Posted by: Ajit Keshav | June 19, 2009

Eastern & Oriental Express

(Photo courtesy of Orient Express)

(Photo courtesy of Orient Express)

If the intrigue of Orient – Express can make a perfect setting for Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient- Express”, there can’t be anything more parallel to romantic and luxury travel as exploring South East Asia on board the Eastern & Oriental Express.

South East Asia has always been renowned as a travellers’ paradise, a place of intense natural beauty, spiritual tranquillity and historical intrigue.  With its inaugural journey in September 1993 the Eastern & Oriental Express quickly built for itself a highly regarded reputation as providing one of the most adventurous and exciting rail journeys in the world.

In 1991, following the success of its European continental train, the Orient-Express company acquired New Zealand’s famed Silver Star, transported it to Southeast Asia and, following refurbishment, re-christened it the Eastern & Oriental Express (E&O). The train maintains the same charm as other Orient-Express products such as the British Pullman, and the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

Today, the Eastern & Oriental Express carries passengers in luxury between Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.  It runs 1, 262 miles between Singapore’s Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and Hua Lamphong, Bangkok, stopping at Kuala Lumpur Sentral, Butterworth and Kanchanaburi on its three days (two nights) Programme.

The Singapore – Bangkok route is one of the most famous routes where the Eastern & Oriental Express train, seen in part stopping at the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, Malaysia. The station was once an E&O Express stop before the opening of Kuala Lumpur Sentral in 2001.  The train travels through dense rainforests and towering mountains past golden temples, rubber plantations and remote towns and villages.

Since 2007, the train has also travelled between Bangkok and Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. Although the train originally ran just between Singapore and Bangkok, today Eastern & Orient Express operates a total of nine new itineraries covering Bangkok-Vientiane, Laos and itineraries including Chiang Mai and varies from 1 – 7 night programmes in luxurious air-conditioned private cabins with private baths, with an option of 36 Pullmans, 28 State Compartments and 2 Presidential Suites. All sleeping compartments are panelled with cherry wood and elm burr and adorned with decorative marquetry and intricate inlays. All have 24-hour service, called by a bell.  The program covers all meals and included sightseeing.  Prices vary from GBP 740 – 1700 Per person (approx.)
Breakfast and afternoon tea are served in your compartment; lunch and dinner are taken in the two restaurant cars, lavishly decorated with rosewood and elm panelling. Dining on board is a highlight: the train’s food service has received international accolades for the blending of Western and Eastern culinary styles. Food and service are of the high level of all Orient-Express-owned trains and hotels.

Whichever journey one decides to take, they are assured of the highest quality food and service while enjoying dramatic views across the South East Asian landscape.

Posted by: Ajit Keshav | January 21, 2009

Man Bites Dog is NEWS

Date:    Tuesday 20 January 2009
Place:    Mumbai
Source: Mumbai Mirror, Page 3

There is Shaving Cream, Packets of Pickle, Pairs of Bermudas, Trousers, Jackets, Blankets, milk powder, detergent power. There are tooth brushes, tooth paste, tissue paper and other toiletries too.

All made in Pakistan, and imported by terrorists who attacked Mumbai. One may buy them at the “Terror Auction” at less than half their price, once legal formalities are given.  Reminds me of Shakespeare’s of “Comedy of Errors”

This transports me back to 1989 and reminds one of my professors at my Journalism School saying!

It is common when a Dog Bites Man. But when Man Bites a Dog, it is NEWS.

It is so true and makes me think at times and many a times, perhaps like all of us, I believe!

Are we trying to make them Heroes giving A Perfect Ten, to those who took the entire nation under siege? There have been media reports of making use of the sophisticated weapons seized from them.

Also, was in news that we would be looking forward to take lessons and examples from the sophisticated and glorious warfare displayed by them. (I am not talking about film directors inspecting the locale. That is off the record of course.)

We have witnessed their action but still waiting for our reaction. We have been reading these which may continue till things will fade gradually.

It is has become common for us all, getting used or rather getting adjusted to such ridicules and shameful events.  We forget things soon and wait for something new happen. We conveniently take it as a pastime and source of entertainment helping advertisers to make revenue out of it.

We strongly believe we are a great nation with lot of patience.  Should we not getting little impatient before it is too late?

What are we waiting for? We are approaching 26/01 – Our Republic Day.

Posted by: Ajit Keshav | January 18, 2009

The Orient Express

The Orient ExpressTravel, Luxury and Comfort have always been a part of live for those looking for a Lifestyle Vacation.

Staying at Luxury Hotels, Resorts, Palaces or Villas.  Cruising in Luxury Liners around the world. Driving at your pace along the most scenic drives or experiencing the sheer luxury and comfort in one of the legendary Pullmans railroad car are all part of Luxury, Style, Glamour and Romance.

Ever since Agatha Christie’s classic “Murder on the Orient Express” hit the screens, the Pullman has attained cult status immortalising the legendary “Orient Express”. Started as a normal international rail service, this name has become synonymous with intrigue and the first luxury train in Europe and perhaps the most famous of all Luxury Train Journeys in the world.

Besides Agatha Christie, The glamour and rich history of the has frequently lent itself to the plot and subject of many books and films like Stamboul Train, Death, Deceit and Destiny Aboard the Orient Express, Around the World in 80 Days, From Russia with Love, 102 Dalmatians.

The story began 5th June 1883 when “Orient Express” embarked on her maiden voyage from Paris Gare de l’Est across Europe via Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Sofia to Constantinople (today’s Istanbul).

The two cities most intimately associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Istanbul whispering the fascinating history of stylish travel of the upper classes, the aristocracy, of wealthy travelers’ of a fashionable world in a bygone age.

Back in the 1920s, to travel in a compartment with your own washstand was luxury enough. Today the Orient Express runs as “The Venice Simplon Orient Express” and offers original stained-glass, sumptuous wooden inlays and enamelled panelling that attract attention. The on-board restaurant, replete with crisp white tablecloths, sparkling silver and crystal glassware is the last word in classic style and evening dress is still a must.

The journey from Paris to Istanbul, taking in Budapest and Bucharest along the way, lasts eight days and offers travellers spectacular views throughout Europe making it a fascinating and unique journey across seven countries and cultures.

Included in the ticket price are guided tours of all stop-off destinations and the majority of overnight accommodation is in local luxury hotels.

The company also offers similarly-themed Expresses in Malaysia/Thailand and across Australia.

Posted by: Ajit Keshav | August 15, 2008

61 Years – Building Powerful India

Namaste India

Namaste India

What a memorable gift on India’s 61st Independence Day! We are proud.  India is Proud and we as Indians are Proud.

 

Date: 11 August 2008:

Place: Beijing, China

 

There could not have been a better for India on her 61st birthday. The first ever Olympic Gold in any individual event, since 1896, by ace shooter Abhinav Bindra in the Men’s 10m Air Rifle.

 

For him it will never get old listening to Indian national anthem with a gold medal round his neck on the world’s biggest stage, where everyone stood after 28 years when Indian hockey team claimed gold in 1980 Moscow Olympics.

 

It was a medal for Abhinav; it was redemption for India.

 

Never again will anyone be able to point a smug, sardonic finger and say: “No Indian is good enough to win an individual Olympic gold.”

  

It was memorable and “chuk de India “ then also for the Indian men’s field hockey team winning eleven medals in twelve Olympiads between 1928 and 1980, including six successive gold medals from 1928–1956.

 

No matter what we or the world thinks about India, we all and should be proud that India is on move with:

 

Twelfth largest economy in the world, at market exchange rates.

Second fastest growing economy in the world.

The third largest standing army in the world.

Fourth largest air force in the world.

Fourth largest in purchasing power.

Fifth largest navy in the world.

Ninth 9th in the world in terms of nuclear capacity.

 

We are “Chuck De” in every field and still we don’t make noise.

 

I salute India on her 61st Independence India. I salute every one making her a proud nation.

Posted by: Ajit Keshav | August 4, 2008

The Ramayana Trail

Sri Lankan Tourism has identified some 50 sites associated with the epic Ramayana and many tour operators are enchasing on these through sightseeing tours to rediscover this Trail of Ramayana to attract tourists from India and other parts of the world.

Ramayana symbolizes Rama as “Maryada Purushottama” – a Perfect Man. An epitome of Ideology, Principles and “Dharma”. Sita as ideal women of virtue and the ultimate commitment as a wife.

An Ideal Son, King, Deciple, Brother, Friend and above all a perfect Husband. An example of patience, Justice and Logic symbolising defeat of good over evil

For many it might be just an epic of myth, History or Mystery. However we cannot deny the fact that Ramayana is a part of Culture and literature for Indians, Sri Lankans and all Hindus across the world.

Most of the sites associated with Ramayana are dotted around the cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka. However only a few are accessible by road which are scattered across Karunegala, Dombulla, Sigiriya, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Bandarawela & Ratnapura.

Some important highlights include:

Pussellawa – Home of 18 feet statue of Anjaneear. The famous temple situated on a hill over looking the Kotmale reservoir area is visited by thousands of devotees from India & Sri Lanka.

Sita Amman Temple – Located enroute to Hakgala along the Nuwara Eliya Badulla Road on your way to the Hakgala Botanical Gardens. Ancient statues of Rama and Sita can be seen on a side of the temple. The rear of the temple overlooks a stream, while from its front can be seen the Hakgala peaks.
The Hakgala Botanical Garden – is said to be one of the pleasure gardens of King Ravana. This garden was expanded during the British period and has a wide variety of flowers including an excellent collection of orchids.

This is the exotic pleasure garden where king Ravana kept the depressed Sita, insisting that she marry him.

It was here where the heart-warming meeting took place between her and Hanuman, who brought her Rama’s ring with the news that Rama was looking for her. He offered to carry her back but she refused saying it would be an insult to Rama’s honour if he did so.

Part of this majestic garden still exists. It is also said that Hanuman nearly destroyed it in order to prove to Ravana of the forces against him

Isthripura: This exotic cave still boasts the picturesque cascading waterfall that was in existence 2000 years ago. It was within this cave that Sita was held prisoner with over 1500 women to attend to her every need.

Divurumpola Temple: Although this Vihara is said to be established in the 6th A.D. Polonnaruwa period it has a long history among people of having been started in the time of Rama, Ravana and Sita.
Still revered by thousands, this holy haven was the place where Sita performed her Agni Pariksha (proving her chastity) to her husband Rama. Continuing the practice for over thousands of years, villagers still pledge their fidelity or take oaths there and even in certain courts, this agreement was binding.

Since that time this place has been respected and worshiped by people down the ages. Furthermore it is said that this place was given the name “Divurumpola” or the place of making a wow. Not only in legends but this name has been inscribed in the moonstone guarding the Devale in the premises.

Ella: A small mountain near Bandarawela, boasts three locations linked to the Ramayana where, local legend dictates, Ravana hid Sita. First there is Ravana Ella Cave, situated in the massive Ella Rock. Then there is Ravana Ella Falls and a nearby pool bored out of the rock by the gushing waters where Sita is said to have bathed.

Sitawaka: Situated near Avissawella on a tributary of the Kelani Ganga (river). Not surprisingly it derives its name from Sita, who is supposed to have been imprisoned by Ravana in a grove in this neighbourhood.

Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya: a temple built in the 3rd century B.C. Kelaniya was one of the three places visited by the Buddha during his visits to Sri Lanka. Kelaniya is also the centre for traditional Sinhala pottery.

Within the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara Temple is special shrine dedicated to
Vibushana, king Ravana’s brother, who allied with Rama in the struggle to rescue Sita.

During this trail of Ramayana the tours also takes you across some of the most interesting World Heritage Sites of Buddhism including Temple of the Tooth Relic.

Sri Lanka is perhaps one of the closest holiday destinations from India offering exotic beaches, mystic mountains surrounded by tea plantations and the vibrant capital city of Colombo famous for shopping and night life.

A perfect Destination for everyone at an affordable price…..

Travel

Posted by: Ajit Keshav | July 29, 2008

Vacation – Luxury or Necessity?

“Vacation is what you take,
when you can’t take what you’ve been taking any longer”. 

In today’s increasing pace of life, changing lifestyle and corporate demands makes it necessary to take a break. Short or Long vacation – is your choice, but at times helps to bring this momentum down by spending some quality time with your own self and share it with people you love, preferably in a different environment.By different environment, I mean, we all get tired of having the same food at home don’t we? But a date with the family and loved ones balances both the high and low notes to make “The Sound of Music”.

Everyone wants it when one needs it! It is not where! It is how but eventually just now. I mean a vacation, here.You are free to book your accommodation and airline tickets online. Just swipe it and you have it. But are we buying medicines from the next door chemist without prescription or we are looking for a break to make a memorable experience.

 

 


Travel

Posted by: Ajit Keshav | July 27, 2008

What is Good & Effective Parenting?

It reminds me of the extract of letter, which was written by Abraham Lincoln to the Headmaster of the school where his son was studying.” And we think are we”

“He will have to learn, I know, that all men just, all men are not true. But teach him also that in every scoundrel there is a hero; that for every selfish politician there is a dedicated leader.

Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend.Teach him that a dollar earned is of far more value than a five found.

Teach him to learn to loose and also to enjoy winning. Steer him away from envy, if you can.Teach him the secret of quiet laughter.Teach him the wonder of books; but also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on a green hillside.

In school teach him it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat.

Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong.Teach him to be gentle with gentle people, and to be tough with tough.

“Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today”.


Travel

Posted by: Ajit Keshav | July 27, 2008

Children, Television & Advertising

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We all love watching Ramayana on Television 

For many, this is an epic, but the fact remains that Ramayana is a part Indian Culture.

We all have seen the following commercials of Ramayana.

First – Two boys complaining and accusing each other-

Kutta Kamina, Kanpati Par Doonga, Chup Kar Kamine“! 

Then – A girl saying to the next door neighbor –

“Bhag gayi hogi kisi ke saath”. Mujhe to pahle se hi shak tha”, “Garam Khoon Hai Na, Kahan Jaayegi Kalmuhi”!, “Subah Tak AA Jayegi“..

And ofcourse –  the latest melody from a boy -

E Ganpat chal daru la. Are Sada thoda kam soda thoda pani mila.

Thoda table par bacha, thoda de na“! 

Translated in English it says -

Hey Ganpat make me a drink with little soda. Leave some on the table and get me some now.

Well Crafted, Well Crafted!

Television advertising has been an established form of advertising and it reaches children too. In some countries there are laws which say  

“A commercial with advertising that is broadcasted during commercial breaks on television must not have the purpose of attracting the attention of children less than 12 years of age.”

It is ironic or rather unfortunate that here children are in lead roles.         

In India also there are certain codes of ethics for commercial broadcasting, issued by the advertising council of India, especially when it involves children.

Indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes or treatment has to be avoided in all forms of advertisement. 

Media should not make it such a melodrama when the same thing can be put forward in a better way.

But why to blame only the media? We all are responsible, especially parents who allow their children to do so. Don’t they realise, the damage they are causing to their children, and if they do understand this, they have no right to pass on this to the teachers and society.  

We all have to think before it is too late.

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