Day #21

Conversation

The two-way with the world
This osmosis of thoughts
Hold the door for the toxin
Lest the good stays within

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

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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 #12

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

Russia trip, continued. Beginning of the story

Day 7 – 11 pm:

What a day to be alive! You’ll be introduced to the reason for my enthusiasm soon enough. And I won’t even have to tell you when.

Bright, sunny day it was after another heavy buffet breakfast with the fancy cereals and the breads and the fruits and the omelettes and the sushi and on and on. First sight, right out of the door, we caught a red hot beauty standing there:

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*whistles and jeers* After ogling the vehicle for the better part of 10 minutes, we went ahead with our plan. We decided to tour along one of the canal routes that St Petersburg is supposedly famous for. Our first stop on the route was a bit far off, namely the Church of Spilt Blood (fancaaayyy!) The other thing it is infamous for, however, made sure we took off and wore our jackets as many times as this guy:

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St Petersburg has really beautiful canals, reminiscent of Venice itself. The intermittent clear skies help; brightening up the warm colors of the city landscape.

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These canals were artificially constructed and connected with the Neva river to ease transportation through the city. Very Venice-like! Little boats scuttling about ferrying starstruck tourists through the waters. Anyways, we got to the destination finally and it was a pretty sight. It was also a little underwhelming after the Moscow trip unfortunately, so I am not going to dwell much on this part.

What I am going to dwell on is what made me a devoted theist. While it might seem like an exaggeration, for a few microseconds, it really wasn’t. Imagine my horror when while strolling across the massive Palace square in the shadow of the Hermitage, I see this sight above my head.

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Low flying fighter planes in some sort of formation. Non-Russian. In Russian Airspace. Broad daylight. Holy shit. But thankfully, seeing that I am doing more or less OK at the moment, it was something more innocent. If a multi-billion dollar hi-tech aviation exhibition/market is innocent, that is. What followed was a series of sights and sounds that left me awestruck. It was beautiful. I hope I captured it OK:

Plain vanilla hellies!

Them Fighters

Anyways, having had enough adventures for the day, we headed back to our hotel for a quick refresh before a relaxing river cruise. Walking along the Nevsky Boulevard, the main street of Petersburg, we encountered hordes of tourists snapping and storing various pieces of history gracing the street, including the Leningrad Hero City Obelisk – a touching memorial which marks the bravery of a city that stood through under probably one of the most devastating sieges in history.. This is indeed a popular street; one can also tell by the tourist prices being charged in the souvenir shops!

Finally, we landed up at the cruise loading point in time to grab tickets for the last available cruise. The wait begins..

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Day #11

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

Apologies for the delay. Russia trip, continued. Beginning of the story

Day 6 – 5 pm:

There are probably few feelings as frustrating as running 100 metres through torrential rains, having to carry a faulty 20 kg bag that you cannot wheel along because its stupid handle won’t budge, looking like an idiot to passersby wondering why you can’t simply do the above and then realizing after getting into the taxi that you could simply have taken a comfortable internal route. Quite a mouthful, eh? So, after probably the worst welcome a city has ever graced me with, I sat in the back of the SUV taxi the hotel had kindly sent across, shivering, nursing a sore set of fingers and an aching back, and my jacket dripping all over the seat. Welcome to St Petersburg!

Thankfully, it all went uphill from there. After checking into the room, taking off the jacket, shaking off the cold, and freshening up, when the curtains were removed this is what greeted us:

St Isaac's Cathedral

The beautiful dome of the St Isaac Cathedral. Also built by Peter the Great, the church, like everything till now in Russia, was colossal – Huge pillars, a glorious dome to match, archangels decorating the circumference. So before I go further, a little bit about the city of St Petersburg that I quickly read up at the time. It was constructed by the relatively progressive and worldly Peter the Great who also established it as the new capital of the newly christened Russian Empire (admittedly, a much better capital shifting exercise than a Mr. Tughlaq). He named the city after his patron saint, who also shared his name. (One wonders whether that nomenclature would have been different had their names been different. Or who knows, the patron saint himself might have been someone else! “When in Russia”…) Peter was a big European buff and got a lot of European artisans in to build the city; and the influences can be clearly seen in some of the structures. It is, at first impressions, a more relaxed place than the hubbub that was the current capital. The city centre consists of most of the places of note for tourists and also quite friendly for us; it is beautiful, well constructed, well planned, and even boasts of such treasures as an art gallery with more exhibits than the Louvre!

So, once we ate our usual fare of room service Italian, we walked out into the now calm skies, armed with umbrellas and windbreakers. First stop, tourist info centre and a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of the city centre. Note that everywhere we went in Scandinavia and Russia, we encountered the same tourist agency operating these buses; and the service was quite good too. This is the link, in case it helps someone out. Anyways, back to the fickle Petersburg weather. During the approximately 2 hour bus ride, the weather must have changed its mood at least 5-6 times. Amid the decent sunlight to god-help-us-rain, we tried to listen to the not-properly-synced commentary on our headphones about each building as we passed it by. If not a whole picture, we got to see the outline and the colors for what lay in store for the next 5 days. We also realized that getting around on foot was the way to go, since as I mentioned earlier, most of the buildings of note were in the same area.

But for the day, we had had our fill of Russia. We found a cozy little Indian restaurant near our hotel which had better food, better prices and better service than more than half the restaurants I have visited back home and we chilled! No such feeling as diving into Dal Makhani bang in the middle of a former Russian capital. Amen.

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!

    Overpowering Voice, Love

    Here’s to your voice, love

    Overpowering every sense
    Blinding,
    But your presence;

    Missing that voice, love

    A voice, gentle
    A voice, calm
    A voice, melodious
    Blinding,
    But your charm;

    Speak your voice, love
    & Let it overcome

    The Feelings despised
    The Worries harboured
    The Nightmares, dreaded
    Blind me,
    & Guide me
    Through the dark