Saturday, November 25, 2006

I am in the middle of running long loads and parallely doing huge builds so I decided to start reading Vivek's blog after a gap of 30+ days. He a lot of interesting posts. I have marked some of them as pending because I have to read other links given in those posts.

This post, reminded me of how I stopped buying and bursting crackers in my first year. I saw a poster on H3 (my hostel) notice board about Diwali, child labour, polution and donating. Another mail followed the poster and I have never bought crackers after that. I did sell fire-crackers in my third/fourth year in my dad's shop.

Whenever I am with my parents on Diwali (4 times in last 9 years) My mom always forces me to burst a few soon (shagun) ke pathakhe.

I love the festival and I enjoy meeting my childhood friends (not really, they are my friends from 11th and 12th class) and relatives in my Diwali vacations but the fun in crackers is gone forever.

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Finally, I managed to steal one day from the weekend yesterday. I walked to Jaffa and roamed around for a while and took some photographs. Then I went to the visitor center and wathced a video documentry on Jaffa. I also went to the famous flea market but didn't like anything there. I don't really know why it is so famous. :-)

I went back to the visitor center and took an audio toor of Jaffa. Jaffa is small ancient city. Most of the streets are very narrow and a lot of them have steps. City is built on a limestone hill and the port was a very port in early days. Nowa days its just a Yatch Marina.

I am back in office today, I still have to visit Tel Aviv Old Port. I might go there today :-)

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Tried falafel and (k)humoos for lunch and dinner. I had falafel in US a couple of times but the one in Israel is much better :-)

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Another weekend in office and very little time for shopping and having fun :-(

We played basketball again and this time I didn't have to play in my jeans. I had food in an Indian Restaurant, Indira on the weekend and was very happy to speak to people in Hindi :-)

Many cafes and bars have good live music on weekends and some of artists are really good performers.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Played basketball with some colleagues on an indoor wooden court. First time on a wooden court and first time on an indoor court too. I played around 5 full court 8 minutes long games, almost everyone was better than me and I didn't feel extra-ordinarily tall playing with these guys.

I went a place Joey's bar and as usual the bar-tender recognized that I am from India and played 'Dil to pagal hai'.

Israel has been fun so far :)

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Another weekend in Israel, this one was totally different from the previous one. I worked on both Friday and Saturday and of course Sunday is a working day for everyone.

Found out the 'aate daal ka bhaav', when I had to pay for taxi myself. It costs more than $20 each way from hotel to office.

Went to beach on Saturday morning and this time I didn't go there for jogging, I went in the water till my neck was in water. The water very clear and surprisingly still for a 'sea'. Absence of strong wind resulted into almost no waves. I could see a lot of fishes in the water and was tempted to try catching them.

But I couldn't afford to get my ears wet, I came out and went to my room, changed, went to buy some ear-plugs, came back to room to get my swimming trunks and that's when I got a call from India saying I have to work on Saturday too.

My has been extended for another two weeks so I plan to use the ear-plugs and go into water again.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

ET posted these very good lines from Gulzar:

jaage hain der tak, hamein kuchh der sone do..
thodi si raat aur hai, subah to hone do..
aadhe adhoore khwaab jo poore na ho sake,
ek baar phir se neend mein vo khwaab bone do..

ek khwaab toot jaane ka ehsaas hi to hai,
thodi si raat aur, sehar paas hi to hai

I can totally understand the feeling, I get to hear similar lines a lot of time :)

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Jogged on the beach for 10 minutes and it started to rain, I decided to jog back in the rain on the sidewalk. Got wet in rain after a long time and loved it :)

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First weekend in Israel, Day 2 Masada and Dead Sea

Almost every young Israeli I have talked to has visited India once and they simply love India. I have heard about Raj Kapoor once and I have been called Amitabh Bachchan thrice so far :-)

I had read about the dead sea in geography books but I never imagined myself going to the place. I took another tour today and met a lot of people from yesterday's tour. Once again the tour was in English and Spanish and I got an opportunity to speak a little bit of Spanish.

We crossed Jerusalem and then dead sea to go to Masada and we took a ariel tram to the top of the mountain. Masada was a fortress and is situated on top of an isolated mountain. Masada reminded me of Ranthanbhore (Rajathan). A lot of history, multiple emperors and three years under siege. It was more like a smaller version of Ran, almost half the size of Amber fort (Jaipur).

I liked Masada but dead sea was better. I had to buy a swimming costume because I was not planning to swim while I was in Israel, but couldn't refuse the temptation of floating in the dead sea.

I went in and immediately felt that water was heavier than what I have felt in swimming pool. I floated without any effort and actually sitting in water. Splashing water was not allowed because the water is dangerous for eyes. If not for the unrest in Israel it would have been a very popular tourist destination in India.

I came out of the water, took a shower, applied a mud pack (no photos there) and went into the water second time. I would have loved to be there for longer time but due to time constraints I had to come out.

I suggest, you add 'the dead sea' as one of the places you have to visit.

PS: Israelis have a holiday on Saturday because of Sabbath, I suspect the word holiday may have come from 'Holy Day'.

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First weekend in Israel, Day 1 Jerusalem

I have spent a week in Israel now (6 days actually, I arrived late night on Monday). People here a friendly and language is not a big problem so far.

My hotel in Tel Aviv is right at the beach and I manage to take long walk on the beach and on the paved sidewalk beside the beach. I have been to the beach a lot of times but didn't go in the water till now. So far I have managed not to learn any Hebrew letter or words, I already knew Hebrew for Thank you and Hello.

I give a weapon update to a colleague everyday. On the very first day when I was going to office I saw a very young looking guy in military uniform with a big machine gun waiting for a bus, next day I saw a girl and two guys with guns again waiting for the bus. On Friday I saw so many guns that I have lost count now. I love the way they carry the weapons so casually over here :-)

I make sure that I go to a different restaurant/bar for every dinner and I have found some really good places nearby. Vegetarian food is available easily and waitresses have been very helpful in recommending good dishes. Most of the times I have Salad for meal but I got Pizza, Quesedilla and Rice at some places. I love the fact that Jews don't mix meat with dairy products.

I was completely taken by surprise when everybody started asking me about the weekend plans on Thursday, I didn't have any plan and in Israel Friday and Saturday are the weekend days. I tried booking a tour in night but I was too late for that, I finally managed to book the tour early morning at 6:30 and managed to get on a tour bus at 7:15.

The guide Charlie spoke fluent English, Spanish, French, Arabic and Hebrew. I don't know if he spoke/understood other languages. He was a very good guide and made the tour better.

Jerusalem city is divided into two cities the new city and the old one. The whole city is built on top of mountains and hillocks and in the valleys. Many of the mountains are mentioned in Bible and have a lot of history and stories attached to them. Jerusalem is a holy city for three major religions; Jews, Moslems and Christians consider the city important for their religious history.

I have never been inside a Church before and here I was in Jerusalem where Christianity was born. We saw a lot of beautiful churches, church where Mother marry went to eternal sleep was one of the most lovely sights, the organ in that church was really huge and it had more than 2000 pipes. I wish I could here the sound once.

We also went on the path that Jesus Christ had to take while carrying the cross. All places like where he stumbled, he met his mother, a women named veronica helped him are well documented and the journey is divided into 14 steps. The Holy Sepulcher Church has Jesus's Tomb and we went inside and saw the tomb.

Visit to the holocaust museum was a low point of the day, looking at all the documents, statements from various people and artifacts was very disturbing. Even I felt guilty just because I am an Aryan descendent. I don't know how Europeans (specially Germans) feel when they see the place. It seems only Danish people helped Jewish during holocaust and all other countries (including America and Australia didn't allow them refuge). It was pleasant surprise to find the Schiendler's list in the museum.

By the way, no photos at Jerusalem, like a fool I managed to delete all the photos by mistake. There were a LOT of good churches and holy places in there. Unlike India photography is allowed inside Churches (basically its allowed at all places). I was feeling really bad and low after deleting the photographs, I documented the Steps/way of the Cross and took photographs of Mother Marry, Kind David and Jesus Christ and I managed to delete them.

I may have missed a lot of details and may not have made sense because I had two disturbing events (holocaust museum and deleting of photographs today)

For Vivek: They do have guavas in Israel :)

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