23 October 2018

Puzzle of the week : Capitals of the world

I have finally been able to memorize all the country names and their capitals. For this purpose, I am defining countries as those 195 that are recognized by the United Nations. Some interesting puzzle questions emanate from that:

Take a guess at these questions and write down if you want in the Comment section. Then check with Google (or wait for a day – I will publish the answers). Do NOT write the answers here AFTER Googling.

1. The smallest number of letters in any country capital is 4. For example: Rome. How many such 4 letter country capitals are there? Can you name them?
2. How many countries have the capital name same as the country name? e.g. Singapore capital is Singapore. How many can you name?
3. Now, some capitals are the same as the country name with the word “City” attached. e.g. capital of Mexico is Mexico City. Similarly, what are the other countries that have the same pattern of capital names?
4. Many countries, during their early ages, had certain cities flourish because of trade – that happened mostly thru sea waters. Thus you will see many of those countries have a port as their capital. Some of them even have the name Port in their capital name. e.g. “Port Au Prince” for Haiti. What are the other capital names that you can come up with that have Port in it?
5. Many capital cities were named after certain Saints. They tend to have names starting with St., San, and so on. How many of them can you come up with?
6. Which are the capital cities that start with the letter “Y”?
7. How about “Z”?
8. Which is the most common first letter for capital names? Meaning more capital names start with this letter than any other letter. There are an astounding 25 of them!
9. A couple of countries have an apostrophe in their capital names. Can you name them?
10. Now the final one: What is the capital (legislative capitals) of Sri Lanka and Myanmar? Hint: I did not realize that they had moved their capitals recently.

22 October 2018

Clear view of Chicago downtown from over Lake Michigan

Grew up as a child in India learning that Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world. That would be the dark building in the middle with two spires.

Of course, a lot has changed now. It is called the Willis Tower now and is only the 16th tallest building in the world. It is still the second highest in the Western Hemisphere, I believe. Just goes to show the crazy amount of infrastructure development that has happened in Asia.

20 October 2018

From the bartender’s corner – Ginger’s Lost Island

Picked up the recipe from Food and Wine magazine. The creator of this is mixologist Bryan Dayton at the Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder, Colorado.

This is an explosion in your palate. Just check out the ingredients. Plus that earthy overtones of mezcal…

Cinnamon, Cardamom, Ginger Liqueur, Agave Nectar, Apple juice, fresh lime juice and of course, mezcal.

The proper garnish would be an apple fan but I am fresh out of apples at home!!

19 October 2018

It has been a long week

Kal raat tanhaa chaand ko
Dekhaa tha maine khwaab mein
“Mohsin” mujhe raas aayegi
Shayad sadaa aawaargi”

The name Mohsin here refers to the poet who wrote this – Mohsin Naqvi. It was common practice to embed the poet’s name somewhere (usually towards the end) in the poem. Not terribly sure but perhaps it was a way of “stamping” or “copyrighting” the poet’s name.

Last night, I saw the moon
All alone, in my dreams
Mohsin, I think my happiness
Will always be in my vagrant ways.

(referring to the lonely but unchained life of a vagabond)

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14 October 2018

From the bartender’s corner – Jewel of Oaxaca

One of the better cocktails involving mezcal. Mango pulp, fresh lime juice, jalapeno muddled, sugar syrup and mezcal.
Before you taste it, you might want to take in the aroma first. It is all mango. Moment it touches your tongue, the palate is all petrichor. But when you have finally gulped it, the sting of the jalapeno all over your mouth for a long time!

11 October 2018

Puzzle on Railways

My brother in India and I recently started new jobs and we both travel a lot for work. We still find time to talk to each other once a day – even if for a few minutes. Almost all his work related travel is by trains. And mine by planes. This morning, I had called him and I could hear the sound of the train horn in the background. Trains are still something I get terribly fascinated by.

Which got me reading up about railway lines today. Learnt some cool stuff and also realized that so many things I was taught during my school years are not true. Or at least not true any more.

Try these.
a. Which country has the longest railway network (in total miles/kms)? This is something I had to “un”learn!

b. Can you think of the largest country that has no railway? How about the second largest country without any railway? Here is a hint – they are neighboring countries. And the first one used to have a railway in its past. But not anymore.

c. Think about the longest distance you can go without ever having to change trains. Can you guess between which two cities that train would be running?

d. Here is something else I knew wrong. What is the longest railway platform in the world?

e. Which is the busiest station in the world? Can you guess the country if you do not know the station name? More people go thru this station in a matter of weeks than the total number of people that go thru the world’s busiest airport in a year!

f. How about the longest railway tunnel? Can you guess the country if you do not know the tunnel name? It is a rather new one. Has been in operation for only two years.

g. What is the longest railway bridge in the world? Want to guess the country name? It is over 102 miles long. For my friends from Durgapur… that is longer than Durgapur to Kolkata!

h. How about the highest railway station in the world? Want to guess the country name?

i. What is the longest railway station name? I do not expect you to know the whole name – although it has a shortened version – but can you guess which country it is in? The name, roughly translates to “St Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a Rapid Whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the Red Cave”

j. Conversely, what is the world’s shortest railway station name? Want to take a guess at how many letters or which country?