Friday, January 23, 2009

Main Chali

This would only make sense if you know the old Hindi movie song "Main chali, main chali". Actually even then, it won't really :)
Main Chali
En- zee
Mujhe roke na koi
For the life changing bungee
Main chali Main chali
Evil me:
La-la-la my desi cow
Sheep mein kho na jaana tum wahan
And as you think of bungee,
Apni 'aux' ka rakhna dhyaan

I'm off for 14 days. Thanks to Flooey, I might even blog from NZ. Take care, you guys.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Scenes from Salzburg

20th/21st September 2007
Our hostel defied expectations (which incidentally were a rung above rock bottom after the Innsbruck fiasco)- it was really nicely done up- warm and cosy, with good furniture and service to match. Since we just had a day in Salzburg, we decided to make the most of it. (this sounds nice and amicable but it took an adamant G to dissuade me against the Sound of Music tour. Thank god for her adamance-or we would have spent 5 hrs with the commercial and touristy busload of old people.)
As luck would have it, we shared our room with an Austrian girl from Innsbruck, who happened to work at the same campsite (Kranebitten) that had given us the crappy caravan. And though we did not mean to- we ended up whining and giving feedback! If you go there and no longer see the dusty small caravan- you know who to thank. Yes- I'd like to believe that some people do take feedback seriously.
The morning breakfast was like a visit to the Chak de India sets- there were some sports teams staying at the hostel who'd descended to the breakfast area for their dose of energy at 7 am. It was fun seeing girls twice my size pick up 3 glasses of milk with 6 slices of cheese and a mountain of sunflower bread. The soundtrack of Chak De played in my mind as did the thought that I looked like a midget amongst giants.
We'd decided to start the day with a trip to Salzkammergut, the lake district of Salzburg, which in hindsight deserves a dedicated holiday.The 1 hour journey to St Gilgen, the lake, was beautiful-it was as though a new set of picture postcards was unravelling right in front of our eyes. Lush green valleys separated by a pristine blue. A patch of white and black in the form of cows. Nature glowing with pride under the watchful eye of the pleased sun.
The lake was more beautiful than anything I'd seen before. The kind of place where you could lose yourself and the track of time. Apparently, we did- we missed our bus back to Salzburg (it's an hourly service) and that led us to explore the place. We chanced upon a restaurant that was right in front of a chapel where a wedding celebration was on in full swing! The ambience was merry enough to be enjoyed better- with awesome ravioli and strudel. In my mind's album, these are the memories that will never come unstuck, because they get created without prior design and yet, are so perfect.
Mirabell Gardens, the next destination on our itinerary, was a beautiful park (a picture of which you also see in the header of the blog). It was charming, unhurried and just the relaxing spot you'd need on a sunny, gorgeous day. Only we had to hurry through it to reach Untersbergen on time. This was a cable car ascent to 1853m, to the summit that offered a magnificent view. We saw the snow covered Alps!!
It was here that we met this retired Canadian physician who was on a bike tour with his friends. They'd done about 1000 km and by the looks of it, had the stamina for another 1000! If ever I need to define zest, I know what to use as an example.
Spent the afternoon doing some touristy things, like buying the Mozart chocolates and doing the Salzach cruise. The hightlight of the cruise was the Mozart waltz, where they actually make the boat spin and turn to the rhythm of Mozart's music :)
In the evening, we walked through the carnival (their version of the Oktoberfest apparently!), on our way to the fortress which can reached by the cable railway. The fortress dates back to the middle ages and is currently used as a concert venue etc. We used it to soak in the magnificent view of the city. The bright lights of the carnival; the sun setting in the backdrop of the Salzach river and the old city stretching out, calling it a day.
Came back to the hostel around 9 pm and after a hot shower, went straight down to the video room where they screen The Sound of Music every night! :) I've watched the movie a hundred times, but that night in Salzburg, after the day of lakes, dales and mountains, Maria and the hills did come alive. The notes of Salzburg were pitch perfect.
Traveller's Tip #1- Free and Easy rocks. Do not fall for the tours, please! You'll waste more than the 30 odd Euros that each tour costs.
Traveller's Tip#2- Try the food at Indigo- it's right near the bus stop for the fortress and serves great fusion food with loads of veg options. The curry I had, tasted strangely Maharashtrian :P

Monday, January 19, 2009

Introducing Flooey

Flooey- apparently, is my (really early) birthday gift. Truth be told, she belongs to both of us (I say this only to keep the possibility of other gifts alive till April).
She is a Lenovo S-10 idea pad/ net book/a really small laptop that looks extremely cool. I realize the above photo does not do justice to her.
She is a charming white and weighs less than the books I read.
She is also responsive, unlike the work monster that takes 20 mins to boot and 5 mins to minimize a window.
She will also help me blog more often. (I'm not sure just how many would think that's a good feature..but oh well.)
I was earlier reluctant. Now I'm just proud. The transition was rather easy.
(If only I could think of kids in the same way..!!)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Shades and Patterns of Love

The deep blue of shared possibilities.
The beige of space in togetherness.
The orange of intimacy.
The crimson of petty fights.
The mustard of predictable routine.
The purple of unexpected touch.
The sandy white of that sleepy morning cuddle.
The grey of unmindful neglect.
The sepia of memories created with you.
The green of contentment.
The turquoise of a surprise gift.
The peach of willing adjustment.
The rusty brown of possessiveness.
The deep red that stokes passion.
The yellow of knowing what makes you happy.
The black that spells commitment.
The pink that gives a naughty nudge.
The burgundy of wanderlust.
The fluffy white of cushioned truths.
The silver and gold of vows.
The transclucent film of secrets.
The stripes of real fidelity.
The criss-cross of doubts and reservations.
The small circles of near surrender.
The shadow of vulnerability.
The metallic finish of need.
The damp touch of loneliness.
The satin smooth of being in your arms.
Sometimes vacuum.
Sometimes eternity.
The heady feeling
that tends to infinity.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Innsbruck Times

(Sept 19th & 20th, 2007)
And so we arrived in Innsbruck with the clean mountain air gladly filling our nostrils. Our hands and legs were glad too with the unexpected bonus of escalators and well maintained facilities.
We dutifully took public transport to our campsite- which looked beautiful. Sadly, our caravan was not. I have no clue what we did wrong-but we got the ugliest and dirtiest caravan that they had on offer. Dirtcheap could be a very apt name- what we paid and what we got.
Anyhow, we were in a mood to let it go and visit the city centre to get some grub. The food was amazing- the concept of vegetarianism was not alien to this city and I gorged on a delightful salad and mixed veg rice. A for awesome.
A very heady and convenient calculation showed me that this was yet another place where the cost of wine was equal to that of coffee and that of water :) Sigh.
We went to the Golden roof and the Haustbopf palace- basically explored the city centre, which, much to our horror, shut down at 6 pm! The town officially shuts down by 6.30 pm. I think the only establishments open were some restaurants, pubs and Mcdonalds! Since we had nothing better to do, we thought we'd surf the internet- but there were no internet cafes around! Our best bet was this pub that let us use the internet for 20 cents a minute. The surfing plans were abandoned in favor of dipping toes and scooting to a mall that showed some sign of life.

We went to a bar called Habana, that served great Chardonnay and had sufficient eye-candy for two bored girls. We rounded off our "evening out" with Apple Strudel. My tastebuds can still recall that divine creamy cinnamon. Yum.
Dirtcheap appeared even smaller by nightfall and though it was cramped for me, G and the bedbugs, we did manage to get some sleep. Actually a lot of sleep, because we woke up at 8 am! And the view outside was breathtaking!! This was right behind our caravan :) I think that's what they mean by saying 'look at the bigger picture'.
We checkout of the campsite and headed straight to the station, where we deposited our luggage and had a hot breakfast. This was the second big splurge day of the trip after the Venice mask+pendant day. We went to Swarovski Crystal world where I ended up buying a lot of what else, crystal! I think I ought to be a little more eloquent here- this was no jewellery showroom-it's more a combination of crystal theme park and a family's lasting way of showing off their wealth & expertise. I'll let the pictures talk more.
Though Innsbruck is a very popular ski destination, we went during summer, so that aspect of the town remained hidden. It's safe, clean, has great food and we really enjoyed our time there. All except this rather unfortunate time, when I got locked out at the station loo- Damn, that was scary! Is there some unstated understanding between those loo designers that no country shall have identical systems for locking/ unlocking, flushing and tap water? Also, instructions in local language don't really help when you think you will grow old in that tiny cubicle that flushes in some places, on the left or on the right, through a push or pull in others and in yet others, through a food pedal! Indian public toilets, esp at railway stations are quite simple in this respect- they stink so much, you'd never enter one so getting locked in one is quite out of the question. But coming back to the minor adventure- I did finally get rescued when I managed to turn the knob the wrong way. I got the tap all figured out in 2 secs though and made a dash to the exit in another 5, before all those Austrian aunties let out hearty laughs.
Our next stop was Salzburg which is about an hour away from Innsbruck, and deserves a separate post :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Venezia & The Tourist

( Sept 18, 2007)
This was almost the only day during this trip, we got into the typical tourist trap- you go to Amex to casually change TC's. While waiting, you rest your gaze upon these wondrous posters on the wall that inform you of the glorious wonders that are, but a short distance away. By now, you also notice other tourists walking in and enquiring about the tour and then booking it. A quick memory check reveals that you have heard of these places before and since you don't want to miss out on going to a place worth going to, you now officially belong to the queue of tourists paying a good sum of money to be ferried to these islands.
That is how G and I came to see the sister islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. Each of them has its speciality- Glass, Lace and Quiet Solitude, respectively. Only the last is being beautiful without being exorbitant! The mandatory tours around the islands, be it the demo on Murano glass making or a tour around the lace workshop at Burano, involve a visit to the souvenier shops. Word of advice- please do not buy here unless you have noble objective that is not rational. Do take a lot of pictures- the colorful houses make for very nice subjects. Burano is also famous for its cookies-Again, not very cheap, but good enough.
I did buy a couple of Murano glass pendants but those were from Venice itself- expensive but so darn pretty. Hold it up against the light and you'll see beautiful patterns doing a joy dance. I guess my rational side decides to make an appearance only for things that I don't really care about- lace table mats being one.

This day was also marked by barely tolerable food. Really, for the number of tourist that throng Venice, you'd think this would be the food capital of Italy- but nothing could be further from the truth. To compensate for the lack of quality food, we turned to the other essential- Drink! Had Bellini in our little caravan, packed and then braved the breezy cold with Hindi songs and a walk around the campsite. And thus ended our stay in Venice.
The journey from Venice to Innsbruck wasn't as straightforward as we'd expected. Bus from campsite to Mestre (the main train station) and then a train to Verona. And then a train from Verona to Innsbruck. But well worth it!
Innsbruck was a treat for sore senses- clean, safe and with a view of the Alps as you get out of the station :) More on that in the next post.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Clouds are no longer grey

Apology is due.

I took off the last post and along with it, went the comments that spelt concern. There are a couple of reasons why I deleted it- well, for starters, it was just too damn negative and that goes by and large against the spirit of the blog- I definitely won't like to read this five years down the line and there's a fat chance that I'd get misty eyed about getting so neurotic.

The cyber life offers an 'undo' option and I'd have been a fool to ignore it.

It's only too clear that a horrid post like that could have impacted my friends enough for even innocent status messages to appear sinister. To be fair, my status message on gtalk reads: (Ready to face my worst fear in 2 weeks). Since it was so close on the heels to the whole post and the randomness in my behavior, I did get some very anxious queries on what the hell the matter was. So that's the second reason- I do not want to worry people who matter to me, especially since I got over the whiney mood after a mere 12 hrs of posting and subsequent deletion.

Incidentally, if you are wondering, the worst fear bit alludes to Bungee jumping which I shall force myself to do in NZ! It's my worst fear and well, action cures fear or so I've read. Time to test the theory- even if I sacrifice myself in the process!! :P

The grey clouds have parted and the silver lining is that I finally got down to putting together my list of "30 Before 30" (things to do before I turn 30). Even if it lacks the grand vision of life, it does give me a sense of purpose and hey, who doesnt like ticking things off their To-do list? That these are things that I will do to make self happy just doubles the joy of the tick mark :)

What are those 30 things? As policy that governs these lists dictates, I shall act first and gloat later. So if you hear me talk about weird stuff that I'm about to do, there's a high chance that it's because it's on the list. Or it could just be me being crazy!
You take care too.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Beckoning 2009

Moments of introspection. Crib-free hours.
Work that doesn’t just pay the bills.
New Things. New People. Old Friends.
Days that are ordinary,,and yet fulfilling.
Enchanting vacations and Cheap Thrills.
Happiness and joy that is not always selfish.
Music and dance. Thoughts that waltz.
Warm smiles and genuine affection
Getting closer to being the person you want to be.
Going back to being the person you were.
Exploration and Adventure.
Experiences that are not captured on camera.
Time for yourself out of the calendar and inbox
Hot chocolate Fudge induced inspiration.
Walks on the beach and at times, on cloud #9
Cups of hot coffee and interesting conversations.
Hog-athons and marathons. Prayers and Peace.
Here’s wishing you a wonderful 2009.