Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Morning at Marine Drive

Taking a break from Geneva. Lots of pictures to be scanned and am really fed up with the quality I am getting even in 600 dpi which makes each one of them massive (over 100 MB per photo) ! Oh why have I started blogging ?

Anyways, most probably I’ll resume it in a week’s time or so. Meanwhile I thought of coming back to Indian scenario.

The other Sunday morning I just wanted to go out to a quiet secluded place. Not able to decide where to go, I took an early morning train to Churchgate. Since I am very fond of walking, started walking towards Marine Drive. Here are some pictures.

Sunrise at Marine Drive. This one is from the end of Marine Drive. One can see Colaba part in the background.

Can you guess what it is ? Does it remind you of anything ? Mumbai people, please keep quiet.

I walked the entire length of Marine Drive till the end. Because of tiling of this pathway and other construction work it was a little dusty.

It was nice to see a couple oblivious of this world spending some quiet moments. If you enlarge the picture, you can see fishing motorboats coming back after getting the day's first catch. Also, in the background one can see the Raj Bhawan area (governor's house). Banganga is very near to that place.

The lone boat trying to catch its share in the moolah. Can you see dull gray coloured quiet water ?

While coming back I clicked this. The other gate of Cricket Club of India.

Hmmm Marine Drive does look good. :)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Lac Léman – Some pictures

Here are some more pictures of Geneva Lake called Lac Léman.

You might be wondering why there are two types (scanned & digital) of pictures on my blog. The reason is very simple.
When I reached
Geneva I had a still camera with me (I am a big fan of still photography, specially B & W photography). The quality of digital pictures are no match to still ones.
However, the ease of use and expenses involved are the main advantages of having a digital one. So, after sometime I also bought my first digicam, an expensive one and used it for 3-4 months. Then a colleague borrowed it for two days and lost it ! I decided not to buy another one for at least a year. Hence back to still camera. Some places I visited twice so you’ll have mix of still & digital pictures. Enjoy !! As always click on the picture for an enlarged view.

This was a ship always standing near the bridge. I think it must have been an old ship. Every weekend it was booked by locals to host some party.. full with music and wine till wee hours. If I get I’ll show you some pictures of nightlife on this ship. I am sure I have them somewhere. We were never invited though. :((

The lake is full of these lovely swans. They are just not scared of humans and eat anything that is offered to them like bread, croissants, fruits etc. In the background you can see people going towards Jet d'eau.

The water jet. It was always fun going near it as even from a distance, the sky touching showers always make you wet. If you enlarge the picture, you can see hundreds of sail boats parked near jet area. Also, can you see buildings in the back ground ? My apartment was in one of them.
Green on the left side is a huge park.

Standing tall and alone. The light house in the lake.

Quiet wintry evenings by the lake.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dreams or Nightmares ??

On my other blog I was tagged by Sigma. I was asked to describe my three dreams / desires / nightmares or a combination of them .. whatever I want to share.

Well, I have already posted about five of my weird dreams which are actually desires and I don’t see dreams quite often. The only two dreams that I remember are coincidentally related to travel, so I thought more apt to post them here as well. Here they go..

ONE - This was also my first dream that I remember and I still remember the exact details.

I was six years old then. My father was transferred to Bharatpur (Rajasthan) and we had already moved to that tiny quiet city. But within 15 days of shifting I dreamt that we had just got down at Bharatpur railway station.

It was a wintry late night and there was no conveyance to go to our place. Fortunately my father got two rickshawallahs from somewhere and we were ready to go to our place. He made me sit in one rickshaw with all the luggage saying I was a big girl now and could take care of luggage and travel alone ! And he, my mother and younger sister sat in another with some more luggage. Being a quiet child, I didn’t say anything but was extremely scared. On top of that my rickshawala didn’t know the route so was told to follow theirs.

I was feeling very cold in a pink lacy frock. I had kept an eye to their rickshaw which was racing ahead of us in those narrow lanes. Suddenly as the luck would have it, the chain of my rickshaw got stuck and he had to stop.
According to me he took ages to correct it and by that time the other rickshaw was nowhere in sight. We went left and right in some lanes but couldn’t find them. Street lights were not proper and at a distance some dogs were barking.

I started crying very hard.. so hard that I was actually crying in my sleep ! And then my mother rushed to me and asked whether I saw a bad dream. I must have been crying for long .. my pillow was all wet. I was relieved to see her and after telling her about my nightmare I clung to her for the rest of the night.

It was very strange to have such a nightmare because of several reasons. First, we had already moved into the city. There was no need to see going there again. Second, we never had to fetch a rickshaw for transferring our luggage..lol.. it was always big trucks with many helping hands to do the needful. Third and most important, at that age my parents would have never left me alone in that rickshaw.

TWO - The next dream is quite contrast to the above one. That was of my childhood and this is just two years old. While the first one made me cry this second one left me laughing out loudly. It is about air travel and is bizarrely funny.

Here also I remember everything including my seat no. but here I’ll keep it short.

I was flying high when suddenly our airplane exploded in pieces up there in the sky. Fortunately or unfortunately at that time I was sitting intact reading a magazine with my seat belt on.

When I felt a little cold, I looked around and found myself in the clouds. I could touch them. So, I tucked my magazine securely to read later, checked my seat belts... they were jammed.

It was a scene to watch.. me sitting comfortably on my seat, all alone plummeting down but feeling and admiring the white clouds.

I had a big grin on my face and I wanted to be there forever. I never bothered about other people’s fate though I could see some burning pieces of aeroplane going down. Then a few moments later I came below the clouds and within no time I could see the sea below with no sign of land anywhere.

Instead of worrying about my life, do you know what thoughts came to my mind ?

“Oh my God ! How am I going to swim to the shore in a sitting position with this seat stuck to me ? And the article I was reading is still incomplete !”

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Geneva – Lac Léman

Without Lac Léman, Geneva is incomplete and without Jet d’Eau (Water Jet), Lac Léman is incomplete. They are both integral parts of Geneva. The city's most noted landmark, the Jet d'Eau is situated in Lake Geneva. Its 140-metre-high water column is visible from many parts of the city. This jet remains closed for three months during peak winter. Also, in year 2000, Geneva was awarded the Wakker Prize for its architectural heritage.

This freshwater lake is very big in size (more than 70 KM long) and spread to France also. A small part of it is attached to Geneva which is called Petit lac (small lake). The remaining part is attached to France. So, the ferries are another way to go lakeside French area. After a ferry ride of 10 minutes we are in France. As far as I remember the max. width of the lake is approx over 10 kms.

In this lake the main leisure activities are sailing, wind surfing, boating (including water skiing and wake boarding), rowing, fishing, scuba diving and bathing. And yes, swimming as well. There is a separate section of shallow water for children. It was always fun watching all these activities. As I said earlier, my first apartment was very near to the lake.. just 100 meters of walking distance !!

Almost all the people have their own boats which are ‘parked’ here and in weekends one can see them coming in cars, parking the cars alongside and take the boats for rides to other places to spend the weekend. I felt so jealous of them at that time. :)

You can see the parked boats and

the parked cars along the lake.

Water jet is in the back ground in both the pictures.Click on them for enlarged view.

The railway track along the lake provides a scenic beauty to long distance train travelers. More on that in some other post. :)

The path or promenade along the lake is very wide and long just like we have in Bandra bandstand or Worli sea shore in Mumbai. But compared to that, these two are very small stretches, both in width and length. People of all age group come there regularly for jogging, walking the dogs and most importantly skating. The weekends were busy with skating competitions and stunts. But the whole area becomes extremely cold during winters.

The petit lac portion is so small that we used to walk along the sides to go to the other side (crossing a bridge) where we had our favourite ice cream kiosk ! The distance is hardly 2 kms. [ Around CHF 2 for an ordinary vanilla/strawberry flavoured cone :(( ]. CHF is the Swiss currency also called the Swiss Franc in English speaking countries.

In this picture you can see all – The Jet d’Eau (water Jet), the place where I stayed and my favourite ice-cream shop.

The world famous Geneva festival (a post will describe it later) happens along the lake and on the last day there are splendid fireworks right in the middle of it.
I have at least 200 pictures of this lake alone. I can speak on and on about this lake as every weekend I used to go there for strolling and I remember every tree/corner/building of that area.
Only one thing I missed out (that remains in my wish list). To read a novel lying leisurely on a free boat on a sunny afternoon near Jet d’eau.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

My first apartment in Geneva

When I landed in Geneva I moved into a fourth floor apartment of this building but in a month’s time I moved out. Reason ? I have described below. Please don’t laugh, my reason was very peculiar and a simple one. First something about the apartment.

It was a three bed-room apartment with a large living room, a small store room, kitchen, a full-fledged bathroom (without the commode) and a separate toilet. There was a passage in the middle and on both sides there were rooms. Here is the map (not to the scale), just to have a rough idea. Click on any of the pictures to have an enlarged view.

Now the reasons.

First (which was my official reason also), it was far from office. Office being on the other side of the lake, I had to take two buses or a bus-tram-bus combination to get there.

But most important, genuine and basic reason was, that the toilet was sans a water tap !! Only a tissue holder.
It was just a small toilet with no water connection and between bathroom and the
toilet there was a small room.. all the doors were opening in the passage from right side. On left side there was kitchen and other rooms. So if one wanted to use the water in bathroom, he had to cross more than half the length of the passage to go to bath. Ha Ha.. With all strangers around, one can very well imagine.
Now while I am writing this post, it makes me laugh at the stupidity but I needed water, if not on all days then definitely on certain days. I somehow managed there for a month then opted out.
And mind you, this is not only in
Geneva but I think the whole of Europe has same funda. Even in Lille (France), they have similar dwellings. Hmm.. one more secret is out. :)

This was the only solace for me in that unknown city. The lone Indian shop just below my building. And in the whole year I never saw this shop opened because of my odd office timings. But on regular intervals the objects displayed were changing, so I can’t say that the shop was non-operating or an abandoned one.

Once I saw Bindi packets being displayed for CHF 2. Almost Rs. 64/- for what we get for Rs 2/- in India. I immediately knew what I am going to do if I am bored with my current job. Sell Bindis in Switzerland !!

CHF = Swiss currency called Swiss Francs approx Rs. 35/-

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Reaching Geneva

Geneva, my first on-site city. It makes me smile, for, it has given me countless nice memories. And it is like my second home after my India.

Mumbai-Amsterdam-Geneva. That was the route I was taking. Though I was traveling alone, unlike many first time overseas travelers I was not nervous at all. I was excited. New place, new work and new challenge. I just wanted to run away from Mumbai because it was mid August, raining horribly and I hate Mumbai rains and roads.
At the airport all usual questions were asked.. who packed your luggage, are you carrying a knife etc. I had a suitcase and a rucksack besides my handbag. No hugging/kissing/crying and last minute advice for me as my family was in
Delhi. Only people came to see me off was the family I was staying with.

The flight was comfortable and on time.. nearly 8 hours to reach Amsterdam. I didn’t have any difficulty with seat-belt, overhead indicators or closing/ opening of washroom door. I knew all. The only thing that really irritates me is blocking of my ears and when the airplane decides to descend at a speed which starts hinting you through your stomach to say your final prayers.

I slept for sometime as next day was Monday and I had to report to duty (Ohh how much I hate my SBU head for that). The connecting flight from Amsterdam was in 50 minutes, so not much time wasted there.
Geneva airport one of my seniors had come to receive me.

After waiting for good one hour for my luggage (there were many like me), I came to know that due to overloading at Amsterdam, my suitcase along with many other passengers’ was held back, to be sent within 24 hours to Geneva. They said this was a normal practice due to heavy traffic within Europe.

One can imagine my predicament as within two hours of landing I was supposed to be in office and there I was standing confused in jeans and a Tee without a single set of extra clothes with me !! However, I had learnt my lesson, after that started carrying one set of clothes on my person.

The Geneva airport is very small compared to other international airports like Frankfurt, Sydney, Singapore or Amsterdam. I found it extremely clean and shining. In fact whole of Switzerland is so pure and clean.

Can you see those painted small birds at the ceiling ? Restrooms are on the right.

Come out of the arrival section and you have to pay for using the restrooms. That’s what I also did. My first use of foreign currency abroad was for using this facility. But I didn’t mind paying because they had kept it absolute sparkling clean and dry. Going from India to Switzerland, everything looked so good and beautiful. :)

The airport has an underground railway station from where frequent trains run to Geneva city and other cities of Switzerland and neighbouring countries. Come out of the building and you have bus service connecting to different parts of Geneva.

But we took a cab (first time in my life I sat in Merc, In Geneva most cabs are Mercedes Benz) directly to the place where I was supposed to stay with other colleagues in a rented apartment, very close to the lake.

I looked outside and smiled. The weather was wonderful. Geneva was welcoming me with open arms...