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Day 3 - Rishikesh

The weather looked gloomy with an overcast sky as we woke up. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to visit Rishikesh today. Again we headed back the way we came yesterday and after crossing Rajaji National Park the road divides and one goes towards to Dehradun and one to Rishikesh. The drive was pleasant, as we opted Laxman  Jhula as our destination google map smartly took us via highway bypassing the main city.But at the end the roads started to get narrower lucky for us we found a parking lot packed yet as we early risers ;)
The weather was little cold compared to the planes of Dehradun with lots of breeze coming from Ganga. We walked to Laxman Jhula to cross it. Oh boy! We have no idea what local authority allows two-wheelers, cycle to cross the hanging bridge which is meant for a pedestrian. And top of it you even have some cows standing in the middle.
I am sure the people coming all the from abroad to Rishikesh for peace, meditation and self-purity do get a complete shock wi…

Back from vacation

Back to Paris after a nice and quick vacation of 4 weeks from India. The days passed by very quickly between meals and sleep. Our vacation got split between my parents and in-law's house. But it was great to spent time with family. Will post some new pictures and others later. Paris is very beautifully decorated for holidays, it is a great sight to see all those big trees along the road being lighted up, as they don't have any leaf now.

Paper Anniversary

Yes!!! Its one year that we got married,the year was quite eventful for both of us. On this day we went to Ramkrishna Mission.The hour long train ride to outskirts of Paris was very scenic with fall color.Winter was breathing on our neck with its chilly wind. Durga Pooja and Diwali is just over, but celebrations in Paris goes on.We went to Salon du Chocolate. It was some thing not to be missed. There were chocolate stalls from all over the world and they were giving away so many chocolate to taste for free.

Rome (Sep 5th-7th)

We wanted to visit all the top attractions of Italy in one trip but due to vacation time (for Parisians) and taking off from work and with Pamela's school we could not do. So, we planned for only Rome. We flew with Alitalia from CDG this time in early morning. It was much better than Ryan Airlines in terms of access to the airport. But the initial fun started when just before checking-in we have to run 3 terminals to collect our tickets from Air Traffic office. But other than that running, every thing was smooth. Luckily, we had nothing to check-in.
We started our days visit from Colosseum - just to check if all gladiators have gone home or not. I still do not know how to express my feelings about this magnificent achievement of mankind and engineering, which dates at least 2000 years back. After having lunch we walked along Via del Corso from Colosseum to Roman Forum and all the major attractions to Fontana di Trevi which refers to the three roads. Needless to say, the famous cu…

Stockholm (Aug 14th - 17th)

While browsing through web sites for summer travel deals I found there was a very attractive deal by Ryan Air to Stockholm.We went there middle of August when Paris was burning with summer heat. It was a great escape to Scandinavia. Stockholm was very clean and very beautiful. Although, the weather was not at its best as it rained for first two days.

We stayed in the centre of Stockholm (Drottninggatan) one side of this pedestrian street with full of shops.Our first day, highlight was Old town of Gamla Stan, Skansen and Vasa museum. We walked all day and it was a great way to get feel of Stockholm.

Second day we spent most of the time on boat seeing archipelago; it is very unique to see all those tiny islands so near by and ended with bit shopping for Sweden glass work at City center. All these glassworks are so nice but expensive too I wish, I had more money for them.

Third day the weather was all clear with very blue sky. We visited Mills garden and around - it was great!

Air tic…

London 5days (July 29th - Aug 3rd)

We went to London the proper Bilayet (Foreign land -as mentioned by S.Rushdie ) for five days. We stayed as guest of Sampath, at his home bit outside of London. The trip would not have been so pleasant and memorable without his help and warm hospitality.

We reached around noon at Waterloo station by Eurostar. After keeping our luggage at cloak room we went straight to London Eye. It was a nice start to see all the monuments of London from birds view. After that we crossed-river Thames and went in front of Big Ben, Parliament and West Minister abbey. We walked through St. James Park and reached Buckingham Palace. On the way back towards 10,Downing St. we walked along the Mall. After that we walked to Piccadilly Square when it started to rain. It was a nice little welcome rain of London. At the end of the day we walked back to Waterloo. It might sound a lot of walk around Central London but, we did not found this walk as too much.

After finishing some top sights, we went to Windsor Cas…

Heat wave of August

Oh! summer, it reached 40 degree cel. or 100+ F this week at Paris.The global pollution is taking its effect may be? 20 years back it used to snow a lot in Paris but now it does not snow any more. The houses, metro's are not designed for this kind of hot weather which makes it more unbearable. We are surviving with Pedestal Fan but it is still far from a rain. The heat wave is going to be there for another 10 days atleast from now. Not only this, here power failure is also there.We too faced the same, one fine evening it went off around 9.30pm & came back at morning 2.30am.

Cantal

The first trip to France countryside was to Cantal -central region for 3 days with Murali & Joydeep on July 14th. Cantal, in France's Massif Central, is the largest volcanic edifice in Europe. We went by car, Murali did a wonderful job by seating at the back of steering wheel & Joydeep at navigator’s seat while we two were enjoying sleeping (from time to time) at back seat. We enjoyed a natural landscape which was really worth seeing through own eyes- rolling hills, lush green farmlands, small mountains, forests & valleys.
We went to this trip for hiking but unfortunately we couldn’t as it was extreme sultry weather to do so. We tried to do in one of the mountain but after halfway we gave up because of strong sun overhead made it unbearable.The night stay at hotel (run by family) was excellent as they speak quite good English, there hospitality were excellent & food too was home made so of course delicious (5 course French dinner).
We went to Grandval Lake over wh…

Trip to Amsterdam (June 7th-9th)

Our first trip in Europe, I decided about Amsterdam because of two reason Van Gogh and people of Amsterdam. To our delight it was really great and was a great escape from noise and crowd of Paris.The city is not so big compared to Paris but very clean and friendly. As most tourist books suggest Dutch people has unique and very efficient solution to their day-to-day problem. The streets are not crowded with car.We reached there on Saturday morning and visited Van Gogh museum followed by Albert Cuypmarkt. We had Surinamese for lunch and Indonesian for dinner. Both were great. Both these countries were Dutch colony but you get roti in Surinamese cuisine.Sunday we visited Rijks museum. The main part of museum was closed as they found asbestos in museum. But they had all the major work of Rembrandt and other great Dutch masters for display and the entry fees was reduced with free audio tour.Monday we rented bike and biked a lot. Yes a lot for 3 to 4 hrs and in that time we crossed the so…

Visiting Paris a Desi Guide

Me and Pamela are living in Paris for a while now and we are still enjoying going around and exploring Paris. Lots of my friends asked me about our personal opinions on the same before visiting Paris and France for a week or so. So here it is will all the best information that I can write down with out making it too boring for you.

A brief about Paris:Paris is divided in 2 main parts by the River Seine; the left bank and the right. Traditionally the city was divided just like a human brain left one for art and music where right one for money and power. Now there no such difference any more. It has 20 districts or arrondisement in a snail pattern starting at the center of Paris. Top attractions: [Not in any particular order]There are lots of Photos from Paris inwww.santm.com Eiffel TowerSacre CoeurArc de TriompheChamps Eleysees - and ConcordeNotre Dame and Saint Chapel - If possible a cup of coffee on the top roof of Samaretine (now closed till 2012) to have the best view of Paris Center…

Music @ Cite Universitaire

It was great that we just went there without any plan. Various kinds of musical instruments & on different themes were played by young student musicians. A nice place for free concert and music if you are around Paris. We spent quite a long time. But, we could not attend the final grand Jazz program, as it was already around 9 PM. http://www.ciup.fr/

Purbayan and Satyajit

Jaya(my cousin sister) and her hubby Purbayan visited us along with Satyajit on very rainy Sunday. They came to Paris for their own private concert. They were on a tour to Europe and playing Indian classical music. Purbayan(sitar) and Satyajit (tabla) are very talented in their own field.It was our great pleasure to have them as guest. Due to rain we reached the concert bit late but it was a great performance. An evening, which I will remember for a long time.A very bad week with Metro strike ended in delight.You can find lots of web sites... http://www.purbayan.comhttp://www.senseworldmusic.com/acatalog/News.html

Metro on Strike

It started on Tuesday the 13th. My manager gave me a lift to work. On the way back I walked, it was long but nice walk through Bois de BoulogneWednesday, the strike was supposed to end; but it continued in a French way. So, I have to work hard to fix my bike and went by bike to work. In that process I got an ache on to my shoulder, which did not allow me to sleep for a whole week. And the strike continued till Friday. On Wednesday, Murly after realizing that there is no public transport, he walked 2 hours to reach work. On the way back some one showed him a shorter route.Thursday, Pamela after missing two classes decided to go to her French school and walked across Paris, which took her one and half-hour to reach only. Returning was not a fun for her either.On Friday things started getting better and on Saturday it ended for now.

Second Titre De Sejour

On the 9th of April we were supposed to collect our new Titre De Sejour (Long term VISA) from Cite Prefecture de Police. The interview was fixed almost 3 months ago and we reached there before our scheduled time to be make sure this time there is no big problem. But our turn came around 4o'clock which is almost one hour behind our scheduled time. And after checking all our paper she says oh! You need to pay 55 Euros now as you got a new passport. Then the trouble started - so I went to another counter to buy Notary Stamp for the same amount. But they only take cash which I did not had enough at that moment. So after asking them where is the nearest ATM I went out and on returning with cash....?The main entrance was closed so I tried to persuade a lady police to let me in as my wife, my passport every thing is inside and I am stuck in this "no man land". She didn't understand anything or doesn't wants to understand at all. But with repetitive appeal she understood…

Welcome to Paris an unofficial guide by Malc

Here is a set of stuff about flat hunting, contributed from many sources. One note. Most of this is for finding a flat on your own.Don't go near Hestia.fr (many a tale of woe has originated from here) Get your 'dossier' together straight away. Needs photocopy ofPresent employment contractLast 3 pay slipsLast 3 rent receipts (or in my case my 1 year mortgage statement from the UK)Last 3 utility bills (I put in my quarterly bills for water, Electricity and gas)Birth certificate (Not a must)PassportRIB (i.e. bank details)Last years Tax statementIt's like a competition; the person with the fullest dossier gets the flat.Sort out your guarantor. Due to French tenant law, it is not legal for a landlord to kick you out during the 3 main months of winter. Thus you can stop paying and they can do nothing ?till spring. In Paris landlords protect themselves by demanding a guarantor who will pay your rent if you default. To be eligible the guarantor must be on the French social s…

Picnic with Ritu

It has been a long time we were exchanging e-mails and phone calls with Ritu, but could not meet her in-person. She is a friend of Akiko's Paris friend. A long chain; but a start to make social contacts in new place. I am personally not that social to make friends at party or other social gatherings that is one reason holding me to join local Expats club.Ritu arranged a great picnic and was very nice to meet all other expaticians. It was great day and we had lots of food and fun. It was a very beautiful park in 19th arrondisement infact, place for newly wedded couples to take their wedding pictures.

Louvre

After figuring out, lots of museum have free entry on first Sunday of every month we started with our museum tour with Louvre. Oh!! It is a museum in itself. I am sure all of you know some thing or other about it. We started our tour with Egyptian section last month. We are still visiting & we think we only covered 1/3rd so far after two Sundays. God knows how many sundays it will take to complete this whole museum.Some times it felt like how these people stole so much from Egypt. But again these practices were quite common in India with all the invaders from Persia to London. Any way the stronger ones are stealing oils and other resources from another country now.....

Visit to Ram Krishna Mission

Ramkrishana Mission or center of Vendantic Society as we know it, commonly is situated out side of Paris. A great place just to go and spend some time in peace. It was birth anniversary of Ramkrishana when we went there first time. We were very unsure how to reach the Center. But it was a miracle we found some one speaking English at the station to guide us. This center is quite big area-wise compared to San Francisco and Berkeley one that we visited. If you are interested, please check their web page for the same.http://perso.wanadoo.fr/centre.vedantique/We met some nice families of our mother tongue. They are living here for quite a long time, more then 30+ years which was big shock to us. I am not yet in love with the idea that I really want to live here for long or not. But it was nice to know some people.

Terry and Greg in Paris

Terry "long hair" or that Canadian came to Paris from Palo Alto. It was nice of Terry, Jaroline (Wife of Terry) and Greg to spend two evenings with us. It was a great as for the first time we had some friends while dining. The big surprise was Terry got a nice hair cut in Paris at end of his trip which was a big change. But,I am sorry I did not have a camera to capture the same.Now, it was time to say goodbye to them just like others whom we left at Bay Area.Hope to catch up with this crazy "F***" guy some time some where.......

Moving to Apartment

OK, we moved to our own apartment after all. This whole week was very busy and hectic.Monday: It started with getting informed that my checkout from hotel was the very same day. But I was not informed about this before. And hotel people informed Pamela and disconnected telephone; a real mess. We could not connect each other and convey what was happening at two ends. I must have to admit the HR practice is worse here.YES, it is the worst. I didn't have so bad HR even when I was in a contracting company. May be these HR people feel like they have done a great favour by hiring you. So I told I am not going to move out from hotel if needed I will pay from my pocket and wait till the delivery of my shipment from US is done. So after heated arguments they say oh!! No problem how many days you want to stay more ....Tuesday/Wednesday: I took two days off from work. I think I should have given time off to get settle in my apartment. Any way the movers came on time and really worked hard to…

Signing the Lease

First time we went to sign the lease. They asked me to write cheque of almost 3000. Oh!!but I didn't had French cheque book yet & there was no money in the account either. What a shame!!! No one told me. So I went back to work and found I will be paid only once a month here. Need to wait till month end.So after a week I came with the cheques and got the keys of the apartment.

Visting top sights

Another nice weekend in the month of March and we are trying to see all the top sights on our guidebook. We must admit this book is indeed a very good and very nice gift from Akiko and others. A highly recommended guidebook on Paris by Avant Guide.This time we started with St. Chappell at Heart of Paris. Wonderful craftsmanship on glass windows, which tells the story of Bible. Next to it is high court of France.On the way back to hotel we got down at Champs-Elysses Etoile. After walking on that famous road we decided to climb all those 200+ circular steps to go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. It was worth going at top of the arch to have a clear view of 12 roads connecting at that point. We spent a good time finding all other major points which we could figure out from our limited knowledge of Paris.With the dawn,as soon as the lights were lighted on Eiffel Tower it was really looking magnifique.

Tour Effiel

It was a bright and bleak winter day, we headed straight to the number one attraction of Paris or Europe as you might say. A great view; this picture was taken by a Japanese tourist. There were lots of people from Indian sub-continent selling momento of Eiffel Tower for cheap. But we left after a while, as it was too cold and windy that day to go at the top of tower.


p.s. Added link for more pictures of this monument for other days.

Finding Apartment

It was now time to find a roof in Paris . But this day was the first day we really went out in Paris. We were only 5 days old in Paris and the relocation lady started with a very very bad apartment and kept on showing till we found a one of our budget with lots of discomfort. however,Pamela was very skeptical about this place but somehow we agreed on this after doing lots of calculations.

OMI and Prefecture

After getting over with jetlag went to OMI for my medical visit next morning. It was OK. Tried Metro for the first time (Parlez vous Anglais) worked. BTW this medical vist is must before any one starts working in French. But all that good time was so short lived as we reached Cite Police Prefecture. A very big old building in front of Notre Dame in center Paris. This is the H.Q. for all civilian work. So lots of people were in queue. Here no on speaks anything other than French and they are least bothered about what you are trying to say either.

Moved to Paris

After basking last 4 years in Bay Area we moved to Paris. The weather was bleak cold which almost blew me off as we were getting in to the TAXI at the airport. Reached hotel without problem, had a Chinese female driver speaking English. Exhausted and tired to reach work which looked like a 5 minutes walk from hotel on map. But, got lost in concrete jungle of La Defense which is one of the unique place with concentrated modern high-rise buildings in Europe. With out realizing found La Grande Arche which was right in front of my nose. After asking several people and at last police which was no good for me to reach work that evening.