Sunday, 11 October 2015


Pristine are my thoughts, 
Generous is my smile, 
Boundless is my love,
Infinite, everything else you adore.

With miles in between,
Love could lose it's sheen.
Locked in this desolate closet,
Miss Iron misses her magnet.

My thoughts, for you, are chained,
I promise, they would never wane.
You fulfill your absence,
With your surreal presence.

Your words keep me warm,
In my mind, a flutter, a storm.
Your dreams keep me awake,
Awaiting, the icing on the cake.

Far away from me,
You made me a rustic beauty.
My love has been bare,
Oh, You have been unfair.

P.S. Distance, they say, makes the heart grow fonder.

P.S.2 It has been a long time since I wrote a poem.

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Sunday, 4 October 2015

Splendid Paris

Almost a month and a half ago, as the summer approached its end, I got the opportunity to visit one of the most popular tourist places in the world - Paris. And it did not let me down.

The trip was an extremely short one. I arrived into Paris on Friday evening, and checked out on Sunday evening. For anyone who wishes to see the majestic beauty of the city, a stay of at least four days is a must.

Paris is around 311 KMs from Brussels, the capital of Belgium. A ride on the high speed train - Thalys - took me to Paris in just 90 minutes. 

Little did I know about the high drama being played out the same evening on one of the earlier Thalys train, travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, via Brussels. A gunman with an assault rifle attempted a terrorist attack as the train entered France. Three brave men assaulted the man and immobilized him, before he could cause carnage in the train. The news left me in awe, wondering about the risks in train travel.

I reached Paris Gare Du Nord at half past 8. I had booked my hotel near Gare De Lyon. Nord to Lyon was a short journey of 10 minutes (to my pleasant surprise) on the RER line. I was joined by my sister at Nord. 

Paris is an extremely well connected city. Public transport includes buses, metros and the RER train line. It is possible to visit the entire city using public transport.

Next day, we started our Paris trip. Starting early from the hotel, we made our way to Nord. We got The Paris Pass, a two day travel card which offers visitors access to several monuments, museums, and the public transport system. It also includes a day of travel in the Big Bus, which takes you around the most famous landmarks of the mega city. Also included is a cruise on the River Seine.

First stop was The Cathedral of Notre Dame. After having read The Hunchback of Notre Dame almost two decades ago, a visit to this cathedral was a dream come true. The cathedral is majestic, vast and has been a witness to a history of more than 7 to 8 centuries. A visit to the upper towers of the cathedral got us the first opportunity to see the vast city of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur.

Notre Dame Paris
Paris City - From Notre Dame
After Notre Dame de Paris, it was Musee d'Orsay, on the bank's of river Seine. A brilliant museum, it includes various forms of arts and rich paintings, and is a must visit for anyone who loves museums. Recently, it was rated as the best museum to visit in Europe, ahead of The Lourve, which came at number 3.

Musee d'Orsay
At Orsay
The Big Bus then took us around the city. I got the opportunity to see places which I had read over the years - The Alma Tunnel, where Lady Diana had a fatal crash in 1997, the River Seine, the Champs-Élysées, and Arc de Triomphe.

The Arc de Triomphe stands at the intersection of many roads in Paris. A view from the top reveals the beautiful geometric view of the city, the tree lined streets and the Champs-Élysées.

Arc De Triomphe
The Champs-Élysées from Arc De Triomphe
Next stop was The Lourve. The Lourve is one of the most famous museums in the world, and houses one of the most talked about paintings - The Mona Lisa. Extremely vast and detailed, with brilliant paintings, Egyptian art et al, Louvre is a must visit destination on the list of every wanderlust traveler. Worth mentioning is the Pyramid of Louvre, which finds a mention in The Da Vinci Code, a blockbuster novel written by Dan Brown.

Next stop - The all so majestic Eiffel Tower.

Standing tall at 300 metres, with three main floors, the mega structure leaves you in awe. Getting a ticket to the upper floors of Eiffel Tower meant an hour wait in the queue.  The tickets were priced at 10 EUR for the second floor and 15 EUR for the summit. 

Two escalators and an hour and a half later, at the summit of the Eiffel Tower, the breath taking expanse of Paris city left me mesmerised. As the sun set in the west, and the city lit up in sparkling yellow, the majesty of this monument and the history it has witnessed (including two world wars) left me humbled.

Paris City - From Tour Eiffel

Paris City - From Eiffel Tower Summit
The Eiffel Tower
Back on terra firma, I spent a full 30 minutes admiring the beauty of Eiffel Tower. A light show, where dazzling disco lights brighten up the tower, every 1 hour should not be missed.

This was the end of day 1. From Notre Dame in the east to Eiffel Tower in the west, I had moved around the city twice. It amazed me how small the city actually was, considering its fame and population of 2.25 Million.

Next day began with a visit to Jardin Du Luxembourg (Garden of Luxembourg). The vast green garden, with a palace to the fore, was a good visit. Add the drizzling rain, it brought the beauty of the city to the forefront.

Jardin Du Luxembourg
Next stop, once again, was the Eiffel Tower. However, this was for a cruise on the River Seine. A one hour cruise on a boat takes you around the city, right till Notre Dame and back. The river Seine makes it way through the city and most of the historical landmarks are located on its bank - including the Orsay Museum, the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower.

Tour Eiffel
After the Seine and a few more pictures of the Eiffel tower, we made our way to the north of the city. Destination - Sacre Coeur. As a child, I had a few notebooks with the picture of the Basilica of Sacre Coeur on the first page. Visiting this very place was another dream come true.

Sacre Coeur
Located on top of the hill, the Basilica is richly decorated from inside. It was extremely popular with tourists. A view from the courtyard of the Basilica offered another brilliant view of the city.

After Sacre Coeur, we visited a excellent Indian restaurant near Gare Du Nord. Located just outside the railway station, the restaurant offered authentic Indian food.

It was almost 3.30 PM and only 3 hours for the train back. A few more places had to be visited.

Next destination was Place De La Concorde. Place De La Concorde is a public square at one end Champs-Élysées and is the largest square in Paris. Once again on the banks of river Seine, it gives you an amazing view of the Arc De Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower too.

Place De La Concorde
Adjoining the Place De La Concorde was Jardin des Tuileries. This beautiful vast garden offers a relaxing resting place for the city dwellers. You could see them chit chatting at the edge of the ponds and under rows of trees. A walk through the garden illustrated how slow life can be in this fast city.

Jardin Du Tuileries
At the other end of the Jardin des Tuileries was the Louvre again, where I got this cool snap. 

The Louvre Paris
Walking back across the Seine, we made our way to the nearest metro station and then back to Gare Du Nord. Exhausted yet happy, it was a poignant feeling to leave the splendid city of Paris. 

A few days more and I could have been more content. But then, humans have infinite desires. Thanks to God Almighty for giving me an opportunity to visit this lovely city.

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Tuesday, 29 September 2015


Subtle signs of friendship. A priceless treasure !!
~~ YT

The comfort of old friends delights my heart.
~~ YT

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Monday, 28 September 2015


America, the nation of dreams, was visited by three rock stars in the past week.

Rock Stars
1) Pope Francis - The 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, and the religious leaders of 1.1 Billion Catholics across the world.

2) Narendra Modi - The current Prime Minister of India, the man responsible for driving the destiny of a nation of 1.252 Billion people.

3) Xi Jinping, the President of the People's Republic of China, the man responsible for guiding the fortunes of 1.357 Billion people.

I wonder how these people sleep have a steady sleep through the night, given the responsibility on their shoulders.

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Sunday, 20 September 2015


The elite talk brag about equality. The elite indulge in excesses. How could opulence co-exist with frugality?
~~ YT

Affection is sometimes mistaken for love. Love is often mistaken for affection.
~~ YT

Cometh the flame, cometh the moth. One to shine bright, another to self-destruct.
~~ YT

Never moan about treasures. It diminishes it's value. 
~~ YT

Truth is the safest haven.
~~ YT

P.S. An idle, observant, mind is the source of these meandering thoughts.

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Saturday, 19 September 2015


A month and a half back, by God's grace, I got the chance to visit Switzerland. For years since I was a child, I had heard about multiple Swiss things - Zurich, Geneva, Alps, Mount Titlis, Martina Hingis, Swiss Knives, Swiss Banks et al. Finally, it was the moment to visit this beautiful city.

On a calm Thursday summer evening, I landed in the city of Basel. Basel has been popular in the past two decades for the Basel norms, which form the cornerstone of the regulations in the financial world across the globe. 

Basel is special for it's airport too. After you land into Basel, and you can exit into three countries - France, Switzerland and Germany. This is something I had never heard of. It was a pleasant surprise.

Next stop was Basel Train station onward to  Baden, where I was staying. A quick bus journey connected me to the train station. This is where I was introduced to the beautiful Swiss Railways, and their quick connections. Basel to Olten to Baden took me an hour or so. The connection was ultra short (less than 5 minutes), which meant I had run to run get onto the next train.

Connections on almost all Swiss trains are ultra short. However, most the connecting trains wait for the oncoming train to arrive before departing. Call it Swiss precision.

My sister had got me a three day Swiss Travel Pass. The Swiss Travel Pass costed me around CHF 210. It offered unlimited access to trains, buses, ships, ferries and all means of transport across Switzerland. This is an extremely superb deal, considering that regular tickets are very expensive.

The next day began early. Destination :- Mount Titlis, in the Swiss Alps. We boarded an early morning train to reach Engelberg. This is the closest railway station connecting Mount Titlis. The scenic beauty along the way could not be described by words. Serene lakes, lush green fields, snow capped mountains - you could see them all.

Mount Titlis Switzerland
It took three cable cars and almost 30-40 minutes of travel to reach the summit of Mount Titlis from Engelberg. The last cable car was a rotating one, which turns 360 degrees as it makes the steep climb. That offers visitors a panoramic view of the Swiss Alps. A visit to a glacier was also a life time experience.

View from Mount Titlis
Mount Titlis was extremely popular with tourists. The place was full of Chinese and Indian people, among other nationalities. The peaks were snow capped, even though it was early August. The other summits in the Swiss Alps could be seen in the distance, including the highest peak in Europe - Jungfrau. The view was breathtaking. A cut out of the block buster Bollywood movie at the top, DDLJ, is a hit with the Indian tourists.

The Swiss Alps from Mount Titlis
Next stop was Lucerne. It is home to Lake Lucerne. The lake is majestic and wide, and nestles in the Swiss Alps. A few weeks before my travel, I had heard about Lake Como in Italy, and the beauty of the Swiss lakes. They didn't let me down. A lake cruise on Lake Lucerne is also included in the Travel pass.

Lake Lucerne Switzerland
After Lake Lucerne, the next destination was the Rhine Falls. Rhine Falls, on the Rhine river, is the widest waterfall in Europe, though not the tallest. The loud gushes of water coupled with the virtual absence of any tourists made the place extremely serene. The Rhine river flowed into infinity, carrying away many dreams.

Rhine Falls Switzerland
By the time we reached back to Baden, it was almost 11.

Next day began early too. After deliberating on the places to be visited the previous night, we had agreed on Interlaken. Once again, the Swiss Rails took us to Interlaken.

Interlaken is nestled between two lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Breinz, and hence the name. Its the starting point to approach the summit of Jungfrau - the Top of Europe. 

Jungfrau is about 4158 metres high. We decided to visit Mount Harder Kulm, which is almost 1322 metres high. A cog wheel train runs every 30 minutes from Interlaken to Harder Kulm, and takes you to its summit in 10 minutes. Harder Kulm offers you a fantastic view of peaks - Jungfrau, Eiger, and Mönch, and Lake Thun and Lake Breinz from the panorama point.

Jungfrau - Top of Europe -  From Mount Harder Kulm
Next stop was Lake Brienz. A river cruise from Interlaken to Brienz takes around an hour and 30 minutes. The green water of the lake, coupled with tall mountains on both sides makes the cruise a fabulous experience. The idyllic homes on it's shores reflect the dreams of a million people.

Shore of Lake Brienz

After Lake Brienz, it was Lake Thun. A quick train ride from Brienz back to Interlaken Ost got us in time for the cruise on the Lake Thun. Lake Thun is popular for its blue water, unlike Brienz. This lake is wider and offers a spectacular view of the Swiss Alps. 

It was nature at its best - Jungfrau, Top of Europe, just next to a Lake. God is great !! The cruise ship visits various ship stops on its way, picking up and dropping people. Families with kids were enjoying their calm Saturday in the waters of Lake Thun.

Lake Thun
Choosing between Jungfrau and the lakes at Interlaken was a difficult decision. If you have the time, do visit all the three. The extra time spent cruising in Lake Thun meant we could not visit Geneva, a place I wanted to visit. Interlaken to Geneva was three hours, and Geneva back to Baden was another 3 hours.

Next in line was Bern, a quick 30 minutes away from Thun. I was surprised to know that Bern is the capital of Switzerland. An old city, it had many fountains. You can easily drink water from any of the fountains. It's completely safe. A visit to the Cathedral, the Clock Tower, the Swiss Parliament, and a walk across the city made the few hours worthwhile. And by the time we were back to Baden, it was once again half past 10.

The last day began with an early morning visit to Zurich. Zurich is one of the financial capitals of the world, home to UBS and other Swiss banks. The Cathedral in Zurich was magnificent. ZUrich Lake was the next stop. The entire city is built around the magnanimous lake. A small boat ride through the lake took us back to the main railway station, Zurich HB.

Zurich Lake
Next stop was Uetliberg, a small summit near Zurich. At 869 m, it offers a panoramic view of the Zurich city. On a bright sunny day, you could scan the horizon. It was also very popular with fitness enthusiasts.

Back from Uetliberg, a small walk around Baden revealed some interesting treasures. Baden is home to some hot springs, though we could not spot them. 

The trip concluded with me making my way back to Basel and then to Brussels. The three days offered a fabulous view into the rustic beauty of Switzerland. 

If you are in Europe, do not miss Switzerland. A 4 day trip would be a good idea to visit the places. Don't forget the Swiss Cheese and the chocolates too !!

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Sunday, 16 August 2015

Post Cards From Blankenberge Belgium

A few weeks back, I got the opportunity to visit Blankenberge. Blankenberge is a coastal city in Belgium, located off The North Sea.

It takes just about an hour and 20 minutes to travel to Blankenberge from the capital Brussels on the inter city train. The weekend tickets are priced economically at 16 EUR for a return trip.

Blankenberge is the last stop on this route and just about everyone who got down from the train was headed towards a single destination :- The Beach of Blankenberge.

A small walk from the railway station, and we were at the beach.

A few days back before the visit to Blankenberge, I had read about The Low Countries. Belgium and The Netherlands majorly constitute The Low Countries, since most of the land is at sea level or below the sea level.

Have a look at the below image, courtesy Google Street View (A foolish me didn't click the image even though I was here).

Just beyond the steps is the beach of Blankenberge, making you realize that you are actually below sea level.

Blankenberge Belgium - Below Sea Level

Just after you climb the steps, you see a sea of people, all soaking in the sun in the vast expanse of the beach. Right in front of you is The North Sea.

Blankenberge - The Vast North Sea
The beach is wide and long. Even with a high tide, you do have lots of place to setup a base and enjoy the sun and the water.

A few ships were sailing in high mast.

Blankenberge North Sea

Across the far side of the beach was the pier of Blankenberge.

Pier van Blankenberge Belgium
While the tide was high, the life guards on the beach were asking the surfers and people to stay away from one particular area of the beach. As the sea moved in and low tide set in, I understood the reasons for their warnings of caution.

Blankenberge Road Into The North Sea
The steps above extended into the sea. I still wonder how deep they go into the sea.

The vast sky created many natural wonders. I managed to spot a dinosaur in making.

Dinosaur in the Sky

The beach was full of sea gulls. I managed to catch one of them in full flight.

Blankenberge Sea Gulls in Flight

As the sun made its way down into the sea, the shadows on the beach created an impressive view.

Blankenberge - Life in Shadows
It would also be worthwhile to share a few words of the strings of buildings on the beach side. They are lined across the entire beach and each of them is 20 stories tall.

They would offer a panoramic view of The North Sea. The people staying in those apartments would have witnessed high storms and calm seas. And of course, a million dreams about the life beyond the sea.

The water was a bit cold, give the windy conditions. However, the beach offers a joyous weekend for the travelers.

A tall Church too overlooks the city.

Blankenberge - Church
In all, the beach town of Blankenberge offers travelers of spending a sunny afternoon on the coast of The North Sea. Do not miss it if you are in Belgium in the summer.

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