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Friday, April 30th 2010

10:16 PM

Trip to Punjab, India 15 March 2010 to 2 April 2010

The write up below describes the current situation in Punjab based on my recent visit. Though being the richest state or it's also called the bread basket of India, but the living conditions are far from being desired. During the visit, i also had an opportunity to share some of my thoughts and ideas on environmental issues in a village in Punjab and there were also sessions on Introduction to Internet/ IT as well as Training for a Marathon. This sessions were conducted in Punjabi (native language of Punjab), i would also endeavour to do this in English. Please click the link below to view it on youtube.

Introduction to IT and Internet in Punjabi Part 1

Introduction to IT and Internet in Punjabi Part 2


Introduction to IT and Internet in Punjabi Part 3

Introduction to IT and Internet in Punjabi Part 4

Introduction to IT and Internet in Punjabi Part 5

Introduction to IT and Internet in Punjabi Part 6

Introduction to IT and Internet in Punjabi Part 7

Training for a Marathon - Explained in Punjabi Part 1

Training for a Marathon - Explained in Punjabi Part 2

Infrastructure and Environmental Issues in Punjab, India - Part 1.wmv

Introduction to Movie Making and Broadcasting in Punjabi

Closing Remarks on IT Presentation in Punjabi .wmv

Infrastructure Issues in Punjab

The infrastructure in Punjab is far from being desired especially roads, pollution, water supply, sanitation and electricity. The following notes are experiences of most visitors (NRIs) who visit Punjab on a regular basis.

1. Electricity


Most villages do not have power supply during the day which includes schools and small hospitals or clinics. If ever there is power it is only at night. This leaves little choice especially for institutions or organization that would need power continuously through out the day such as banks, hospitals, schools – but to mobilise their own generators as an alternative source. India being a net importer of oil, the cost of running a generator is expensive or only the elite could afford it. Part of this problem is attributed to the perception of general population that they should not pay for the electricity; the mindset of people has to be changed so that they understand that you got to pay for services provided. While India is facing a power crunch, they should be looking at alternative sources especially solar and wind which has been widely used in most parts of Europe.


2. Water Supply


Over the years the water table has dropped significantly in most parts of Punjab. There was a time in 1960s farmers were able to extract water using manual methods, i.e. bulls used to turn the buckets (Halts/Thindhas), the depth of water was approximately 10m. The current water table is generally now at 30m which is extracted by electrical motors. However, the situation has further deteriorated that the centrifugal pumps are now being changed to submersible pumps as the capacity of this pumps are lower. In spite of changing to submersible pumps (in Punjabi is called Machi Pump), the power cables are not able to provide sufficient power as the diameter of the cables are the same, which results to an overload.


Drinking water is similarly in dire states so much so that most villages have elevated water tanks which extract water from a depth of about 100m. The depth of drinking water has increased partly due to the infiltration of chemicals (nitrates, phosphates etc.) into the ground water table.


Thus, the situation of drinking water and irrigation of farms in Punjab would only worsen unless remedial measures are put in place in more systematic manner. Some of the measures include - educating the population in controlling wastages, building or to bund lakes for long term storage, dispersing water from the 5 major rivers so that its usage is maximised.


3. Sanitation


India in general lacks proper sanitation where water borne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera etc. are rampant in most parts of the country. It has been reported that over 700million people have no access to basic sanitation, i.e. three out of four Indians.


Small townships or villages need a proper sewage system whereby wastewater discharged from households are channeled into a piping system which eventually goes into a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP). Proper standards need to be established for the effluent that leaves the STP so that the water that goes back into rivers does not have microorganism or chemicals that could cause harm to people.


Punjab would need installation of toilets known as the Sulabh – a twin pit, pour flush toilet developed by Sulabh Sanitation Movement which requires 1.5 liters to flush instead of 10 liters.


4. Roads and Pollution


The general road situation in Punjab is below par as compared to most developing economies such as China, Russia and Brazil. The road width and road base does not meet the normal standards adopted globally, in which roads are not wide enough to cater for two way traffic. The minimum standards are 7m of pavement with earth shoulder of 3m on each side. The continuous plying of buses on heavy lorries on these roads, rendered the road to be riddled with potholes and undulation. Maintenance is generally lacking which leads to broken and damaged roads. The pollution of the environment is in a way related to the maintenance of the roads. The breakup of the blacktop surface exposes the earth which pollutes the environment when vehicles travel on the roads.


Flowers - varity of species and colors at a Sikh Temple. The dates shown on some of the pictures are incorrect, should be end March 2010.

Rich In Architecture - Domes and Fascade of Sikh Temples and white signifies pure, peace and calm.

The Golden Temple, Amritsar. The four doors to the temple symbolises that it's open to the entire humanity. The only requirement is that one must cover his/her head and must not be intoxicated.

Perimeter of the Golden Temple is about 600m, there is a causeway that leads from this perimeter
to the Golden Temple. Please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmandir_Sahib for further information.

A smaller replica of a Hindu Temple - Durgiana Mander built about 2km away from the Golden Temple.

Visited the temple with 2 cousins from Canada (Taranjit Kaur and Gurkirat Kaur)

Typical farmland in a village in Punjab. No portion of the land is left uncultivated. During winters - main crop is wheat and vegetables such as cauliflower, potatos etc. and summers is rice.

Wheat  has almost reached it's final stage, harvest is in mid April which coincides with Vaisakhi celebration.

Water extraction with tube wells and submersible pumps.  Depletion of water with water table
going deeper has become a serious issue not only in Punjab but worldwide.

The village head (or called Serpanch) Charnjit Singh showing a clove of garlic.

Activites such as horse riding, cricket, kabadi (wrestling) are some common sports in villages.

Beside cultivation, dairy products are also a main source of export from Punjab.

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Sunday, January 10th 2010

10:54 AM

London, UK - 10 Jan 2010 (Sun)

Arrived in London from Bordeaux via British Airways on 5 Jan 2010. Would be heading back to Kuala Lumpur (KL) tomorrow 11 Jan at 10pm and expected to arrive in KL at 12 Jan at 7pm. Would update the journal once i am in KL.

A view of Tower Bridge from the banks of Thames River

- Ditto- A Closer View.

Inside the Tower Bridge, it cost 7 Pounds to get in, for further information please visit www.towerbridge.org.uk

Picture from the bridge, frozen water drips on the external railings, temprature was about  -7 deg C.

Buckingham Palace. Apparently from the type of flag placed on top of the palace, you could know if the queen is in or out of the palace.

Horse parade in front of the palace.

Typical directional sigboards in London.

Station of a Undergound Tube. Expensive to travel on this, min cost 4 pounds, advisable to walk, one could cover east to west or north to south of London within 2 hours by foot.

Green Park with the vicinity of the palace.

Building close to Victoria Station, a strategic place to live.

Monument around the same place.

England was not spared by Hitler, decision to counter was taken from this place.

The parliament - Westminster Abbey

- Dotto- across the Thames River

Distance view across Thames River

Trafalgar Square, frozen fountain - not a good time to travel, it's best during spring or summer.

- Ditto- Closer View

A eye catching phrase.

London Eye.

Royal Albert Hall - this are all walking distance from Victoria Station.

An impressive piece of architecture.

History and Science Muesuem are both at the same location.


A magnificient piece of architecture.

Telecommunication Tower

928 days to London 2012 Olympics from the date of this picture.

Moden architecture.

There a number of pedestrian bridges across Thames river.

St Paul Cathedral

Signboards that provides adequate details, something to emulate for the Asian countries.

Road has signs "Look Right" or "Look Left" - Signs that cautions pedestrian besides looking at the traffic lights.

visit www.easyjet.com - a budget airline in Europe. Advisable to obtain the boarding pass via the internet as the lines could be long.

Gatwick Airport - airport for short haul flights.

Yus - a Malaysian who works for London Railways.



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Monday, January 4th 2010

11:08 AM

Bordeaux, France 4 Jan 2010

Arrived in Bordeaux from Madrid via train on 2 Jan - cost Euro 85. There is a switch of train when traveling from Spain to France - the change occurs at a place called Hendave across the French border. Though bus was a cheaper option Euro 70, but it only leaves at night, The only flight from Madrid to Bordeaux was by Iberia airlines Euro 838. Will be heading for my final stop London tomorrow morning. 

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Wednesday, December 30th 2009

7:47 AM

Madrid, Spain 30 Dec 2009 (Wed)

Arrived in Madrid on 29 Dec 2009 from Barcelona. Travelled on Air Vueling, Cost 69 Euro. Temprature
has been mild in inthis two cities - 10 to 15 deg C. Madrid had been raining intermittently with continious drizzle. Mediterrian countries (Spain, Greece and Italy) seems to have an ideal winter where tourist could still enyoy the outdoors, you could walk around the whole day without getting tired. Planning for my next destination Bordeaux, France. Apparently trains from Spain does not go into France, one will have to switch trains at the border, a place north of Spain called Hendave. Still does not have internet access from my laptop, will post pictures at my next stop. Wish you all a Happy New Year.




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Sunday, December 27th 2009

12:37 AM

Barcelona, Spain 27 Dec 2009 (Sun)

Arrived in Barcelona on 24 Dec 2009 via Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) from Berlin.(Cost Euro 132)  It´s cheaper to fly and is much quicker then other modes - a rule of tumb - any distance above 500km plus,
you rather fly, check out the distances between cities on Google Earth. Common budget airlines in Europe besides the above are www.ryanair.com, www.airberlin.com, www.ageanair.com. However, it´s still advisable to check on google - cheap flights from A to B, there are instances the above airlines may not fly your desired destination. The first hit on google is www.edreams.com, it checks all the airlines and charges a small commission. Will be heading for Madrid on 29 Dec 2009, am not able to post any pictures due to limited internet access.

Pictures uploaded on 26 Feb 2010


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Wednesday, December 23rd 2009

10:18 AM

Berlin - Germany 23 Dec 2009 (Wed)

Took a bus for a change from Dresden to Berlin, apparently is cheaper then train (Cost Eighteen Euro  with some inconvenience - waiting outside in the cold and took 3 hours for a distance of 200km. Today seems to be ideal for travellers - the morning started with snow rain which calmed the extreme temprature. There are a number of hop on hop off tour buses, would recommend go for the free walk tours, end of the trip you tip the presenter instead of a fixed rate, visit www.neweuropetours.eu, it is poplular in a number of European cities. After a long break from the weather got a chance to run along the Spree River and the Tiergarten Park, marathon runners should include this city on their calendar.

An Important Landmark in Berlin - Brandenburger Tor, was taken away by Napolean and brought back later - you may want to read further on the internet.

The reverse side of the above

Monument at Centre of Roundabout in Tiergarten Park

Closer view of the above

Partly Frozen lakes at Tiergarten Park

Joggers Track that runs parallel with the road in the above park

Bode Museum along Spree River

Berliner Dom along the Spree River

Berlin Wall - Kept as a symbol

Writings next to the Wall

Wide Footpath along the Spree River

Beautifully Landscaped and Benches along the Spree River

Checkpoint Charlie - This was one of the checkpoints between East and West Berlins

A State-of-The Art and An Engineering Marvel - Main Train Station

Bombardier - Systems Provider

Space Frame of Berlin Haupbahnhof

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Sunday, December 20th 2009

3:44 AM

Dresden - Germany 20 Dec 2009 (Sun)

Have been in Dresden, Germany for the last 4 days. Temperature ha been hovering between -10
to -17 deg Cel. Could not move around much outside due to extreme conditions, suggestion
from a personnel here (Gabor) to place some special batteries in the gloves that will keep your fingers
warm. According to him, people who go fishing normally do that. Factory visit of Bombardier at
Bautzen gave me a first hand information on the latest technology in trains and trams. There is a Test
Track to simulate various conditions to study the efficiency, energy consumtion etc. of trams and
trains. Will be heading for Berlin tomorrow.   

This is the main Cathedral in Dresdan. Apparently it was destroyed during the World War 2, however
with some old pictures and with the latest state-of-the art computer technology the stones were
placed at its original location, where it could not be located new ones were replaced. That explains the
dark and light colors of the walls. 

Main Train Station - Hauptbahnhof Dresden

River Elbe that goes through the city centre

World Trade Centre - Circular Building

Streets in the City Centre

Displays of Maps are a common site to assist travelers

The character beta represents double s - strasse means road/street just as via in Italy

Test track at Bombardier Factory in Bautzen - about 80km from Dresden

Hostel Sunshine (www.sunshine-hostel.de) Cost - Euro 35 a night

A view from the above hostel where i lived

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Wednesday, December 16th 2009

11:33 AM

Prague, Czech Rep. 16 Dec 2009 (Wed)

Arrived in Dresden, Germany at 1 pm after a two our train journey from Prague. Cost of
Train Fare - 26 Euro. Stayed in Tyn Hostel (www.hosteltyn.com) within the Old Town
Square where the Tyn Cathedral is located , accommodation cost for single room
Euro 20 per night.
Tyn Cathedral
Main Street in the City
The Musuem
Streets in Prague
Charles Bridge across Vltava River
Fascinating Sculptures
Prague is famous for it's Bohemia Glass
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Saturday, December 12th 2009

9:31 AM

Prague, Czech Republic - 12 Dec 2009 (Sat)

Arrived from Vienna yesterday at 3 pm. Stayed in Do Step In Hostel/Hotel in Vienna next to the main
train station West Bahnhof, 5 min walking distance. Cost Euro 45 a night, free internet access.
Train from Vienna to Prague Euro 63 (distance 250km - 4 hours). Distance from Budapest to Vienna 
(200km - 3 hours)  cost Euro 13, was informed that different countries have different rates, we can't
pro-rate cost. Currency in Czech is Korun (1 Euro = 25 Korun). Travellers may find Western Union
(WU) at most train stations in Europe - one only needs a pasport and a credit card to withdraw 1000
Euro/Franks per day from WU.

This is the main cathedral in Prague - Tyn Cathedral at Old Town Square

Christmas Festivities at the same place

Futsal Court - just around the corner of the same square

St Vitus Cathedral - Located within the Prague Castle Boundary

Front View

The main river that passes through Prague - Vltava River

Restaurant on a Pontoon

Sculptures and Art at the Palace Gardens

Christmas Festivities in Prague

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Thursday, December 10th 2009

9:07 AM

Vienna, Austria - 10 Dec 09 (Thur)

Vienna is one of the four Uinted Nations headquarters besides New York, Geneva and Nairobi. The Vienna office has a number of functions which includes mainly IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), Outer Space Affairs etc.  Included here are also pictures of public transport - Vienna city has ring road tram system and underground metros which is constructed in a multi tier tunnels.

Cathedral in front S. Freud Park


The Austrian Parliament - Built between 1874 to 1884


Trams in a Ring Road System

Christmas Lights as Night Approaches

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Tuesday, December 8th 2009

2:08 PM

Vienna, Austria - 8 Dec 09 (Tue)

It's imperative that one learn to speak German which is widely spoken in Switzerland and Austria.
I would soon be adding a section called Languages on the website (www.klccg.com). Anyone could
download the spreadsheet which would have translations of German, French, Italian, Hungarian etc.
The content would be words and phrases commonly used and we would keep expanding the list.
Volunteers could add to the list and sent it back to me. I would create a link within the website to
download the file.

This are some personnel (Tobias from Germany and Attila from Hungary) who were disseminating
information to the public on the expansion of the Sud Bahnhof Train Station. It would eventually
be the main station in Vienna.



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Monday, December 7th 2009

11:47 AM

Vienna, Austria - 7 Dec 09 (Mon)

Arrived in Vienna yesterday at 2pm after a 3 hour train journey fron Budapest. Weather has
been extremly cold, supposedly the coldest period in Europe. Apparently, it snowed heavily
2 years back and the years before, global warming is taking effect - slowly but surely, the fact that
it did now snow this time around. Pictures of Vienna today and I have also uploaded pictures of
Budpest in the earlier postings.

The Main Landmark in Vienna - Cathedral Stephans Dom (www.stephansdom.at)

There are parts of the city that are only walkways with no vehicles.

Wide Pedestrian Walkways are a common site - width as wide as 10m

Lanes Dedicated Solely for Cyclist and Pedestrians

Trams are widely used as a mode for transportation.

A large Line Drain around the city - running parallel to Linke Winzelle Road

River on the northern part of the city.

Some magnificient sculptures

Even the veins on the hand could be seen - very meticulous


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Friday, December 4th 2009

10:25 AM

Budapest , Hungary - 4 Dec 2009 (Friday)

Things tend to get less systematic as we move from West to East side of Europe. Switzerland may have a sophisticated infrastructure, however Budapest has a very good traffic dispersal system, there is a ring road system - inner, middle and outer for vehicles and trams. Bridges across the Duna river is a structural engineering and architectural marvel.

Bridges Across Duna River (Span Varies from 200 to 400m)


Sculpture that Doubles Up As Columns - Innovative


These are not left over shoes, they are metal scultpture in rememberence of the Jewsish people massacred during the wars. It is infront of the parliment house along the Duna river.

The Parliment Building next to the  Duna River

Citadella - Sculpture Defining Freedom, It's at the highest point in Budapest 

Ditto - as the same location

View from the National Gallery - A Train Leads on a Steep Ascend. It is located next to the Chain Bridge.  

Masala Market, there is only 3 in whole of Budapest, visit www.masalamarket.hu

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Thursday, December 3rd 2009

1:27 AM

Budapest , Hungary - 3 Dec 2009 (Thursday)

I will not be able to upload any pictures from Budapest due to limited access - apparently there is no internet access to personal laptops and the internet at the hostel is set in Hungarian - it's all trial and error figuring out the menu. I will upload pictures from Vienna, will be heading there this Sunday afternoon. Trvelling by Train from Budapest to Vienna - 3 hours, Cost Hungarina Forints - 3510 or Euro 13. Private Room Cost at Activity Hostel Euro 28 per night.

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Wednesday, December 2nd 2009

11:44 PM

Budapest , Hungary - 2 Dec 2009 (Wednesday)

Budapest - a city built around a large river called Duna. It has rich architecture that goes back to early ninteen century. Relatively a cheap city to live as compared to Zurich and Rome. 1 Euro - 270 Hungarian Forint. Things could run in hundreds and thousands of Forints.

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Monday, November 30th 2009

7:08 AM

Zurich 30 Nov 2009 (Monday)

It started to snow in Zurich today, this are pictures of the apartment i stayed, cost Euro 45 a night,
contact Andy zurichholiday@yahoo.com for booking. Heading for Budapest tonight. Flight cost Euro 62 with Malev Hungarian Airlines.

Picture of the Apartment - about  20 min walk from the main station

Tram No 3 stops in front of the apartment (6 stops from the main station - travel time 10 min)

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Sunday, November 29th 2009

1:29 PM

Zurich - 29 Nov 2009

Christmas celebrations have started way ahead in Zurich, watch the video and some pictures.


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Saturday, November 28th 2009

3:07 AM

Zurich, Switzerland - 28 Nov 2009 (Saturday)

Left Brescia via Milan to Zurich on 26 Nov 09. Train from Milan to Zurich takes you through mountain ranges, lakes, tunnels and viaducts - a breathtaking view. 4 Hour Train ride - Euro 59.

View from the Train Milan to Zurich - Crosses  mountain ranges, lakes, tunnels and viaducts.

- Ditto - A different Location

Main Central Train Station in Zurich

Streets in Zurich

Trams in the City

Main River that goes through the city

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Wednesday, November 25th 2009

1:35 PM

Brescia, Italy 25 Nov 2009

Indian Sikhs are perhaps the least known of Italy's ethnic minorities. But the country is dependent
upon them for their cheese production. Several thousand Indians have taken up residence in the Po
Valley, where they tend to the cows whose milk is used to produce Italy's famous Reggiano Parmesan
cheese. One of Europe's largest Sikh temples is located in the town of Novellara. There are over
70,000 Sikhs from Punjab, India who has migrated to Italy to work mainly in agriculture and factories
in Brescia and Novellara during the last 20 years.

Farms in Brescia, Italy. Apparently nothing is cultivated from Nov to March because of winter. The
normal crop that is grown during the month of April to Oct is corn.

Reflection in rivers indicates cleaniness of the water, a sign where we could say that the river is alive.

A floor mill which apparently ran by turbines that were rotated by the water that flows in the river,
this was then when there was no electricity.

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Saturday, November 21st 2009

11:22 AM

Venice, Italy - 21 Jan 09

Went to Venice with Kulvir Singh from Brescia - about 2 hours train ride cost Euro 25.50 one way.
One could take a water taxi at Euro 6.50 or walk from the train station to the center of Venice
called San Marco - there is a link behind the water ways that you could walk to the end of the city.
Beside the water city, there is a catehedral, museum,  restaurants etc.

With Kulvir Singh from Brescia, Italy

Cathedral at San Marco - Venice, Italy

Ditto - Closer View

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Thursday, November 19th 2009

11:43 PM

Milan - 19 Nov 2009 (Thursday)

Have been walking around Milan for the last 3 days looking at their public transportation. Apparently,
this city is heavily dependent on trams, the fact that it runs on major and minor roads. There have
been situations where i noticed a number of different types of trams running along the same line.
With regards to the buildings, the current modern development may overshadow the finer ancient
architecture, it's a pity. Anyway some more pictures of MIlan for your viewing and comments. Would
be heading for Brescia by train (Euro 5.55) today which is about 80 km east of Milan. Hotel Cost Euro
36 per night single room. www.hotelsantomaso.tin.it

Milan Central Train Station.
Atrium of the Train Station (a Steel Space Frame).
Beautiful Paintings at Entrance Hall of the Station.

Refuse Bins at the Station. Separate bins for  Paper, Plastics, Cans and General. This is something
which we should emulate so as to recycle waste and mimimise disposal into landfill sites.
View of Via Tunisia from the hotel where i lived. The orange line is a clear demarcation for trams,
buses and taxis lanes. 
A common label "Via" in front - it means Street.
Signs of Early Winter - In America, we call it Fall.
A scond important landmark after the Dumo Cathedral, it's called the Castello Sforzesco. For
further information please visit www.milanocastello.it

The third landmark - Cimitero Monumentale - A beautiful landscaped cemetry.
- Ditto- Surrounding Landscape of the above.
Beautiful Architecture but the catenary cables of the trams creates a visual pollution.
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Monday, November 16th 2009

10:56 PM

Milan - 16 Nov 2009 (Monday)

Arrived in Milan 7am, went around the city - it is a modern city with straight roads, box shape buildings - does not seems to appear to have an old history as Rome. Yes, plenty of designer shops - Guci, Armeni, Ferarri etc.

Duomo Cathehderal - Third Largest in the World (after St Peters), visit www.duomomilano.it

- Ditto - From a different Angle

One of the setbacks in Italy Train Statons - one has to climb to board the trains. Platform and floor of train does not flush.

There are dedicated lanes for Trams, Taxis and Buses in cities

There are bicycles for rent. With a card access, you could unlock  a bicycle and go around Milan, there are 105 such locations within the city. The rates are Euro 0.50 per half hour (first half hour is free), thereafter Euro 2 per hour. There are monthly and annual passes, which would be cheaper then the hourly rate.

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Sunday, November 15th 2009

12:05 AM

Rome - 15 Nov 2009 (Sunday)

Heading for Milan tonight. Cost of Train Euro 37 from Rome to Milan. It's half the price to travel at night.

Freedom of Expression in Rome, Italy

A Closer View of TRAMS in Rome

Road generally are paved with Interlocking Blocks instead of Asphalt (Premix)

Narrow Undulating Roads in Rome

Birds Eye View of the Vatican City

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Saturday, November 14th 2009

1:33 AM

Rome - 14 Nov 2009 (Saturday)

Some more pictures of Rome

Do as the Romans do - park vertical

Trams in Rome - Though it looks old but there is no congestion in the city, With 1 Euro
one could hop from train, tram and bus with the same ticket which is valid for 75 minutes.
For 4 Euros one could use any public transport for a full day. Tickets has to be vaidated
upon boarding, failing which a fine of 100 times the price of the ticket is imposed.

The Vatican City (St Peters)

Contel Sant Angelo Museum

A sculpture in front of the above museum

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Wednesday, November 11th 2009

11:01 AM

Rome - 11 Nov 2009 (Wednesday)

Arrived in Rome yesterday 10 Nov 09.Took a train from Rome Airport to Termini
Train Station - cost Euro 11. Visited the Colosseum and The Vatican City today.

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