Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Prague .. and this isn't a travelogue!

subtitle: Praha - the place where you go 'wah wah'

I went there some months ago, but ADD has prevented me from archiving it anywhere except for some pictures uploaded to Facebook. Really, with these smart phones with cameras, that is not much of a task. On the other hand, the fact that I actually did take some photos is quite laudable :P. Anyway, coming to Prague, here are some bullet points -

^ Everyone (irrespective of whether they actually have been there or not :P) claims that Prague is breathtakingly beautiful. Well, I can assure you that those claims are well founded. Those who have been there as tourists also claim that the centre is just a huge mela of tourists. That I can assure you, is also well founded. Having visited in the off-season, I actually shudder to think how it is during the holiday season. The only people you find in the centre of Prague are either tourists, guides, or people selling something to the tourists. And the streets are lined with (apart from 'places of interest') only restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and other places for tourists.

_ The visual highlights like the castle with its palaces, the statues lined ancient bridge, clock tower, central square, cathedral etc are all expectedly dazzling. However, every building in the centre appears unique and attractive in its own right. A trigger happy photographer would never be able to stop shooting if not for the constraints of time, disk space and patience of his/her companions. There are also a plethora of museums, dedicated to the various personalities and art forms there, any of which I haven't visited :P.

$ There were also many ultra-modern buildings, some dancing away in the lights, albeit outside the city centre. The metro + tram network is quite efficient and takes you everywhere, including to the top of the castle-hill. And in that area, is also the Czech version of the Eiffel Tower. Having seen the japanese version and also the original, this one didn't have much going for it except for the fact that it is actually possible to climb or descend all the stairs :P. Nearby, however, was this unexpected attack of metallic zombies in an otherwise unremarkable area.

£ If you eat like a local, the food is quite cheap and very very filling. The local aka non-tourist-focused pubs and eateries are quite charming. However, one thing I didn't manage to figure out is whether, after entering a place, you wait to be seated or you just pick an empty table. Oh, and the Czechs do love to announce everywhere that it is around here that the real beer was created ;).

€ And I spotted 'Cafe Coffee Day' outlets and I couldn't convince myself it was the real one. It was quite astounding that I had come across one in Vienna which I later checked online to find that it was their only outlet outside India (apart from Karachi). But Prague too?! Yeah, they apparently recently opened in Prague as well! They need to make me their international ambassador as I seem divinely capable of spotting their outlet hidden in any corner of Europe :P.

# The most fascinating aspect of Prague for me were the small, almost unnoticeable quirks abound everywhere. Like the railings of a very small bridge covered with padlocks with no apparent explanation, or the statue of Churchill in a desolate corner next to the British Consulate, or an Absinth speciality shop playing Pink Floyd very loudly on an otherwise serene and posh looking street.

Oh and if you are harbouring plans of being an unscrupulous ruler or official in Prague, be prepared against defenestration ;).

Monday, January 02, 2012

old year post

2011 was supposed to either a dull year or an year of upheaval ... but as with most such rather extreme predictions, it was neither, but lay somewhere in between. There had to be several cute changes obviously :P. From automatically learning how to eat with chopsticks (as that was the only means of survival there) to starting to cook pasta regularly (no idea why I never tried it before!), to learning to drive and managing to get a driving licence, there have been several step ups. And some step downs as well I suppose which I conveniently don't bother to recollect now :P. In any case, the major highlights maybe listed:

- Finally started writing .... and then stopped ... with the hope of resuming/restarting soon.
- Prepared sincerely and then had to stop ... and was left at a point where all directions seemingly lead nowhere in particular :P.
- Got involved and then somehow stopped .... short-lived fun better than exasperatingly long?
- Got seriously sick again and trying to stop... it's a war to end all wars! ;)

Enough about mythalez, what about the world you ask? Well, 2011 was a year of discontent. In both the political and economic aristocracies. So what about 2012 then, you ask? Don't ask me, ask the Mayans :P