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Between the Lakes Swiss Tours Part III

« Goto Swiss Tours Part I Part II Summer is the best time to travel in Europe; primarily because the daylight lasts for 14-16 hours and one can spend time from as early as 5 AM till as late as 9 PM sight seeing. After returning from Jungfrau, we too hence had a lot of time to roam around Interlaken . Interlaken is a small town.- from Interlaken East to Interlaken West it would be about half an hour walk (thought there are two railway stations on the two ends). Nevertheless it is immensely beautiful, so much so that I hardly have any words to describe it … the pics say it all. Horsewoman riding horse wagon Beautiful parks Flower decorated squares As it is we were taken by the beauty of the town when we landed at an open marketplace where a festival of sorts was on with ubiquitous music and food stalls. Huge grass covered ground meant for paratroopers to land ‘ Swarovski ’ Teddy bear Even normal houses on the street have huge decorations in their courtyards A can

Urban Gypsy

Inspired by Shubham , I too list down my journey during July 2006 - January 2007 6 months, 29 cities, 4 countries, 2 continents 9 airlines, 9 trams, 4 national rail networks Locations: India >> Mumbai Pune Delhi Bhopal Jaipur Raipur Bhilai Nagpur Jabalpur Chandigarh->Panchkula UK >> London Milton Keynes Birmingham Edinburgh Cardif Bristol Newtown Nottingham Oxford Reading Manchester France >> Leon Switzerland >> Geneva Zurich Montreux Laussane Luzerne Bern Interlaken Airlines: Air India, British Airways, EasyJet, Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airways, Air Deccan, Spice Jet, Sahara Airways Trams: Manchester, Nottingham, Zurich, Edinburgh, Geneva, Bern, Luzerne, Laussane, London (Tube) Train networks: Indian Rail , UK Rail , Midland-Mainline , Swiss Rail Quite and adventure indeed!

Top of Europe
Swiss Tours Part II

« Goto Swiss Tours Part I We reached Interlaken quite late – especially by Switzerland standards – I should confess that it was quite scary to reach the youth hostel there, as it was in one secluded part of the town, and we had to walk through a road almost in the woods to reach it from the nearest bus stop. We both are vegetarians and were well aware about the paucity of (vegetarian) edible food, so we had packed enough vegetables, wafers, bread and butter from Geneva for our survival. The hostel was well equipped, and we had a comfortable dinner and slept to rise early the next day! The train to take us to Jungfraujoch was to leave Interlaken by 8 AM, so we woke up early – in fact we were up early enough to have time to look around the location of the youth hostel. However, we got a little carried away, and got a bit late to catch our train. Fortunately, the platforms were quite low and we were able to jump our way to platform 2 to catch our train! The train had a guide

5 days, 9 places and 3.5 GB snaps
[Swiss Tours Part I]

I have never actually written in detail about my trip to Switzerland. Today, as I was idly browsing through my Photos collected during the UK trip, I discovered that more than half of the collection came from my 5 day trip to Switzerland. Indeed, those 5 days were the most enjoyable part of my 6 month sojourn! Adventurous as it was, I guess it is important that this blog has some record of the trip! Hemant was already stationed in Geneva when I reached London, and so the idea of planning a Swiss trip together sprouted right away – just the dates were an issue. Soon, we had finalized dates around end of July and the planning for the trip started around mid July. Both of us did online researches about places to visit, Hemant also interacted with some colleagues in Geneva for the details. Our “tech savvy-ness” reached new heights when we used MS Powerpoint to document and discuss route maps, train timetables and tourist attractions. The result – by the time I was boarding the plane to

The ordeal on European Skies

Those of you who read about my Geneva Trip hassles [ 1 , 2 ] will be aware about my disenchantment with European Skies. To add to that, when we had travelled to Scotland, one of my colleagues had lost his baggage [for a journey as short as London - Edinburgh] which made our Scotland trip much inconvenient and more so mentally stressed out. But finally, as an icing on the cake, after my ' sarkari experience ' with BA/BAA yesterday at Heathrow - British Airways has managed to misplace my baggage on the way to Mumbai. The ordeal started similar to my Geneva trip, when the flight [supposed to fly out at 2130] was kept standing on the Airport for hours on the behest of long queue on the airstrip. We were finally informed at 2300 hours that some incorrect baggage has by mistake been loaded on the flight and so we had to turn back to the loading dock and re-enter the queue for the airstrip. At about midnight they informed us that the baggage problem was sorted out, but a new problem

From Heathrow ...

Yes Sir .... I am blogging right from the Heathrow Airport Terminal 4, London. My flight is in another 2 hours and I had time to kill - spotted this internet kiosk and thought ... why not?? So here I am blogging right from the airport - in my final moments in the UK. I have 2 parts to narrate .... A. Service Levels in British Airways If anyone ever tells you that BA or BAA (British Airports Auth ) are better than Air India and AAI - don't ever believe him. I had another harrowing experience with the UK airports (after my Swiss trip drama) today - though quieter minor. I had a bit of excess baggage for which I had to pay some charges - no probs with that, I was ok with paying. So the check-in rep told me to go to the cashier (on the next window), make the payment and get my boarding pass from there. When I went to the cashier window, it was closed with a sign 'Go to Ticket Window for payments'. So I went to the ticket window to find a 20 minutes queue ahead of me.

LONDON - 3(Concluded)

In the last two posts I talked mostly about the positives of London – in this one I talk about the negatives. However, I would like to put in a disclaimer that none of these negatives imply that London is not a good city. London is indeed a great city to live in – these are just some of the things that can be improved. First and foremost – London is dirty as compared to (some) other European cities. In some parts it is as dirty as Bombay and given the population load (which though is large, is lesser than Bombay) this isn't an expected trait! In fact, before coming to London one of my expectations from the ‘London experience’ was to live in a clean city – to my disappointment my expectation hasn’t been met. [I grew up in Bhopal which was much cleaner than Bombay if not spot clean!] The next is the reliability of transport network; while London might have one of the best public transport networks – the reliability of this network is pretty poor - frequent disruptions, unplanned de

LONDON - 2

In my last post I briefly touched upon the cosmopolitan nature of London and its infrastructure – I will elaborate further on them here; to keep my writing from swaying to unknown territory I will maintain an annotational style in this post. Cosmopolitan/ Multicultural City London is one of the world’s most multicultural, multiethnic and cosmopolitan cities. The existence of plethora of nationalities and ethnicities makes its experience even richer – more so there is high tolerance for different cultures and even accents, people make an effort to appreciate the differences between them (though there is a mild undercurrent of racism as well among few people) - all this makes an interaction in the city enjoyable. The variety in ethnicities makes interesting linguistic situations here. Imagine a Russian girl behind the McDonalds counter telling an Indian – “ be havbe only Vegitarian Mel(t) ” and the Indian responding – “ Yes! I want the Veggie Meal ”. Population vs. City As a city Lon

LONDON - 1

My 6 month sojourn of London is finally coming to an end – about this time next week I will be at the Sahar Airport, Mumbai. Time to recap thoughts that have crossed and perceptions that have been crystallized in my mind about London as a city, UK as a country both compared to my motherland and some of the other places I saw (Swiss). The moment you step out of the Heathrow what strikes you most is the views that loom around you - manicured lawns, roads marked with lanes, numerous flyovers and tunnels and organized boundaries. However slowly as you settle down in the city – you start noticing the cons and more subtle pros. As an 'Indian' the easiest thing to expect is that 'foreign' is a completely superlative experience to India – in that respect the biggest learning from this visit is that not everything in the west is superlative and that India has certain qualities that stand out! Anyway – this post (probably a multi part one) is about London/UK; let me come back

Adventures Galore …

My adventures for the day did not end with the take-off of the flight – which was uneventful however. On landing into Leon, as I handed over my passport to the officials – he gave me a suspicious look. I had known that there’d be trouble ever since they announced that they were diverting the flight to Leon, being well aware that Leon was in France and I did not have a Schengen Visa. But I had decided to play it – after all it was the air company’s headache, not mine – they were diverting the flight and planning to ply us by road to Geneva. So, this official curiously scrutinized my passport and then a list – which I suppose would be the list of countries whose nationals were allowed entry into France without a Visa. Had he known English, I would have spared him all the hard work by telling him that he will not find India in it; I had read about all these trespassing privileges just the day before (and out of curiosity looked for India as well in those lists of ‘allowed nationals’) w

The Murphy’s Laws!

I am writing this ‘on-board’ the Easy Jet flight 976 and I have been here since the past 3 hours while the flight stands still at the London Gatwick Airport. And if there is one word which I would use to describe the beginning of my Europe tour – it is ‘pathetic’! The trouble started when I got late to get back home and hence had to take a cab to the Gatwick costing me a good 40 pounds. But when I reached the airport at 7, I realized that I was not only well in time but I could have been safe even if I would have come there 2 hours later. Easy Jet (which I am sure has outsourced its IT operations to a non-Indian firm) had some problem with its computers – resultantly the check in system was not running. They tried to fix the problem for hours while the queues at the check in counter first elongated and then shortened – people started leaving the queues. Finally, some intelligent soul realized that they were not going to be able to resolve their software problem for some time and so Ea

... because English is a very funny language

One difference that all Indians observe when landing into the western world is the change in the way people ‘talk’ English. What gets noticed most often is the accent which is slightly curly with the westerners and hard/dry with Asians. This might also lead to a conclusion that the English speak in the same way as the Americans. However, there are a few subtleties in accent and language which you’d observe when you actually interact with these people. I have especially been observing this because: The project that I just finished in India involved working closely with our US counterparts and clients My department in UK is pretty diverse with more than 50% people being non-English – a mix of Americans, Australians, Africans, Chinese and of course Indians. English speaking differs in two ways – accent and the way certain specific words are pronounced. Lets take accent first – Indians talk with most words having an ‘a’ (Hindi letter a) sound to them. Americans talk with an open mouth wit

Blogging from London

It’s been ages since I updated this place and a lot has happened in the meanwhile – the most important one being my shifting base to the UK for a short-term deputation. In the forthcoming posts, I will try my best to recap my life in the past few months. The snaps that I have been taking will be helpful to complete my narration. I joined office on 27th June! It's in Salisbury Square – East Central London – about 45 minutes by Ferry (across the Thames) from my home which is in Woolwich Royal Arsenal – South East London. KPMG has many offices in London - Canary Wharf, Salisbury Square, Dorset Rise and Puddle dock. Things are as yet quite exciting – I am still getting settled and we are now cooking our own food at home. While roaming around London I got a feeling as if I was roaming around in a model of an ideal city. Everything is too ordered and perfect here – though it isn't as glamorous as we expect – London is an old city and feels quite so. It also brought back memories of

Namma Bangalore ...

I frankly don't know what the title means - but have seen it on many a bangaloreans' blog ;-). I wrote quite critically of Bangalore when I first visited the city . I have visited it umpteen times after that and slowly I have started appreciating a more balanced view of the city. The first positive with Bangalore is its a.www.some climate. You especially realize this when you land in here from a wet-and-hot Chennai at 10 P.M. after it has 'just-rained' in Bengaluru. Traffic remains a problem with Bangalore, but finally the much awaited flyover on the Airport road seems to be nearing completion and with the metro rail project at the end of the tunnel - future does seem bright for Bangalore. However, as compared to other cities, Bangalore I think moves very slowly on its infrastructure projects. Then again, Bangalore looks much more impressive than other older metros like Mumbai and Delhi. Firstly, there aren't as many slums; comparing against Mumbai where there ar

Home vs Residence vs. Accommodation

Nowadays, I have been having trouble answering a very common question people ask me. Let me illustrate it through a dialogue: Mr. X: Are you staying in Bangalore? Me: (in my mind) Grrr ! I cannot be staying in Abu Dhabi if I have been coming to your office in Bangalore since the past 3 days!!! (aloud) Oh Ya! Indiranagar. Mr X: Own house or rented? Me: (in the mind) Is he mad?? Oh! Seems he was asking me if I stay in Bangalore (aloud) Oh! I meant I am currently staying in Bangalore but I am not a native. Mr X: Oh! So you are a native of? Me: aa…. (thinking) … I am from the Bombay Practice of KPMG Mr X: So, you are originally from Bombay? Me: (in mind) Grrrr … I hate this confusion (aloud) No actually I am a native of Bhopal Mr X: But you are a Maharashtrian, right? Me: (in mind) Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …. I hate this even more … (aloud, smiling) Ya! Actually ancestrally our family belongs to Maharashtra. But both my parents were born an brought up in MP – and so am I. (smile

Off to Uttaranchal

Me off to a 4 day trip to Uttaranchal today evening !!! Will be back to cyberspace with photos and narration of the trip starting Monday ... Btw: Check out the ProjectWhy Banner atop this Blog

First impressions of Bangalore

I spent the past two weeks in the Silicon Valley of India - Bangalore. I had visited the city about 10 years ago with my parents before it became the Mecca of Indian IT Industry. My experiences were quite different from my expectations. I had expected a newly morphed metro which would be extremely crowded, lacking roads/flyovers and bustling with night life. I found OK roads and flyovers in some parts of the city, bad roads in some others, lots of traffic & pollution but a small town at heart albeit a very romantic one. Night life is virtually non-existent with even pubs closing down by 11:30PM. While one would expect old Bangalore to have narrow roads but the city planners have not granted wider avenues even to newer areas. I wonder whether their visiting Mumbai (which is facing the problems of similar myopic development in suburbs) would help. But, old Bangalore is also dotted by parks and lots of trees and hence is quite a romantic setting. The cantonment which covers almost 6

Mes Viles: My Cities

So many of Indian bloggers that I know are cosmopolitans; they have lived in different cities at different points in their life. Their cities include – the home-city where they are born, the place where they are educated (often graduation/post graduation), the city(ies) where they (have) work(ed). Hence when I thought about writing a post on the cities in my life, I though why not spread the germ? (!) So I have decided to make this a ‘tag’. I would prefer people to describe ‘their’ cities in detail including the emotional bonds they share with them. Janmabhoomi: Bhopal Bhopal is one of the most beautiful cities that I have lived in. Rightly known as the city of lakes, Bhopal is situated in the hills with many ponds, lakes and parks dotting the city. Being the capital, the city affords wide and well maintained roads and greenery all around. But unlike public perception Bhopal, is no way a small city. With a population of 14.5 lakhs and an area of 286 square kms (eqvt. to 65% of Mumbai