Notre-Dame fire! This is why it’s a BIG DEAL!

Notre Dame, one of the most iconic places in Paris is located in the heart of the city in the 4th arrondissement (administrative district). This historical building has been an iconic building in Paris since the 12th century.

It was constructed between 12th and 14th century and it has seen centuries of French history with its eyes. This Cathedral is designed in the Gothic fashion.

12 million people visit Notre-Dame annually to experience its grandiose and photograph its rose windows and flying buttresses. It is one of the largest religious buildings in the world.

In 1793, during French revolution, Notre Dame suffered desecration. The statues of biblical kings that were located in the cathedral were destroyed. Notre-Dame was repaired in 1804 when Napoléon Bonaparte decided to have his coronation in this building.  

The actual glory however returned to this place after 1831 after author Victor Hugo used this building as a personification of France in his famous novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’. The novel was a huge success and it encouraged architects to restore this place.

We were fortunate to witness this architectural masterpiece in 2016.

Sadly while undergoing renovation and restoration, the cathedral caught fire on 15 April 2019 and sustained significant damage, including the destruction of the spire and two-thirds of the roof. Many historic and valuable items and pieces of art were saved, but most of the church will have to be rebuilt.

Here are some interesting facts about this iconic French landmark.

  1. The Notre Dame Cathedral is the most popular structure in Paris even popular than the famous Eiffel Tower.
  2. Notre-Dame de Paris means ‘Our Lady of Paris’.
  3. Access to the cathedral is open and free of charge every day of the year, during the opening hours.
  4. Cathedral’s Construction begun in 1163 under Bishop Maurica de Sully and was completed by 1345.
  5. The famous twin towers go as high as 69 meters (226 feet) and it have 387 steps.
  6. The two towers of the Notre-Dame are not identical. The north tower is slightly bigger than the south tower.
  7. The South tower is where Notre Dame’s largest bell, The Emmanuel Bell is situated. The bell weighs 13 tons (28,000 pounds).
  8. The stained glass windows of the Notre Dame are very beautiful and a significant number of them date from the 13th century when the cathedral was constructed.
  9. The Crown of Thorns, one of the most revered of religious artifacts, is kept in the cathedral.
  10. Each beams in frame of the cathedral is made from an individual tree. In 12th century 52 acres of trees were cut down to select wooden beams for this structure. That’s why this woodwork is also referred as ‘The Forest’.
  11. Notre-Dame is considered as the center point of the Paris city. Outside the building embedded in the cobblestones, there are circular markers. They are engraved with words ‘Point zéro des routes de France’. This means this is the point zero (center) of Paris and distances to other places are measured from this point.

This article is dedicated to Notre-Dame and its glory. Here’s to hoping that it will regain its beauty.

Did you know these facts about Pineapple?

Did you know that Christopher Columbus was the first European to taste pineapple? In 1493 when he visited South America he tasted this fruit and took it back to Europe. Today it is available worldwide.

This strange looking delicious fruit has many surprising facts that you might not have heard before.

  • As I mentioned earlier, Pineapple is indigenous to South America. Today Hawaii, Philippines, Costa Rica and Brazil are world’s largest pineapple producers.
  • When it rains on a sunny day in Hawaii, local people refer to it as Pineapple Juice
  • One pineapple tree produces only a single pineapple in a single season. And it takes almost 3 years for a pineapple to reach maturation.
  • Pineapple contains a proteolytic enzyme bromelain. It attacks your tongue and cheeks while when you eat pineapple. This is the reason sometimes it hurts your tongue. However our saliva and gastric acids protect our body.
  • Bromelain has lot of health benefits. It prevents the growth of tumor cells, thus help preventing cancer. It is also anti-inflammatory and digestive aid.
  • Pineapple contain manganese which helps in bone growth and health. Pineapple is also helps with bowel movement and can help cure constipation.

So eat this delicious fruit by cutting it into slices, drink its juice or simply make a Pina Colada from it and enjoy!

7 things to check while buying health insurance for visitors

Healthcare in United States is pretty expensive. Couple of days in the hospital without health insurance can cost you thousands of dollars. All that money you have been saving to travel…poof! Gone! If you don’t have savings, then credit card bills can put you under serious debt.

To avoid all this trouble buying a good quality health insurance for your visiting parents/relatives/friends makes complete sense. Even if there are cheap insurance plans from visitors home country, plan to buy insurance in US as the claim process is comparatively easy when your provider is in the same country.

Here are 7 things you must consider while purchasing a visitors health insurance.

1. Deductible

Deductible is the amount you have to pay before your insurance starts paying for the clinic visit or procedure. So if you have $250 deductible, you visit a hospital and your bill is $3000. Then you will have to pay $250 and your insurance will pay rest of the $2750 ($3000-$250).

Usually higher the deductible, lower the policy premium and vice versa. So look for a balance, do not go for higher deductible just because you are saving few dollars on your insurance policy.

2. Provider Network

While buying the insurance make sure that the clinics/hospitals near your home are in network of the insurance you are buying. If they are not, identify the ones that are in network. As in case of emergency, we choose the healthcare provider near us, checking the network would save a lot of trouble in future.

3. Pre-existing condition

If your parents/visitors have pre-existing condition, look for an insurance which will cover the acute onset of pre-existing condition. Which means, if the visitor has diabetes, the insurance won’t cover the treatment of diabetes but it will cover the complications caused because of diabetes.

4. Policy extension or cancellation

Sometimes there are circumstances where you have to change travel plans. Make sure that the insurance you are buying is flexible with extension as well as cancellation. Checking it before buying the policy would save you money.

5. Travel insurance inclusion

Many insurances cover travel insurance along with health, however you must check this before buying the insurance. It will give you peace of mind when your parents are travelling.

6. Age group of insured person

Since the premium increases with age of the insurer. Make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully. For patients above 70 years you will have to buy a specific insurance which covers acute onset of pre-existing condition.

7. Customer Support

Call the customer care of the insurance provider before buying the policy. Verify if they have good customer support. Ask them questions about various scenarios and make sure that your doubts are resolved.

When my parents were visiting, I had bought Atlas America from Tokiomarine HCC for them, it covered acute onset of pre-existing condition, had good provider network and the customer care was also reliable. I had to take my mother to clinic twice and both times my bill was $25 per visit. I heard some good reviews from Patriot America plan too.

There is no PERFECT plan. You will have to decide what’s perfect for you and your family by asking these simple questions. So make sure you consider all these things before buying the health insurance for your visiting family.

Stay Healthy! 🙂

5 Amazing things to do in Venice

Venice! City of Canals! 

Venice truly stands to its bestowed name Serenissimo “ Most Serene”. 

It is one of most beautiful places on earth. The city also know as floating city located in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. 

The city has no roads just canals. The means of transportation is by the water (Vaporette, water taxi) or by foot.

Here are the top 5 things You need to do when you are in Venice.

1. Visit San Marco Basilica

Dated back to the 9th century the St Marks Basilica is located at the St. Marks Square, the epicenter and the most important square in Venice. This place has a lot of stories to tell. St. Marks square is one of the most impressive sights with a view of Doge palace, St Mark Basillica, San Marco Campanile and Torre dell’Orologio .

Visit bridge of sighs which is the most viewed structure and a historic landmark in the city.

2. Watch the sunset from rialto bridge

Grab some gelato, start exploring on foot and take in the grandiose of the grand canal. Watch the sunset from Rialto Bridge over the Grand canal. Venice at sunset is the most beautiful sight that I have experienced.

3. Take a Gondola ride

Gondola rides are a must in Venice. These boats have a history and have been the means of transportation used for over 1000 years. Don’t miss out on a chance of going on a romantic gondola ride. Rides can be expensive but I would definitely recommend it. The best time would be Sunset. 


4. EXPLORE THE CITY OF BRIDGES ON FOOT

Away from the hustle bustle of San Marcos Square and Grand Canal, the city is more quite with people going about there days. Grab a basket with your favorite cheese, sandwiches and some Bellini and have a picnic by the canals.

5. Hop on to VAPORETTE and head to Murano and Burano islands

Ever heard of the famous Murano chandeliers? These are made in Murano. Murano is a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon. It is about 1.5 km away from Venice. Visit the Mazzega Glass Factory: Watch Glass makers create masterpieces.

Lined with bright rainbow colored houses Burano island is a sheer delight. The bright painting were done to differentiate the houses from their neighbors and to make their homes visible from the sea. Known for its lace this is a place to pick some handmade laces. This is a true fisherman island. If you want to get good seafood (some say better than Venice) Burano is the place to be.

14 Amazing facts about UEFA Champions league

Last Friday I went to work wearing Barcelona FC jersey. My coworker asked me, “Hey! What jersey is that? What does FCB stands for?” I told him that it stands for Futbol Club Barcelona and that this is my favorite football team. He asked again, “But the Super Bowl was just last month, right? They are starting a new season right away?”

Me: No man, SuperBowl is for Football. American Football. This is Soccer. Barcelona is one of the greatest football / soccer club in the world and it is based in Barcelona, Spain. Leonel Messi plays for this team. Ever heard of him?
Him: Oh, ya, I know Messi. I read somewhere that Premier League is going on. So, you think they will win the league this year?
Me: No! They do not play in English Premier League. They play for a domestic Spanish league, ‘La Liga’.
Him: *Draws his phone and googles* Then how come they are playing against Manchester United? As far as I know that team plays for England.
Me: Yes, they are playing each other in Champions league.
Him: Now there is Champions league too? How many leagues are there?

That was the moment! I had to educate my friend…

I said, “My dear friend, grab your coffee and have a seat. Let me take you to the exciting journey of European football!”

UEFA Champions league is an annual football/soccer tournament organized by Union of European Football Association (UEFA) for the top teams in European Clubs.
The major leagues in European football are;

Premier League from England, La Liga from Spain, Serie A from Italy, Ligue 1 from France, Bundesliga from Germany and so on…

UEFA Champions League is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and winning it is a BIG DEAL!

Here are the 14 interesting facts about Champions league;

1. Most Popular Annual Sporting Event

Champion’s league final is the most watched annual sporting event in the world. The final of the 2012–13 Champions league final was watched by over 360 million viewers on TV worldwide. If you compare it with the Super Bowl then the most watched SuperBowl (XLIX) was watched by 114 Million people.

2. Real Madrid has the most number of titles, Thirteen!

Barcelona won it 5 times and Manchester United did it 3 times! Here is the list of top 10 teams that have won Champions league since 1955 to 2018.

3. Not everyone gets to participate

Tournament begins in early September with top 32 teams across European clubs from England, Spain, Germany, France, Italy etc. These teams are selected based on the UEFA coefficient of the European club. This coefficient is generated by participation of these clubs in last 5 Champions league tournaments.

4. ‘Europa League’ the little brother

These 32 teams are placed in 8 different groups of 4 teams each. They play among each other and top 2 teams go to the round of 16. 3rd team from each group goes to Europa league (another second tier Champions league for the lost champions).

5. Teams from the same league can’t face each other in the round of 16

The round of 16 is scheduled via a draw where the winner and runner up play against each other, however two teams from the same country cannot play against each other in this round. There are home and away matches and the team with most aggregate goals moves to next round of 8.

6. Bring it on, Rival!

The round of 8 or the quarterfinals and round of 4 or the semifinals are again decided by the draw and there is no restriction for this draw. It means 2 clubs from the same country can face each other in this round.

7. Three countries singing together…

The chorus of the official anthem of the Champions league “Die Meister! Die Besten! Les grandes équipes! The champions!” is in three different languages. English, French, and German. These are UFEA’s 3 official languages. The anthem is 3 minutes long.

8. Who’s the GOAT?

As of March 2019, Christiano Ronaldo (124 goals in 160 matches) and Lionel Messi (108 goals in 131 matches) hold the top spot of most number of goals scored in Champions league. No other player is near both of them.

9. Not more than 45, mate!

Since 1990, the referee for the Champions League matches cannot exceed the age of 45. Referees have to pass a fitness test by UEFA to qualify.

10. Not every winner gets to keep the trophy

Only a club that has won the Champions league 3 times in a row or 5 times overall wins the right to retain the replica of the trophy. Till date only six clubs won the rights to retain the trophy;

Real Madrid, Milan, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Barcelona and Ajax.

11. Fastest Goal scored in Champions League

Bayern Munich’s Roy Makaay scored the fastest UEFA Champions League goal agaist Real Madrid in 2007. He scored it 10.2 seconds after kick-off.

12. Spanish Dominance

Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona altogether won 18 champions leagues. English and Italian clubs are tied at number two with 12 trophies each.

13. Semifinal luck or badluck?

Barcelona have a record to reach semifinals 6 times in a row. They did it from 2007–08 to 2012–13.

14. ‘El Classico’ (Real Madrid Vs Barcelona) never happened in the finals of the Champions league.

It is one of the biggest sport rivalries in the world. They met three times in the semifinals, but never in the finale. If they do, that would be the biggest sports events in the world!

Then I asked my colleague; so my dear friend, which European team are you going to follow??

He though for a second and said…”You mentioned Real Madrid won the most number of titles, right? I ll support them from now on…”

And just like that I made a rival over a coffee break! 

What is Global Warming?

Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com on Pexels.com

So, last weekend I and wife went to the beach. Plan was simple! Enjoy the waves, swim in the water and then surf (Kidding, we don’t surf). We don’t even swim. So, our plan was to sit at the beach all afternoon, look at the waves, watch people and make fun of them (don’t judge us).

After sitting there for few minutes, I wanted to go in water. My wife said, ‘Don’t go, water must be cold’. As always, I didn’t listen to her and got into water. It was really cold. Damn! So, I came back to the beach. Sat there with her and started cursing the ocean. She looked at me and said, “Don’t blame the ocean. If you want to blame, blame yourself! This is because of Global Warming and we all are causing it”.

What? Global warming supposed to increase the temperature of the globe, right?

Well, yes! But it also causes snow storms.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

How?

Global warming is the increase in the average global temperature. Think of it as a fever to mother earth. Since last 50 years average temperature has increased at a surprisingly faster rate.

What causes Global Warming?

The main culprit is pollution. That too Greenhouse gases (No, not Shrek farts!). Greenhouse gases (CO2, Methane, Water Vapor and CFC) absorb solar radiation and sunlight that has bounced off the earth’s surface. This blanket traps the heat in the atmosphere rather than releasing it out in space. This causes earth to get hotter. This is Greenhouse effect! (Ahhh, now you know!)

Same thing would happen if you keep yourself wrapped in blanket while sleeping, right? That is the reason I keep one leg out of the blanket while sleeping.

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Ever since the industrial revolution has begun, man has changed the balance of atmospheric gases by burning fossil fuels and releasing CO2, Water vapor, Methane and NO2 in atmosphere. These are the main four greenhouse gases.

CO2 is the main reason for greenhouse effect and smoke from industries and vehicles contribute more CO2 in atmosphere.

You would think, OK, whatever! Why should I care?

Well, do you like extreme weather changes? Do you like scorching heat in summer when you can’t step out of your house and months and months of snowstorms in winter where you have to dig your car out of snow every morning? In that case, you can just conveniently ignore the global warming. But you don’t want that, right? Global warming is not a thing to ignore. As the average global temperature is increasing, it is impacting the delicate ecosystem resulting in extreme weather conditions.

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Wow! I don’t want this global warming. How can I stop it? Please tell me.

REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT! PLANT MORE TREES!

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Try not to pollute our atmosphere. Carpool with colleagues or take public transport, buy energy efficient appliances, buy cars with higher mileage. This way you will not release lot of CO2 in atmosphere. Deforestation is one of the major causes of increasing CO2 in atmosphere. So, planting trees really helps reduce global warming. Plants absorb CO2 and release oxygen back into atmosphere. So, PLANT MORE TREES! And educate others around you to use clean energy and protect the environment.

What is March Madness?

These days everywhere you go, you hear ‘March Madness’, ‘Brackets’, ‘Sweet Sixteen’. So, what do these terms mean? Has your co-worker been talking about it? And you have no clue? Well, idintknowthat is here for your rescue.

March Madness is an excitement of NCAA associates to compete and earn a top stop in Men’s and Women’s college basketball tournament during the month of March every year.

What is NCAA?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is an organization which organizes athletic programs of many colleges and universities in United States and Canada.

What Happens during March Madness?

64 college teams are added in a knockout brackets. You lose, you are out. During the first weekend these 64 teams play to knock out their opponents. Only 16 survive. They are called as ‘Sweet Sixteen’.

Next weekend, these 16 teams play in knockout round and at the end of that weekend 8 teams survive. The ‘Elite Eight’.

They now play in the next round to come down to ‘Final Four’ and ultimately the ‘National Championship’.

What is so exciting about this?

Every year millions of people try to guess the winner of every round by filling out brackets before the start of the ‘March Madness’. As there are several upsets every year the guessing game becomes one of the toughest in the world.

The chances of guessing the correct bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 as per some mathematicians. I bet you didn’t read the whole number.

Still you will try your luck, won’t you?