Day #15

This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

With worry in her eyes,

‘I haven’t given you permission to leave..’

With duty in his voice,

‘With respect, Your Grace, I don’t need your permission. I am a king (silence). And I came here, knowing that you could have your men behead me or your dragons burn me alive. I put my trust in you – a stranger. Because I knew it was the best chance for my people; for all our people. Now I’m asking you, to trust in a stranger. Because it’s our best chance’

Is this one of the finest love letters of medieval times, or what? (*.*)

Day #13

This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

The dusk is visible in the leaping splashes of what used to be still water, but which I am now involved with in a dog-eat-dog race, as I put forth one arm after the other pushing back my enemy. Talk about savoring my first foray into a swimming pool in Hong Kong! I am going to squeeze a few paragraphs out of this –
yes, I am that happy about the whole deal.

Let me start with the pre-swim prep. After doing (unnecessary/obsessive) online research mining reviews on Hong Kong pools, I was a bit skeptical. Most forums would go on about public pools being crowded and so on. I feared a scenario like this:

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But hey, I am really geared up for the whole deal and how bad can the crowd really be? I am a veteran of the Dadar battlefield and have the scars to prove it. Plus, I mean its been almost 2 weeks since I last tasted chlorine; I rather miss it. All I really wanna do now is suit up and jump in. YOLO. (Well technically, not jump in. Since the pool is just 1.4 metres deep…)

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Anywho, desperation and good sense win over, but as I swipe my Octopus and enter the fairly large Kennedy Town Swimming Pool facility, my steps falter, unsure, as if testing the waters. I become conscious of the fact that I am probably the only Indian guy in the whole place at the moment. I begin consciously trying to be as invisible as possible, hoping to blend in, for some reason, with my predominantly Chinese brothers and sisters.

At the gates of the changing rooms, there is an odd sign which says, roughly, “Anyone above the height of 1.35 metres or older than 8 years old won’t be allowed in the changing room of the opposite sex”. It is one of those things which you know, deep down, that there is some backstory to it. One of the two conditions was surely an addendum and my bet is on the latter. There is absolutely no way, after all, that some tiny dude did _not_ misuse it at some point in the past, and prompted the law-makers to rethink things! 😀

Well, as I enter the men’s locker room, my efforts to “blend in” are rendered futile as I come across my first culture-shock. For the sake of civility, I shall not venture into details, but samajhdaar ko ishaara kaafi hai (A gesture is more than enough to the wise). Takes some time for my eyes to adjust to this new darkness. No one on any forum cared to mention this phenomenon, of course. Thanks, internet!

The first couple of laps are nice and slow, as I stop to smell the roses; not really counting the laps anymore, free/frog-styling, soaking in the warm water and the cool breeze, sighing with content after every lap. Boy, have I missed this. The pool is mildly warm and a little crowded, but reality is way better than expectation. After a few relaxing rounds, I get a little competitive with random strangers, setting arbitrary goals for beating them to the finish (always fun!).

I notice something peculiar after some time in the pool. There is a general lack of body hair on everyone! They have as much hair as would a skinned potato (Nothing wrong with it, of course) I feel like Anil Kapoor from the 90’s swimming among the people.

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Yeah, I know – Disturbing. Now you feel my exact mental state for the next few seconds after becoming conscious of the fact!

As my swimming session draws to an end, I have the pleasure to view the sunset from the quiet, open-air pool deck. As the Sun takes in a deep breath for its long dip in the far off depths of the ocean, it brings down the shutters on an almost perfect day…

Day #10

This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

Shun the privilege
Unearned; Not mine
Passed through my blood
Not through my sweat

Shun the heritage
Not my creation
Nor the prize
From my journey

Burn it all down
Let the the smoke rise
Suffocate and choke
As the fossils fuel the fire

Nothing shall rise
The weight is too much
At first all will be bleak
The ashes, tombstones

Stripped down, Naked and bare
The legacy feeding on itself
Soon all is quiet
Light as a feather…

Silent winds carry away
These ashes
All in the noisy head
Of a silent islander

Lonely and stranded
No cry for help
Safer to watch
Than to be

Day #9

This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

Thought i’d try a couple haikus after what feels like ages!

Dawn
Heavy with dew
Fresh with a purpose
The sun rains a storm


Night
Star-lit moon eyes
Dotted birds of metal
Hovering clouds

Foodie list for Hong Kong

This is my list of personal preferences from trying out different places. The list is under construction. Do keep checking in as and when.

Captain’s Bar – Ginger Ale (Non-alcoholic) + Keep munching on the complementary nuts and chips they give. Trust me. (Also, probably a good place to land a banking gig if you’re into that :D)

Bersola – Deviled Pizza

Jinjuu – South Korean restaurant (As if “South” is really needed here :P) in the LKF area. Tostadas + Bibimbap was a good combo. And try the Spicy Kimchi Mary if in for an adventurous ride

Chilli Fagaara – (Sichuan Chinese) The gastronomical equivalent of a roller coaster. Apt for adrenaline junkies. Absolutely loved it. What I consumed – Krispy Rice, Tofu, String Beans, Steam Rice, Dumplings:

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Fantastic food; Few tips:

  • Whatever you order, specify “mild spicy” to the server (no one likes a hero; bravery and foolishness are first cousins)
  • DON’T attempt to eat any chillis whole
  • Go with a fat wallet. It’s not cheap
  • Order some lychee soda or something cool. You think you don’t need it, but trust me
  • Drink a glass of cold milk before you sleep, if you don’t want open rebellion from your digestive system the next morning
  • Tequila on David – Mexican. Standard fare was pretty good – Nachos, Fajitas, Beans & Rice. Choc lava cake to kill for.

    Day #8

    This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

    Well, two days in Hong Kong! Love the place like a third home. Living with my favourite (and only :P) real sister. I kid, I kid! Pic to prove sincere sibling love 🙂

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    Lemme try again. So, am living with my favourite sis and bro-in-law and the cutie pie pictured above for a few months now while in HK. Absolutely excited. After a lazy first day trying to wear off the mild fatigue courtesy of a window seat in a fully booked overnight flight (Yeah, I don’t quite like the in-flight experience as much as the pre-), getting back slowly to routine.

    Turns out HK has great, well defined treks, which I never was enthusiastic (or non-lazy) enough to indulge in last few times I came here. But if there is a list somewhere of things that are infectious (like laughter and good ol’ ringworm), please add exercise to it too. Nothing like seeing two people focused on their diet, health and exercise to get the sweat flowing! So, that’s a checklist for now where I hope to tick off as many treks as I can on whatever weekends I have.

    However, being the true blue Marwaris we are, (me and sis, at least; jiju’s willpower is out of this world!) we are binging before we purge. Sis at least has a good reason for it, I am just along for the ride. I am actively making a list of good places to eat/hang out in HK, which I’ll keep updating here, so in case someone wants to, do try them out if ever you are in the general area. But, from next week onwards, iron clad discipline and gymming!

    And of course, how can I forget my little princess of a niece in this brief tell-all. That girl brightens whatever room she is in, with her cute questions and cute logics in her cute little voice. Even got to play the ukulele with her – as I held the frets, she strummed like a pro! Such a smarty. I swear she already knows more about the solar system than what I know today 🙂

    Anyways, also started with a new gig today. So, early wake-up call, brief confrontation with HK rain (I honestly don’t see the big deal; I’ll take HK rain over Mumbai any day! Or is that more of a statement on the public transport infrastructure’s resilience to them? Hmm), Octopus card entry, brief metro ride, Octopus card exit, escalator and finish line. (I swear, if I didn’t know better, I would have thought you could buy houses with your Octopus card; way too ubiquitous) Interestingly, I think in HK’s Central area, if you try really really really really really really hard, you can get away with probably not walking a single step and still get from any A to any B. Gotta love this city.

    Signing off for now!

    Day #2

    This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

    Well, things keeping me busy. So I am taking a teensy shortcut today. I recently got back from a family trip to Russia (Day #0 had been written on Gate B1 at the Dubai International Airport) So today’s post is my first day’s experience straight from Moscow:

    “Back in the USSR!”

    Day 1 – 4 pm :

    Hell-o, Mosque-o! As the plane lands after a smooth 1.5 hour journey from Helsinki into the dense fogs of Moscow airport, a different excitement that includes some dread seeps in. Going from a Scandi to a Russia is not going to be pleasant, after all. Some more evidence to this effect is apparent right out the plane door, as the aero-bridge shows signs of planks coming loose in more than a few places. But, forever the optimist, I march on. A few pretty girls were sitting in the plane after all, and the race to Passport control thus intensifies.

    Therein comes Russia as acting chaperone. Passport control has 6 counters, with 5 counters displaying “For Russian Citizens” signs, and the last one displaying “For Passengers with children”. So the universal set seems pretty well-defined, and I am not in it. Turns out after 15 minutes of family panic, that in Soviet Russia, none of the above really matters. Each line is everyone’s line. Welcome.

    The lady at Passport control happens to be Mr. Orange’s lookalike. While she takes her sweet time in letting me pass through into the Motherland, it slowly dawns on me that I could be detained at the airport just like my first trip to Hong Kong. She is going about her job furiously, typing away at her keyboard, calling people from her old landline, zooming into my visa with those tiny eyepieces diamond expert-looking people use (I kid you not). After a few more minutes of this madness, she gives me a document to sign and I almost shit my pants. But I do it nonetheless and come out unscathed into the legal borders of Russia!

    First order of business – get a Russian hat. I wanna look like a Sergei Ivan Ivanovsky after all, and what better way. My plans go to the backburner however as my chicken self decides to go along with the family flow and the irritation of a hungry baby. The airport is apparently pretty far from the main city and we get a peek into the dreariness that form the Moscow outskirts. It is pretty stark, the difference b/w these two neighbours, when it comes to the outdoors. This scenery of shrubs, grass, half developed buildings, huge empty billboards, car showrooms, and a thick fog/smog is a far cry from that of sunny Helsinki with its perfectly curated forests. As the traffic on the highway chugs along, we try and decipher any connections b/w the Russian and Roman script. It seems like a “P” here means “R” and they seem to use “phi” as a substitute for “F”. Hmm, boring.

    Meanwhile, an hour and a half later, the traffic doesn’t show signs of abating. We are still half an hour away from the hotel, but at least now we are seeing the Moscow city sights. In one word, the city landscape can be described as “supermassive”. Be it gargantuan government buildings, or 8 lane roads or the grand domes of Orthodox Churches.

    Checked in now, crashing on bed. Tale to be continued.

    Day 1 – 11.30 pm :

    A preliminary visit to the Red Square. We are greeted at first by the sight of the brick-walled State History Museum, which forms a part of the Square’s border. Inside the square, and lo and behold. The other sides of the square are adorned by the St Basil Cathedral, the Kremlin and a large beautiful palatial architecture, which turns out to be (surprise, surprise) a shopping mall called the “Gum”. The initial skepticism I had post the sobering up from the Scandinavian high gets satiated to some extent as I soak in the vibe of the place where I stand. The centre of world power stands to my right, all pale and yellow in its glory, proudly adorned by the national flag and a 60 foot brick wall, to keep off those prying eyes. The St Basil Cathedral (yep, the one with the different flavors of softy serves atop its pillars) looks just the bit as it does in its stills. But since we are travelling as a family, my sister prevails and we end up in (surprise, surprise) the “Gum”. Yep, the building _has_ to be referred to from hereon in quotes, lest we confuse it with its more useful common noun. The next few hours are best forgotten.

    Meanwhile, I notice some interesting things around me. For instance, the female population of the Motherland seems much luckier than their male counterparts when comparisons are drawn in the looks department. On hearing this, my girlfriend points out to me that it is simply my selection bias, and that I need to stop guising ulterior motives as “noticing interesting things”. So… that’s the end of that section.

    As we are about to exit the square after having spent the north of 5 hours, it is still twilight. The crowd meanwhile hasn’t thinned much, but somehow the atmosphere is much more… tranquil. The “Gum” is shining brightly, with the Nikolskaya Street alongside lit up to match, bustling with activity, populated by tourist and native alike, listening to a busking baritone, taking in the sights, sipping on their wines. The architecture around us seems to take another form as the evening progresses thusly, and from our vantage point on a nearby bench, with these moments in our kitty, I believe we have already broken even on our Muscovy trip!

    (As an additional benefit, my 2.86 year old niece just learnt how to take pictures on her phone! Mamu’s (uncle’s) DP slot on whatsapp just got booked for at least a week!)