Bullet trains of China

You know what is one of the coolest thing in China. Their lightning fast bullet trains. I traveled in Maglev and Fuxing bullet train and I will share my experience of these two trains of China.

Maglev in Shanghai 

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Maglev runs between the Pudong International Airport and Longyang Road station. If you are traveling light then you can easily mange to travel in Maglev. I was traveling with a suitcase, a handbag and a backpack still I managed well. Get out of the airport and ignore all the people shouting for a taxi. Look for directions of Maglev. They are lots of boards pointing in the direction. You can take your baggage trolley till the ticketing point. Single trip costs 50 CNY and if you show the same day’s flight ticket it is 40 CNY. Wait for the train at the platform, and get in the train when it arrives. You can choose any seat that is vacant. Usually there is not much rush as many people take the metro instead of Maglev as it is cheaper. Choose a window seat from where you can look out and also see the LED display of the current time and speed. Maglev starts at the exact time it is scheduled. Observe the gradual increase in speed. The maximum speed varies based on the time of the day. I experienced the maximum speed of 300 km/hr! Enjoy each and every moment as the ride is very short and i reached the destination in exactly 8 minutes! Exact to 00 seconds! The speed is really fast and the experience is totally worth it. On reaching the Longyang station, i got out of the exit and from there took the subway towards my hotel. I took a three day subway pass for 45 CNY as i had to travel a lot and also it is easier instead of taking a ticket for each trip individually. This was my first trip to Shanghai and China, i don’t know Chinese and most people there don’t know English, still overall my experience was smooth. There were directions in English and there is very less chance of getting lost. Overall I had an amazing Maglev experience!

Fuxing Bullet Train between Shanghai and Beijing

I decided to travel between Shanghai and Beijing using the bullet train. I booked the return train from Beijing to China online using Travel China Guide. I wanted to book a specific train and it was around the China holiday season. So i didn’t want to take the risk of waiting to book the ticket in person, as sometimes the tickets get sold out. The online booking experience was good. There is some extra service fee to be paid but it is worth it if you have a specific train to book. You need to select the train and send them the passport copy. They will confirm the tickets which you can collect after reaching China. I requested them to book a window seat and they booked a nice window seat in the first row for me!

I booked the to ticket from Shanghai to Beijing in person after reaching China. I went to the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station. It is huge and crowded. Followed the directions and reached the ticketing counter. The person at the desk didn’t know English, but there was a display showing the details of the ticket to be booked. I signaled him to choose the date and train of my choice. It was not at all difficult. He checked my passport and gave me the ticket. I also collected my Beijing to Shanghai ticket which i had booked online by showing him the receipt. And yipee i had to and from tickets of the Bullet train. I had selected both the trains of the G series as it is the fastest 😀

 Shanghai to Beijing train

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I reached the station again. Followed the directions and people to the third floor which were heading to the waiting area. Shanghai station is huge. Keep sufficient time in hand if it is your first time. After getting my bags scanned i checked my ticket for the platform number on the top right. There are well numbered platforms of both sides. I headed to my platform. There, my train was listed in the upcoming trains. I waited in the area. There are shops and restaurants all around just like an airport. It was clean and well maintained. There were huge blue LED displays of schedule of upcoming trains. And guess what ALL the trains were ON SCHEDULE. Not even a single train was delayed even by a single minute! Keep an eye on the time. Boarding started half an hour before the boarding time. The tickets are scanned and checked. Then i took the escalator to head down to the platform to board the train. And there it was, the bullet train! 🙂 There are LED displays at both the ends of each coach. It displays the train number and coach number. I entered my coach and went towards my seat. Kept my bags on the luggage carriers above and sat down my seat. It was an aisle seat 😦 Two more girls were my co passengers. And very soon the train was full and ready to leave for Beijing.

One minute before, there was a announcement that the doors are closing and bam the doors closed. People don’t run here on the platform to catch the train in motion 😀 And finally the train started. I was really cool! It attained the maximum speed of 350 km/hr. Things just zoomed past! Cars and other vehicles were left far behind. It was nice to see the smaller cities, farms, forests, rivers and landscape of China. Also there were some tunnels in between. On the train, they serve food and snacks which is chargeable. However it did not have any veg options. I took breaks and walked around. Stood at the door though it was closed 😀 Enjoyed the views from the door’s window. The girl at the window seat offered to exchange her window seat with me so that i could i enjoy the views from the window. She was a Chinese but her English was good. She guided me towards the taxi stand and also suggested few places to visit in Beijing. In 5 hours i covered a distance of 1200 kms in the bullet train!

Beijing to Shanghai train

I was looking forward my bullet train ride back to Shanghai. Although i was also a bit sad as it was almost the end of my China trip. My train was G5 at 7 AM and i reached the Beijing station at around 5:30 AM. I had a lot of time in hand. After the security check the waiting area is also at the same level. Again i headed to my gate mentioned on my ticket. Even this station is huge but smaller that the Shanghai one. I took a seat and checked my train number on the display at the gate. Chatted with a girl who knew some English. And half an hour before the departure, boarding started. I scanned my tickets and they checked my passport. Headed towards my coach and got to my seat. This time i had a window seat! 🙂 This was the latest model of the train called the Fuxing bullet train. It had charging points and free WiFi. This train was faster and mostly had the speed of 330+ km/hr. Maximum speed was 350 km/hr. My co passenger was a guy working at Microsoft Bing. His English was good and we chatted about China and India and shared snacks. I had a great time in the bullet train and took breaks and walked around in between. The train has two stops in between and it stopped just enough so that people could get down and enter the train in around 3 mins. The train was completely full. I reached Shanghai in exactly 4 hours 34 minutes!

Overall bullet train is something not to be missed in China. Take the Maglev to and from airport. And take the bullet to other cities instead of fight. These bullet trains are more comfortable that flight. It has more leg room. And the stations are located in the center of the city. I had blazing experience on the bullet train rides! This is the fastest i have been on land in my life so far 🙂 I will surely take a bullet train again when i revisit China. Hopefully it will be much more faster then 😀

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Bullet trains are awesome! Hopefully India will also have bullet trains soon. It will be convenient to travel long distances in such trains. We can have a network of bullet trains connecting major cities like all the state capitals. And from these major stations, there can be other options like trains and buses to connect other cities and towns. I’m sure it will create more employment opportunities for our people and will be an affordable transportation alternative. And while we demand for all these facilities, it is our duty and responsibility to take care of public properties. We should consider it as our own property, after all we have paid taxes for all these facilities. People should not damage the things installed in the train. The platforms and stations should be kept clean. Things are changing in India now, however we need to go a long way. It is very easy to ask for multiple things and facilities to the government but at the same time, it is the moral responsibility of the people to take care of the public property by considering it our own! I look forward to the day when there will be a network of fast and affordable bullet trains in India! 🙂

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Daily Prompt: Red Pill, Blue Pill | Authentic Indian Thali

Today’s Daily Prompt asks “If you could get all the nutrition you needed in a day with a pill — no worrying about what to eat, no food preparation — would you do it?”

I am a foodie ! I specially love eating home cooked food (made by Mom). My mom makes all my favorite delicacies when i visit home in holidays. So being at home, even if someone gives me these magic pills for free, i will not have them but rather give them to the poor. I will not be able to resist the delicious dishes like matar paneer, dosa, uttapam, sandwiches, breadrolls, chola bhatura oh this list can go on and on and make a 1000 work post 😀

However i would like to keep a lot of these magic pills as spare when i am away from home. These will come to my rescue when i have no option but to eat the sometimes-not-so-good mess food. It will be so easy. No need to sacrifice and eat something i don’t like. No need to go out during exams. No need to order online. But how long can one relish these tasteless pills. I am sure i will be bored in a few days and rush somewhere to enjoy a full meal. I am sure the tastebuds will disintegrate if we keep taking these pills for long 😀 I don’t think these pills can give the awesome feeling of satisfaction of a stomach-full meal.

So in my opinion these pills will be best for worst cases. Instead of starving, one can have these pills. These can be useful for people who get lost in deserts or oceans. These can also solve the problem of malnutrition of some of the under-developed and developing countries. They can be beneficial for the soldiers on the borders.

Here are a few pics of the authentic “Indian Thali” !

Summer Special

Summer Special

Tasty Uttapam

Tasty Uttapam

Hmmm Yummy !

Hmmm Yummy !

Matar Paneer

Matar Paneer

I am sure you must be feeling hungry after looking at these pics. So forget the pill and enjoy tasty food !!!

Is Internet making us poor ?

These days we are so used to looking for culprits of our problems. We just focus on the problems and highlight their causes. It’s high time that we change our attitude. Being professionals we must look for solutions and not for problems. On these lines I will say that Internet is a technology. We have ourselves built it and it completely depends on us as to how we use it. We can use it the way we want. So I don’t feel that we can put the blame on Internet for any of our problems. Thus in my opinion Internet is not making us poor in any way.

Let us firstly look at poverty from different perspectives:

1.      Financially

If we see the world GDP it has increased from 1.36 trillion dollars in 1960 (around the time when Internet came into picture) to 69.98 trillion dollars in 2011. Even from India’s perspectives the GDP has increased from 37.68 billion dollars to 1.85 trillion dollars.

The World Bank, which defines poverty as survival on less than $1.25 per day, says India reduced poverty from 60% of the population to 42% between 1981 and 2005.

Even though the figures are large, we need to look for solutions of financial poverty instead of focusing on the causes of the problem. And secondly atleast we are on a progressing trend.

On a brighter side, a report says that Internet i.e. e-commerce contributes 3.2% of Indian GDP.

2.      Psychologically

Earlier when internet was not there it was very difficult and time-consuming to connect with people. But internet has completely changed the picture. At the click of a button we can find like minded people having similar interests across the globe. We can easily share our ideas with each other over the internet. We can connect with long lost friends. We can make our own network of people as per our interests.  According to the theory of 6 degree of connection we are atmost 6 hops away from any person in this world !

It is said that all this has decreased the actual interaction between people. People are so happy in the virtual world that they ignore the real world. But we know that excess of anything can be dangerous. This is true with internet as well. It is our decision as to how to use and how much to use the Internet. Internet is just there, available as a big sea of everything. It is in our hands how to use it in the best possible way.

3.      Spiritually

Spiritually also we are much better off as compared to earlier days. Earlier people had on one to clarify their doubts. But today all types of questions from rebirth to reasons behind beliefs have an answer on the Internet. So today people need not live in the darkness of the unknown.

Thus I feel that it completely depends on us as to how we use the Internet. It is like a magical wand that is capable of doing both good and bad.

Image credits : Wikipedia

Book Review – I Dare

I Dare by Kiran Bedi

Recently i read I Dare by Kiran Bedi, and i can say that it is one of the most inspiring books (a biography) i have ever read. It is the complete story of the life of the first and highest ranked woman IPS (Indian Police Service) Officer of India. Kiran Bedi is the role model of numerous people. And through this book we can understand how she was able to win the hearts of millions of citizens of the nation.

The book begins with the family history of Kiran Bedi. Her parents were much ahead of the times. They sent all their four daughters to the best schools and encouraged them to participate in sports like tennis for their all round development despite the resistance from the elders in their family. Kiran Bedi won many awards in tennis. An important lesson which can be learnt from her is time management. She used to have a fixed schedule and never ever wasted a single moment. All her focus was on her studies and tennis practice.

She was the first woman IPS of India and was allocated the Delhi cadre. She lead the Delhi Police Contingent on Republic Day, 1975 and the then PM Smt. Indira Gandhi was impressed and called her for a breakfast meeting. She was impartial and never favoured anyone, whatever their rank or position. She towed the car of the PM which was parked in the no parking zone.

She worked in Delhi, Goa, Mizoram and Chandigarh. Everywhere she implemented her unique style of work. Always her main focus and the top most priority was the welfare of the citizens. She devised new ideas and methods to carry out the work effectively and efficiently. Thus she won numerous national and international awards. She always inspired her juniors to fulfill their duties towards the nation by working wholeheartedly.

Her work in the Tihar Jail won her the prestigious Magsaysay Award. The jail which was earlier a terrible, frightening place was converted into an Ashram. The prisoners were treated with a human touch. Classes were held by the NGOs where they could new languages, soft skills etc. Festivals of all the religions were celebrated with same fervor. Smoking was banned and thus the health of the prisoners improved. All this happened in a short duration and was possible due to the efforts put in by Kiran Bedi.

She was appointed as the ‘Cop of the World’ at the United Nations. She travelled a lot and grained a global perspective. When she came back she was expected to be appointed as the Police Commissioner. But the people inside always hated her and were jealous of her. So despite she being the highest and the most deserving candidate for the position, she was not selected for that post. As a result she resigned and took voluntary retirement.

But it did not stop her work but rather increased it. Now she works by herself without any pressure from anyone. She has started two foundations Navjyoti and India Vision Foundation which are doing some great work for the society. Currently she is an active member of the team Anna which is trying to get the Lokpal Bill passed in India.

Proud to be an Indian

Wishing all a very Happy Indian Republic Day !

This is one of those special days when we are reminded of our devotion to our motherland. It makes us (almost all of us) feel proud of being an Indian ! India is developing everyday. So each day we move a bit forward. Steadily we are moving towards our dream India 2020. It’s a dream of every citizen of the country to make India a developed country by 2020 initiated by the honorable ex-president of India Shri APJ Abdul Kalam.

The change is slow. Sometimes it is not even noticeable. But a change is a change ! And the most important thing is that the change is towards the positive, for the betterment, for a good cause, for the benefit of all. Here are some of our positive points which we have learnt all these years …

  • We are no more frightened of anyone. We raise our voice against any issue which has an adverse effect. We are ready to fight for right. Our voices cannot be ignored.
  • We love our country. We are proud to be Indians. As the results show a large number of people who had settled outside India are coming back due to better living conditions and opportunities.
  • We stay together with peace and harmony. People of all castes and religions enjoy together and lead a happy life. We celebrate each others festivals with same joy. There is  no rift between as it is sometimes portrayed by some people.
  • We are proud of our soldiers who work day and night, risk their lives, sacrifice themselves for their motherland. We cannot compensate what you do in any way. But we are always proud of you and value you.
  • We are aware of our duties and rights. So nobody can cheat us or fool us. We try to do our duties and at the same time enjoy our rights.
  • We are aware. Due to increased modes of information like internet, television, newspapers, magazines etc we are instantly aware of the happenings around us. So now  everybody knows everything.
  • We love the way we are. Sometimes we may seem to follow the western culture. But finally we are happy being our-self. We may change a few things here and there but surely we don’t lose our identity.

Everything cannot be perfect. But its the efforts that actually matter. Today if all Indians pledge to give their best, feel proud of the nation, do whatever they can in building a better tomorrow then it will automatically brighten the future. These things are easy to say, but somewhat difficult to do. But remember nothing is impossible. Once we rise above our selfish motives we can feel a new satisfaction, a hidden joy, a feeling of comfort. As it is rightly said united we stand divided we fall. So lets all unite in building a better tomorrow. “Well begun is half done .” This small step is all that is required today for a happier tomorrow !

This is one of the rare videos which i found while surfing the net. The roads have broadened, the rush has increased, the tableau may be more decorative but the feeling of patriotism and love for the country remains the same. It has been 63 years since this tradition is being followed. Watching this parade makes us feel proud to be an INDIAN !

 

14 things to learn from a Kite

14th January is celebrated as the Kite Festival also known as Uttarayan in India. Hundreds of kites are bought and made ready  beforehand for the d-day. One can see innumerable kites of various types soaring high in the sky. This festival is specially celebrated with great pomp and show in Gujarat. Since the break of dawn people start assembling on their terrace and fly kites. The weather is also windy and thus favorable for kite flying. Whole day is spent in flying kites. People have breakfast, lunch and dinner on the terrace itself as no one wants to miss a single moment of fun ! People of all age groups from small children to youth and old can be seen enjoying this festival together.

Every festival has something new to offer from which we can learn a new lesson in life. So i came up with a list of 14 points which we can learn from a kite. Here it goes …

  1. It’s difficult to rise but its easy to fall
    It requires energy and strength to rise. Special efforts are needed to do so. But to fall down is easy. Nothing needs to be done. Gravity does its job well. In the same way we also need to put in some extra efforts to reach a higher level. To go with the crowd or to go along the stream is always easy as it does not require any hard work or extra effort.
  2. A kite needs favorable winds to go higher
    If there is no wind it’s very difficult to fly a kite. It is difficult to rise up in the sky. Similarly even we need help and support of others to reach our goals.
  3. A string is almost invisible but guides the kite
    It’s the string which guides and directs a kite, however it’s almost invisible. Similarly we are constantly guided and motivated by our guides and gurus from the backstage. They play an indispensable role. Just like a kite cannot fly without the string even we will be nowhere without our guides and gurus.
  4. A small tail can maintain the balance of a kite
    Every one sees the kite but forgets the tail. It plays a major role of maintaining the balance of a kite. Similarly even in our life small things affect the journey of life and must be given the required importance.
  5. A kite may get cut
    A kite may get cut by another kite. Similarly sometimes we may be defeated by someone who is better than us. But it’s not something to be ashamed of. We can always learn and imbibe a new lesson from every difficult situation instead of running away from it.
  6. Sometimes birds are injured or killed by a kite
    Numerous birds are injured or killed by the kites. Similarly sometimes our behavior may break someone. Lets try to achieve our goals in such a manner that others are not adversely affected by it. As it is rightly said live and let live. So lets not harm others to achieve our objectives.
  7. A kite can fly irrespective of its color or type
    A kite can fly with same efficiency and reach the same heights irrespective of the color of the kite or of the type of material of which it is made. Similarly every person can achieve their aims and objectives irrespective of their religion, caste or creed. So let’s have a broad outlook and not differentiate people on these petty issues. Each one of us is capable of achieving our goals.
  8. A kite can go on higher and higher
    A kite can go on higher and higher up in the sky. Similarly we can reach unprecedented heights. All that’s required is dedication, hard work and most importantly persistence to reach our goals.
  9. A kite by itself is of no use
    A kite can only be a showpiece by itself. It cannot reach the heights all by itself. A kite is able to move up due to the combination of various factors. And a kite must be aware of it. Similarly we can’t do anything if we have a big ego. It’s always a good team that reaches its destination in the best possible way. Lets convert ‘me’ into ‘we’.
  10. A kite may get struck on trees and poles
    After getting cut a kite may get struck on trees or poles. Similarly in life we may face difficult (not impossible) challenges and get struck. But we must know that it’s not the end. With a little bit of extra effort we can overcome any adversity.
  11. Properly designed kite it able to reach higher more easily
    A kite which is properly designed can reach greater heights with minimum efforts. Similarly if we are prepared to face all the situations with ease in life then we can achieve our goals more easily.
  12. Loosen the string to prevent the kite from getting cut
    The string of the kite is left loose so that it may not get cut by another kite. If the string is tight and tense it breaks more easily. Similarly we need to d-stress ourselves. Stress is a big killer and it prevents us from wholeheartedly enjoying our life and hinders in achieving our goals. So from a kite we can learn to let go in some of the difficult situations in order to avoid getting stressed up.
  13. Kites’ success depends on the flier who flies the kite
    Along with the qualities of a kite the success of a kite also depends on the flier. In our case, we are the kite and God is the flier. So in some cases we may give our 100% efforts for a cause but sometimes the final results depend on luck and God. So lets learn to accept it willingly. Some things may happen as destined. But at the same time it also does not mean that we should stop working to reach our goals.
  14. A kite may not return back to the person it belongs after getting cut
    After getting cut the kite belongs to the person who catches it. It no longer belongs to its previous owner. It’s again ready for a new flight. Similarly after facing a difficult situation we change. We are no more what we used to be. We learn from our mistakes. And finally we are again ready to face new challenges on the path ahead.