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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Army Aspirations

Iam asked by many of my friends why are you so obsessed with the Indian army ?
 You keep filling your FB status praising them and you started a page called friends of the indian armed forces  for our army.
 There are some friends. ,dont know if I really should use that label who for thier own political compulsions or beliefs chastise the army as a murderous raping breed !
 Somehow i cant stand such creatures who cannot see the stark truth
 not being proud of a bunch of people highly disciplined trained skilled honest and patriotic .
 Not many countries can boast of having such a bunch protecting them day and night in wilderness and extreme clinates beyond comprehension , going beyond the borders of religion caste ,language ,social ,economic ,or ,geographic divisions to do thier duty fearlessly ,suffering death or injuries and coming from brave families of fathers ,mothers ,wifes ,and children who with tears in thier eyes but with pride in thier chest are willing to give thier beloveds for the country in body and soul !!
 I cannot suffer traitors who chastise an army such !!
 Thats one group i cannot stand
 sorry to say that.
 You may ask me  two questions.then

 One , are you telling us Indian army is so pure it has no dishonest amongst it , none who are corrupt or some who are criminals ?
 I do no such thing .
 Every part of society has its black spots even in the so called noble profession I belong to ,that is human nature but I will say this here , probably our army may still be the only last bastion where the famed dharmic way of living in honesty and hard work a quintisentially indian way of living , in a country teetering with corruption selfishness and cynicism .
 The second question you may ask is , you keep talking a lot about the indian army and how its personell suffer hardship for the nation ,how come you conviniently did not join such a force and just giving an arm chair drawing room account and praise using flowery language.  ?

 If you had loved the indian army so much you should have been a part of it. !

 In fact this question was asked by one such friend sorry to use that label undeserved who hates our army and considers me a war monger !
 True I did not join the Indian army !
 I did try my best to do so.
 After being in NCC Naval cadre in school and after my medical school and PG in Radiotherapy I applied to Army medical corps ,passed the entrance exams and yes , the interview in New Delhi , where I attended it .
 I was even given the briefing of a life as. Army doctor
 amongst those selected and was looking forwards to the same.
 I never expected my spectacles which had been a part of me from seven years age to be a block to an army life i was very sad to know that i was rejected because of my high myopia.
 At the time one of my uncles Lt. gen. Menon who was a top ranking army officer had put in a word for me .probably the reason why the recruiting officer a colonel and a doctor himself called me to his room a honour not given to all rejected recruits and told me Dr.Harimohan its not that you need to be inside the army always to serve the country you are one amongst the millions of Indians outside the army who can do the same so wish you all the best and his words ring true to me to this day.
 Jai hind

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Jallikattu imbroglio and students agitation on Tamil honour
The supreme courts descision Tamilnadu CM Paneerselvams meeting Modi the Prime minister ,all have plenty of layers of complex powerplays behind them from what iam hearing .
Compared to that catching a bull seems easier
From the NGO opposition to the supreme court dictates lobbies have been remote controlling the power levers in the state quietly and efficiently .
And with the rise of a new Amma after the disappearance of an older Amma shrouded in mystery ,and this new amma though getting the powerful to fall on her feet like the older amma is worried that they may also pull her legs and has ambitions which wouldnt stop with just feet falling honchos
so the pawns are moved the pieces are checkmated and the queen is closing in
but the king beyond the vindhyas has played many a game with tougher enemies and checkmated them with ease
so no one knows where the bull will strike !
So if you guys think jallikattu is just taming bulls you think wrong !
Its the bulls out to tame you and each other ,and like bulls in a china shop will cause colateral damage !
Now the Foundations sponsoring the NGO s from across the black seas to break Indian read Hindu traditions ,and the supreme court judges are supremely surprised at what they thought is a simple matter of bull control growing much beyond what they imagined
Perfect script for a Rajni movie isnt it
And have a big bull as you watch it

Thursday, January 19, 2017


I have always been a fickle eater in hotels .
I need my food hot , tasty ,my coffee along with the  food , it has to be of correct strength , sweetness ,milk ,etc .
I need neat surroundings , hate sticky tables though am not too bothered about palatial ambiences !
Having born in Madras and tasted in some very good hotels and homes and having known kerala cuisine ,one of the most tastiest in the world I developed this supercilious attitude , which is actually nothing to be proud of but thats me !
This snap shows at me looking at a masala dosa with disdain !
My dear cousin in Doha took me to this hotel Bonanza where he felt massla dosas were reasonably good when i visited him on a weekend from Dubai !
But i found the masala dosa way down my appreciation scores and the expression clearly shows my unhappiness !
Balan my cousin called the waiter by name
"hey swami get a replacement itsnt good "
I asked him
"so you know the guy by name "
I was amused when Balan said
"Who knows ? I  just called him Swami "
Strangely the guy whose real name was later we came to know Anwar answered when called swami !!
And then Anwar swami brought me a replacement masala dosa which still didnt hit the pass mark


Kerala school Kalolsavam is a real phenomenon .nowhere is traditional arts given so much importance .there is a lot of hard work and excellence behind the participants
This year even the vegetables used for food for the children are grown by them which is a real achievement
The preparation of food
The mad rush of events
Public intrest
Media coverage
Tourists liking
Its just awesome

Now lets come to  the paradoxes

Its more of a qauntitative competition

Many students train and study different art forms only for the event unlike in places like Tamilnadu
For eg a bharatanatyam artiste matures after years of study under a Guru to give an accepted perfomance not just months like for Kalolsavams
Of course among the participants there could also be such trained artises too but the dictum is to  learn fast , learn many , and get prizes in maximum events

Second the rat race is stressful with protests court cases accusations and even violence
..kerala style of art indeed
This year the function just started already more than 650 court petitions
Iam sure a bunch of lawyers agents all walk around the venue to create instant petitions
The High court of Kwrala needs to seriously consider starting a mobile court and a police station in the premises .
Good training for the students to do the same when they become parents
Is stress infused into an young artiste the right way to excel in art .
It all is because of the grace marks for admission to professional colleges one gets by winning competitions the reason for the rat race .
And an excellent talent with all the training will land up a sad doctor later in life .

Thirdly slights and threats by politicians that they were ignored

This is Kerala

No wonder Swami Vivekananda labelled it as a madhouse


Years does  pass by after a close one passes away
Time fogs us but memories lurk .
My brother in law Unniettan (my sisters husband )though elder to me was more my friend specially when we were together in UAE in the same city Al Ain .
Those were memorable days when I would go to his house any time I felt
 later with my sister too joining him it was definitely once a week if not more .
Whenever I felt the blues when living alone those days I would quickly drive across to tell him my issues
Unniettan was a great listener at end of it he would give his opinion and I would be happier.

He was a very positive person extremely agile fit and multitalented and multilingual
He could drive an yamaha bike or a mercedes benz car  or a huge container with the  same ease .
He was the best in his office in their software and work .
For some time he even tried his hand on business

He could fit in anywhere be it wearing  traditional Kerala garb in a wedding where he would be serving for the guests on their banana leafs with ease or be it amongst Arab colleagues to whom he talked Arabic well
to his Sardar friends he was a Punjabi putar as he had spent years in Ambala imbibing the robustness of a thoroughbred Punjabi

To a Marathi he was Amchi mumbai wallah living in Borivilli or Boisar in Thane dt for years
To a Madraskaaran he could talk good Tamil and walk the streets of Chennai  ,and in Coco Cola plant in Al ain where he worked for long he could converse well with the American and English bosses .

He explored into photo shopping as a hobby and soon was converting photos of departed people in colour as a help to many
He also taught this to those intrested

And one fine day least expected he disappeared from all of us ,just like that one minute there next minute not  !
Like a sparkling comet which exited into the twilight .

Read below too

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Today M.G.Ramachandran if alive would be 100 years.
For the very few who havent heard of this legend he was an actor hailing from Kerala with a childhood in the tea estates of Sri lanka who went on to become a superstar one man emperor of Tamil filmdom

Later  catapulated into the Dravidian moment and famously known as the revolutionary leader he started the ADMK after he split from his bete noir and compatriot script writer poet legend Karunanidhi who continues his octogenarian saga even today long after MGR has just become a fond memory of a fair charismatic fur capped dark glassed chief minister of Tamilnadu and being the blood of blood of the Tamils .

MGR was well known for his sincerity concern for the poor and downtrodden and respect to womanhood .

It was reflected in his films which were but extensions of his daily life so while MGR cavorted with a reasonably chubby Jayalalitha who would carry his legacy after his death the people expected him to do nothing less than cavorting with her in real life too .

And on one unfortunate day a villain in his films M.R.Radha  became  a villain in his life and shot a bullet at him which stuck in his throat .

MGR would outlive the shot to emerge with an image of someone who said tata to thotta which means bye to a bullet .

He emerged with greater popularity after this and his cracked voice due to the bullet became a symbol of his virility and strength .

MGR was known to be a stickler on maintaining his physicue and was known to grow his muscles as much as his votes .

I remember seeing the great man only once
I was studying in Kilpauk medical college then a Government medical college .

We medical students were on a strike and we walked all the way to Fort st George the secretariat to meet the CM to air our grievances.
  After that exhausting walk in the sun we waited in the road and suddenly out into the balcony  came MGR glowing like a star .

He mumbled a few words to the leaders of our group waved at us gromly  and went in .

We were told to go back to our studies and Govt will look into our issues .
 we walked back in silence clearly impressed by his charisma

He was a great legend indeed
Just a remembrance ...

(Tks for image downloaded online ..if objected can be removed )



Dubai the Manhattan concrete powerouse city
But theres another Dubai which I love
The ancient orient village in the fringes of a desert .
Where the sands meet the sea
The Dubai creek its lapping waters quacking gulls laden dhows heady spices in sacks glimmering toys winking mannequins sparkling gold in the Gold souk domed mosques with the muezins calls a hookah pulled for pleasure awaiting whirling detvishes to go to their trance
A Dubai of the ancient

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Libraries and Librarians

To a book worm a library is a treat .
I always had this attraction to books and places where it was stacked up .
Boys are boys and are known for the rough and tumble of the playground the sweat and glory of a goal or a brilliant catch but i was happier in fishing out an Enid blyton or getting lost in a Biggles and his flight !
I sure would have looked a sad loser as a he boy and looked  the quintissential thick spectacled nerd i was .
In my formative years after losing my father at ten years books were an obsession .it took me to worlds unknown it brought me magic from kind faces from all over .i lived those books more than i liked them .i remember carrying heavy tomes borrowed from sundry libraries all over the town and lugging them in crowded buses like a Somalian  pirate carrying his well deserved booty .
To that extent God was kind enough to put me in the exact spot where a book worm and a library fanatic should be put .
Madras yes these days they call it Chennai and to me it just doesnt evoke any memories its always Madras for me
Todays busy Chennai with metro superstructures and shopping complexed and fast fooded roads isnt my nostalgic Madras which was a much more slower hotter but dreamier destination .
Somehow the city was blessed by academics and learning.The red sandstone edifices of the Madras university .the Presidency college .the yellow circular  ice house later called vivekananda house because the venerable saint deitified it by staying there all these and more buildings radiated knowledge and spread it across the open seas of the Marina beach into the vistas of the world beyond .
The city was dotted with libraries small and big and these were my haunts during my formative years
I dont think iam  reading one tenth of the books i read between the ages of ten to twenty .
i used to consume books by the ton my appetite was that of a glutton and i would read anything from a newspaper which came with the peanuts to that gilded prized book kept with reverence in a puja room
Buying books was out of the question for a boy whose mother looked after him with tightly closed purse strings and how she did that depriving me of no pleasures of childhood was a miracle indeed .
But buying books wantonly wasnt part of the agenda then.
So i would frequent the second hand shops in red coloured moore market near the central railway station and spend a happy sunday morning rummaging its delights to buy a rare book for my small collection
Those days birthdays were celebrated with a better lunch and some rice strewn on the head in front of a lamp litted God no parties or gifts so i still remember that rare birthday when my mother called my school friend and he came along with his mother and gifted me yes gifted me with a comic book i was so delighted to get that i tried to read it immediately and i stopped only because of the stares of my mother .

Another thing she was strict about was this habit of mine of asking for books at any house which we visted only as a borrow but today i understand her that book borrowing mostly not to be returned is an embarrasing difficulty thrust on a book lover .
So lets come back to my habituation to libraries .
The Vivekanada library placed in a green cocoon of trees in the Ramakrishna math was a veritable treasurehouse for me .i quickly overcame the childrens section and the unintresting main section to dwell into the generally empty referral section.
It was here that  found nirvana .
Tall brown glassed cabinets lined with thick tomes of red leathered books drove me to orgasmic juvenile  esctacies .
I particularly liked the second world war encyclopedias
These had brilliant text and photos from war corresondents covering every minute of a war which lasted for more than five years .
From the time Hitler buyoyed his war machines and the Germans goose stepped into Europe and snowy Russia their tanks slushed in mire and snow with bazookas bursting thier bubbles to smithereens every single word danced in front of my eyes like the battle of the bulge played only to my pleasure.
I would pity the jews herded into cold wagons on their macabre journey to gas houses as that mad Hitler nuked manhood with the power of the satan .
I would rejoice in the soviets rumbling in their tanks on to a crumbling Berlin while the sands of Normandy would reverberate with the cannons of the ships in the sea as men in thousands would crawl across its darkness lit by spurts of cannon fire .
I would be transported to the elegant board rooms where an obese Churchill puffing at his fat cigar and gulping at his port would discuss with a wheelchaired Eishenhower the next strategy as the Jerries bombarded London .
Every single minute of the war was chronicled in those tomes
No google search could give one the minutae that they did .
There was this young swamiji in the library as librarian who used to look amusingly at this strange boy lost in the reference section sitting on a low stool admidst the fat tomes for hours
One day he asked me do you want to take them home read and bring back .
But swamiji those are in reference section and cannot be borrowed i would say
He would say thats left to me with a twinkle in his eye and i would carry home the huge books .
One day i dont remember how it started young swamiji replied to my question on something with a smile but is there a God ?
To me that was almost blasphemous coming from an ochre robed holy man so i said how swamiji can you ask me that question !
He took me to a quiet table and tried to explain the principles of Sankaras Adwaita and how theresnt any mythical superpower etc but it all went above my head then
Today thinking back i think that young swamiji had a soft corner for my fire for knowledge .

The librarian in the house of soviet culture was a lean tall dark tamil gentleman a card carrying communist obviously he just left me alone to my browsing and was tersely technical in his communications to this juvenile familiar who borrowed books .
Anerican library librarians rarely consorted with the commons as they were spotted behind glassed enclaves of their offices far away from
the reading halls .
The mount road district library librarians were Government employees and preferred to converse in tamil
Again it was the British council library which would give me years of happiness even when into medicine .
I remember a tall lanky Indian librarian there who spoke with almost a stiff upper was here I would fall in love with P.G.Wodehouse a love that would last till I close my eyes to eternity .
My kilpauk medical college library would always to me be a harbinger of good things for it was here that my partner for life answered with an yes for the question will you be mine !

In Ernakulam where i stayed more than two decades practicing as a doctor rearing my children the paico and its books was always a weekend destination my sruthi and shyam and premila too would select their choices and it was a great pleasure this weekly bookie fling .
The Ernakulam public library in the narrow convent road in its jaundiced  countenance was my normal haunt on sunday or friday afternoons .
Singh was the chief librarian and he lived in Cochin west where i also did and chumminess with a chief librarian gave me acess to the latest books just recieved by the library and i was mostly the first person to borrow many new books there.
Singh incidentally was not a oye oye  balle punjabi with a turban but a blue veined mallu as pure as the coconut oil his head was liberally smeared with .
He was just one of those keralites whose parents were fond of legends generally leftists from  other states.
so one finds plenty of Boses Sens Roys  Ajay Ghoses and Singhs in malluland .

My own uncle EN Nair was librarian of Sree Krishna college Guruvayoor , once a professor in psychology he was given charge of the library once psychology dept closed in his college .
He was stern strict almost foreboding and condescended to talk to the likes of me only when i reached college but by then he was so sweet and nice and talkative till the day he  left us .

Monday, January 09, 2017

Romance with Russia

In the seventies I was studying in Santhome High School opposite Santhome Cathedral near Santhome beach in Madras , todays Chennai .
We used to live in Myla pore near the school then and I used to cycle to school .
It took me just ten minutes to reach home pedaling the cycle  and I would go into the house  gulp the tea and snacks my mother would have made hop into my cycle and be off just with enough time to change from my uniform ,my mother would be calling me back ,but I would be long off !

No , I had no bad habits , nor was I going for any sports  !
 I was going to my libraries and the house of Soviet culture .

This was located in Kasturi Ranga Iyengar Road near Edward Elliots Road and near Stella Maris college,
those days India was very close to the Soviet union and was an old friend ( the USSR was a formidable force then and was one of the two powers of the cold war era )
The center had a spacious library with lot of English books magazines periodicals etc and I was a member so I could borrow the books ,
I was also able to see Soviet films in the very comfortable modern theatre attached and I would know by the monthly programme schedule the movie playing on the day ,so after browsing for some time in the library I would sink into the plush seats in the theatre and lose myself in battleships of  Potemkin's
or the Tolstoy legend War and Peace ,many are the evenings I spent over these and I became a sort of Russian expert with a smattering of a few words of Russian ,knowing all about the second world war and Russia's efforts to liberate Germany ,the Stalingrad siege etc .

I would return by 9 pm hungry and tuck in after dinner and a berating from my mother who would tell me this cannot go on , this addiction to Russia every day .

During weekends I would be there by the morning and the librarian a tall lean senior person would even nod at me carrying heavy tomes home
I would go on the weekends  to the American library situated at the American embassy
 those days one could use the library and security was minimal ,I being a member would walk in  and browse the books magazines which were definitely more colorful than the
Russian ones ,even videos of space exploration were available and I would get lost in an mission to the moon for hours ,I would then cycle to the Mount road district library and later  the British council library which really had books that appealed to my senses.
I was a card carrying member of ISCUS or Indo soviet Cultural Society and attended most meetings by the time I was in ninth standard I could give a talk on communism and capitalism to the chagrin of my classmates who never went beyond cricket and that was one thing I wasn't interested at all

I also got some prizes in competitions held in the soviet center for oratorical and essay contests and I got a nice medal of Comrade Lenin pinned to my shirt which I proudly showed around to my school mates ,
the principal Brother Stephen tall and lanky and balding  called me to his room felt the medal and told me don't go the soviet center much , they corrupt young minds to communism ,
USA is better I will give you some books to read etc .

Though I used to like the tenets of communism and its equality I wasn't naïve as I also read about Stalins atrocities and how people escaped communist countries in Readers digest book choices and so never thought communism as a practical success it was good in theory and I still hold that view .

looking at the sorry communists in India after more than four decades of my romance with Russia I think I was correct long back !!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

PRAGUE the fairy tale city

We were at the spacious railway station in Vienna ,our tickets to Prague was already confirmed by our travel agent but we made a small payment and confirmed our seats thinking as Indians do   and wasted around twenty Euros ,this was not required as enough seats were available .

The Vienna station had a big food court with lot of Indian choices ,we also bought some food for the train again not needed as small refreshments tea and coffee was available in the train by a push cart run by a very good looking stewardess !
The train meandered into the platform punctually and we got into our seats ,the seats were comfortable with charging points huge glass windows for viewing and within no time we were on the move through the city and later the farms of Austria ,

The train journey was pleasant as we moved from Austria to the Czech Republic there was a distinct difference in the lay of the land ,more pastoral with large fields and clumps of hay gathered on them with quaint stations but people were still hard to find .

We reached Prague in about four hours and got down to a cavernous station with plenty of shops and food courts ,
this turning of public places into malls is great business idea it not only brings in the greenbacks its very useful for the traveler something Indian policy makers need to think about .

The holiday factory representative for our hotel pick up was nowhere to be seen ,we had gone down and as we waited we saw him ,he had collected two other families and we were bundled up in a couple of cars and sped into our hotels .
After this the tour company would only be seen for our pick up to airport on check out ,this was convenient as we hated being herded like cattle into tourist buses ,the holiday factory provides just accommodation and transports ,the rest is on your discretion ,the only issue here is time management of seeing the best places in shortest of time within our budgets ,we found the online travel application Viator very useful for this ,one could easily pan all tours available ina city see videos photos read reviews adjust to the time we have and book by card and just keep our vouchers ready and remember the schedules ,so far i had used it in Vietnam ,Malaysia other parts of Europe etc and it had never failed me most tours were exactly what they claimed to be and we had the freedom to be with ourselves and not in a group and had time for our self to we weren't mindless tourist robots managed by remotes .
Our tour was only for the next morning and we had the evening before us ,
We were staying in Hotel Anananas which was a bit far off the central part of the town and one had to walk a bit to the the metro station and travel a bit change stations travel more to reach the historical area of old town ,

 republic did not accept Euros strangely and we needed Czech Kroners which had a low value and one had to carry lot of money .
we managed to exchange about 20 euros in the hotel ,buying tickets in metro were all through machines and we bought a day ticket for unlimited travel ,
the Prague metros were more ancient and a little drabber to the one seen in Austria ,the trademark of socialism was sticking to it ,it was also very deep cut  into the bowels of the earth it was one of the deepest metros I had traveled so far ,its escalators went down endlessly and the crowds were big people too weren't as prosperous as seen in Vienna and Bratislava .

We got the hang of the travel and managed to reach the old town within a short time as metro was quite fast and efficient .
The old town was a real treat for our eyes with lovely 18 th century look all along the streets leading to the square there were small and big shops some shiny some qauint some opened and some closed ,the square took out breath away as it was a big huge open place filled with art work statues people in horses all around were Gothic churches with tall spires clinging bells old town houses halls buildings restaurants it was like stepping into mediaveal times horse carriages clacked in and out completing the picture there was even was a female driver for on of the hackneys 
Harry potter fans would love this place 
The square was a stone paved broad space on onside stood the magnificent baroque cathedral of St Nicholas ,opposite was the old town hall tower and on one side near the tower was the most famous astronomical clock which was made in 1410 ,there also was the Gothic church of our lady of tinny 


The roads from the square led off to narrower ways to the freedom square with the gun powder tower and later on to the Charles bridge winding its way up to the Prague castle ,there were plenty of restaurants bars souvenir shops and currency exchanges the crowds were boisterous and as it was a cold evening many were merry with drink ,

Prague was known for petty crime so we were a bit careful as we needed more Kroner we went into an exchange shop but finding the rates abysmally low ,as we stood debating what to do a middle aged tourist sauntered along and stood near us and commented these exchanges they offer very poor rates cheating tourists ,we thought this was another friendly tourist airing his views all of a sudden he said I have some kroner and as I am leaving today ready to sell it at a very good rate ,that sounded plausible and we got tempted but parted only with twenty euros and he counted exchange currency and gave it to us all very good and then he just disappeared ,
we never knew there was a problem but when we tried to use the currency given we were told that it belonged to a defunct Belorussian currency and wasn't Kroner at all ,we realized we were conned but at least not a very big amount but a bad lesson indeed .

The third oldest Astronomical clock in the world and the one still working is in Prague ,its on the side walls of the old town house and a big tourist attraction ,built in 1410 .

The clock has a dial with positions of sun moon and celestial bodies ,walk of the apostles where every hour as the clock chimes the twelve apostles would make a walk ,the death figure which could appear any time during walk represents the suddenness and inevitability of death  .
It was made by clockmaker Miculas of kadan and Jan sindel a mathematics professor and astronomy at Charles university .
It is said the clockmaker was blinded by the city corporators so that he could not repeat the clock in another city ,in turn the clock maker disabled the clock and it could not be repaired for another hundred years !

We rushed in to the front of the clock before it struck again ,there was a huge crowd all ready with their mobiles for the opportune video and then it started ,as the bells chimed across the square the bevy of saints benignly paraded one after another while the skeleton too made his shifty appearance ,a rare spectacle indeed ,
over times the clock had been renovated many times the last being in 1945 during the WW II and the Prague uprising and the Germans fired and destroyed a part of it later it was restored in 1948 .

We returned back to the hotel  a bit wary of the thinning crowds and distant metro which we alighted to make the way back which now appeared more sinister and lonely .
Reaching or room we slept soundly 

Next morning we wound our way back to reach the historical square
 we had to reach the Freedom square to join the heritage tour that day ,

most countries abroad have these excellent tours with very well trained guide s,
tours are very professional and leave on time ,our guide was a lady in  early sixties but agile and talkative she told us we would go in our coach to the Prague castle and spend around two hours in a walking tour and also have some lunch later we would descend the hill see Charles bridge and get back to where we started by end of day .

that was good as we had a Vltava  river cruise in the night booked 
The square where we started itself was a bit of the medieval times with ancient buildings bordering the cobwebbed road ,one had to appreciate the upkeep of these buildings ,even shops ,hotels ,offices and houses there were all in such buildings ,the past seamlessly merging into the 

present .
One imposing building as one entered the freedom square was the legendary Powder tower so called because it was used to store gun powder in the 17 th century though when built in 1475 it was one of the gates of the city built in commemoration of the coronation of Vladislav II .

we walked under the powder tower though did not go inside .

There were antique cars parked on the road either for weddings or for paid ride for tourists ,horse drawn carriages too clanked along merrily .


 We got into our coaches ,which were quite comfortable ,most buses and coaches require you to wear seat belts ,the guide was near the driver and was continuing with her lecture on every detail of Prague its rich history ,present government ,its demographic indices etc ,but she was strangely quiet on one small segment of her country's history the years Czechoslovakia was under the communist yoke ,post second WW Europe was divided between the western NATO and the Soviet WARSAW Bloc ,from 1948 Czechoslovakia was under the Soviet bloc and till the Velvet revolution in 1989 the Czechs were under Soviet regime ,a drab state with rationed goods regimented lifestyle no free market or elections and active spying within the population and barricaded borders .

Our guide had no good words on those times of course as she had lived through some of it .

But today the Czech republic is a vibrant capitalistic state with flowing shops  of upmarket goods .

We were off to the Prague castle ,this was a huge complex of turreted baroque buildings ,

It had palaces churches restaurants shops a city by itself ,it also had a very famous change of guards where blue uniformed soldiers did their dramatic marches to take over from their colleagues

there was a couple on whom a pre wedding shoot was on .
the security check to enter the castle was long and meticulous ,Most of Europe in the grip of terrorism was definitely being careful .

The Prague castle was begun in 870 AD Church of st Mary was built first later the Basilica of
 St Vitus and Basilica of St George were added ,over the years it was destroyed rebuilt renovated new buildings added for certain periods even abandoned depending on rulers wars etc ,in 1918 president of Czechoslovakia made it his presidential address
On march 15 1939 Adolf Hitler stayed in the castle and gazed admiringly at his new possession and checkoslovakia  stayed under the Nazis till the end of the war and later under Soviet occupation during the communist regime .
 It has towers ,castles ,palaces ad churches specially the Gothic St Vitus cathedral ,St George's cathedral
 Before we entered the castle the guide asked us to wait for the change of gaurd spectacle ,

I got a vantage point aiming my mobile which takes excellent videos at same time clicking on my SLR to catch the moments,the blue uniformed guards marched with military precision sure and slow and it was over quickly ,
later we joined th security check line where our bags and cameras were meticulously but politely checked and finally we got into the castle grounds ,

on all sides were baroque buildings and our guide filled us with facts ,it was photo time again ,she took us into more scenic spots and since the castle was on a hillock she took us to where we could see the sprawling city below
 later we went to a heritage restaurant where  we had our choice of lunch or small eats refreshed ourselves

and then descended down vineyards shops gardens gradually and finally reached the ground level walked through narrow alleyways and more heritage buildings finally reaching the Vltava river itself ,and there was the most famous Charles bridge spanning across the Vltava more like a museum with an array of statues on its sides ,caricaturists and painters sat doing their jobs

The Charles bridge was constructed in 1357 by Roman King Charles IV by architect Peter Praler who also constructed the magnificent St Vitus Cathedral and was completed in 15th century ,it was around 621 meters in length with 16 arches and three towers ,there were more than 30 statues all baroque style but today replaced by replicas mostly of patron saints


till 1841 the Charles bridge was the only connection between the old town and the Prague castle
the Charles bridge suffered the vagaries of war as some of the fiercest wars were fought on the bridge ,of natural disasters like flood after the nineties it is only allowed for walking and modern methods of reinforcement makes it resilient to natural disasters to a large extent
 the crowd was enormous and we waded through to the other side ,there was a gate with many locks on it this was again seen in so may places in Europe and it was done by public who believed their wishes more on romantic side became true once locked away

The tower at the old town side was called the old town bridge tower and one could go up to view the city from it though we did not
 At other end of the bridge was a quaint little township Mala strana or lesser town or little town with fine cottages gardens cafes shops etc we walked through to reach the heritage old town square again and here our guide bid us farewell it was exhausting but worth it and we returned to our hotel for some rest as we had to be back for the river cruise around 8 pm .

 The large old town area Stare Mesto once had moats surrounding it which is now covered up with roads ,it started in the 12th century as a huge market ,Romanesque, Baroche ,Gothic buildings were built all around ,like the old town house ,with astronomical clock on one side,St Nicholas church ,church of St Tyne

in centre is the Jan hus statue who was a saint who felt the catholic church was corrupt and the church burned him in the stakes for his troubles ,after this his followers rose against the church and the Hussite wars followed

We returned back to the old town area by metro by 8 pm ,by now it was familiar to us ,we were in search of our Dinner cruise booked online ,we had to walk a bit to the Vltava river side and it was quite chilly too ,soon we reached a bridge and we had to descend by stairs on its side to reach river bank and get into our luxury dinner cruise ,we were taken to our table right in front and on our side was the flowing river the other side was the small stage where a singer sang with a guitarist giving the rhythm ,soon the boat filled up as I nursed a vodka to drive away the chill .
the dinner itself was nothing to write about though the view was magnificent as we floated along the banks with towering media veal fairy tale castles looking ethereal in the dusk and magical in the moonlight ,we went through a series of locks rising and falling and bobbing away ,some couples rose to dance while others watched the fun a fitting end to our visit to this magical city of thrt past Prague for we returned back the nest morning 

Astronomical clock prague in old town House in old town sqaure ..built in 1410 by mikulas of kadan an

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