Hyderabadi auto-wallah taken the initiative to reduce a fare already agreed on?

Friday, February 11, 2011


J'ai vingt sept ans

Yes, yes this is the ritual post for 9th Feb every year. Yeah yeah I know, today is the 10th and I am late by a day. But that's not my fault. Blame it on the old age :P.

Anyway, this appearance today is just to remind you all, but mainly my poor blog that it hasn't been forgotten. Just that it did not figure in my things to do in the previous few weeks. But from now, it shall be different. Or so I hope :) There shall be more posts-- more stories, more ramblings and maybe even more genres!

Okay let me start now .....

Hmm .. aah well .. maybe some other day .. not in the mood today :P

Monday, January 03, 2011

Amsterdam - Copenhagen - Hannover !!

Yes, three cities-- visited Amsterdam in August, Copenhagen in October and Hanover in November. Also went to India in September, and a couple of other trips too in these months but those have nothing much to write about :P. So let me talk about each of these three cities in turn. Yeah, my travelogueing skills are depleting by the day and hence I need to have travelled to at least three different places to be able to produce one substantial post :P.

AMSTERDAM: Hmm, let me see, what do I remember about this city? It was the city with the most canals/streams that I have ever been to. And if you are asking- no, I haven't been to Venice yet. Boating around on those canals seemed to be the favourite activity of tourists. With most roads neighbouring the canals, and innumerable bridges criss-crossing them, it is quite pretty in the central city area. And that is also where you will find the famous 'coffee shops'. Some of them, especially those on the main roads, are obviously set up for tourists. However, those in the back alleys seem to be the proper ones, having a genuine feel to them, and the stuff you get there is pretty strong too ;). Also if you are strolling around in the city-centre, you will at some point, find yourself in the centre of the other notorious attraction, the red-light district, having no clue how you got there. And it is literally, a 'red light' area.

As Amsterdam is reputed for its art museums, we had to visit some. Van Gogh museum had unnecessarily long queues, so we didn't go in. The other museum next to it, the main one- Rijksmuseum, is mostly under renovation. But we did manage to see some really nice and grand paintings in the little area open to visitors. The public transport system, mainly based on trams is decent. Finally, have I mentioned the bicycles? Biking is the first nature of the Dutch, walking might be second :P. There are bikes everywhere, and at the parking areas, there are such huge piles of bikes, chained and locked, that I really wonder how one would manage to find his/her bike among the hundreds and hundreds of bikes mashed together.

COPENHAGEN: If bicycles form the image of Amsterdam, cycle-paths are the lasting memory of this city. They are unique because they are not just the usual coloured strip at the edge of the road that no one cares much about. Rather, the cycle-paths in Copenhagen are raised platforms on the side of the road, much like footpaths/pavements. So yeah, the roads appear really wide. They contain the traffic lanes, then a raised platform for the bikes, and then a proper pavement for the pedestrians. And if that is not enough, at the bus-stops there is an additional raised platform to wait and board the buses! Of course in some places, exiting the bus might leave you standing on the bike path and before you realise it, there will be cyclists whistling past you, silently cursing at these tourists who can't step away quick enough :P

Actually, it is a wonder why people even bother to use bicycles here. The transport system is pretty convenient and cheap, though a bit confusing. They have the metro, a non-metro train system, and buses and more. A ticket is valid on any many of these within its validity period. Okay enough about the transport. The city is really neat and well-maintained. Architecture is a mix of both old and new. There don't seem to be any cheap places to hang out though, only posh restaurants. Did I mention how expensive the city is? Well, it's Denmark after all.

HANOVER: What's special about Hannover you might ask. Well, I don't know apart from the fact that it has cheap and convenient flights from Southampton. Actually, it didn't end up being that convenient for me anyway, as the flight was delayed by 3 hours, and when it finally reached Hanover, I was held up at the immigration for an additional hour as the immigration officer found me, my visa, and my reasons for coming to the city suspicious! So the highlight of my trip might have very well been in the first hour of landing in the city, as I was escorted out of the arrivals by two machine-gun totting, tall, hefty, bullet-proofed security personnel ;).

The central market area of the city, containing the railway station, the cathedral and big shopping malls is nice to walk around. Oh, and it has an area, marked by a statue which acts as the commonly recognised meeting point in the city-centre. You can find quite a few people standing there waiting. The 'Rathaus' contains four miniature depictions of Hanover- one showing Hanover as it was in 1689, one showing the 1939 version, one the 1945 version, and finally the current one. The 1945, post World War II depiction, is stark and disquieting; all of the city is just debris with only a couple of buildings left standing here and there. When we were there, there was one marriage party exiting the building, and another preparing to enter. A procession of weddings ;).

Well, that's all about these three cities. Who knows where I will go next. And when!

PS- did you expect some mention of the advent of the new year, the new decade, the new era blah and blah? Well.....