A family on the road to self discovery
 

The Canals of Amsterdam and the Dutch Tricolor

The seventeenth century is considered golden age in the turbulent history of Amsterdam. Soon after getting freedom from the Iberian rule, the Dutch established the first United East-India company in 1602. It was the first company to issue common stocks and grew into the first true multinational. The Dutch were ruled by the rich merchant families at that time and soon they (the Dutch) joined the race of European Imperialism. Along with the mercantile eagerness for explorations, they were also helped by the better qualities of their maps, thanks to Gerardus Mercator, the father of Dutch Cartography and the first person to use the word Atlas for collection of maps, and Abraham Ortelius who published the first modern Atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum in 1570, the most expensive book of its time. The period starting from 1550-1675 is also known as the Golden Age of Dutch Cartography.

Gerardus Mercator

Gerardus Mercator


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Cruising in the Amstel River, Amsterdam

Boarding a fast train from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, we reached Amsterdam central station in twenty minutes. The area around the central station is hub of activities and as soon as we came out, our heart started to resonate with this one of the liveliest of European cities.

Just outside the station, trams painted from top to bottom with colorful advertisements were crossing each other and a substantial gathering of commuters were waiting to take trams to their respective destinations. The tram that I found most impressive was the one decorated with a newspaper. Men are men, the wishful thinking that one could read newspaper standing; waiting for the tram with both hands free, and without one’s wife cribbing about it, caught my imagination. Alas! I could not read that newspaper, it was in Dutch

Amsterdam Centraal

Amsterdam Centraal

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My experiences of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

I have got several opportunities of flying to Europe on official work. My preferred European airline is KLM because of its generous frequent flier program. One negative aspect of flying with KLM is that I have to disembark at Amsterdam and I detest the kind of immigration check that is done at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. They are so strict that sometimes I feel that they are scolded often as most of the illegal immigrants enter Europe from there.

This time when I disembarked Amsterdam, I was confident that with complete documentation and a few visas on my passport it would be a smooth sail. When the immigration officer on the counter flipped through my passport and commented that I visit Europe quite often, I relaxed and concluded that the battle is won and soon I would be through those fearsome eyes. The officer had something else in mind. He scrutinized me with his gaze and concluded that the person in front of him did not look like a techie and so his flying frequently to Europe is suspicious. He ordered a thorough check of my hand bag as like many others he also did not find my face, the face of a technocrat. I enjoy being a commoner, but at places like that I don’t mind being treated a special person. But when the Defence minister of the country can be treated as a commoner and checked thoroughly, how can it be different for me!

Amsterdam Airport Schipol

Amsterdam Airport Schipol


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A Farm of Magical Berries in Rajsamand

We are always on tight schedules when we go to our hometown. Still we have always visited my brother-in-law in Rajsamand. They are perfect hosts and know our weakness very well. Every time we crib about our short visit, they always put forth some wonderful opportunity of visiting an interesting remote place, which we just cannot resist!

Their generosity has pampered us and made us a schnorrer. So true to this noun, meaning “a person who habitually takes advantage of others generosity often through an entitlement”, this time we put forth the condition that we would visit them only if they promise to take us to an agricultural farm. Being nice hosts they happily agreed.

Rachit was keenly interested to visit a farm since long. He always imagined and asked us how the tomatoes, brinjal … grow on plants. Are they so big and red from beginning or what! We also wanted Rachit to appreciate the bounty of fruits and vegetables Mother Nature has bestowed upon us and to avoid the notion that Mother Dairy grows fruits and vegetables in its factory.

A cloudy day in Rajasamand

A cloudy day in Rajasamand

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Flavour of local ferry in Kollam

In my previous post, I wrote about our first day in Kollam without mentioning anything about the town itself. In this post I will start with a few lines on it before going into details of our second day.

Kollam, pronounced as Koilam was previously known as Quilon. It is one of Malabar Coast’s oldest ports situated around seventy-four km north of Thiruvananthpuram and eighty-five km south of Alleppey. This small town sandwiched between sea and Ashtmudi Lake was once the centre of the spice trade that witnessed Roman, Chinese, Arabian and later Portuguese, Dutch and English traders compete for spices and valuable cashew crop. Marcopolo, the great Venetian traveler, who was in Chinese service under Kublai Khan, visited Kollam in around 1293 AD on his return trip from China to Arabia. In his memoir he mentioned that at that time the pepper trade between Kollam and the Chinese largest port was around forty-three loads of Pepper per day. Ibn Batuta, the Moroccan explorer, also visited Kollam in 14th Century.

Ashtamudi Lake, Kollam

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Enticing Munroe Island

The backwaters of Kerala are also known as ‘Venice of the East’. Till we reached Kollam and explored ‘Munroe Island’, I found this labelling quite exaggerated. A visit to the Munroe island changed my opinion.

The Munroe Island
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