Sunday, December 28, 2008

Family Christmas Dinner

This year too like always, the family got together for Christmas. It's an evening of fun - eating, drinking and remembrances with a little bit of family politics thrown in. Sanghi and Vatsal who have just moved into their new flat after marriage decided to get brave and invited us all for the traditional Christmas Dinner .Nallin and Raveen share a joke with Utsav and Kavi looking on
Vatsal took charge of the barbecue and turned out a lot of burnt chicken tikkas and kababs - though by the end of the evening we all agreed that he had mastered the art of barbecuing .
Vatsal enjoying a joke Vatsal's Barbecue
Zareen's white hair is natural - though it is always a subject of speculation !

Kavi thinking of a suitable retort to some leg pulling
Raveen is a diabetic and also suffers from high BP - but that does not prevent him from enjoying his meals and drinks.

Mother and daughter Utsav and Kavi Angad and Utsav have one thing in common - they love to party all night which i suspect could be quite wild and a family get together is not exactly what they look forward to but Angad seems to be making the best of it !!
Ray in his stately dress


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

St. Pauls Cathedral - London

It's Christmas Eve and my thoughts go to this universal festival that is celebrated throughout the world - whether it is Christian West or China and India where Christianity is in a minority. One historic landmark of Christianity is St Paul's Cathedral in London where Christmas is ushered in with Christmas Carols and midnight mass.

St. Paul's Cathedral - London
Built in 1678 by Wren in a late Renaissance and baroque style and consecrated in 1708, the cathedral is the spiritual home of London and one of its most famous landmarks.

Lantern from the East West End Clock Tower West Front - St Paul's Cathedral Dome and Upper South Transept Anita and Utsav in the South of the Cathedral Tourists in front of St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's was used for the marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer . The religious service for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee was also celebrated there.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Buckingham Palace - Changing the Guards

A popular event that takes place every morning at 11.30 in London is the 'Changing of the Guard' at Buckingham Palace. This is a well liked tourist attraction and draws thousands of tourists for its 45 minute ceremony. In short, this is a ceremony that involves the new guard taking over duties from the old guard and is accompanied with a lot of Pomp and show.
The New Guard Marches towards the Palace from Wellington Barracks
The guards are led in by a mounted guard
This London Bobby ( nickname for police)
had a tough time controlling the milling crowds of tourists during the ceremony. Living up to the image of the friendly face of the London Bobby, this one never lost his cool ( the only thing he lost was his voice which went hoarse trying to make tourists remain behind the fence)
Anita and Utsav amongst the crowd of tourist to see the ceremony
Tourists gathered in front of the Palace to see the Ceremony
Some Facts
- The changing of the guards take take place every day in summer in the forecourt of the Buckingham Palace and lasts 45 minutes. In winter it happens every 2nd day
- The Queen's Guard usually consists of Foot Guards in full-dress uniform of red tunics and bearskins.
- If the Queen is in residence, there are 4 sentries in the front and when is away there are 2.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cixi - Capital of Home Appliances

Cixi is another city in China that I visit regularly. Also know as the Capital of Household Appliances, Cixi ( (pronounced "Tsuh-Shee") is a city withing the sub provincial city of Ningbo. An industrial township, this city is a major production base for small home appliances - there would be over 5000 units producing these goods. Besides appliances, Cixi is also a major production centre for small and micro bearings. Like most Chinese cities in South China, this too is a city vibrating with life. Night life is active with numerous KTV bars in operation and alongwith Chinese restaurants, the city has a fair no of KFC's , Mcdonnells and Pizza Huts. Continental food however is mainly restricted to restaurants in hotels.
Cixi is a blend of the modern and traditional. One sees modern buildings rising into the sky all around sitting side by side by traditional ancient buildings.Night scene of a street in the city
Facts
Cixi City is located at the coastal area of eastern Zhejiang Province and on the south bank of Hangzhou Bay. Important cities close to Cixi are Hangzhou ( which is also the capital of Zhejiang Province ) and Ningbo. Cixi is located at the central zone of the economically strong belt of Shanghai, Hangzhou and Ningbo and it is one of coastal economic opening zones approved by the State Council.
Cixi is now connected to Shanghai through the Hangzhou Bay Bridge which is more than 36 Kilometers in length and is the longest trans-oceanic bridge in the world . This has shortened the distance from Shanghai to Cixi by 120 km, and the travel time from nearly four hours to two.
Industrially, Cixi is very advanced and is a major production centre for bearings, lighters and textiles besides home appliances.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hangzhou and its West Lake

I have been visiting Hangzhou for the last 5 years and find it a lively and a very beautiful city. Located 180 Kms southwest of Shanghai, this is modern city with fancy shopping centres where you can get any brand of luxury goods and has a wide variety of restaurants for food and excellent hotels to stay. The city is a major textile industry and silk centre .
West Lake
Hangzhou is also one of China's big tourist attraction with the picturesque West Lake being one of its more popular destinations. The West Lake is spread over 6 sq kms and is surrounded by thick woods on 3 sides.Night Scene of a street in Hangzhou
Views of the West Lake


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Yiwu and it's Wholesale Markets

Yiwu , also called the International Commodity Trading City is a city of wholesale trade for products made in China. The city has 3 main big markets - the biggest being the Futian Market which consists of a series of interconnected buildings catering to specific categories of merchandise with an estimated 40,000 stalls . This fascinating market is exclusively a wholesale market where only samples are displayed and orders booked and caters to buyers from across the world including China.

View of a section of the Futian Market

The Futian market is a clean, well maintained market that starts early morning at 8.30 AM and shuts at 5 PM. The market is like a permanent trade fair with display of goods and orders being booked. The market deals in products ranging from household goods, luggage, toys, stationary to artificial jewellery and cosmetics. An estimated 100 container loads of goods are booked at Yiwu everyday.

International and Chinese buyers at the Market

Entrance to one of the sections
The market has an interesting restaurant called Picassa Restaurant and Bar serving continental food. The place resembles a museum with a wide variety of sculptures and crafted furniture. An excellent place to relax over a light beer and snacks after a few hours of walking the market in search of products.
Picassa Restaurant in the Futian Market

Yiwu - China

If you are a trader, retailer or wholesaler and buy from China, Yiwu would be an important city in your itinerary of places to be be visited for sourcing in China. Located in South China, 250 Kms west of Shanghai this is a town with a series of markets and market places where buyers from around the world as well as from within China source goods ranging from household goods to cosmetics to costume jewellery and apparel and footwear.
Early Morning Yiwu Skyline
Yiwu in winter gets extremely cold with temperatures dropping to minus 5 to 10 degrees. Early December ( 1st Dec) when I visited, the temperature was 0 degrees. The weather is misty with cold winds and one needs heavy woollens to ward of the cold.

View of the Futian wholesale market

The Best Western Ocean Hotel in Yiwu

My favourite place to stay when in Yiwu is the Best Western Ocean Hotel - a comfortable business hotel that is efficient and friendly , adjacent to the futian market and has staff that can speak in English. The hotel's Chinese restaurant has some excellent Chinese food which should not be given a miss. It should be remembered that all Chinese restaurants close by 8.30 so if you are in the mood of a Chinese meal, be sure to plan an early dinner.

An interesting restaurant in Yiwu called Picassa that serves continental food


Night shot from my hotel window of Yiwu market

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