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I remember how once many years ago I said, “even I want to travel to all these exotic places – Bratislava and Budapest and all”. Someone said, well you may want to go to Budapest but you may want to reconsider Bratislava. I didn’t really know anything about either. I haven’t had any stronger reasons for wanting to visit them other than this. They were to me symbolic of places off the average Indian’s travel map, well atleast at that point of time. They represented East Europe to me along with Czech Republic and Poland. So now I know slightly better – this is Central and East Europe. And all these destinations are part of the Visegrad group of countries.

After meetings today, we went in search of a restaurant along the river. It was raining when we left but we didn’t listen to the doorman’s advice to get umbrellas and pushed on in the warm rain. The wonderful warm rain and the damp smell of the earth. So unlike the miserable cold rain in London. The rain drops were fat and heavy. We walked along the city, the Hapsburg architecture giving way to some more communist-era building blocks. Tram lines criss-crossed the city. The rain got heavier and we walked on getting wet. I covered my head with the newspaper I picked up from the hotel and refused to get wet any further after a point taking refuge on the steps of a gorgeous old building. We sat there for a bit, watching cars go by, thunder and lightening overhead. After a while, the hunger pangs returned and we pressed on towards the river. The Danube was fast flowing and grey under the overcast sky. We walked on grass towards some restaurants and I took my flip flops off.

During dinner, I felt that old familiar feeling of not knowing anything and everything feeling foreign again and I struggled to make engaging conversation. Post dinner, we walked back towards the hotel, and wandered about in the cobbled streets of the old town. I saw the silhouette of a cat sitting in one of the windows. The room was darkened and the inhabitant must be watching TV because of the flickering light on the walls. The cat appeared to be looking at the TV and not outside the window.

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