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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Snoozing Out!

I really can't believe its been almost a month since I posted anything. My new office has me sitting right in the middle of everybody in the room. Even if somebody doesn't intend to, they would end up watching what is on my computer screen. Plus, I don't want my new colleagues to know my goofy side, well not yet. To top it all off, the internet in my studio has been down for the past 2 weeks! After about 25 phone calls and a nasty email, the internet problem was resolved in about 3:42 mts since the guy set a finger on my laptop. Ah! well, things just happen I guess.

There were a few things I wanted to write about but a short summary of what I have been upto should do I guess.

A week long celebration of art and architecture. Parts of city were strategically lighted up - a play of colorful lights on buildings.

Birthday bash

with the b'day tie I drew out! :) and a Sinterklaas cake..


the incredible merriment that Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of Santa Claus) and his assistants Zwarte Piet ( black Pete) bring along....

And the vacation...

I am off to Chennai, my home city in India for a month in a week's time..Counting days...:)

Okie, now don't go imagining there are elephants on every street of my city, well! just on every second street..:p (kidding of course!)

**Picture Courtesy - Asish Pal

Friday, November 13, 2009

Molen van Kinderdijk (Mills of Kinderdijk)

Wind mills are one of the first things that would come to your mind when I say Holland. After, 10 months of living here, I finally went to visit these rotating beauties ( well, technically not rotating any more). Kinderdijk is a small village in the the province of North Holland. It is situated at a point where two rivers Lek and Noord meet. To drain the excess water in this region a group of 19 windmills were built in 1740. Apart from being in the UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites, it is also one of Netherlands' top tourist spots.

The name of the place, Kinderdijk originates from a legend which has it that on the Saint Elizabeth's Flood of 1421, after the storm had subsided, a small basket was visible in the dike area. A cat was jumping from one edge of the basket to the other, to keep it afloat. On bringing the basket to land, a baby was found in it asleep, dry and safe. Hence the name, Kinderdijk or Child's Dike.

From Eindhoven, we took a train to Dordrecht and waited for a bus to fetch us to Kinderdijk. Now, who knew the bus driver would forget to change the number on the display of the bus while he was at our stop? We were gleefully talking right in front of it while the bus took off. We had to wait for one hour more for the next bus. We obviously crashed into Smullers again for frites. :)

It was lunch time when we reached Kinderdijk. The place was extremely windy and cold. One of our rather thin friends actually tried lifting one of her legs to check if she could fly :D. Except for some threatening shakes, she couldn't defy gravity. We were all disappointed! Nov 1st was the last day to take a tour inside the wind mills. We were just in time for that. One wouldn't even imagine how such a cozy house could be built in such small places. Every available square inch was packed with furniture and utilities -tables, chairs, a kitchen and several beds at different levels of the house. At the attic is where the huge gears of the wind mills were placed. Videos and models were placed at every point for a good explanation of the working of the house. And the stair cases! How narrow they were! We were wondering how anybody ever managed to climb up and down those "you are bound to fall one day" stairs.
Our lovely neighbors had somehow managed to pack lunches for all of us. We sat down at one of the benches on the way and gobbled up the food quickly, before the wind could beat us on it. There is a long pathway to walk/bike along the windmills. We walked till we could see all the19 of them. We sang songs as we walked further as the path became completely isolated (could have been the other way around, maybe! :) ).

We honestly hadn't picked a perfect day for this trip. That, we had all not gotten soaked to our skins in the rain that pelted down right after we got into the bus on our way back, was perhaps our biggest relief. I came back home a little soaked and tired, but I have finally seen the Dutch wind mills..:)

Picture Courtesy - Harish. S

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dutchiness part 1: Nederlandse taal (Dutch language)

I wish to start a series called the Dutchiness to explain the Dutch as I see and experience, their culture, food, people, places and various other oddities that come to my mind. A series somehow I thought would give me more motivation to post frequently. The first topic was easy to chose, the Dutch language of course. Dutch is the native language of more than 22 million people and is spoken widely in the Netherlands, Belgium and Suriname. Being one of the Western Germanic languages like English and German, Dutch strangely has similarities to Afrikaans, a language spoken widely in South Africa and Namibia. Dutch is definitely not the most difficult language to learn (think Chinese and Sanskrit) but then it is not so easy as well.

As an expat in the Netherlands, so is it absolutely essential to learn the language? Well, it depends on several things - how long you plan to stay here, which profession you are in and mostly if you have the interest to learn the language. Fortunately enough most Dutch can speak English. In work places I find it almost non essential (Engineering field). But it is at the coffee corners and lunches when you miss out the joke that you feel the prick to learn the language. Also, all the official letters, announcements in trains and buses, signs are in Dutch. So I have been at it for the past 10 months. I passed the beginner's course and am at the intermediate level. While my reading, listening and writing have improved quite a bit, speaking is still a problem.

In the initial days though (actually even now), my biggest help tool has been Google Translate. This God sent tool has eased several frustrating 'Dutch decoding' moments for me. In my opinion, if you are planning to stay in the Netherlands for more than 6 months, then go for atleast a basic course. It does please people to see that you are atleast trying. Did it help me at all at any point? I think it did. Recently at an interview for a project, the boss of the company was genuinely surprised when I answered some of his questions in Dutch. They offered me the post a couple of days back. If I decide to take it up, I will be their first non Dutch employee... :D

Some useful Dutch language websites: (highly recommended by my Dutch teachers)

Nothing replaces taking actual lessons though. Some Dutch language courses in Eindhoven:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

So what the heck is 'arranged marriage'?

Arranged marriage is one phenomenon which seems to be the norm in some cultures, while it is totally inconceivable in others. Arranged marriage is still widely followed in south Asia and the middle east. Generations after generations, parents take it as their biggest responsibility to find a suitable bride/groom for their children. Alliances are not just made between the man and the woman but between the families.

Ever since I have been outside of India, all my friends from the western world are immensely curious to know how the whole deal works and if it is actually true. I have been asked over and over again, how in the world can two people who barely know each other enter into a life long commitment. How can one, who takes hours to select a piece of clothing, make such a decision within a couple of meetings? Well, every time I am deeply embarrassed by the question and quite honestly am bewildered myself. But I can make a reasonable assessment of the situation.

Dig this! India has about 30 official languages with over 1000 dialects. We have every possible religion on the earth thriving in this land which is further complicated by the caste system ( age old system of dividing people up by their jobs, which doesn't sit well in today's world but is quite rigidly still there). Hinduism, the predominant religion followed in India has over 330 million forms of Gods or deities with each having a separate following ( most of the countries' population is not so huge! :) ). As you can imagine not two households in India would have the same traditions and beliefs. Now top this all up with a strong tendency to hold on tight to all these customs. In India, kids are grown with immense care and protection. Parents literally give away their lives to get their children the best. In return the children feel obligated to give away the one thing that their parents treasure the most - to stay in line with the family traditions and seek their acceptance. Baam comes in the arranged marriage!

When the kids reach a suitable age (generally 21 for girls and 24-25 for guys), parents start scouting for 'suitable' partners through family contacts/agents/websites. The idea is that if a match is found between a family with similar values, social status and understanding, the possibility of the marriage being successful is high. Mostly a meeting is arranged between the families to discuss the issue and things are finalized within that meeting. Most couples barely talk before their wedding!! They some how have to figure it all out later!

So thats the general picture. But parts of India, especially the cities is rapidly being modernized. With more and more education and influences from the western world, people are realizing the flaws of such a life. While it offers security and acceptance within the family, alarm bells keep ringing in every youth's head at the very thought of living with a complete stranger. As several leaders in the country believe, true integration can only be achieved when people from all over, mix up. The whole arranged marriage business has taken a newer version now with the matrimonial websites playing a major role. Within a shortlisted group, choices can be made quite freely by the boy and the girl, giving them much more time to decide. Somehow this seems to create a win-win situation for both.

While some of the country's youth is of the rebellious nature, most of them are caught in the middle, knowing not whether to sway or not to sway! This is perhaps one of the biggest dilemma that today's youth has in my country. Living outside, I almost laugh over the fact that how certain things are just the way of life in the west while in the east we worry so much over something as basic and fundamental as the right to chose your life partner. Time, common sense (lots of it! :)) and some guts should be the remedy I guess.

Picture Courtesy -

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A visit to Antwerp, the diamond city

The plan was not to visit Antwerp on Diwali, but it just so happened that a friend of mine from India, who now lives in the US came to attend a conference in France! phew! So I met her half way through in Belgium. Lying in the north east of Belgium, about 2 hours away by train from Eindhoven, is Antwerp, the second largest city in Belgium. Well known as the international center of diamond trade and as one of the busiest ports in Europe, Antwerp has a lot more to offer than just that.

To begin with, the Antwerp Centraal Station is a sight in itself, with four levels and trains zipping above and under you. Sipping a hot cup of coffee we waited for my friend to arrive. Even the coffee seemed to taste better in such an exotic city! :) It turned out that she was a tad late, so we decided to walk out a bit before she came. As soon as you step outside the station, you have a feeling that you are traveling back in time. The cobbled streets with the narrow alleys, the many many cafes and restaurants, the unique architecture of the buildings, antique shops, art galleries and the constant smell of chocolate and waffles that drifts through the air. You just fall in love with such things.

We went back to the station to meet my friend and headed straight for lunch. We treated ourselves to some awesome Indian food for just 9 euro at a Jain restraunt called Aahaar. Everybody was so stuffed up after lunch that it took us a few minutes to convince ourselves that we had barely seen anything and hence must go on..:). We started walking through the Grote Markt which seemed to be in the middle of it all.

Lined with what can only be called a shopper's paradise, we tried not to sway into a store before reaching the Onze Lieve Vrowekathedraal (Cathedral of Our Lady). Unfortunately we made it 5 minutes after the closing time! So we had to be satisfied with a sneak peak inside and of course the majestic Gothic structure that it is from the outside.

We decided that we should visit the Provinciaal Diamantmuseum before it closes as well. The museum describes the history, mining and the finishing touches made to diamonds in a very interactive way with several actual tools and samples. Frankly, before polishing, a diamond looks like any ordinary stone that you would walk on without a second glance! The museum also has a range of exquisite jewelery and art pieces made of diamonds.

After the museum we couldn't contain ourselves any more. We decided it was shopping time. One stop was naturally reserved for the incredible Belgian chocolates at Leonidas and fresh warm waffles with ice cream. yummmm!!

We went back to the station, said our good byes to my friend who was heading back to Tucson the next day and settled our bills while waiting for the train to Eindhoven. As we were traveling back, I was thinking that Antwerp is one such place where you really don't have to visit places to be entertained. You just have to walk through the city and that is quite a bit for a day!

After coming home, my neighbor called me to her place for a mini celebration. In the small space we live in, she had made some pretty authentic decorations for Diwali. The day ended well for me.

On that note, much belated Deepavali wishes to everybody! May the year ahead bring in prosperity and good health.

Picture Courtesy - Abhinav Rohit & Prasad Perlekar (Yes, I agree the camera and the photographer both matter..;) )

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Lighted Route in Eindhoven (Lichtjesroute)

Eindhoven was liberated on September 18th, 1944 by the Allies in World War II. The soldiers were welcomed with lamps outside their homes. Since then, every year, the citizens placed lamps along the route that the Allies took in Eindhoven to celebrate their liberation. The tradition was stopped in 1969 but was picked up again in 1984, and this year marked the 25th anniversary of the Lighted Route or the 'Lichtjesroute'.

At the pond

From 18th September - 11th October, the 22km long route is right along the bike path, making it an excellent outing in the night time. Luckily the weather God had mercy on us and it din't rain while we pedaled our way through. Right at the middle of the route is a small pond which is completely decorated with lights and has small stalls in the night with treats for the riders. We stopped to take some pictures and continued along.

Few lovey - dovey ones

Statue of Liberty and Dutch bikes

A crazy fish and wind mills ( of course!)

Honestly it wasn't the most magnificent piece of work that I have seen, but was an interesting way to tour the city in the dark hours. We met an old man on the way who waved at us from his window! :) After the chilly ride, we stopped near the station for some warm frites which tasted like heaven. A good ride with a tasty ending. :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

4 Indians, a Spanish movie, Dutch subtitles

Well, the title literally gives it away. The university has a small theater/cafe called the 'Zwarte Doos' or the black box which plays a movie three days a week. The movies played are mostly foreign and are generally not the main stream hits like in regular theaters. You have to watch out in their Dutch website to see what movie is played and in which language.

It was completely my idea and as I checked the website, it said the movie was in two languages - English/Spanish. Somehow I just assumed that the movie was in English with sprinkles of Spanish in between. So off we all went to watch Che-part 1, a biography on the Argentina born Cuban revolutionary.

The movie started and for the first 5 minutes everything was in Spanish. While my friends gave me the weird looks and mumbled a few curses under their breath, I was confident that the language would switch soon. Ah! Steven Soderbergh, the director was trying to give an authentic feeling to the film. As it turned out the movie was entirely in Spanish, sprinkled with some English.
And as one would expect the subtitles were in Dutch (The Dutch never dub foreign films, just subtitles). I did suspect something when the ticket counter guy gave us the odd looks.

While I desperately tried to figure out the subtitles, I really really wished I had payed more attention in my Dutch class. The movie was dead serious and the one or two times the audience laughed, I joined in just to blend in. hahaha!!! I seriously thought at least one of my friends was going to walk out soon. But we managed through the 2 hour movie. I must say quite an accomplishment. And to think that we were thinking of buying tickets for Che - part 2 for a back to back view!

The only good thing was that I realized my Dutch even though not any where close to being decent has vastly improved in the nine months that I have been here.

P.S - Ernesto Che Guevara! What a man, what a revolutionary! Not having learnt a whole lot while watching the movie, I came home and read quite a bit about him. Will probably try watching Che - part 2 with English subtitles.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Remembering Gandhi...

I was pleasantly surprised to see the Google homepage today -

Celebrating Mahatama Gandhi, the Father of our nation's birthday. Happy Gandhi Jayanthi!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thank you Paula!

Public dancing is perhaps one of my biggest nightmare. It was a fear that I developed as a kid. In one of the cultural programs that our school conducted, I was chosen to dance for a traditional Tamil dance called 'Kummi'. Now, I literally laugh out loud, but back then performing the best in the team meant a whole lot. I somehow did not manage to dance well and the teacher scolded me. Thats it! It was like the biggest insult that my 12 your old ego could bear. I decided dancing was trivial and immediately plunged myself into more achievable goals then like books.

Well, that was then but as I grew up I realized how much fun dancing was. Everybody seemed to have such a blast while I stood aside looking as though someone had tied two rocks to my legs. All I could do was move vaguely like a robot. And I have to say dancing is a big deal in India. The whole bollywood culture has left us singing and dancing every where. Girls especially are expected to dance by nature! grrr, the stereotypes! It turned into a huge mind block. It felt like I was missing out.

When I moved to Canada, I decided to start over. I joined ball room classes, started dancing in parties, but my real turning point came when I started this aerobics/dance work out by Paula Abdul - 'Get up and dance'(counting solely on my own experience here). The first day, I couldn't dance even one step in order. It was just too fast for me. I decided I wouldn't give up. I practiced one move a day and slowly built it up till I could dance the entire video. I began to realize that most of dancing is in your mind. You just need to feel confident and good about yourself. More importantly let go.

No no, don't even imagine that I have turned into a super hot dancing pro. Its just that I have stopped caring about what others think about my jiggle- wiggle any more :D. Of all the places, I never even imagined I would get to dance again an Indian folk dance in Eindhoven. For the past one month I have been practicing for a big 'Dandiya Raas' event in the city. And hey, not bad at all! Thank you Paula! :)

P.S - Shubh Navrathiri Desis!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hakuna Matata!

Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata! Ain't no passing craze
It means no worries for the rest of your days
It's our problem-free philosophy
Hakuna Matata!

I have been meaning to write on this for quite some time but just like everybody else, the beginning of school term and picking up pieces after the summer means a lot of work to do!

'Hakuna Matata' is perhaps my life motto. It is the phrase from the movie 'Lion King' which simply means 'no worries'. Now, it is most definitely not an easy task but me being a constant worrier, this would be a state of mind I would love to achieve. If you have seen the antics of Timon and Pumbaa (the meercat and warthog duo) and the sheer ease with which they deal with things and have fun all the way through in life, you would know what I mean. Sometimes in life, just about everything seems lousy. But its good to shake it up and put things in perspective.

One morning while reading through the set of websites that I generally browse through for news, I was reminded of good old days when me and my father would wait for the newspaper man to throw our beloved "Hindu" (a widely read newspaper in India) at the doorstep. My father would immediately grab hold of the main sections and pass on the less important sections to me. Sipping a hot cup of coffee we would both indulge into our readings while my mother would make breakfast. It was a silent, simple, daily morning ritual. No big deal! But now when I get up every morning alone in the apartment and stare into a monitor, that simple ritual seems like such a luxury. Back then though, I would argue with my father that I needed the main sections of the paper as well and I even asked him to buy another daily so that I could read it simultaneously.

My point is we never realize how wonderful life is while we are living it. Everything in hind sight seems better. The past always seems colorful and more joyous. The challenges met then are almost forgotten. Lets face it. We are not going to grow younger and our responsibilities are definitely not going to dwindle away. So why not enjoy and live the present to its fullest? Most people would kill to live such a secure, pleasant, peaceful and beautiful (ahem! yes Eindhoven too is beautiful ;))life.

And what do you do when you have a crappy time? Do what Dory, the fish with short term memory loss in 'Finding Nemo' does - just 'Keep Swimming' and good times will come along. :)

So Hakuna Matata people, and Keep Swimming all the way through!

Picture Courtesy - Walt Disney Pictures

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kinderen sans borders

For the past two days, I attended a technology congress in Arnhem held mostly in Dutch with some of my department staff. Health care and hospitals is one area where the language is still quite a problem for the foreigners. I was perhaps the only non Dutch in the entire meet. For the first time I was swamped by a language unknown for 2 days. Towards the end, I gave up on even trying to figure out the few words I understood and retired to a nearby corner with a book. All that my ears could hear was a long buzz....

As we drove back to Eindhoven, we stopped at one of the colleague's house for a coffee with their family. With a couple of hundred cars returning back from the congress the highway was blocked for over an hour and we were late. Her husband warmly invited us home for some fresh coffee and waffles. It was bed time but their two young girls came running down eager to meet the guests. Sipping the coffee, the conversation obviously moved towards the intricate details of our university and the politics around the department as my colleague's husband also works there. I don't know if things were a little heated up and 'not suitable' for my ears as I still have a student status or as they were passionately discussing they forgot about me, but they switched to Dutch and were soon lost in a heated talk.

Ah! I barely cared at this point. I was observing what the kids were doing. It was kind of funny because their knowledge of English and my knowledge of Dutch were at the same level. They began by bringing down all their soft toys from their room and made them wear special clothes for the night and showed me how they tucked them in and sang them a lullaby. They entertained me, with the younger one playing the drums and the elder one, on her piano playing Beethoven's 'Fur Elise' (she must be 10 or 11!). As I ventured on in my broken Dutch, they tried to speak back to me in English. We were constantly laughing. It suddenly stuck me how amazing children are. I was a practical stranger who looked completely different, spoke a different language and they couldn't have cared less. They made me shed my inhibitions and speak their language without fear ( speaking would be far fetched, lets say attemp :) ). As the younger girl decided to try on some of the doll clothes herself for few more laughs, the other kid started drawing something on her board. She quickly made an art and gave it to me.

As we left their house the two girls came running behind our car until it reached the street corner. It reminded me of my childhood when we would stand at the edge of the house and keep waving until the person turns the corner. They managed to bond with me in the one hour I spent with them so effortlessly. The bliss of innocence!

Monday, September 7, 2009

I can pick bike locks!

So here goes another of my 'one of a kind' stupid situations. I have a pretty run down bike which I out of desperation bought in an over prized second hand shop. The regular lock attached to the back wheel has been sort of semi ripped off, the lock exists but I don't have the keys. So I usually just lock my bike with a chain. I had taken the violet cutie out for a ride about 3-4 kms away from my house when I received a phone call. I stopped seeing that it was a friend, locked my bike up a lamp post and sat on nearby bench and chatted on

After quite some time I got up, walked up to my bike and I don't know what got into me, I suddenly wanted to check if the original lock of bike worked or not and without thinking for a second, I locked it! Ahhh!! Stom! I was in the middle of some place with a locked bike. I desperately tried to shake it up and down to somehow loosen it. People passing by were giving me the suspicious looks. I was losing hope and was beginning to wonder how I was going to haul my bike to my place. I stopped for a few seconds and actually thought what I should do. I took out my thinnest key and tried to insert it into the small openeing in the lock, where the key hole should have been. I jammed it in as far as it went in and kept trying to unlock it again. 2-3 minutes and voila! The lock opened.

The smartest thing I did in a long long time..:D

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A trip to Den Haag (The Hague)

Some of the space box (the box like weird apartments I live in) buddies decided to go on a day trip to Den Haag. I jumped on the opportunity to visit some places and for a change, do some thing other then the usual Saturday shopping. With some discipline we started pretty early in the morning, 9am..:). As the train chugged its way from Eindhoven, we had some freshly made poha (an Indian breakfast made of flattened rice flakes), that our neighbour was thoughtful enough to make in the morning.

Den Haag is the political capital of the Netherlands, housing the country's parliament and the royal family. We took a tram from the station and headed straight to the beach - Scheveningen. The word " "Scheveningen" was apparently used by the Dutch in WWII as a password. Even the Germans who could speak Dutch easily never quite managed to pronounce it the right way. Never mind, I wouldn't even try typing the right pronunciation. This was my first visit to a beach in the Netherlands and I was excited. Having lived in a coastal city, the ocean evokes beautiful memories in me every time.

Yup! thats me bungy jumping! haha..I wish I could say that. I just watched those brave souls plunging down towards the sea from a far off distance. We lazed on the beach sand for over an hour and soaked in as much sun as we could. After gulping down a Subway sandwich for lunch, we went to SEA.LIFE right at the beach, an aquarium filled with our earthly buddies living underwater. We googled in as much of the scaly, slimy and some brilliantly colored beings as we could.

After downing an ice-cream and doing some on the spot shopping, we moved on to the next stop, Madurodam - a miniaturized version of Netherlands filled with all the important places as small size replicas. The place has a small airport, whistling ships and even trains zipping all across. The coolest thing is that they give you a small booklet with your ticket which has a short description of all these places and where they are. A good guide to refer to later on.

All that is miniaturized

Sadly Eindhoven had just one reference and that too on a fancy building - Evoluon. Come on guys! You should have put up Philips, the pride of Dutch technology!!

The scale of things

Tired, we sat down for some drinks and frites. On our way back, the train randomly decided to take a round about way and came in 2 hours late! But otherwise the trip was simply wonderful. Nobody got lost and nobody lost anything. We were in sync with each other and the weather was at this perfect balance of being sunny and slightly windy . No matter which place you visit, sometimes it comes down to the people you go with, the weather and some luck of course. Ah! we did well..:)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Physicist dudes

Physicists are a queer bunch. Having been in an engineering department mostly, I have never seen these species up close before. Imagine this. My very first lesson at TU/e. I enter a class of Laser Physics and am a little nervous. The class is already filled, I take a seat on the last row(typical!). I can see about 4-5 students with thick locks of blond, brown and black hair from behind. Phew! good that there are other girls. I generally feel comfortable to see other girls in a class. Not understanding much of the quantum physics mambo jumbo the professor was talking about I spent most of my class trying to get a better look at other students from behind. Imagine my shock as I discover one by one that all these long maned beauties are guys!! All of them!

Ah! The love that these physicists have for their golden locks! Some have such dense thickets that I wouldn't be surprised if a bird flies out of it suddenly.The bespectacled wonders travel in packs and wear the weirdest color clothes. The picture I drew above is actually inspired by a physicist in my office. I always am on a look out for him in the mornings just to see what he wears.

Some of them are really nice though. It is always useful to have some of these walking-talking brains as your friends. You constantly need to remind them to have a touch down and speak as we normal earthlings do. :)

P.S - As you can imagine, I never completed the Laser Physics course! :D I somehow managed to get all my grades without that one.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Krishna Jayanthi in Eindhoven

Last Thursday was Janmashtami, the birth of Lord Krishna. I have so far never on my own celebrated the myriad of Indian festivals that come every year. Somehow after moving outside of India and having started living on my own, I just din't feel up to it. But this time I was inspired by my neighbor and thought that this was perhaps a good way to actually re-bond with my own culture.

My mother's decorations back home

Lord Krishna is particularly fond of sweets and butter.Tradition has it that baby Krishna comes to every house where he is celebrated to eat his favorite food. I made the traditional "appam" with banana in it and a dollop of butter on top (thankfully it came out okie) in the morning, drew out the baby foot steps which in my house had to come from the window with a complicated route as the rest of the house is carpeted (ya, Krishna is good at high jumps..:D), crooned to some songs in praise of him, ate my own creation of the "appam" and left to office. Felt pretty good.

The offering is always shared with family and neighbours and I gladly exchanged mine for some better "cheedai" (A round, crispy snack, another fav of Krishna). My mother had the biggest surprise when I told her about it, she thinks I have finally turned into a mature woman..heehee..:)

Friday, August 7, 2009

To Vancouver and back

The vacation to Vancouver, Canada was totally unplanned and completely sudden. But after having lived in one of the best cities in the world for 2 years, I had no qualms going back for 2 weeks. As it turned out Vancouver was at its warmest best, reaching high temperatures not seen for the past 40 years!

What did I do?

Beginning from the left most picture in the series above -

-> Enjoyed my beloved Starbucks coffee ( favorite though is Tim Horton's).

-> Watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince with my sister after waiting outside the theatre for 45 mts, with two nephews dozing..:)

-> Biked along the Stanley Park Seawalk trail with my nephew seated on my bike, comfortably dozing off again, much to the amusement of other riders who kept smiling at the expression on his face.

-> Spent such enormous amount of time in the biggest shopping mall in British Columbia - Metropolis. Not just for shopping, but to cool off in the air-conditioned haven where half the city seemed to be headed (awesome summer sale of course! ;) )

-> Major indulgence with my cutie pie nephews; one who keeps saying "I am a naughty boy" when ever caught doing, well naughty stuff and the other who's 4 year old brain stumped me completely when he could solve Math problems faster than me! Blissful time.

-> I visited my dearest university of course, UBC.

-> Incidentally one of my Dutch colleagues from TU/e came to Vancouver for his internship right after I reached there. Went to the Lynn Valley Canyon Park suspension bridge with him. We were supposed to do a 5 hour hike, but with the severe heat we ended up gulping down a melting ice-cream and cooling off our feet in the water. He actually got some Dutch stroopwafels for the trip! :D

-> What better way to chillax than with Bubble Tea! The utterly divine Chinese/Taiwanese fruit smoothie with tapioca balls/jellies at the bottom. We need to import this nectar concoction to the Netherlands.

-> F.R.I.E.N.D.S...:)

Vancouver is an incerdible city to live in, multicultural and diverse, just about everybody fits in. There is simply so much to try and experience right from nature's various blessings to the fine dining and shopping. It was good to experience all that again for a few days.

And now back to Eindhoven! I was fearing how I would cope up after being amidst family, friends and goodness. Strangely though it doesn't feel so bad. For now, this is home. :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Park Hilaria

Eindhoven has a yearly fair in the summer for the bored school kids to go on some crazy rides, eat cotton candies and slump into chairs for a cool drink and some frites. Park Hilaria provided much needed entertainment to the young and the old for a week, beginning from 27th July to 5th August. Placed right next to the University, most people flocked to the fair 2-3 times. A complete road was blocked and re-routed, giving the entire neighbourhood a festive atmosphere (not to mention the blissful "unzz - unzz" music at night).

I went to such a fair after a long long time with my neighbor and constant buddy these days. We both felt like kids and were super excited, baring our teeth constantly. Each ride was 3 euro and I wanted to try at least one super crazy ride which would shake me up completely.

While my friend kept throwing worried glances at me, with a plastic bag ready for some immediate throw up incidents, I bravely ventured into the twisting and twirling ride where it seemed incredible that people were actually sitting inside of the complex machine(No! no! no comparison with the mega rides in super theme parks I am sure. I just haven't been to any such places.) To my own relief, I came out in one piece still all teeth baring. It was heel fun! :)

Good times!
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