29 June 2023

Phew! That was a relief!!

Landed in JFK and after a few formalities, found myself in the domestic side of the terminal (Terminal B). I was to leave from B47. There were signs saying I need to take a bus from B23. Which I did. While getting down from the bus, I asked the lady – why did we take the bus? Is this a different terminal? Construction going on? She just said it is the same terminal. But I did see some signs of construction.

After getting to B47, I started walking back to see where I will have to turn back. Expecting to see an obstruction due to construction. Guess what? I came back to my original point where I took the bus!! Go figure!!

But something more interesting happened during my walk. I saw the sign on the top of the picture at one of the gates. I was feeling bad for the tourists to Rome. It is never fun to start a much awaited vacation with a canceled flight. It messes up all your plans and you never quite recover from that even if you manage to salvage some part of the vacation. I was curious how come there was not a long queue of folks at the gate with all their questions.

I got the answer when the English version came up. Who would have guessed that “Al Cancello” in Italian means “At the gate”??

Learnt something!

28 June 2023

My second friend from Bulgaria!

James, who I talked about yesterday, was not available to take me around today. So, he sent Branimir to pick me up. Branimir is my second friend from Bulgaria! You might remember Zoy from Madaba Tree of Life in Jordan who was the first person I knew from Bulgaria.

I had the whole day to myself with Branimir. Learnt a lot – both about Bulgaria as well as Scotland from him. Our discussions got so interesting that I asked him to join me in the boat and we continued with our discussions. From politics to economics to cultural changes in the last twenty years.

From the description of the country, I need to put Bulgaria in my list to visit quickly. Now, I know a large family there who can help me learn about the country!

28 June 2023

Historic place

Right around the lighthouse you can see if you go south – that is where the first naval ship (HMS Pathfinder) was sunk by a submarine (U boat) using a self propelled torpedo (during First World War). In fact, where we were in this picture is how far the U boat had come before its periscope was detected and shot at (but escaped – before sinking the Pathfinder)

28 June 2023

Sometimes I sign up for stuff without reading the fine print

I remember once I had signed up for a 15K race thinking it was a 5K race. This time when I signed up for Off Road Driving, I figured I would be in an ATV like in Costa Rica.

Noooo!! These are the old Range Rovers going over near vertical climbs up and down and thru water (that river in the picture was chump change compared to some of the water we went thru). Pretty amazing what the vehicles can do in low gear.

Once I got the hang of how to steer the vehicle inspite of sitting at a 20 degree angle on my left or right, it got easier. That is if you do not count the couple of times I manage to stall the engine by releasing the clutch too quickly. That was manual transmission driving for me for the first time after I got my license in India in 1993 !!

Very enjoyable experience though. I would love to come back and do this all over again.

27 June 2023

One thing you will not tire of seeing in Scotland hills…

… is the sheep. They are pretty much everywhere. These are the Scottish Blackface sheep, which I am told, are pretty hardy creatures. They can endure fairly harsh weather.

Another thing you will observe in the terrain is a lot of vertical drops in the hillside – no more than a couple of feet. Apparently, these sheep will knock off dirt from the hillside with their hooves to create vertical walls of a couple of feet. They are always leeward facing. The idea is to protect themselves from the punishing wind!!

I was telling James – my driver and guide today – how we grew up in India learning the nursery rhyme “Baa Baa Black Sheep”… when he told me “You cannot say that here anymore.”

I was curious – “What do you mean?”

“Well, you cannot use Black word anymore”

“So, what are the kids taught?”

“Baa, baa rainbow sheep”



A bit incredulous, I asked one of the young girls working in our restaurant later if it was true. She confirmed it!!

I wonder what the kids in my school in India are learning these days…

(BTW, can you spot all the sheep that appear like white dots?)