July 28, 2020. Two of my LL.M. classmates who had remained in Paris over the coronavirus confinement invited me to a day trip to Compiègne and Amiens, just short train rides away north of Paris. It served as our first reunion, months after our abrupt separation as a class last March when most of the class (including myself) hurriedly flew out of Paris to seek refuge in our respective countries of origin.
So I met my Japanese and Russian classmates at the Gare du Nord in the morning and we all took an almost-empty summer weekday train, first, to the town of Compiègne, which only took less than an hour.
Note: This is an ante-dated post (actual date of events)
February 14 – 16, 2018. I took a night train from Varanasi to Agra that took almost fifteen (15) hours covering a distance of around 430 kilometers. I was barely able to sleep on the train–a first of many train journeys I was to take in India.
I arrived well into the morning the next day. Exhausted from the trip, I first settled at my hostel and took half a day to rest before venturing off that afternoon.
Note: This is an ante-dated post. (Date of actual events)
February 12 – 13, 2018. Many people have certain images that come to mind when India is brought up in conversations. Notwithstanding its massive population and great diversity, certain recurring themes are amplified by visual images in mass media in the way we imagine the country. Think of that and it all comes alive in Varanasi. It is crowded, it is chaotic, it is sacred, it is ancient, it is modern, it is pungent, it is fragrant. Varanasi is so many different things that trigger all your senses, from sight, to smell, to hearing. Most non-Indian travelers would either love it or hate it. It was, for me, a perfect introduction to my four-week voyage across two north Indian states.
I spent almost all of my time in Varanasi in the old part of the city. Note that Varanasi is sometimes described as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the planet. Walking through the narrow streets and the labyrinth of alleyways and coming across all the sights and sounds of the old city validated that impression. It was like being warped into an unfamiliar epoch. Once in a while you are reminded that you still belong to the present and it gives you a pleasant realization how things have been kept the way they’ve always been for hundreds of years in this city.