Sleepy Town of Edinburgh

It was raining heavily when we arrived in Edinburg, after a gruesome night's journey on Mega bus. Before moving further, my advice to young and old alike is that plan your trip in advance and opt for cheap Easy jet deals than bus travel. Buses are totally medieval in form and seats. Even in India we got a better deal when we went from Bangalore to Ootty. At least seats could be pushed backwards and there was space to stretch legs.

What to see:
Anyways, after arriving at our destination we ( my family and our friends) went to watch the Edinburgh Museum, which is at Royal Mile. It is very absorbing and meticulously organized. The artefacts and models trace the history of Edinburgh.

Museum of Childhood: It is some what similar to Dolls Museum in Delhi. There are toys and games of all kinds from many parts of the world. Ananya went berserk with joy on seeing so many of her favourite items (which include dolls, teddy bears, train sets and cycles). It was very difficult for me to keep her under control and she doesn't lend an ear to her father's soft don't-do-it pleas. The museum is a treat for 'young' adults also.

We had time to explore only these two museums, but there Edinburgh is a treasure for history lovers. There are 'People's Story', Writer's Museum, Lauriston Castle, The Brass Rubbing Centre, Queensferry museum, Newhaven Heritage Museum.

The Royal Mile: The Royal mile is the backbone of the Old Town of Edinburgh and no other part of Edinburgh is as rich in folklore and historic significance as this ancient street. Some of the most popular attractions in Edinburgh can be found here. Sightseeing the Royal Mile should be done at a leisurely pace mainly because there are many sights to take pictures of and stories to learn about at every step but also because it's going uphill.

Princess Street: One of Edinburgh's most famous attractions is the Scott Monument right on Princess Street. The monument dedicated to Sir Walter Scott is one of the most recognisable tall buildings in the city. The entire length of the north side of Princes Street is crowded with shops. The south side has Princes Street Gardens and is an excellent vantage point for admiring the Old Town, Castle Rock and Edinburgh Castle.

Advice: The cheapest food to find on Princes Street is from any of the 3 Gregg’s bakeries on Rose Street, the street that runs parallel with Princes Street or in Marks and Spencer. There are also many affordable pubs and cafes on this pedestrian Edinburgh Street.If you're mainly interested in sightseeing and taking pictures, walk along the south side of Princes Street, the one with the gardens, to avoid the shoppers.

Then there's Calton Hill at the heart of the city with stunning views over Princes Street, the Old Town and Edinburgh Castle.

Advice: Avoid going on Calton Hill after lunchtime if you want to take pictures of Princes Street and the Castle because the sun is in front of you at that time of the day. You can see all of the Edinburgh Centre from Calton Hill: North Bridge, Old Town, the Hub, Ramsay Gardens, Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street, and further to the right, St Andrew's Square

Edinburgh Castle: I was amazed to hear that Edinburgh castle is built on extinct volcano.Few visitor destinations around the world can boast of such an amazing historical attraction at the heart of the very compact Edinburgh City Centre but even fewer can say that their number one attraction sits on an extinct volcano. Like Tower Bridge of London, this castle was also used as a prison and Queen Mary was imprisoned here.

Advice: In summers the best time to visit and explore the castle is around 9.00 am. You should be able to have the exploring to your heart’s content and attend the one o clock gun ceremony. For taking photos, midday should be avoided because at this time the sunlight is at its strongest and shadows are harsh. Go first thing in the morning or last thing in the afternoon. The Castle is an impressive fortress waiting to be explored, a hub of history and has splendid views of Edinburgh.The view from the castle gives visitors a chance to appreciate Edinburgh's geological variety: hills, sea and extinct volcanoes as well as its man-made skyline.

Where to stay: Edinburgh is an expensive city, so prices are quite high. Some of the areas outside the City Centre such as Newington, Morningside, Tolcross, Stockbridge or Haymarket are a tourist's dream in terms of choice. It takes 10 minutes by bus to reach Edinburgh's centre. The city has very good public transport system so it is better to compromise on accommodation.

What to do:
Edinburgh Festival, which is a collection of many arts festivals and Hogmanay celebrations are kind of mascots of Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Festival has its base in Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) which was established in 1947 to heal the wounds of the war. The Edinburgh Festival is actually a number of events which take place in July and September every year.
Hogmanay is the New Year in Scotland. In Edinburgh, Hogmanay spans into four days of Winter Festival that takes place in December end. Thousands of people participate in the torch procession from the Edinburgh Old Town to Calton hill.Night afroe Fiesta is a street carnival with themes changing every year. There’s music, dance and street theatre in a carnival atmosphere.

Interesting Facts:
-The One o’clock Gun in Edinburgh Castle fires every day at exactly One o'clock except on Sundays.
-Edinburgh was the first city in the world which had its own fire-brigade.
-It was built on seven hills, like Rome.
-One of the most popular cures for baldness in the 17th century Edinburgh was the application of the burnt ashes of dove’s dung.
-The first McDonald's restaurant opened for business in 1952 in Edinburgh.
( home page- contents-a few facts)
(Aug/Sep2003-Facts about Edinbutgh)


Creepy Creeps

My husband says The Sun is UK’s most read paper because it publishes topless women on 3rd page. That may be appealing to the base male lusts but I found this report about about a spider eating its owner which was creepy as well as good read.May be we all feel good to be horrified? Here is the story:

A man who lived in his own “zoo” of lizards and insects was fatally bitten by a pet black widow spider — then eaten by the other creepy-crawlies.Police broke in to Mark Voegel’s apartment to find spider Bettina along with 200 others, several snakes, a gecko lizard called Helmut and several thousand termites had gorged on his body. A MAN who lived in his own “zoo” of lizards and insects was fatally bitten by a pet black widow spider — then eaten by the other creepy-crawlies.Neighbours alerted police after becoming alarmed by the stink.A police spokesman said: “It was like a horror movie. His corpse was over the sofa.“Giant webs draped him, spiders were all over him. They were coming out of his nose and his mouth.“There was everything there one could imagine in the world of reptiles.

“Larger pieces of flesh torn off by the lizards wee scooped up and taken back to the webs of tarantulas and other bird-eating spiders.”Loner Voegel, 30, never invited people back to his “jungle” home, a small apartment in the German city of Dortmund. Police described it as a cross between a botanical garden and the butterfly breeding ground in the serial killer movie The Silence Of The Lambs. One tarantula had built a nest the size of a swallow’s in a corner of the ceiling.

Voegel also had a boa constrictor and several poisonous frogs from South America.Spider expert and animal cruelty officer Gabi Bayer said he kept creatures “that should never be allowed in a private home”.She said: “He had spiders so aggressive they are the equivalent of a pit-bull in the animal world.”

The reptiles were allowed to roam free in the flat.The heating elements on two tanks containing spiders and their termite snacks had exploded and dislodged the metal tops allowing them to escape.Voegel is thought to have been dead for between seven and 14 days.A post-mortem will be carried out in the next few days. But authorities believe Bettina alone was responsible for Voegel’s death.

Incredible India

A century ago, when one talked about India, it was invariably about snake charmers,yogis and beggars in streets. Now IT is the main tag India shows, the progress it has made is certainly visible in growing strength of its currency (rupee) in international stock markets. Like burgeoning industry, tourism is also expanding very fast in India. Following is a list of places I have visited in India.

Places to visit in India:

Tajmahal (UttarPradesh)-This tomb of Mumtaj Mahal,wife of Mughal emperor Shahjahan has not only found place in the recently concluded hunt for new seven wonders of the world, but also bagged the first slot in it. The Taj truly deserves this position. It is said that 20,000 workers laboured day and night to build this epitome of love. It is generally considered the finest example of Mughal Architecture. I have been here twice and still want to go back.The beauty of this monument is breathtaking.Taj mahal is built in Agra,where other places of interest are castle of fateh pur sikri.
Shopping : Agra is famous for its sweet dish called "petha".agra rugs,marble and leather is also famous.

Jaipur: (Rajasthan)-This city has got another name,"Pink City" because of its pink stone buildings and houses.this is the land of Rajputs,the tribe which is known for its courage,hospitality and deep sense of honor and pride.there are many attractions here e.g.Amber Palace, Birla temple,Jantar mantar,fort of nahargarh(people especially come here at night to watch the beautiful city in the moon light), Jal Mahal, "Water Palace" sits in the center of a lake,Hawa Mahal (palace of winds) is the most easily recalled landmarks of Jaipur and is also its icon.

Shopping: Famous for its precious and semi precious stones, Johari Market is the ideal place to shop for the same. In Jaipur you can shop for various items like handicrafts, lacquered brass work, textiles etc. Textiles in tie and dye (bandhani), Sanganeri and Bagru block print are important trademark varieties and style of fabric.

Kullu-Manali ( Himachal Pradesh)The cool winds seem to play music for your ears. Enjoy the intimacy of the town with the snowline with heat of the natural hot sulphur springs at the same holiday. Besides sight seeing you must try a hand at adventure sports and activities like skiing, hiking, mountaineering, paragliding, rafting, trekking, kayaking or mountain biking for the complete holiday experience. Worth visiting holiday spots in Manali comprise of the wooden hadimba temple in the Dhungiri Van Vihar forest area and the shiny Buddhist monasteries or gompas. Close by is the Rohtang pass the spot where the spectacle of the clouds sweeping the majestic mountains can be viewed.Kullu-manali has a specialplace in my memories as I went there with our street theatre group and we had a lot of fun together.
Shopping: You may pick up woollens for souvenirs like the splendid shawls and caps. Other Himalayan handicrafts like prayer wheels, masks, amulets, and musical instruments add a Tibetan tinge to your shopping.

Goa-If you have been to Goa ,you will return again to visit this beautiful city of beaches. Goa's beaches are what makes the state one of India's major tourist attractions. Goa offers you fishing beach, naturalist beach,rocky beach white sand beach allin one platter. Goa is a plastic free zone so any use of plastic bags etc is discouraged. The beaches throughout Goa have an abundance of seas shells. The local Indians string the small brown and black littorin shells into curtains. Calangute Beach was the first of the hippie resorts back in the 60's and 70's.
Shopping: The 'shoppoholic' will never go empty handed as the local handicrafts have great variety to offer. The beach side stall gives the chance to tourist to enjoy the beach and shopping side by side.Some of the most exquisite items produced in Goa are woodcraft including cradles, baby carts, toys, corner stands, etc. Bamboo craft is one of the major crafts industry of Goa. The list of popular Bamboo products include flower baskets, mats, and letter-holders, pen stands, fans and other decorative items.

Delhi-The capital of India has many historical places hidden beneath its modern metropolitan look.Kutub minar: The 238 feet Qutab Minar is 47 feet at the base and tapers to nine feet at the apex. The tower is ornamented by bands of inscriptions and by four projecting balconies supported by elaborately decorated brackets. Humayun's tomb: One of the greatest examples of architecture in India, Humayun's Tomb is known for influencing the structure of the Taj Mahal as well.,Jama Masjid: Showcasing a rich influence of Persian architecture, the Jama Masjid is one of the oldest mosques of India. Red fort:It was from its ramparts that the first Prime Minister of India, Jawharlal Nehru, announced to the nation that India was free form colonial rule. The piece de resistance of the fort, the Diwan-I-Khas once housed the famous Peacock Throne, which when it was plundered by Nadir Shah in 1739, was valued at six million sterling.Jantar Mantar: At first sight, the Jantar Mantar appears like a gallery of modern art. It is, however, an observatory. Sawai Jia Singh II of Jaipur (1699-1743), a keen astronomer and a noble in the Mughal court. India gate: Built as a memorial to commemorate the 70,000 India soldiers killed in World War I, India Gate was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and completed in 1931. Every year on 26th January, the day celebrated as the Republic Day of India, the Indian President places a wreath at the eternal flame Amar Jawan Jyoti under the arch of India Gate to pay his respects to the Indian armed forces. t is followed by a grand parade that moves along Rajpath, which comprise of marching contingents, tanks and weaponry, vibrant floats, folk dances and school children from different parts of India who participate in this colorful ceremony.
Shopping: Connaught Place, the modern hub of New Delhi houses many a state govt. emporia. he Central Cottage Industries Emporium, a rambling six-storey government shop where you can buy anything from a 12ft ornamental elephant god to a packet of Darjeeling tea. Prices are clearly displayed and fixed. This is a good place to buy gifts for friends at home.

Pondicherry - Pondichery was a French colony and the French influence shows clearly. The entire town is divided into 2 sections, the French Quarter or 'White town'and the Indian quarter or 'Black Town' Many streets still retain their French names and French style villas are a common sight here. The city has such a laid back attitude, nobody seems to be in a hurry to do anything or go anywhere. For sun-bathing, swimming or merely strolling, Pondicherry's beach and the 1 1/2 km-long promenade alongside, are the most delightful parts of the city. Pondicherry Museum is a treasure-house of antiques. Besides a section on French India with rooms done in typical French style, the museum devotes sections to Archaeology, Geology, Sculpture, Bronzes, Arms, Print, Handicraft and Art. The botanical garden preserves a large variety of exotic species of plants. Auroville (the city of dawn) is where 2000 people hailing from 30 different countries are living up to their dream of a united human race. The charter of Auroville is ringingly postnationalist: "Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole."
Shopping:The Auroville and Ashram handmade paper factory have popularised the use of handmade paper. These papers have their own beauty of different textures. Pondicherry has excellent ceramic artists. Most of their work is in tableware and decor. Various studios have envolved distinctive styles, such as "Golden Bridge" and "Rhinestone Art" which are both contemporary and Pondicherrian.

Shimla ( Himachal Pradesh) -The Ridge is the center of Shimla's cultural and social life - an excellent place to view the surrounding mountains. Jakhu Temple, Jakhu Hill. Open every day. Offers spectacular views of the mountains from its location above the town. According to the epic Ramayana, the monkey god Hanuman rested here during his journey to the Himalayan mountains. State Museum is Housed in a reconstructed Raj-style building, the State Museum displays a collection of around 10,000 artifacts gathered from all over Himachal Pradesh.You can take a leisurely walk at the Mall - this 7km thoroughfare is famous for its Victorian Architecture, and retains much of its Raj-era charm. English author Rudyard kipling spent his childhood in Shimla.
Shopping: Shimla is famous for exclusively designed Kinnauri shawls, Himachali Caps and traditional local wooden handicrafts.I bought a beautifully crafted walking cane for my grand mother from Lakkar Bazar adjacent to Ridge.

Other places: North India

Uttarpradesh: Nainital,dalhuji,dehradun,mansoori
Rajasthan: Pushkar, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Mount Abu
Himachal Pradesh:Chamba,Kangra

Western India
Gujrat: Ahmedabad, Sabermati, Champaner
Maharashtra: Mumbai, Elephanta, Ajanta and Ellora caves

South India
Kerela: Allapuzha,trivendrum,kochi

West Bengal: Kolkata,Darjeeling,Kalimpong
Manipur: Gangtok,


Celebrities: Opium of the Masses

First it was Paris Hilton, then Nicole Richie and now Sanju baba, it seems that the blind goddess of justice is finally opening her eyes towards not so virtuous deeds of men ( and women) of riches. Before getting caught in arms act, Sanjay dutt was a certified doper. And Hollywood’s drug connection is so in the open. If you don’t do drugs you are not worthy to be written about or not a worth of news byte. From smoking pot to snorting lines of cocaine in private parties and clubs, everything is acceptable.

Drew Barrymore, Lindsay Lohan, Robert Downey Jr, They all have done it and got scott free or with a lesser conviction.
Every time a celebrity goes their ( expected ) haywire way, media grabs the opportunity to inform the common man of their sins. And common man also bites the cake. Instead of thinking about bread he is more worried about
Britney Spear’s brawl
I have to agree that most of the stories shown on the news should not be there. What gets me so frustrated with the news is how much of it is about celebrities. If I cared to know what certain celebrities were doing in their personal lives or what they wore to such and such a place, I would pick up a tabloid or watch Regis and Kelly. If I turn on the news or pick up a newspaper, I want to see/read actual news!
This whole idea of celebrities getting off easy when it comes to law enforcement is tied in with the media and advertising. A famous person breaks the law.The police have to do something because they are here to protect and serve as their slogan goes. So Mr.Famous is accused and taken in. Now, Hollywood and the media love when this happens because it gives the news a big kick. Everyone wants to watch the news or read the paper Mr.Famous to find out all the juicy gossip about the accusation(s).The main stream media relies on advertising money. So they do what they think will sell advertising and get readers or viewers. There is no requirement for them to act responsibly.

Sanjay Dutt and his Ordeal

Mom called.She was upset that has been given 6 years of prison sentence. There will be millions of Sanjay Dutt fans who will be shocked to hear this news. They must have been praying that he gets out unblemished.

The verdict has shown that justice is still alive in India. The guilty was convicted. Many may argue that Dutt didn’t know that there will be so dire consequences of his little adventure. He must have been 35 or so when he got the weapons from undreworld goons. An adult who is capable of rational thinking won’t take such step, not even in the name of protecting his family. Dutt took his filmpersona too far and too seriously and that got him in trouble.
Bollywood is justifiably worried. Over 100 Crore is at stake. What will happen to the projects in which dutt was involved? At least now other film makers should learn their lessons and rethink before signing Salman Khan.