Author Archives: Ranjan

About Ranjan

Writer, editor, scientist, traveler and speaker.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Post Pandemic Trip to Independence Hall, Philadelphia (Part 1)

We have all been cooped up over a year with COVID-19. No travel, no flights to exotic destinations; mountains, beaches, forests or deserts. Staycation is fine but it has its limits. Now spring is here; the sun is brighter, air warmer and grass greener. I started feeling the itch of the travel bug. If I cannot travel far, how about somewhere close. Was there a place I had always dreamed of visiting but had never managed to? Yes. Independence Hall in Philadelphia. I will go see America’s birthplace. Time to turn pandemic related restrictions to our advantage!

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At the Great Wall of China

A Flashback at the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China, one of the wonders of the ancient world—so we had learnt from elementary school. And in a few hours, I would be on it! I mulled on this for a moment. The movie—The Great Wall, starring a buff Brad Pitt and the very attractive Tian Jing passed through my mind. The various sections of the wall had been built over a long period of time, in fact many centuries, to keep marauding hordes from the north ravaging the empire, with mixed success. In some countries walls are being contemplated, even today, to prevent being overrun by so called “hordes”. It seems history keeps repeating itself. Why don’t we ever learn from it?

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At the Forbidden City, Beijing

The Forbidden City, Beijing—Forbidden no More

After Tienanmen Square, we headed north towards the imposing Tienanmen Tower and the entrance to the Forbidden City under the large portrait of Chairman Mao. There were literally thousands of tourists like me with the same goal in mind.  Naturally, there was a little jostling, not too much to make it uncomfortable, just enough to make you mind your manners and your pocketbook. I had been warned of pickpockets, present at all crowded tourist destinations across the world.

Entering the Forbidden City, Beijing

Entering the Forbidden City, Beijing

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In Tiananmen Square under Mao's portrait, Beijing

Tiananmen-Gateway of Heavenly Peace

Heavenly Peace; two important, desirable attributes, and the gate in Tiananmen Tower located next to the square with the same, world-famous name, is the Gate of Heavenly Peace. That is the English translation you will find in guide books. The real translation is a bit more involved; The Gate of Accepting Heavenly Mandate, which was a duty of the then Chinese emperor. But we will leave this to those more knowledgeable in Mandarin and history. For most of us, Tiananmen Square and the adjoining Tower are places of historic importance, places that has to be seen when in Beijing. And I was in Beijing, delighted to be in Tiananmen Square.

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Xu Di and I at a dinner of Beijing Duck

Beijing, Beijing Duck and Hutongs

After concluding my business in Wenzhou I had planned to visit Beijing for a couple of days on my way back to the US. How could I miss an opportunity to see the Great Wall, one of the wonders of the ancient world and the Forbidden City immortalized in Bernado Bertolucci’s epic movie ‘The Last Emperor’! According to plan, I landed at Beijing’s vast, sprawling airport primed for an exciting trip.

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