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(From my diary of 2009) Riding bumpily on the muddy stretch of land which they call roads, we were busy confirming appointments with representatives of various oil companies who have a strong presence in this part of the world (Port Gentil in Gabon). I was accompanied by a Gabonese guy who was entrusted with the joint responsibility of driving me to the respective offices and be the French-English translator wherever required. The meetings went well…enlightening to be precise. It’s a great experience to understand how culturally diverse people can be. But I don’t intend to go in-depth into how people work here. I will rather like to look back into the dreams of a simple African…or shall I say the dreams of a simple man!!! This guy should be in his late thirties…its difficult to estimate the ages of people. A native of Togo, he had moved into Gabon in the pursuit of a better life. These days, he has been granted Gabonese citizenship and has well adopted to the nuances of t
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About ten kilometers ahead of Joshimath on the road to Badrinath...this is the highest location from where I have seen the Alaknanda.... Still, young and stream like, Alaknanda has left Mana and Badrinath behind. Mostly, she is on her own, except accommodating river Saraswati at Mana. Locals call this stretch of Alaknanda as Vishnuganga. Possibly because the  beauty of this river and the musical flow of the water is soaked with an eternal touch.  And I stood there and tried to absorb the landscape around. Again, short of words to describe...a panorama that can only be experienced. Tall, conical peaks and within them...two young rivers fresh from their glacial origins, ready for the confluence... an enigmatic temple at the location of the confluence...and the refreshing  breath  of the mountain air....I sometimes wonder how magical the manifestations of nature are. Ahead, there was  a signboard towards the Nandadevi Biosphere Reserve and the Valley of Flowers.  A  beautiful Al


As I stood there, my feet numb and mind lost, I tried to identify the majestic peaks all around, but in vain...stretches of mighty white peaks which appeared intimidatingly close. There were layers of clouds at different heights of these peaks...touching one and then passing through to  the next one. Sometimes a peak, high and white, would emerge out of the clouds to be right in front...and in a while, would hid behind a new set of clouds. The weather was chilly and temperature close to freezing. For about half a day, I decided to walk around this lovely town Joshimath, getting to absorb as much as I could....the interplay of the clouds and the peaks. During  one of my earlier trips to Uttarakhand a few months back...from Mussoorie and Dhanaulti..on a clear morning, all those peaks had appeared on a single  line from east to west. From the locals, I had gathered that the white chain of mountains at a distance included the likes of Swargarohini and Bandarpoonch peaks in the wes


The month of April 2020...the month when the world came to an unprecedented standstill. Together, we witnessed and are still experiencing something which we thought could only be a theme of sci-fi movies or novels.  What adds to the intriguity is that the world is yet to fathom the kind of life we shall have post the pandemic. In the midst of such turbulence,Team Blogchatter did a wonderful job of managing the A2Z contest. Congratulations and a big thank you to the team. No less gratifying is to see so many people pulling their thoughts into such beautiful words in such testing times. Congratulations to all the participants of this beautiful walk. A  big thanks to EM  for successfully inspiring me to complete 26 posts in a row, which is an achievement for me. It was indeed a pleasant walk together. Since the last few months we have been experiencing the lockdown an European country. Outside, the weather and the settings  cannot be more beautiful..but it's only to


We stood there absorbing the beautiful sunset that Old Zagreb, locally known as Gornji Grad, offered. The February evening was delightfully clear and presented a view to remember. In front of us,  mingling with the red tiled roofs, dominated majestically the two famous monuments - the Zagreb Cathedral of Kaptol and the St. Mark's Church of Gradec...along with the bits and the pieces of the historic panorama of a thousand years.  Few centuries back, during the medieval period, when the region was not known as Zagreb, existed two hill top settlements - the Kaptol and the Gradec, separated by the then existing rivulet Medvescak. The Kaptol housed the Cathedral and was the religious center while the Gradec was home to the merchants and the craftsmen. It took the two settlements centuries of bitter rivalry before prudence took over and they decided to unify during the nineteenth century, thus together becoming Zagreb. The reasons for this bitterness were many ranging from simple


There is something incredibly charming about fishing villages. Be it in Europe or anywhere else in the world. Possibly due to the presence of the sea so close...and the  rituals of the sea, the fishermen are so adept at. The aspirations of the morning and the catch of the day...and the songs of the sea...of the calmness and the turbulence.  Volendam is one such fishing village, located in Northern Netherlands about thirty minutes drive from the Amsterdam central by bus... there are a plenty of them from Amsterdam Central. The village is located on the lake IJsselmeer, the largest lake in the Netherlands.  Vollendam means a "filled dam" and that is how it had started by filling an existing harbor and reclaiming the land artificially during the fourteenth century. A separate smaller canal and a new harbor was dug and this how this village was created. During the first half of twentieth century, as a part of the Dutch water management exercise, the water-body, which oth


I doubt anyone will  disagree to the fact that Christmas or the Xmas markets of Europe are deliciously charming and as close to fairy tale settings as one can get. There are great cities through out Europe hosting amazing Christmas markets in their hallowed city centers...with  cozy, themed markets and twinkling lights in snow clad settings.  It was in present day Germany where the  first Christmas market originated, probably during the thirteenth century. Last Christmas, we had an impromptu plan to catch a glimpse of the celebrations in Germany. But the markets in some popular towns had then already wrapped up with the exception of Dusseldorf which still had a couple of days left. And so Dusseldorf it was, the capital of the state of North Rhine Westphalia ... about four hours drive from the Hague and we were in Dusseldorf, located at the confluence of  rivers Rhine and Dussel. We walked through the renowned Konigsallee, the Kings Avenue boulevard (or the Ko, as it is local