Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Say hello, wave goodbye

At least it's been sort of fair, this is only the second New Year's Eve I've spent on board the vessel out of the last four. I suppose I do this now with more of a sense of deja vu than before. Which is not to say that this year has been anything like any other before :). As a matter of fact it has not. An ambivalence that quite neatly fits into the way I've felt about a lot of things over these past months.
Honestly? I don't even know where this year went! One thing that seems to permeate most of my memories of the year is a feeling of constantly moving (or maybe having to move would be a better way of putting it). And with that, leaving so many things behind when I wanted, maybe a closer look, or another word, a last walk, perhaps one more chance... And yes, as always, untold good-byes, or at best half-said ones. (If I were to believe in New Year's resolutions, that would be one!)

This has been a year of partings, come to think of it. Some that were obvious at the moment, others that became apparent a long time afterwards. It has also been a year of chance meetings, with old acquaintances. Sometimes old friends. And new faces that have left their mark.
Getting back to the moving, I guess to put it in perspective, I've actually managed to visit twelve different countries within the last twelve months :). Now the Americas are the only two inhabited continents I am yet to set foot on. If that sounds good, let me tell you, there are people I know, and obviously feel very jealous of, who've managed all 6 already! One day, I keep telling myself, one day :). But then there's the flip side of that.

The good thing, I suppose, is that in the midst of all that, I've somehow managed to find the time to travel more of my own accord than I have before. Of course it helped that there seemed to be company available. I don't know if I have mentioned this, but I absolutely cannot travel all on my own. When the travelling is not merely the act of getting from point A to point B, that is, as a matter of necessity.
But there's always been that sense of losing myself. Dissolving into the white noise, or background, or whatever you want to call it. I guess what I am looking for are defining moments. And everywhere I look, I come up short :-<. Maybe it's just the frame of mind I find myself in. More likely is the fact that I'm just not looking in the right directions... there's always that :)). And more often than not for good reason too...

I suppose it's easier while on the boat to suspend the present and look back. It's better that way anyway. No? Everyday I get a little more used to it, and find it scary. But a little less scarier than yesterday. Is that better or worse? I don't know. What I do know, is that it has been a good year, no matter what it feels like right now :). And I couldn't ask for more for the next. Even at as much, I might be pushing my luck :D.
Happy New Year! :)

Currently: seeking the refuge of silent memories
Listening to: Dixie Chicks - Easy silence

PS. I'm quite surprised at how many people I know who are sailing some ocean or other right at this moment!! But I guess I shouldn't be, not any more.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Sunburns and shooting stars

I'd almost forgotten how much fun it is to be on a really fast boat, seeing how few and far between good weather days and decent jet boats have been over the last couple of years. But when the opportunity finally did arrive, I discovered how much more fun it was to be in the driver's seat :). Upwards of 35 knots, wind blasting your face, and I never even maxed out the throttle. Not even close >:).

I'd say fun was a relative thing, but it isn't. This Christmas was not fun. But I suppose it could have been worse.I like the fact that I have a little time these days, enough at least to go up to the bridge in the night and stare at the boats around us, festooned in light. Little pinpricks of colour, red green and white, on a pitch black canvas. The wakes turn into little swirling monsters wreathed in foam snapping at the lights.

I hate the fact that I don't have time for much else. But for the moment, I'm taking what I can get. At least there's a new, pretty awesome, soundtrack to it all :).

Currently: in limbo
Listening to: Eels - My beloved monster

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Contemplating dark clouds on a bright day.

There was a time when the first small boat trip with a new camera would have been a seriously big deal... Well, yesterday I took my 870 out. I'm getting used to the big screen, I think :). Something that even this somewhat more cynical and jaded me cannot help but think of as a big deal, is the arrival of another WG boat close by! And no less than the current fleet flagship, the only one larger than the Trident :).
M/V Geco Eagle
Right, so the first week's gone in a hurry, and suddenly it's almost Christmas Eve! It seems while I've been busy, plans are being made for some sort of celebrations... Let's see how that goes.... I could do with a bit of cheer :|. Despite nothing being particularly terribly wrong, I can feel this trip going rather badly :-<. Somewhat unusually, I'm envying all the people getting to be at home over New Year's Eve... I must say though, the nice weather's a welcome change. And the boat rides everyday tend to provide a bit of an escape.

Feeling: not happy
Listening to: Moby - Everyday it's 1989

Thursday, 18 December 2008


Will keep this brief. Tired. Hopelessly. Made it to Frankfurt. Tailed some people down town. German beer rocks. So does my 870IS :). Christmas fairs are awesome. Especially almost-boiling gluweine and spiced up hot dogs :D.Flight to Luanda sucked. Luanda was strange. I'm stuck here for a whole year :|. I think. More new faces. Even less familiar faces. The usual. The break's catching up with me. I need a proper holiday. Soon.Love the zoom on the Tamron. The speed of the 450D. Need to work on exposure though :|. Moby rocks. Got some more :). Finally!!! The Atlantic is dirtier than the Indian :P. Oceans: 4 down 1 to go :).

Currently: sinking into oblivion
Listening to: Moby - Temptation

Friday, 12 December 2008

The upside of traveling light

But really, how light do you have to get before you actually see it?

For once I'm not overly thrilled to be heading to a new country. For one, there's the supposedly ubiquitous female Anopheles mosquito :|. Then there are the job related issues that I will spare you from. And then of course there is the travel arrangement itself. To sum up (and significantly simplify) the confusion that is rife on that last matter: I have been trying to figure out a way to pack my check-in bag in such a way as to cause myself least distress in case I never get it back :-<.

Not an easy task. Fortunately, (though that word doesn't really fit in here) the last time I temporarily lost my bag, gave me a rather stark insight into what would cause me distress. I'm trying to learn from the past here. We've been officially asked not to check in any baggage when flying into Luanda, Angola. If we ever want to see the baggage again, that is.

What I'm also trying to do is set things up so that I don't have to check in baggage at all, in the future. There's a most terrible, though not very obvious consequence of that. I'd be very effectively decimating my chances of randomly shooting off for little trips here and there. Unless of course, I end up carrying around a significantly larger piece of 'cabin baggage' :|. Something to think about on my long flight to Frankfurt later tonight. Any bets on if there will be in-seat video? Here's a clue, I'm flying Lufthansa :|.
To flashback a little, I did manage to attend the other half of that wedding :). But it involved a day of a lot of driving and very little sleep :-<. Unfortunately, since then a family medical situation has had me clocking three digit trips every single day, in central Kolkata traffic :(. Definitely not for the fainthearted.

So yet another short trip home shot right past me. I think it's significant enough to note that Anuj and I failed to see a planned meeting materialize, yet again :)). There's something about the two of us trying to meet in Cal. It's been what, 5 or 6 years now? Spooky :). And of course, I'm no less tired and stressed than I was before I got here. I think, one of these days, it'll be nice to have a proper quiet break at home. Just for the heck of it :D.

Currently: stressed :-<
Listening to: Moby - Sweet apocalypse

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Half a wedding, a 450D and Nina Simone

I'm back home, and there's stuff to write about :). First a bit of groaning though :|. I seem to be having like the worst luck with flights lately! For one, I've gone 3 months or so without a single flight with in-seat video! (And that includes quite a few 10+ hour flights! Which were all on Lufthansa, unfortunately :-<.) And to add to the string of woes, both the crafts on my longer legs this time were probably a good deal older than me and consequently, not the most comfortable :-<.
Once I did get back though, I was just in time for the wedding! The first of my closest bunch of friends from school was getting married :). There weren't too many of us who could make it, unfortunately. Some even from the not-so-far-away cities here couldn't make it. Makes you think I was lucky to be there eh?! :D It'd been absolutely ages since I'd been to a full-on Bong wedding! So that part of it was pretty cool. But of course you quickly realize how hard they make it with all the rituals and what not :|. I'm definitely hoping to be able to make it to the other part in Asansol tomorrow though :).--

Right, this part of the story has been some time in the making :D. Back when we were in Singapore, tied up alongside, I'd made a few forays into the camera and lens shops downtown. The first piece of information that I caught me by surprise (the whooping in joy kind :D) was that the latest Tamron lens, announced not so long ago, was actually available in the shops!! The next piece of news wasn't so good. These lenses were notoriously hard to find :|. What made it worse was over a few trips it became painfully obvious that even though one might manage to get one of these lenses with a Nikon mount, one with a Canon mount was pretty much impossible to get :(. I was planning to use it with an EOS! Oh, and why that particular lens? Find out here.

Despite my usual misgivings about online buying (I'm the kind that actually wants to see the object before taking ownership) I ended up registering on e-bay. And sure enough! The Tamron 18-270mm VC was available, with a Canon mount! I wasn't nearly done though. The whole payment thing became way too confused and irritating, and I had to resort to seeking help from more seasoned online buyers :). Then of course it was just a matter of chewing my nails while I waited for the elusive lens to show up at home!

In the mean time, I chose not to buy a camera body :|. Don't ask me why. But halfway through my stay in Asker my mum told me that a little box had arrived from Hong Kong! So now I had the lens but no body for it!! Thankfully I got just what I wanted on my way out in Oslo, so I did actually lay hands on my camera body before I got to the lens :D.Now of course, I'll have to actually get around to making good use of the thing. And at a bit over a kilo, it's not really easing my luggage worries any....

Currently: tired, still! (alternatively, already :-<)
Listening to: Moby - La Meme Nuit

ps: Was pleasantly surprised by the kind of music I managed to lay hands on at the local CD store!!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Good, or no good?

Right, I'm back to paper and pen posts from 35,000 feet then. If only to try and make this feel a little more than a blank in my life :).

Actually, it's more than that. It's not like I've been reading particularly voraciously these last few months, but I have been reading. Just finished Nick Hornby's How to be Good. And that should be it, I think I've now read all his fiction. I do, however, disagree strongly with the comment on the back of my (originally borrowed :)) copy. This is so not 'Hornby at his best'!!

Or maybe I'm confusing 'best' with 'what I like most'. It's a terrible book to read at any point in your life when you are anything short of absolutely solidly comfortable with the current state of affairs. If you are the kind that's driven to think about their lives by a bit of fiction, that is.

I didn't find it nearly as funny as the some of the others. I didn't even find it comforting to the least degree, in any way! I'll be honest here, I don't see the point of an utterly depressing read! Some sort of redemption has to be on offer somewhere, I think.

The first real shocker I remember in that vein would have to be Alistair MacLean's HMS Ulysses. Now most of the rest of his books were totally awesome weekend reads! (Mostly borrowed from the school library on Fridays.) The usual hero saves world sort of stuff. Then I heard of his 'most acclaimed' work, the aforementioned shocker, and by the end of it I was devastated! There is not even the slightest hint of a sliver of hope anywhere in the entire story! Not even the slightest let up from the non-stop misery!

Okay, so this was definitely not that bad :). But the continuous harping on how, essentially, all our (well, I guess at least the regular, mostly self-involved populace qualifies here) lives are meaningless, didn't do my present state of mind any good at all :-<.

I should really have read this some other time, shouldn't I? :) Oh well, for the foreseeable future I'm planning to stick faithfully with the remaining volumes of GRRM fantasy.

Currently: have a headache :(
Listening to: Dashboard Confessional - Several ways to die trying

ps: I now have the body too!! :D More later :P.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


I wish they'd invent (discover?) teleportation sometime soon :-<. Strictly as a substitute for air-travel.

These days I'm beginning to get the feeling I end up going sort of immune to the rest of the world for the entire time. Seems to be the only way I can deal with it any more :(. It's kinda like shutting yourself out of your life for a bit. Only, the rate at which I seem to be doing it, the 'bit' seems to keep growing, faster and faster, gobbling up whole days, weeks and possibly even months!

How long before I lose a whole year to the demon of a shrinking world?

Currently: in a daze :-<
Listening to: OneRepublic - Stop and stare

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Once again...

It's funny how I keep buying point and shoot cameras on the 2nd of a month! Three times now. And no, I didn't wait for it, I just realised when I looked up the last time I switched cameras! This time though, the reasons were somewhat different.

I used my IXUS 850IS for 22 months. Exactly, as it turns out. And not once did I have a complaint. Seriously, if Canon were still selling it, I'd probably go and buy another one!! Or at least provide the biggest most heart-felt endorsement ever!! You couldn't buy testimonials like this :). Unfortunately, they don't. Sell the 850IS that is. Not any more.

I can't believe it myself, but in these last 22 months I've managed to click 5 pics short of a pretty insane 11,500 :). And for the last month or so, I'd noticed that the sensor had finally given up, or the lens system had succumbed to the extreme (sometimes rough) use, or the focussing system had had enough... I don't know which, but my once sharp and clear IXUS wasn't quite delivering those crisp, well focussed images any more :-<.

I supposed it says something for how much I like this system that I had to give remarkably little thought to the successor. Which, to put mildly, is rather unlike me :). I settled for Canon's latest offering in the same mould, the IXUS 870IS. There's a few added extras, it now has a marginally longer zoom range of 4x (as against 3.7x) while retaining the super-handy 28mm wide-angle low end. It also comes with AI Servo (focus follows a moving object) though how much practical use that will be remains somewhat dubious. (But it does sound cool dunnit? :P)

There are quite a few changes from the 850IS. And the biggest one would have to be the new DiG!C 4 processor. It does have a lot to live up to though. The other big thing is the LCD. It is BIG!. At 3 inches, it's scary! I'm worried I'll scratch it within the week :(. And there are some small but nice changes, like the battery compartment door, which is now spring loaded. Oh, at the battery indicator!! Though I guess with the spare battery that isn't too big a deal. Going for the same type has its advantages. I now have 2 spare batteries. I'm using the same memory, and it even fits my old camera case! And I suppose I also have a spare USB cable and charger.

I will miss my 850 though :-<. And I'm glad it had been around on all the trips I look back on with fondness over the last couple of years, starting with Sydney, through South Island, Italy, northern Europe, and finally Durban :). I only hope I can say as much for the new one...

Feeling: a little sad...
Listening to: Steadman - Wave goodbye

Sunday, 30 November 2008

A slice of this world

When we pulled into Durban, I'd been expecting a nice sunny morning. Instead, not only was it overcast and raining, but the entire expanse of the city's substantial and rather beautiful waterfront was rendered a grey hue thanks to the fog :(. Thus my first glimpse of Africa was through a haze.And it only got worse as the day wore on. Frequent heavy showers and a fair bit of work for me out in the open meant that it was a very wet and tired me that returned to the cabin at the end of the day, only to find my wallet cleaned out! It was really my own fault, caught up in the day's events I'd completely forgotten about locking the cabin door, and someone had obviously made good use of the opportunity. In the end I was just glad that it was only cash!

The next morning was crew change! A few days later than expected, but the day shaped up rather nicely. As if on cue, the weather cleared up pretty much as soon as we left the harbour :). We'd booked ourselves some ridiculously affordable rooms in one of the beach-front hotels, and I was absolutely astonished to see how huge my 'room' was! There were 3 bedrooms for a start!
One of the high points of the trip was our day-long guided trip to the Hluhluwe game reserve. (Right, so how you're supposed to say the name really is (s)Hlu(s)hluwe :D. It's Zulu, and for some reason the s is sort of the reverse of silent. It's not there, but you say it!!) The first good thing about the trip was getting to leave the city and see some of the country side. I'll have to completely agree with a recent observation I'd heard about Africa being very very similar to India. The South African country-side certainly is.At the end of the day we were quite pleased with our work :). We never managed to spot any lions, but got really close looks at numerous giraffes, African rhino, zebra, different kinds of local deer/antelope and other local wildlife. We even managed to catch a few African elephants from up close. The best thing (and also in some ways the most frustrating thing) about this sort of a trip is you can never be sure what you'll get to see. Quite often we'd turn a blind corner and there, right in the middle of the road would be a giraffe! Then again, look as we might, we never managed to find those lions :-<.

But seeing animals in zoos just won't hack it any more. Despite the others, I chose to spend my last two days on the beach :). The weather was beautiful without exception, and I spent one whole day strolling the miles and miles of perfect white sand. Got to see kite-surfing from really up close. One of these days I'll actually attempt it. The next day, I spent almost entirely in the water :). The slightly annoying eccentricity of the beach not-withstanding, I had an absolute blast! The sad part was, we'd been warned by too many people about the possibility of mugging, and almost the only photos I clicked were from the confines of my room :-<. By what can only be described as a rather long sequence of fortunate accidents, I ended up in the company of local friends. Which helps, when you've been repeatedly warned about travelling around town on your own :). Then, as I was on my way out, again as if on cue, the weather turned to it's earlier wet and dark self. I couldn't help but think that the little break in the apparently expected rainy weather was almost for our sole benefit :D.

Despite my worries, I managed to survive the cold till I got to my more appropriate jacket :). I was rather disappointed to see barely any snow in Oslo and Asker though. But lack of snow didn't mean it was any less cold! Plus the hours of daylight have shrunk dramatically. It's turned into quite a different world since the last time I was here. As expected. Managed to catch the latest Bond offering here. Not exactly a cinematic masterpiece :|.Tagged along with a bunch of others on Friday to the only open skiing slope in these parts at the moment. With full knowledge of how badly I suck at actual skiing, I figured I'd give snowboarding a shot. I mean, I couldn't possibly be any worse at that could I? :P. Turned out I was quite right! I solidly maintain that based on personal experience, snow-boarding's a hell of a lot easier than skiing. For one, you're trying to control only one thing, rather than 2 or maybe even four!!

Unfortunately, I'd not gone fully prepared. After a bit of a scare, when I thought my fingers had already gotten frostbitten, I decided to leave further attempts for a future time when I had better gloves. The wet jeans were a completely secondary consideration :). All in all it was an extremely hilarious experience though. Hopefully things will be a little better when I try it again in January.

For the rest of the weekend it had been uniformly shit weather. Mixed rain and sleet turning everything to slush. It cleared up sufficiently this morning to allow us a go on a little excursion to the lake. Only to find it, quite interestingly, half frozen.So that's what I've been up to for the last couple of weeks or so. And around midweek next week, I'll be on my way home for the first time since July. It's been quite good, actually. And hectic. Enough to actually make me want to go home and get some rest :). But we all know how that's going to work out.... I just hope I don't end up feeling any more worn out by the time I get back to the boat than I already am :).

Currently: bushed
Listening to: Eagle Eye Cherry - Long way around

Thursday, 27 November 2008

BOMBay, again!!!

I guess when large scale death and destruction close to home begins to elicit a sense of deja vu, it's time to feel really scared :(. I realise that I'm being very selfish. A lot of people are dead and hurt. Thus far, it has remained non-personal for me. I am extremely glad for that, and I'm hoping, praying really, that it stays that way. Does that make me a bad person?

Crisis has a way of bringing out the best and sometimes the worse in people. It also catalyses an avalanche of opinion. I really wish though, that right now, people would keep their opinions to themselves and just pray that this ends. Soon. There will be time enough for the rest later...

Feeling: scared :(
Listening to: Colin Hay - Overkill

Monday, 17 November 2008

Autobahn daze

It was barely halfway through September, but the first thing I remember about Berlin, having stepped out of Tegel airport was how cold it was! Actually it was more a chill in the air than the actual cold, come to think of it. With remarkably little trouble finding our beds for the first couple of nights, I was even more delighted to find how neat and comfy it seemed!We'd ended up in a 8 bed hall, but turned out we were the only people staying there the whole time, so it was all good :). I think I quite liked Berlin. Heh, okay, I'll try to explain. The last time I'd gone travelling was the rather supremely hectic Italy trip. This time the approach was more, you know, look around, don't stress too much over must see this or must see that. Ambling around has it's own treats.So over the next couple of days we managed to meander around a fair bit :). We were staying quite near the river, close to one of the bridge checkpoints between erstwhile East and West Berlin. I was quite taken aback at how it's the east that seems to be the shiny new star side of town! The west side of the river felt a little bit as if it had stayed in the '80s or something.... The graffiti filled walls, well worn stones of the side walks, a general lived-in feeling :). Bit of a reversal I guess, since the Cold War times.
Up in the heart of the city, there were always buildings, monuments, motorcades and such other stuff of a humdrum capital to keep us occupied. And of course every now and then a particularly fancy auto mobile showroom :). One other thing that struck me was even though there were still signs of the destructions of the previous century, several monuments and buildings of much older eras were sprinkled amidst the reconstructions.Special mention must be made of the little excursion we made off into the night! Dinner under a bridge, with the thunder of trains rolling past over head :). Attempts at capturing the fleeting moon as it played hide and seek behind the racing clouds. I just love night photography sometimes :).We'd made the expected visit to Checkpoint Charlie, but somehow the sheer number of people taking the tourism thing just a little too far put me off a bit. We did not forget to pay a visit to the Wall memorial before heading out though. And the much more sombre setting did it ample justice.

And so started my tryst with the most outstanding thing about the German way of life, the autobahn :). (The other thing would be that they never start speaking to you in German if there's a slight chance that you might not look German! Very very unlike the French :|.) We'd rented a car planning on picking it up in Berlin, driving it into Prague, back into Munich, back out to Salzburg, and finally return it in Munich before heading off. We'd also asked for a Volkswagen. So I was rather disappointed when the key I was handed ended up with the slanted Hyundai H on it :|.I guess I should clarify here that I, obviously, grew up driving on the left side of the road, and in the right side of the car! For good measure, though I've been in places where it goes the other way, I'd never actually driven left hand, or on the right side. Yana, the rest of the 'we' for the entire part of the trip, on the other hand, had ample experience. She refused to drive though, her excuse being she hated manual :|.

Don't get me wrong, I would never mind anyone offering to let me drive anything anywhere. But. With such significant shifts of baselines, I'd rather not have had to start right in the middle of a city like Berlin, in the middle of the mid afternoon traffic rush, that's all :). I don't think I've had to concentrate this hard while driving since the first few time I ever drove a car, trying to negotiate Bombay traffic :). But that still left some room for error. Every time I tried to indicate, the wipers went crazy :P.

Seeing how costly it was to rent a GPS, we bought one with pre-loaded maps. Unfortunately, it took us a while to actually get started. It then took us a significantly longer while to actually begin to trust the thing :). But since, quite uncharacteristically for me, I'd forgotten all about getting a road map, we eventually had to put our faith in it! I should mention here, that barring a few missed turns, it didn't let us down :).

Once out of the city and onto the autobahn I began to feel acutely aware of the fact that we were probably in the only Hyundai in the entire country :-<. I stuck to the middle lane as much as I could, jumping a little bit every time a Beamer or an Audi or even a VW went screaming past! Darkness was falling as we made a little detour to head into Dresden for a bite. Unfortunately the restaurant hunting capabilities of our GPS seemed a little limited...

I knew before hand that border controls would be pretty much non existent. Still, the barely noticeable signpost proclaiming the beginning to the Czech Republic, that we almost missed in the dark caught me by surprise. Also, the road turned from 6 straight fast lanes to 2 twisting winding lanes with no divider. The roads on the Czech side were so deserted, in fact, that we were beginning to get a wee bit worried till we found a few road signs heading for Praha! The roads eventually grew wider, the lights grew brighter, and the signs larger.

By the time we arrived in the city it was close to midnight. And even though I was ready to drop dead, I couldn't help notice how many people were still out in the streets and the almost festively lit up buildings at every corner! It probably took me a further half hour after getting to the hotel front door, to actually find a space to park! We decided then and there that there was no way we were driving anywhere till we were on our way out! Now Prague, without a doubt, is a place you want to visit at least once in a lifetime. Honest! No other place, with the possible exception of Rome has such character! Okay, so I haven't really seen that much of the world, but I'm sure glad I've seen Prague :). The old town stretches out in all it's glory. As you walk down the long sloping avenue from the museum down to the huge maze of shopping malls and exclusive outlets of all kinds. As you head to the ominously dark Powder Tower through to the Old Town Square. Then as you make your way through the narrow alley ways down to the river and on to Charles Bridge. And that's when you catch a glimpse of the majestic Prague Castle. If you haven't already climbed up any of the previous monuments like we had that is :). Fascinating sights greet you so often that it's difficult not to get used to it :). It was a little bit warmer too, and the atmosphere so full of life, right from the morning till late in the night, that it was impossible to find yourself on a high :). That's the thing about the city I guess, that even though the old is perfectly preserved, people actually live here! And they live in the now.
And it was also here that I was reminded of what I'd missed that entire week in Italy! Ferrari! Believe it or not, all through my Italy trip I'd not seen a single Ferrari! Prague, obviously got it all right :D. Except that each morning and evening we made sure our car was still where we'd left it, just in case :P.
Beautiful as the city felt as you walked through it, we decided we had to see it from a vantage point. Not only that, we had to see it change. So we made our way up to a suitable perch, and proceeded to wait. I think we ended up spending a somewhat insane four hours, alternately feeling giddily excited and shuddering in the unbelievably chilly wind :D. I'd say it was every bit worth it :). We even made the cable car back!
Having looked at the castle from afar from several angles, when we eventually did end up at the gates, I was somewhat annoyed to realise that from most angles it hardly looks like a castle! But do not be fooled, the ramparts, though hardly visible, are still very much there, covered in gardens for the most part. Of course the gigantic cathedral in the rather narrow confines of the castle is what lends the castle much of it's persona.It was almost on a lark that we decided to go for the opera. Not one of the more formal and huge affairs, this. Just ask for tickets and there you go. The church interiors made the setting quite awe inspiring. And the music was mesmerising. Afterwards there wasn't much left to do, just grab ourselves yet another satisfying meal of goulash, a shot of the national drink and a last walk down the riverside. Quite a fitting end to the stay I'd say :).Munich was the only stop on our road trip without a bed mark. I suppose given our timing, it wasn't surprising that we hadn't found any accommodation. We'd chosen to land one day before the first day of Oktoberfest! We sort of got into town, and found the first relatively quiet looking parking spot, dropped off the car, and headed off!There's only so much you can do in a day I suppose, but I was quite happy with our day in the auto mobile capital of Germany. It has somewhat less of a sense of history compared to Berlin. It's also a lot less business like :). That's not to say it was any less busy. Come to think of it, we didn't really notice even the slightest hint of the festivities due to begin!
I'd say the manner in which we chose to end the day was the best, with a visit to the Olympic park and the adjoining BMW museum. Of course by the time we landed up the museum wasn't really open, but we peeked in anyway :). Then it was off towards Salzburg. But not without just a little detour to get a closer look at the Allianz Arena, in it's full red livery for an upcoming Bayern match.I must say I'm not too used to driving a lot at night. And at the end of a long day, at around a hundred miles an hour, the red lights on the cars and the signs tend to mould into something entirely different :). One of those things for future reference I guess. Salzburg seemed really really quiet after the other lot we'd done. So it was fitting that we wound up the trip there. It was really more of an unwind than anything else :).By the morning I think neither of us was particularly in the mood for too much adventure. But then again, Salzburg doesn't require you to feel particularly adventurous to still let you have a nice time :). For one, it's really small! It's also pretty. Exactly the kind of picture postcard perfect that one might expect :). We wandered, backtracked, deviated and generally made our way around the quaint town. We seemed to have caught it in a particularly festive mood.And of course we made our way up to the castle. Spent quite a while up there actually. Just looking. Even decided to walk on the way down. Small as it is, this castle still has more of a proper 'castle' look to it, I must say :). Over dinner, we even had some local company. I guess we were in one of the more popular joints in town. And I thought it was interesting that a significant fraction were not just visiting.
So eventually it was time to leave, and it was back to Munich to drop off the car and catch the train. I didn't think it possible when I first saw the puny little thing, but the 1.4l managed to chug along at a healthy 180 km/h, seeing how by now I'd gotten quite comfortable with the whole right left thing :). Of course, there were still Beamers and Audis going past quickly enough to make me check the speedo. Just to make sure! At least there weren't many VW's passing us like we were standing still :).
The rest of the story isn't the best, so I guess I'll just skip it :D. But seeing how it all turned out well, and I didn't in fact get charged for the entire car or something, I guess we'll just take it all in the stride. I'll just say that the Hertz rental woman we barged in on in Stuttgart train station would probably not have heard as strange a request in a while. At least I hope not :D.

Currently: waiting for the next one :)
Listening to: Corinne Bailey Rae - Put your records on

Saturday, 15 November 2008


It's been about exactly two months since the mini Eurotrip. (Remember? Germany, Czech Republic, Austria? I know, I know, almost done sorting pics :D.) Or so the calendar says. Can't, for the life of me, figure out where the intervening time went! Yes, I can count the weeks, France, Norway, Singapore and now chugging across the entire length of the Indian Ocean. But where did all the days and hours disappear?!!!

Speaking of the ocean, we're almost out of it now. Made the first turn in 2 weeks and rounded the bottom end of Madagascar this morning. Unfortunately, at 30 miles (nautical, not the land variety) it was just over the horizon :-<. And given that I missed seeing the volcano on Reunion Is. 'cos I was busy with something stupid, and we all missed Mauritius 'cos we passed that in the dead of the night, the last time I actually saw land was Sumatra! Crossed half the tropical region (Equator to the Tropic of Capricorn) without even the tiniest glimpse of Terra Firma!

Seeing how we're almost done with this rather extraordinary trip, I'm beginning to quite look forward to the stopover at Durban. We get off almost as soon as the boat gets into dock (or at least that's what I'm hoping for). And then I'm planning on a bit of an unwind. Four days to be precise. On the sunny beaches in the summer sun :). Before I head off to deal with the Asker winter. Apparently it's already snowing there. So till I can lay my hands on the jacket I'd stowed in the office last time, survival is beginning to look like a tough act to pull of :(.

On a rather upward note, we had a barbecue on the boat today! Can't remember ever having one of those before :P. Was pretty good. The sun kinda set a bit early and the ensuing chill in the air put a bit of a damper on things. Still, quite nice it was. Unfortunately, another exodus at the end of this trip looks all set to leave me on third spot on the Trident's been-here-longest-at-a-stretch stakes. Trust me, you don't even want to be this high up :-<.

Currently: desperately seeking Durban!
Listening to: Ben Lee - No room to bleed

Friday, 7 November 2008

Wide open spaces

I'm beginning to like this longish transit a little bit. Almost a week since we left Singapore, and the boat's finally beginning to look more like itself, on the inside :). For one, I don't have to lock my cabin door every time I step out! Plus, levels of craziness are beginning to show signs of dropping below outright mayhem. (I'm sensing not everyone will agree with that last one :|.)

Crossed the equator the other day. My first time, even though I've actually sailed in both hemispheres. Just hadn't actually crossed the line in a boat before. And there was remarkably little ado on-board. I was quite bummed to be honest. It's not something you do every other day... Though of course in effect, it's not like you notice much. It's a fair while till the water starts swirling the other way...

Durban seems to still be about a couple of weeks away. In the mean time, I'm not particularly unhappy with the alternate 25 hour days. The days are almost uniformly super-bright-blue, with cotton ball clouds and a steady southerly breeze, as we head in an almost straight line from a point just a little south of Nicobar to another just a little south of Madagascar. This is about as close to being in the middle of any ocean as I've ever been. I like it here :).

Currently: steaming to Africa!
Listening to: David Gray - We're not right

Monday, 3 November 2008

Slipping out of time

It doesn't always feel fair. How suddenly you've lost touch of a lot of things, some that mattered more than others. At least you know why. They don't.I suppose once the dust settles and you get your life back somewhat, all you can do is to try and get it back on some sort of a track... It can be hard work though :-<. As I said, no fair :(.

Currently: trying
Listening to: Primal Scream - Everybody needs somebody

Monday, 27 October 2008


Boy, am I ready to be outta here or what?! Over a week, and we're still here, alongside in Singapore. The days we spent in dry-dock were actually pretty cool! What with the ship getting a complete fresh coat of paint on the outside.And then there was the floating. And since this was a floating dry-dock, all they need to do, really, is fill up the walls with water, and it starts sinking, ship and everything included! Which was a pretty cool deal, except, it is really really slow :|. But yeah, at the end of it when they went checking around the boat for leaks (No kidding! They really do that!) they found none, so I suppose that was a good thing :P. But the engines were both still practically in pieces, so we ended up getting towed over to a dock close by.Now I'm wishing we'd never left dry-dock :|. The last few days have honestly been complete madness :-<. At least I managed to go into town a few times, when I wasn't too busy feeling dead, or sorry for myself :P.Even found one of these awesome 500 Gig portable 2.5" hard disks! No more deleting other stuff to make space for fresh photos! Which, seeing how I've managed to shoot past 11 thousand clicks on this cam, is happening quite often now on my 120 Gig portable :(.

Currently: knackered
Listening to: Snow Patrol feat. Martha Wainwright - Set the fire to the third bar

Monday, 20 October 2008

Fish out of water!

With the number of people sitting/ standing/ walking around you in any given airport, you might be surprised at exactly how little attention any of these people are giving others. Or not, I suppose. But it does set me back just a little bit.Not all bad though. 'Cos when I'm done struggling to keep the paroxysms of laughter (welling up in almost tsunami-like waves, thanks to random bits of High Fidelity) absolutely silent and restricted to a quiet, uncontrollable shuddering, I look up to see no shocked or otherwise perplexed faces :P.

The aforementioned pearl of wisdom was gained while waiting at the over-crowded terminal for my 12 hour leg from Frankfurt to Singapore. And as is shockingly often the case with Lufthansa, there was no in-seat entertainment. A middle seat and a neighbour spilling out of his seat pretty much rounded up the misery :|.Finished off with the book though! And now I'm left with only the next GRRM unread, so I suppose I'll get around to it sometime. The night in Singapore before heading out the the boat was nice. We headed down-town for dinner, and came across these festively lit streets.
And starting Saturday it was a headlong plunge into madness!! We landed up on the boat which was already dry in a floating dock. Quite a bewildering and utterly confusing state of affairs. At least for the first day or so. By now some sort of method has appeared to it. Hopefully though, we'll be done with it soon enough, and I'll get some awesome photos of the boat as it gets floated again :).
Currently: dry
Listening to: Corinne Bailey Rae - Like a star

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


It feels like things are beginning to fall back into place. Sort of. Like broken things, falling into crooked places. Not quite right for what's trying to fit in, but okay enough. Good enough for right now. (I'm back to feeling like writing just for the heck of it. Ordinarily there'd be something, anything.. the tiniest thing, and I'd happily go on and on about it... but there isn't even that.)

It's not often that I get to feel this. Like I'm some place where I'm actually not dying to get out of, not even a little bit. What is that? Couldn't be saying a whole lot of good things about the rest of my life, could it? I've spent the longest time cooped up in a hotel room since, like, two years back. And this finally feels right. :-<

I'm sort of stuck into listening to songs on repeat these days. It'll be one song for a half dozen times, or maybe a couple of hours. Then another. Right now it's Corinne Bailey Rae's Like a Star. And for some reason, the one thing I cannot get out of my head is her husband's death :(.

And that of course sets me thinking about all the people I knew who've died. There's an awful lot, actually. Not necessarily like people I knew too well and all. But still. I don't seem to remember that many people I personally know being born. As in, you know, you hear about people being born, but you never see them most of the time. At least I hardly ever do. They exist, so to speak, just outside my sphere of awareness. And of course, all the bunch of people I do know, well, I just don't think I know that many people I was aware of when they were born. But dead people? Loads :(. Nevermind.

I'm not trying to be depressing or anything here. It's just a thought. I'm not even particularly bothered or anything. There are just these flashes of conversations every now and then. Words that seem to hang in the air. That may or may not have actually been spoken at any point. But suddenly I'll be in the middle of a massive panic attack over them. It's quite inconvenient, really.

I've never actually walked out of the airport at Singapore. I've walked into it. Walked through it from end to end several times over, I reckon. Just never stepped out through the doors. Are there doors? I can't remember. Don't know whether to look forward to it or not. Wouldn't mind going to Singapore I suppose. But the boat's in the middle of a dry dock, which is usually a bit of a mess. After that though, we are supposed to be heading for Angola. Which is another mess. For a multitude of reasons that I'd rather not get into till I have to. But there's supposed to be a port call in Durban on the way.

Hmm. Much as I was given to groaning over how the Trident never left Australia, I think I'd gotten a bit used to the whole thing. Okay, so moving office is a completely different thing. Or not, whatever. Point is, I should really start packing, but I really really don't feel like it. :-< Bummer.

Currently: stalling
Listening to: Corinne Bailey Rae - Like a star

Monday, 13 October 2008

A trip long overdue

This has turned out to be the longest of my recent trips to Norway. And last weekend, finally, I decided to tag along with a couple of others to go see bits of Oslo. I suppose I should admit here that somehow or other I've never managed to garner much regard for Oslo as a destination :|. That has nothing to do with prior experience though. The one time I did take the trouble of going, around Christmas '05, it was pretty nice, all lit up and snow-white and what not. It's just that given the choice between a nice sleep-in on Saturday (or Sunday) morning and a trip to Oslo, I'd pick the sleep-in ten times out of ten :P.But, early Saturday afternoon, having already slept-in all morning, and with clear blue skies, things looked quite optimistic! And then we ran into Elvis :P. There seemed to be some sort of free food fair as well. Though most of the stuff was getting over my the time we got there :(.
For most of the rest of the evening it was just a matter of heading for whatever seemed somewhat interesting. Which inevitable led us to the waterfront. And the Akershus Fortress. Unfortunately, we couldn't find the main entrance :P. Yeah, well, we weren't really looking that hard anyway :).
Dinner helped dissipate the niggling feeling that I was slowly but surely losing the tips of my fingers and ears and nose to the suddenly chilly evening! (On a side note, most of the food here's the kind that'll keep even the mildly diet-conscious constantly on their toes. No wonder every gym in sight (and there's a fair few even in quiet, sparsely populated Asker) seems full almost all the time! Which almost makes you walk just a little bit slower while passing in front of the bunch vigorously working out behind the glass wall, with your massive take-away pizza box :D.)
I should really get on with these photos! I'm beginning to get just plain lazy now :|. Oh!! My old laptop's all fixed and working! Unfortunately I'm back to grumbling about how slow it is :|.

Currently: munching pizza :D
Listening to: Jackson Browne - Somebody's baby