A Sunday in Berlin

(I was in the city of Warsaw in February 2015 for a month with a couple of colleagues.To explore  Eastern Europe , on Saturday night , we’d take an overnight bus/train journey for a day trip to nearby countries. Berlin was my first Sunday outing in Europe.Here is a my travelling tale which started on a wrong note but ended on a very right one)

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Everything went wrong from the word Go. While Pallavi (my colleague ) and I looked outside from our hotel’s giant glass front waiting for our cab to bus stop , the snow showers were trying to warn us about the ominous weather outside and the notorious wind with its dreary sound promised to knock us off as soon as we were out. It was quarter to eleven in night . We were to catch an overnight bus to Berlin at 11. From the experience of  last  week spent in Warsaw , we knew weather could change every hour drastically and one city could have a completely different weather from another .And here, we were travelling to another country entirely.And that is how we were trying to tell ourselves that everything would be ok.
As we braved the weather and reached the bus stop , bus had already arrived. We boarded the bus , and after getting our passports screened , went on to our seats.It was an Ecolines Polska.I took this bus on two occasions and both time I found it to be a great budget travelling option, even when booking at the last moment.And with number of buses plying on major routes like Berlin and Prague ,we never faced issue of seats shortage even with our last moment bookings .
Meanwhile,the lever of my seat turned out to be  jammed , which meant a very uncomfortable sleep.I was beginning to have a bad feeling about this trip .A couple of  Indian Jugaads later , I finally managed to squeeze in a few hours of sleep.At 7 in the morning ,woke up at Berlin a little groggy.
The bus stop looked dilapidated , not as we had expected.After all it was an international bus station. And we were in Berlin. Wasn’t it supposed to be Electronics Mecca ? The hub of research ?The great German capital? The bus stop defied all the expectations you’d have about Berlin.But that said a lot about Berlin too .What was a major travelling option in Warsaw was just another , economical – option in Berlin.
The sole ATM machine at bus stop , almost in middle of everything , didn’t hesitate to decline our ATM cards within seconds.I got a little frantic when I could not spot any currency exchange sign.We were not carrying even a single Euro. We had thought we’d get the dollars we were carrying exchanged at Berlin. Still, I decided to keep my apprehensions at bay for the time being .It was only 7 in morning.Nothing would open before 9 .We had two hours to figure things out .And first ,we had to eat something , get a coffee and look for a washroom. I opened up my packed poha and boiled eggs that had turned stone cold by now.After scurring up the last few spoons of poha ,we decided it was time to get things in order .And  from there ,everything started going wrong , yet again.
So we enquired about currency exchange and came to know there was none  in the bus stop and the nearest one was at Zoologischer Garten Statation( Zoological Garden in English – the metro station is walking distance from Berlin zoo or Zoological Garden) which was 15 minutes drive away. And so we thought let’s at least go to loo first and think about difficult things later . And there it was –  50 cents were required for using the loo.We could not even use loo .Loo! We had to pinch ourselves to believe we had ended up in this predicament.We could not use loo because we didn’t have even 50 cents :P .
And then another uncomfortable realization dawned,we could have exchanged some USD to Euros in Warsaw itself , if it was some other local currency , then only we had to rely on the destination’s currency exchange. Had it been all Berlin’s mistake , we could have been more forgiving on ourselves, but now , it was ours.
All local buses accepted only Euros .We checked with cab driver who approximated to 10 Euros to Zoologischer Garten and we were little relieved. We entered a cafe for some coffee,but they didn’t accept card , so coffelessly and shamelessly, we decided to sit there , eat some of our own stuff, and decide our itinerary . Armed with a plan , we hailed a taxi to Zoological Garten. 15 Euros poorer , we were at the metro station , where we exchanged to the Euros , paid the taxi and entered the subway station. No prizes for guessing, what was the first thing on our mind. Headed to a washroom. Brushed our teeth . And went to a McD next to the station to get a proper breakfast.

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Zoologischer Garten Station 

latest_2015 024Couldn’t miss this opportunity to get clicked near this church at Zoologischer Garten  Station 

After filling our stomach to our heart’s content , we hailed a bus to Brandenburger Tor from where our free Walking tour was to commence.20150208_043737  On our way to Brandenburger Tor –
 A beautiful sunny day at Berlin with traces of snow 

20150208_043824On our way to Brandenburger Tor in a city bus 

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20150208_045944Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate in Englishin all its majesty against the blue sky

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Brandenburger Tor (A closer look ) 

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The compound around Brandenburger Tor is called Paris Square and also is the  address to Hotel Adlon. This is the most expensive hotel in Berlin and the very hotel where Michael Jackson held his son out over the balcony ( as our walking tour guide told us)

The idea of joining the walking tour too didn’t work out well for us. We based our whole itinerary around that and we could not catch up with guy even for 500 meters because of our photography interests (and that we had reached a little late) .And then we decided to pursue the route of his walking tour on our own.We proceeded to the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews” which was just a few hundred meters from Brandenburg Gate.

20150208_051112Information at the site of Memorial to the Murdered Jews 

20150208_051134Memorial to the Murdered Jews 

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At the site of Memorial , there is also a Holocaust Museum ,which is a must visit if you are a history lover.

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At Holocaust Museum 

Lots of audios and videos from the time of holocaust  and family details of Jews who perished in that unfortunate event and their heart rendering stories

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The mood at the museum is generally sober.Absolute silence observed by visitors. Don’t be surprised if you are moved to tears or you see someone burst into tears . The audio guides are ubiquitous at tourist sites and a great help in understanding each place well.

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From there we followed Google maps to reach Potsdamer Platz,next on the walking tour destination.

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Potsdamer Platz (meaning Potsdam Square named after the city Potsdam ). The road from Potsdam used to pass through the city wall of Berlin .It is an important traffic intersection in the center of Berlin now.

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In European tourist sites , you ‘ll find a lot of people to earn money for pictures you click with them. So , they dress up like particular characters .This guy  held this flag – meant to signify socialist revolution .And told us so many stories , frankly speaking every one of them escape me now.

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20150208_132204The remains of Berlin wall which you can see at multiple places during the Walking Tour, which separated East and West Berlin

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20150208_132831Glitzy buildings at Potsdamer Platz 

20150208_134314The Berlin Film Festival was in progress when we visited 

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After Potsdamer  Platz , our next stop was Topography of Terrors Outdoor Exhibit .20150208_135551At the site of “Topography of terrors outdoor exhibit” 

Behind me ,  you can see a Trabant (or Trabi) Car – a lot of souvenirs in Berlin are dedicated to Trabi. There is also a Trabi Museum nearby from this location if you are a car person.20150208_135755

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latest_2015 106No wonder , people get emotional at such places 

It was around 3 in afternoon.We had to skip a few intended destinations (Checkpoint Charlie – not far from here )  to catch up on other on our itinerary. So , we called up a cab and reached Berliner Dom (English : Berlin Cathedral).

20150208_152911Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom in German)

Berliner Dom is breathtakingly beautiful.It can stop time for you  for the first few moments you lay your eyes on it .However, the wind was gnawing and we were chilled to our bones  ( later on , as we saw on a weather site , the wind speed showed an exceptional, distinct high peak on a graph that day). We were cold , tired and longing for some piping hot lunch in a cozy place.So,we decided to head for coffee and some nice meal near the Berlin Dome before entering the place . The cab driver pointed us to an exhibition hall in front of dome and told us the coffee was at top floor .Later on , we found out there were some good cafes and restaurants just at the back side of  Berlin Dome. But we were not complaining.We got a good view from our restaurant ( the picture above is taken from terrace of the restaurant) and had a good time looking at the architectures of the place in the exhibition halls.

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Altes Museum – one of the museums of Museum Island with Lustgarten (Pleasure Garden) on the very left hand side of Berlin Cathedral20150208_155027

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River Spree running right by the side of Berliner Dom  with  many cafes and restaurants on its bank

20150208_175205TV tower just a few hundred meters away from Berliner dom

At TV tower, you can have a 360 degree view of the city from the top where there is a bar and a restaurant.You can check about its history here .Boy ,does anything in Berlin not have a history ?
It was already close to 5 by the time we had covered Berlin Cathedral . We really had not much energy left after all the chilliness and long walks we had . We missed the  museums of Museum Island ( on which Berliner Dome is also situated) which were close from here (there are five internationally significant museums , so you would need fairly good amount of time which you’d be willing to spare only if you are a museum person )
Well, so we called it a day to our day trip here , meaning to buy some souvenirs ,and grabbing some dinner before we went back to the bus station where it all started-to catch bus for our return journey .
Even though we were under-prepared , it was the most cherished trip of all my European excursions .Reason – Berlin  itself , the amount of history it carries in its every street ,nook and corner. You are transported back to the World War II era and city would pull you back out too immediately if you have time to explore the other non-historical facets of Berlin.
I wished to add trivia about the places covered in the tour here , but I ran out of patience actually, plus there is this blogpost which actually covers all the interesting information you’d like to know about these places beforehand. Interestingly , the walking tour of this blogpost is same as spots we covered or intended to cover but could not , but in a reverse order.
As for me , I look forward to be there once again sometime with lot of time to spend and soak in its culture.

A few travel trips :
Berlin is not meant for a one day tour . It makes for minimum of three to four days trip – minimum as I’d put it .The city is  a complete culture in itself – cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic,beautiful, and smells rich of history . And you DON’T want to miss their nightlife.How you plan your itinerary would depend entirely on your preferences and taste.
Read your guides before you go there . There are a lot of discounts on Berlin Welcome Card for the entry to museums and public transport.It is available on the tourism website for Berlin 
As for souvenirs, I could not find any specialty item of Berlin. Either its the history or the Berlin written on magnets ,notebooks T-shirts etc . You get the gist ,don’t you? This is different from Warsaw, where one could pickup a trademark Polish pottery or Chopin Potato Vodka or Budapest where you can pickup their Paprika or traditional knit work).And everywhere ,there are these small pieces(stone size)  of Berlin wall glued on a plastic back for 9-10 Euros.
I’d also recommend Charlottenburgh Palace , which was a little far from Mitte (Mitte means centre) (and we missed) .It looked beautiful to us! Reichstag is yet another don’t miss , very close to Brandenburger Tor.
Public transport is impeccable and very economical.Still keep cab providers’ phone numbers handy, so if you are stuck or tired , you can opt for this little costlier option.
All shopping centers are closed on Sunday in Berlin.So make sure you have your shopping interests planned for some other day.
The street names make good tongue twisters.You’d never be able to pronounce them like a German (unless you have already invested a few months learning the language).

Some further reading recommendations before you head to Berlin

Understand Berlin’s culture here

Walking Tours here :

Sightseeing information here 

Would love to hear back from you , or your experiences about Berlin.

Keep Smiling ,
Deeksha

 

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Meeting Ruskin Bond

My smile says it all

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Yes, every word of mine has found its soul because I have grown up reading his books .

Shaking those hands that created the wonderland, we all Ruskin lovers dwell in  -an emotional and nervous experience.

More on it in a few days,when my words find a matching expression to what I felt.

Changdeokgung Palace , Seoul

This is a photo tour of Changdeokgung  Palace, Seoul , S.Korea – I had visited in February ,2011.  I had, so unlike me , managed to misplace the photos earlier :(

Just today , I was able to locate its Picasa album ( remember Picasa? older cousin of Instagram) which I had uploaded around that time . I downloaded the photos from there but I am a little skeptical that the quality of the downloaded  is not as great as the original photos.But that’s what I am left with.So here they go .

( By the way , its  a simple point and shoot  and the feelings that go behind the pictures :) , so do not try comparing  the aesthetics or technicalities with a DSLR  there )

SL370205So, Welcome to Chang-deok Palace.This is the main entrance from where the English guided tour commences

SL370208I actually don’t remember what it meant ( not good for a photo tour,hmm)

SL370210The deserted looking main entrance behind when all the commotion moved along with the tour


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The palace in front.The pointed things on either side of rooftop are actually zodiac animals from Chinese astrology.They are believed to ward off the evil eye.All palaces have essentially these characters on the rooftops.

SL370215Between the palace and the giant entrance is this courtyard , the stones are positioned where the courtmen would stand when meeting with the king here 

 

SL370216So , the picture has not been taken very properly .What I wanted to capture here is that wherevere there are stairs or an entrance they are divided into three parts -the middle one for the king – and the other two for the courtmen or his bodyguards

 

SL370217 Look at the lights hanging from the ceiling! Oh , btw,this is the throne of the king  in front

SL370220The next few photos are just to soak in the sheer colours of the palace- quitely 


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SL370227Loved the sun rays spreading its wings 


SL370231A room in palace for playing games and casual chats

SL370235Notice the paper doors of the rooms 

SL370237The corridors – little above the head 

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SL370242The modern Seoul forming the backdrop of an important piece of history 

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SL370246The frozen lake with Royal library in background

SL370244Can’t help taking picture of tress against sky , in this case ,dried by the harsh winter of Korea

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Entrance to the library – notice the three part stairs and two small adjoining entrance on either side of main one -and same for the library behind

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Minseon and me – I would have known nothing about Korea if not for her 

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SL370262Me – Circa 2011 , all wrapped up with my first winter in sub zero degree

SL370269This one is specially for people of India – please take a cue from your Korean brothers , everywhere I saw , they had put special efforts to save every tree they could ,at the same time , valuing people’s convenience and safety

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You never get old , once you cross this door -so goes the saying( doesn’t seem to be working although)

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A common style of room , a small hollow basement for lighting the fire in winters which keeps the whole floor warm ,the doors are made of paper 

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The common man’s house , uncolored 

 

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The red thing hanging from roof top is a fire detector cum sprinkler – since the whole palace is mostly wood and paper.

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Rows of rooms – in a common man’s house – found it interesting and odd

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The next picture tells what’s so special about the tree

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A last photo with the palace door while we get ready to exit 

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In the campus , is a museum where these Korean dolls took my fancy 


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And paper dolls

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Spotted ! “Yoga” 

So that was Changdeokgung palace in short for you .To understand more about the historical and architectural significance of it, read its wiki here .

Meanwhile , I have unearthed a lot of Korean jewels ( read photos) in my Picasa , so hopefully , I’d come back for more .

Till then ,
Keep Exploring

Deeksha

GHNP trek Day 2

Read about the part 1 of GHNP trek here.  Continuing further about the Day 2 of this 4 day trip.

Day 2 : We woke up quite relaxed to a glorious sunny morning . Unhurriedly ,explored the beautiful landscape with our gaze which we had missed to appreciate last evening as it was already pit dark by the time we had reached the camp  location. Breathing the fresh morning air while the sun continued to ascend and spread its crimson yellow treasure. As we discussed the agenda of the day , the highest on priority turned out to be morning ablutions.A yellow tent served as a toilet .With a make-shift seat and a pit. The yellow color of tent was so bright  , you could spot it from miles away. While we were staring at the yellow tent , Vasundhara declared she would rather head for bushes.  Now this small detail seems quite unnecessary to mention but  at that time , as we conceded for it , I felt like “jungle-paani” was the most authentic experience I could have in the lap of nature :P

So I marched gloriously with a bottle in one hand  along with other ladies,very smug about what I was going to experience. Meanwhile , Ritesh and Pankaj had managed a small trek to nearby hill .After finishing up breakfast ,around 10 am , we started our intended trek for the day .On inquiry , trek guides told us it  was called  Barchi,locally .It looked like it was not an actual or usual trek route , just a way locals would take to cross the hills. The destination of our trek was not far- hardly a kilometer or two . No elevation. We walked through a serene forest and crossed a hill to reach the last point on hill from where the descent started.The trek  was so simple, that I had not realized for a while, it was our intended destination for the day .It took us hardly half an hour or forty five minutes to reach there. However,once there, it felt like we were living the moment.Each moment  lasted an eternity.The stillness of air and the music of silence travelled to our senses. Life moved slower than usual.The eyes could cover miles in one gaze. And a whole lot of sky.All of us  relaxed, meditated or  simply tuned into the nature around -watched the circling eagles , rays of sun playing games with mountain peaks in distance and soaked in the buzz of insects .

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The blue sky as seen through  cheed  trees during trek of day 2 to Barchi top 

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A piece of hills- A beginner’s trek in GHNP (Part 1)

(A trek from the eyes of a first time trekker)

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(From L to R) Ritesh ,Sakshi , Vasundhara , Anchal ,Me and Pankaj

The backdrop on how it culminated

When it comes to hills , I have visited Mussorie and Nainital on several occasions, but , mostly as a tourist , not as a traveller. As a tourist ,  I visited the tourist spots , picked up a few fallen twigs , pine cones , rhododendrons and when somewhere in my life , a little piece of it , went  wrong , closed my eyes and re-lived those wonderful moments .And yet I hoped hills loved me back. I knew somewhere in my heart , that it was not enough .There are more ardent lovers of hills;more resolute;more courageous to take the plunge. But I have  always believed in mysterious ways of life – that if it is meant to be , I would find myself in lap of mountains one day .
And so it happened . Hills called me . To Tirthan in Kullu .For my first trek and camping , the one that would answer a lot of questions about life.

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GHNP(Great Himalayan National Park) trek

I am no trekker . Nor I was ever an adventure-lover to boast about. I am the next-door girl leaving for office early morning every day and tending her garden on weekend.Yet I have the same questions that keeps driving the monks on their endless journeys , the questions few people claim to have found an answer to after a few glasses of whisky . It is a difficult task to live with these questions  and to let them overwhelm you for they become a part of your being.Your whole life becomes a quest for the answers . And did I ever find an answer or a hint to the answer ?Yes , I did. I found what urges people to throw away the comforts of a warm household and take a leap of faith , follow their heart . The answer of all the world lay at the end of a 17 hours tiring journey to Tirthan valley in Kullu. Trekkers would know there are more breath-taking places on earth or , beauty that would make your heart skip a beat . But the first trekking experience is always special. Because that is where the connect is discovered.

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A few more nit-picks from Bhopal

This is part two of my Bhopal sojourn .The first part can be read here 

A little more exploration in the heart of Bhopal took me to these places –

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Taj-ul-Masajid

Masajid is plural of Masjid , it means “Crown among mosques”. Its construction was also initiated by Nawab Shah Jahan Begum (source :Wikipedia) and it overlooks the Taj Mahal about which you can read here .

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The other Taj Mahal of India-in Bhopal

This post’s first draft was written in October,2013.But owing to the hecticness that ensued in my life in November and December , because of my brother-in-law’s marriage , the post was pipe-lined.Here I am now on a writing spree tonight , so here it goes.

I am sure the title of the post is a surprise to many .It would have been for me at least.I was off to Bhopal for four days for an official trip for recruitment.I would not have written any post about Bhopal but for the last day of the trip , when our cab driver took us for a little detour towards the old city and introduced us to the ” Taj Palace ” interestingly built by another “Shah Jahan” who in this case was Begum of Bhopal and the palace was her residence.

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Paulista Avenue-The photo essay

Circa June 2k12 .I spent the month in Brazil in a beautiful city of Campinas,which is a suburb of  São Paulo .I had two weekends at hand  to explore the place , one of which was spent in navigating through parks and markets of Campinas which I have covered in earlier posts.One of the days of next weekend was spent in São Paulo , this post is about visiting Paulista Avenue (Avenida Paulista as called by Brazilians) as part of the day-trip.

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The majestic buildings-1

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Graffiti in Brazil

On my maiden visit to São Paulo, the one thing that mesmerized me the most was – the graffiti on the  walls, roadsides, public structures etc. Of course, they deface the public property a little , but these graffiti lend São Paulo its own “culture” element.Graffiti are more prominent in the older areas – where the drab walls with peeling plasters have been taken to an entirely new dimension with these graffiti – which at times are just decorative or at other times carry a strong message or a hint of mindset of the neighborhood.  In the posh areas, the graffiti is quite organized and commercial actually .They have been used  to make the area look artsy and sophisticated .Overall, I found São Paulo very similar to Delhi – an eclectic mix of colors , ethnicity , co-existence of old heritage with fast coming up new building structures , the pot-holed roads , beggars , modest neighborhood in vicinity of posh areas, a number of markets and a culture to enjoy.But when it comes to graffiti , as of June last year when these pictures were taken , Delhi had witnessed much lesser graffiti action than São Paulo,.In São Paulo , if you were to click graffiti , you could end up with numerous of clicks on  a single street itself.In Delhi  , the new breed of graffiti artists ,is now coming to prominence.And the first name that comes to my mind is that of “Daaku”.Have witnessed his work almost in all major spots of Delhi by now , and boy , his work is impressive.Here is the link to an article on graffiti artists in Delhi which appeared in The Hindu soon after I landed to Delhi after finishing my trip.And here is one of the famous work of Daaku at Hauz Khas village ( Courtesy : http://pixels-memories.blogspot.in)

Towards the end of photos , is a graffiti of Daku ,at Bacardi NH7 weekender, Delhi edition , 2012 , which I was lucky enough to attend .

 

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A graffiti painted on a public toilet !

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Culinary pleasures from Brazil

I am looking forward to put up pictures of Sao Paulo as soon as I can,for that belongs to the category of destinations that completely satisfy my traveller  instincts.But before that, is another journey –  a delicious one in that.

I have always believed that currency of a nation depicts what it holds really important – its  important national virtues and symbols, and the food -its lifestyle – well, we all know food habits of a country are a direct derivative of the geographic, cultural,historical, religious influences etc-(as a very simple example-  the religious context of cows explain the attitude of Indians towards beef ). I believe it helps to understand and appreciate the differences between cultures when it comes to the gastronomy- so I believe in  treating myself with a variety of food in a new place (though it has something to do with my love for food also).Though I havenot reached any conclusive thinking on how I can relate it with the mindsets to help judge the people or cultural preferences.All I know is Indians (North Indians) relish on “chatpata” stuff  like no other person on earth and possess an equally “chatpati” personality.But if food has really something to do with people ,in  that sense , Brazilian food is as unbiased and comprehensive as the ethnicity mix of Brazil.It has food to tickle every  taste bud.And a variety of food in each meal or platter.

Sabudana cooked in strawberry jam with mango toppings.It was as delicious as it looks.

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The june fest- Festa junina

The month of June sees whole Brazil celebrating Festa Junina (The June fest).It is a Christian festival.Decorations can be found in malls, schools and all public places.Shops sell traditional clothes , hats , party decoration stuff for  Festa Junina parties hosted by people. The party is called Quermesse.Haven’t been lucky to see some , but it sounds fun .

Festa Junina decorations at office

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Hippie Fair-Campinas,Brazil

Hippie fair is a weekly event at Campinas.An open air market every Sunday till afternoon , where local craftsmen will sell their handicraft or other hand made items.Hippie fairs as I know through internet are held in every city in Brazil.For me , it was a good opportunity to know how Brazil hand-made art looks like.I missed pictures of a few vital pieces typical to Brazil art, but here are the rest.There was a cart selling Indian products too – Bindis, Bangles, figures of Indian Gods and Goddesses, Kurtis etc .It looks like Indian art has quite an influence and are quite hit here.I could find a few shops selling Indian things at very high prices in the malls also.Here are the pics

A painter to sell his artwork

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Brazil – Watching movies and eating Tapoica

It’s been a real cold day ,so I finally signed a peace treaty with coffee and helped myself with a cafe latte.This is for the first time,I am drinking coffee in months.But its quite cold outside for my temperament and nothing could make me feel better than a hot drink.What was blowing outside, I won’t call it a breeze for sure,it wasn’t gentle, but a cold wind that would make you shiver  as it moved around violently.I,for whole day was hoping to go out , but at this point of time while I stood outside the mall,  really wished I was in my bed watching a movie and eating popcorn.

The picture of fingelicking Tapioca

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Lake Tacquaral ,Campinas ,Brazil, Part 2

As I enjoy my first cup of tea  after a week of stay in Brazil, on a rainy day , I believe nothing could be closer to bliss.Even though I am not out exploring the “happening” parts of Brazil, I feel happy as I think the tranquility of this place and weather was exactly what I needed.And I feel happy to have managed to escape the fury of rising mercury level in Delhi for a few days and spend some time with my space , ie my blog in such a beautiful weather.Visit to Lake Tacquaral was an enriching experience.I am yet to find out the names of the trees and flowers I saw there and hope to update the labels soon with their names.Selma , wife of Leo ( who owns the taxi agency which we use for our transportation here ) , accompanied me for the visit.

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Lake Tacquaral,Campinas,Brazil, Part -1

While the warmth of Brazilians touch your heart , the greenery cools down your senses.The first thing you notice as the airplane circles the Sao Paulo airport is the vast stretch of green mountains – intriguing and breathtaking.And Campinas , it might be a sleepy suburb for Sao Paulo, but for me its a green heaven for the landscapes and open green lands will inspire you to go out for long walks or write a beautiful story.

These are few pictures from my visit to Tacquaral park in Campinas.

 

 

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Korean flora

A friend’s post on Indian flowers inspired me to write a similar post on Korean flowers and trees I had encountered and cherished during my stay at South Korea.South Korea being in temperate zone has a diversity of flora which we normally do not come across in plains of our tropical climate.So,this was an interesting exploration.I prepared a leaf book with the help of my friend Minjoo who fortunately and co-incidently had a keen interest in study of plants and so was blessed with a wide knowledge on nature and a giant dictionary on Korean trees.My leaf book has all the leaves I collected and came to know about in Korea.I’ll share the world it carries in its tiny pages as this blogpost will evolve.I’ll keep adding the pictures to this post.For now,I am posting the pretty picture of magnolia – the beauty to watch for in Korean winters.

This picture of  magnolia tree in the glory of night was clicked by Amit , a fellow-Samsungite.I always wanted this picture on my blog ever since I saw it.

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Delicious Tteokbeokki

This is the picture of finger-licking Tteokbokki I had at “Crazy Tteok” near Seoul Nat’l University Subway station(exit 3).It contains fried tofu,boiled eggs,dumplings(mandoo in Korean),noodles (ramyeon in korean),fish cakes, vegetables and tteok (sliced rice cakes) of course.

Stirring the tteok dish

Stirring the tteok dish

The sauce used is Gochujang- Korean Traditional Sauce made of red (hot) chilli pepper,rice powder,soybean along with some syrup which adds the sweetness to the spicy sauce.

Sounds and Looks sumptuous isn’t it?

Other on the menu were seafood tteok,curry tteok,bulgogi tteok and cheese tteok!.

Tteokbokkis are of two kinds – the one usually served by roadside snacks’ vendors – which is just sliced rice cake in spicy sauce ,and the other served in restaurants – customized – and more variety added like the one here in the picture.

Tteokbokki stirred hot at table

Tteokbokki stirred hot at table

After the main dish , to consume the sauce left,generally rice is ordered which is then stirred with the sauce.

The picture of golden rice in sauce with cheese.

Rice ,cheese and sauce

Rice ,cheese and sauce

Feeling hungry?