Afterwards

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The Clouds with the message..

As I was waving away goodbye to Italy, little did I know that the return journey would become so long. First the flight didn’t start on time – stood in that queue for almost 1.5 hours because in this cheap flight, they don’t let you in sequentially but rather haphazardly. So everyone just queues up to avoid problem later with no spaces left for the carry on luggage.

Finally it started and I went to sleep. When I woke up, it was being announced that we would be landing soon although the weather conditions don’t look good. I was thinking of my options from the airport once the flight lands. And then all of a sudden, the pilot made the announcement that the flight will go to another airport which is about 125 km away from the airport at which we were supposed to land! Reason given was weather conditions. But I think it had something to do with the delayed arrival too.

Everyone looked at one another incredulously but what else could we do? A little muttering started among people.

Finally we landed and waited in the aircraft while the crew was getting the information about what would be done. Then after some time, they let us disembark and told us that there would be a bus arranged to go to the other airport and “most probably there would be information at the terminal”! Not very promising but again, what could you do? I remember one such incident in India with a local low cost carrier there. They served us water and snacks for free while we waited for more information and then they flew that flight to the correct destination! But probably there it was a strategic move to prevent the situation from getting escalated – we all know the passion that warm countries can generate :).

So here, everyone came out of the plane and reached the terminal but nobody was there to give any directions. I went like some others to get something to eat while all this was getting figured out. Waited near the exit and gradually the people started appearing (after having collected their checked-in luggage). I wasn’t sure what would be better. To sit at this airport and wait for a shuttle that would start post midnight but that which goes to the city I needed to go or go to the other airport which has a proper train station (so possibility of more connections). I had about 3 hours to kill whether I sat at this airport or took the bus ride to the other one. Finally after an hour, a bus arrived while I was still deliberating, and I took it to go to the other airport. (First one got filled just before I could get a place, then a second one arrived some minutes later.)

Reached the main airport at around 23:10 hrs. But it is so huge, it was difficult to get the ticket, figure out where the train would be arriving, reach the platform and board the earliest train. You know the drill.

The next train was at 00:28 hrs. Not any better than the shuttle that I could have waited for at the previous airport. But it just felt safer here waiting than at the other airport which is in the middle of nowhere! It did need a train change at one station. So it was risky due to possible train delay. But I took the chance. The first train was delayed but thankfully the connection was from the adjacent platform (no running needed) and was also delayed. So I managed to reach as planned. Then took a taxi home. Finally sometime between 2 and 3 am, I was at home. And did I mention that temperatures were arouns 10 degrees outside and I was clothed according to the 22 degrees of Italian temperatures?

Was so exhausted but grateful to be safely at home in the warmth of my blanket and went to sleep immediately.

Looking back, it seems that the real adventure was in returning..

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Out of the ordinary

Most days we just go by life and everything else, on a kind of auto-pilot mode. Wake up, get ready, go to wherever you are supposed to go, come back, sleep and start all over again the next day (breathing, eating and drinking – that’s kind of necessary).

But some times, while you are on autopilot, something just jumps out from background to foreground, making you take notice. Those are moments which make you think a little, before you again go on with your routine.

Sometimes, I get to capture those moments when I have the camera, at other times not. For the former, it’s great because I can show the object of my surprise also to others. The latter ones are nice, and leave behind this longing to see it once again (happens often when the night sky has interesting positions of moon, planets and stars and I don’t have the right gear to shoot those scenes)!

Here are some of those moments that I found unusual and also managed to take a photo of, of course.

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Have you seen a sleeping bird? I’d never seen one before this dude..

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The swan that turned into a pumpkin! Could it be a curse of the magician that the swan was bothering?

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The houses of this village had eyes! Some had one and some three..spooky

If you enjoyed this and want to see some more, then you can find other photographic interpretations of “unusual” here.

Serendipity

There were once three princes of Serendip who were asked by their father, the King, to get out of the country. The King was not punishing them although on the face it would appear that way. Instead, his hidden motive was to make his sons learn more about the world before they ascended the throne. So the princes did go out and made interesting experiences and also discovered a lot of things by accident. Well, so is the interpretation of the western authors that those were accidents. My interpretation would be that anything seems like an accident because one doesn’t expect it but aren’t most interesting discoveries like that? And another thing is – accident in my dictionary is a bad thing while discovery is usually good. If you find what you are looking for, then probably the term discovery won’t fit!

Anyway, so back to these princes and their discoveries. An author Horace Warpol coined the term Serendipity from this story which means “making fortunate discoveries by accident”.

I often feel like those princes of Serendip when I make these kind of discoveries with no plan whatsoever. (But I was not asked by my father to leave the country..that happened just as an outcome of some work related thing). So here I am today, on a warm summer day, sitting in the middle of a lovely village, having a sundae surrounded by interesting buildings and chatter of the locals.

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And it was not planned at all. Yesterday, a very close friend of mine C and I sat down for lunch at work. She and I get to meet only every two weeks or so as she has a working schedule that gives her more time to be with her little daughter. So I was filling her in about my adventures from last weeks. Then we came on the topic of what I could do on this long weekend. And out of nowhere, we decided that I come with her to her home  – which is in a region where I had never been before. So after a long journey in which we chatted the whole time, we reached her home. She had told me that she needs to go to a nearby village for some work. I decided to come along instead of sitting at home. And it was a good decision. See for yourself.

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I arrived at a place I would have never planned to come on my own but yet ended up at and then getting to enjoy the atmosphere with a nice big bowl of icecream on a warm summer day…

Now shouldn’t I call this Serendipity?

Solitude

Somehow the word “solitude” translates to “tranquility” for me, instead of the “state of being alone”. The latter is usually associated with loneliness and has a kind of negative connotation. But I believe solitude is a very powerful thing, not because you are alone but because of what your mind is telling you when you are alone! For some that is a very scary thing and for some it is a very pleasant state of existence. Scary probably because of the social conditioning or the fear of the unknown and pleasant probably because one can be or do whatever one likes without the fear of being judged by fellow beings. Whatever it may be, I think everyone should have some time to be just with oneself. It does make you think a bit differently than usual, which I believe is a good thing. I think that is why the ancient people of India went to the forests to meditate, to be with themselves, to be with the nature, to learn something,  for all the answers are probably within us but we just don’t get to hear them in the humdrum of our mundane existence.

There is this one scene that I captured on my lens which brought on me the feeling of solitude – in the commonly understood meaning – that of being completely alone. 10275584_10153294403428217_8774058467903492262_o

For some more thoughts and interpretations of solitude from bloggers around the globe, check out this page Solitude.

The Journey

I often find myself taking lots of pictures on the road while travelling, despite the risk of the reflections from the glass windows of the vehicle. So most often than not, I just have to delete the pictures thus taken. But once in a while, I am pleasantly surprised by some scenes quite beautifully captured.

As my journey today is about to come to an end, here is a compilation from today. Tell me what do you think..

See more impressions of windows from other travelers here.

Transmogrify

It always fascinates me how an artist’s eyes see something that would appear mundane to others. Where most would see an empty wall, an artist would see a canvas that he can paint on, where most would see a lone piece of fruit, an artist would see a rose that he can carve, where most would see a big boulder, an attist would see the sculpture he can untrap from it..the list is endless. And that is exactly the meaning of transmogrify – something a bit more than transform – as if by magic!

Here is one such piece of work. What appears to be aliens looking around, showed on closer inspection to be transmogrified from some old hollow tree      stumps!


But nothing can beat Nature. The transmogrifications it does are just awe-inspiring – look at a small seed turning into an oak tree, water turning to fluffy clouds hanging like giant cotton balls, soil and stones forming mountains, bees converting flower juice to honey..another endless list.

Look here how the green hill has become vibrant with the colors as if someone came and painted it overnight..


If you are fascinated too, you can check out some more transmogrifications here.

Schlossbeleuchtung – illumination of the castle, Street Fests and Fireworks

In Germany, or let’s say in the Southern parts as I have no idea what happens in the Northern side, there are street fests which give people the opportunity to drink beer/wine and have schnitzel/wurst with their friends (which come to think of it, they do it even otherwise but this is more in a community way)..

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For me the attraction is the live music – bands play all kinds of music – country, swing, rock and roll, jazz and sometimes even classical.

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There are marching bands too!

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Sometimes there are flea-markets where people can be seen buying and selling, interesting stuff – even bargaining – which you don’t see ever here in normal circumstances.

Yesterday was one of those days that there were two street fests taking place in two suburbs close to one another. I got the wind of it in the morning from a friend A. I wasn’t sure that I would be going but then after a chat with another friend C, I decided to go to one of the fests. But as it would turn out, I had also messaged another friend N in parallel but hadn’t received a response until the evening. So I went with my normal chores and just when I was dumping the grocery at home after a trip to the supermarket, I received the message from N that she was at the fest no. 1 and I could join her. So I started right away. On a side note, I have no idea why does it always happen – I forget about the nicer clothes and jewelry, that I buy like a shopaholic, lying in my cupboard and step out in the same clothes that I would wear at day time at home or for grocery-shopping or for any mundane stuff! Why do I even buy things if they never are destined to see the “tages-licht” as the Germans call their daylight! Was acutely aware of it when I saw people dressed up nicely at the fest.

Anyway, so here I was at the fest no. 1 but couldn’t find N and the band had started playing – so it was difficult to make a call. After some time, I managed to reach N on the phone and she said she was on her way back from the supermarket. Found a place to sit but then a man already sitting there said that he had reserved the spot for his family. I started to get up but understood from the gesture and my broken German that he was saying that I could sit until they came back. So I did. And then as his family came, I was getting up but while looking up in their direction, I didn’t pay attention to my back and upset the cocktail glass of his mom/aunt/mother-in-law in my hurry to make place for them. The lady was shocked for a minute but then when I apologized and offered her some tissue, she took it and laughed it off saying that (in German) that it was a warm day anyway!

Then when N arrived, we found a bench where we could sit and enjoy the band without being too close to the speakers. She had brought some drinks with her which she had while I had some water. We chatted for a while but then I wanted to eat something so I went in search of something I could eat. Came back with some stuff but as it took longer than expected, N was gone to get something – the fellow benchers told that she’ll be coming back. So I sat down and tried to open my bottle of Pepsi and as it was one of those days when I am being a “tollpatschig” (syn.: butter-fingers, clumsy), the Pepsi bubbled out of the bottle like crazy and I got some on my clothes before I held it away from myself. That was a very quick demonstration of the karma theory of what you give is what you receive (remember the cocktail spilling incident from a few minutes back?)! Then N came back and we finally relaxed, chatted, ate something and then she headed towards a bbq and I to the fest no. 2 to meet C.

On reaching the other suburb, I met C and we walked a bit. The fest here didn’t seem to be as big as the first one but this one had trampolines for kids which C was quite tempted to get on to. Sadly, it was only for kids! Find it in the pic below :).


We saw the band playing but went in ahead in search of A and found that she and another friend of hers N, were sitting on children’s swings in a school complex! C got happy seeing the swings and after swinging for a few minutes, her spirits were lifted :-). The best things in life are the simplest – isn’t it?

Ah and there are these sweets stalls that you would find at every fest in Germany, which have all the sinful candies that might have been used by the witch since old times to lure Hansel and Gratel!


Then we went back to the fest area and had something to drink. I had some fries and then while A and N were gone to fetch another friend of theirs E from the tram stop, I thought of trying out another fizzy drink – this time in a glass – and my clumsy day still far from being over, I again spilled some of the drink. Unbelievable – one would think – but what can you do about it?

Fast forward. The day was not over yet. I wanted to go see the fireworks and castle illumination (see heading of the post) which takes place three times every year in summer and I had missed the last two. A, N and E also planned to go there while C wanted to go back home. So the four of us, on finding that the tram was in 3 minutes, started running. Thankfully the first one that came was the one going to another destination. Then ours arrived and it was quite full – owing to the fact that everyone else too was going to see what we were going for! We reached the destination and after some confusion in the tram due to the road being closed for transport as people were already gathered on the bridge for the event, we finally found a place in the crowd to see some fireworks. The castle must have been already illuminated but we missed seeing it. There were some nice fireworks but they only for 15 minutes! But that was enough to give out the thick smoke that engulfed the hills like fog!


Then we started back like everyone else and I waited for my bus while the others decided to spend some more time there. And one last thing for the day was the crowd in the bus that reminded me of the buses in India (my experience is from Bangalore). After about 7 months, the scene from the volvo buses in Bangalore was recreated here in Heidelberg – it was so uncanny! But the difference was that the bus driver didn’t drive like crazy like in Bangalore! And then a funny thing happened. As the driver couldn’t see on one side due to so many people blocking his view, he asked before making a turn if some other vehicle was coming along and several people said in unison “nein, es ist frei” – “no, it is free” :-).

Finally reached home after the exciting day and to not tempt things further from spilling, breaking, falling – I decided to call it a day and went to sleep..

Until the next post..do some “tolpatschiging” of your own and let me know in the comments  :-)!

Hearts of Heidelberg


Hearts of Heidelberg on a sunny afternoon..

After so many years of seeing these lovely hearts, finally yesterday, thanks to my friend Federica, I got to speak with the artist – a really old lady (Federica wanted to buy one as a present for her mom and in the process also acted as my interpreter for the conversation). I had seen an old lady working once, two years back but before that I was always wondering who is creating these. Now that I look back on my pictures from the past visits to Heidelberg, I see that there is another old lady in that pic from two years back. Probably there are two artists – sisters, may be. The one I met yesterday,  is very modest and didn’t want her pic to be taken but was gracious to let me take the pics of her work!

(She was so considerate that she even asked us while we were leaving if we got the picture!).

Looking forward to serendipitous solving some more beautiful mysteries of Germany that have intrigued me over the years with the help of friends old and new!

And here are some pics from the past visits..

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Fall of 2014

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Fall of 2011

 

The Face tells a story

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A few weekends ago, I was on a train on the Schwarzwaldbahn (Black Forest picturesque train route) with two friends of mine. Having read a recommendation on a website earlier, we decided to get down on the way at a town called Donaueschingen (considered to be the birth place of the river Danube). And I am glad that we did so. It was a beautiful city with a palace where the prince and princess of Fürstenberg (famous beer) reside!

So it was in the gardens of that palace (the section open to public) where I met this squirrel. I am not sure what startled it but I got a great snap of it standing like this with ears all perked up and eyes wide open! It surely wanted to enjoy the nut that it had in it’s mouth and probably was afraid that someone else would take it away from it. There could be so many explanations. I guess Walt Disney must have been a curious observer of nature to capture scenes like these and give us the great animations of rats, dogs, squirrels and the other wonderful animals that became beloved cartoon characters which bring a smile to every child’s face even to this day.

Off late, I have been having so much difficulty in writing posts (writer’s block) so I am really glad for The Daily Post’s photo challenge Face, which made share this moment with you all. Looking forward to writing some more posts and getting your responses..

Day trip to Ludwigsburg

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Resident Palace at Ludwigsburg

I have found that in Germany, there are a lot of hidden gems which you will get to know about if you talk with the locals and tell them beforehand that you have already been to the bigger cities like Berlin, Munich etc. I have had some really nice recommendations from my colleagues here. These places won’t be found in the itineraries of international tour and travel service providers but probably that’s the best part about them – no bus loads of tourists!

So today I ran my finger on the map and it stopped on a place called Ludwigsburg. Alright it was a google search for the places I was told about but which I could reach in a less time but running a finger on the map sounds better – doesn’t it!

I took the Baden-Wuertemberg ticket for the day, which gives you the flexibility to go anywhere within the state on local transport (trains, buses, trams) from morning till 3 AM of the next day! There is also a Schoenes Wochenende ticket which costs more but allows you the same flexibility across Germany (i.e. not limited to one state).

Now about Ludwigsburg – it is a relatively new city – having founded in 1704 by the Duke of Wuerttemberg – Eberhard Ludwig Louis. It was an important hunting area so there was a hunting lodge also built for the  “Order of the hunters of the Golden Eagle”. Today the palace is one of the largest Baroque style palaces in Europe which are still there in the original condition.

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Hunting Lodge across the palace

You will see a lot of marble walls in the residential palace but surprise surprise – it is fake marble! It’s made out of stucco, could be made into all possible colors and was better at retaining heat than the real one –  and hence it was more expensive than real one!

The palace has 450 rooms and it used to house 2000 people out of which there were 1800 servants to serve 200 members of the royal family!

The height of the ceilings defined the status of the owners (probably spending more on heating which would be needed if you had higher ceilings, was also a sign of affluence). The contrast between rich and poor can be seen inside the palace itself – when you go from the king’s room to the servant’s room! The ceiling is lower, cast iron pillar kind of thing for heating and the information that 15 servants stayed in the room waiting for the ringing of the bell that beckoned them for the chores. For sleeping, they had straw laid out on the floor of a room with no furniture. The payment was only for skilled labor like the scribes and so on, but the others had to be satisfied with a roof above their heads and food that they received three times a day. May be some clothes were also given – but they usually had one set of clothes only.

Back to rich people now. The other status symbols of that period were the mirrors and the oil paintings. The more you had, the more rich you were! In fact, mirrors were more expensive than even Gold! It is as astounding as the fact that Aluminium was once so precious that rich people (Napoleon too) had Aluminium dinner sets! Back to mirrors – they were manufactured in Italy and transported in containers of butter (there was no bubble wrap then), hence the origin of the saying “alles im butter” which means all is fine. As for oil paintings, the subject didn’t matter. You just had to have lots and lots of them to impress your guests and make them know that you were rich!

Frescoes inside the palaces were another important feature. Optical illusions denoted the expertise of the painter. Pietro Scotti was the painter commissioned with the job and he did a good one. Skillfully hidden optical illusions in the ceiling – which come to notice when the guide tells you to observe!

Cabinet rooms were special places and it was an honor to be invited there.

There are also four museums inside the palace – mode (fashion), keramik (ceramic), theater and lodgings of Duke Carl Eugen.

There are two churches also inside the palace, one of which was converted later to meeting place after the hunt. Coat of arms of all members of the hunting order are there. Today you can have a wedding there if you like!

In the end, I wonder if the kings ever thought that their homes would be walked into by the commoners – would have been quite a shocking thought! How times change :)!