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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Space Box , Eindhoven First impressions

So, here I am living a completely new life, in a different country, in a different continent for that matter. So, after living all my life in India and about 2 and a half years in Canada, I am here now in the Netherlands since 2nd January 2009. I am doing my post Master's in the department of Applied Physics at the Eindhoven University of Technology.

I live in these small container like apartments called the Space Box within the campus. I like them, no matter what other people say or think, I feel they are quite convenient for me. The kitchen is a little small, but for the amount of cooking I do, I think it is more than enough!!:)...It is a completely furnished apartment.

Well, my first impression of Eindhoven was pretty good. People are friendly and most of them can speak in English. They are helpful and polite. The Indian population is pretty less when compared to N.America, at least in Eindhoven. I lived at the Hotel Corso for the first 2 days. The hotel is decent, but they charge 50Euro per day and is definitely not worth the money.But hey, I din't pay for it, so....

Couple of things that immediately struck me here was that the hotels and houses have extremely narrow staircases..its as though they want you to fall!! I found it extremely unusual. Talking about unusual, the Dutch toilets are pretty odd too...God only knows why they have this weirdly designed toilet bowls which forces one to see what they most certainly don't want to. Some people suggest it is this strong intention that the Dutch have to keep the land above water at all times....!!! I found it rather amusing actually!! :D

I came to the Netherlands on a Friday and so when Sunday arrived, I suddenly felt like the whole city of Eindhoven had gone to hibernate! It was completely dead. All shops, almost everything is closed on Sundays.

I moved to the on-campus space box on Monday. It had snowed like crazy Sunday night! I heard this has been one of the worst winters in decades. hmmm...when I went to Vancouver in 2006, they told me the same thing!! I wonder if it is me!Well, Anyways....New life, here I come!! :D

My Orange Journey - Path Untaken

Monday, February 9, 2009

My Plant

I am trying to grow a plant from scratch - Seaberry bonsai...After planting the seeds for a month and letting it grow in cold and warm conditions alternatively, two cutey pies have come still thinking of a name to give...:D..

I tried growing a plant earlier but nothing came out..:( was pretty worried that almost a month had gone by...and on Sunday and Monday they showed up...Welcome to Planet Earth!! :DD

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Journey 2 - Mumbai and back

I have some kind of magnet attached to me as far as kids are concerned. I just get extremely attached to kids and they to me, not particularly the new born babies but the kids that want to be listened to and run around with. My cousin's kids Keetu kutty and Raghav at my Attai's place were no exception. When Raghav was a small baby I had visited my attai's place. I can never forget that trip for Raghav was such a cuttteyy and I had an awesome time. But Raghav has grown into a small boy now and he is a pretty quite and reserved guy. In the end though I managed to engage both of them. They were such delight to be with. Well what did I enjoy the most in Pune? The chat center of course!! The awesome paani poories and the huge varieties of other snacks that I digged into like a pig literally...:D

The next day I got up early morning and left to Mumbai in a car. Now the driver to White Indica that I was in was an awesome guy called Yogesh. The sensible, smart and friendly driver. He was sensitive enough to increase the heating seeing me cough and sniff around. :)...We reached Mumbai in good time and met Joglekar Uncle, my dad's colleague. Now my dad had requested him to spend the day with me until I stepped into the train leaving to Chennai. Mumbai is an awesome city. I just loved what I saw, for the brief time that I was there. It has that ancient feeling, with old and new building interwoven so beautifully. The city exuded a culture of its own, fast paced, brisk and full of energy and you could see it in the attitudes of the people you meet. There was definitely an air of superiority and class. My Dutch embassy work was over in no time and the three of us, me Joglekar Uncle and Yogesh uncle decided to go to the Elephanata caves to while away some time. We walked by some of the places that the terrorists had invaded so mercilessly. It was just amazing to watch all these places teeming with people as if nothing ever happened there especially the Leopold cafe was filled to its brim with people, mostly foreigners. We had to board some kind of a boat to the caves right in front of the Hotel Taj which was one of the targeted spots as well. Man, I have to say I was hugely disappointed with the kind of security arrangement made there. We had to walk through some kind of a metallic detector with a police officer sitting in front of it totally unconcerned with the whole business. There were loose boundaries set to make everybody walk through the detector but more than half just stepped over it and walked!! :|..I am not even going to elaborate anything on that..I would only be surprised if I saw something different...

Well, the funny thing about the visit to the Elephanta caves was that we went there knowing very clearly that the caves were closed that day!!! haha...when I think of it, it is completely hilarious. We went all the way to the caves, just to spend some time on the boat. The harbor view of the city was normal, nothing that excited me truthfully speaking. But life always has its small gifts that keeps coming to you in least expected packages. I never ever imagined that I would talk to two men, with whom I don't really even have anything in common, and not just talk but totally get into a 'gapshap' as though we were old friends. I was pretty surprised to see Joglekar Uncle and Yogesh Uncle behave absolutely as equals. They were pulling each other's legs and cracking jokes. Nothing would have given away that one was a driver and the other a manager of a automobile based company, even the way they dressed. It was refreshing to watch this social setup which I thought dint exist in India. We talked long and deep about the Mumbai situation ofcourse...there was anger, hopelessness. Not one person I spoke to even expected the government to do something. People have literally given up on the government. But it wasnt that their spirits were low. They knew that we would get by, with some collective hopes. Mostly people felt that they should be more careful.

Hmmm...nobody would have spent so much time sitting outside the closed doors of the Elephanta caves. The view was quite nice..:D...After trekking the short way upto the caves we sat down for a while and I decided to go further up see a canon established way back when the British governed the land, not that it sounded extremely fascinating but I dint have anything else to do. I love to explore small things on my own. It was about a 20 - 30 minute hike further and I slowly walked my way through the surprisingly lonely route. Half way up I noticed a small bench and a very ancient looking woman wearing some kind of tribal costume. She looked at me and said I looked very tired and that I should sit down at the bench for a little while. I was going to anyway. She had this authoritative way about her and she was explaining the significance of the place. And in my super fantasy filled mind I was thinking if she was some kind of magical person who had traveled back in time ( now, I know that was too much...:D). The story was building up quickly in my mind. As I got up to leave she suddenly got up too and put her hands forward and for a second I dint get it, and then I realized she was asking for money, begging! I told myself "you and your super imagination!!". I gave her Rs 10 and left laughing at myself.

With a bit of huff and puff I reached to the canon. It was this completely dilapidated piece of metal. But it was huge. I could walk all over it. Realized my stupidity of walking on a terribly rusted piece of metal after it made some weird sounds and jumped down quickly. There were some sort of passages that lead further inside, underground. I thought about walking in but in the completely isolated place with god knows - snakes, insects and other creatures, I decided against it. Sometimes when I visit some places I don't know for some reason it makes an impact on me. I have noticed this with me, it need not be the most beautiful looking place or the most popular place. For instance, even though several people will think I am some sort of weirdo, but the Niagara falls din't make such a huge impact on me..:(..It was such a let down, perhaps my expectations were too high. Similarly the Lake Louise din't have such an amazing impact on me. But the Sulphur mountains did(Banff and Jasper Trip in Alberta/Canada). I can still remember visting, the Taj Mahal. I was in 7th Std, but I still remember that feeling of awe when I saw it. I was just overwhelmed and I had goosebumps all over. It was an amazing feeling. I always make a mental snapshot of these places. I don't know, probably the oddity of the situation or the symbolic beginning of a new life in Netherlands or perhaps the comedy of being there with the least expected people. The canon left some impression on me.

As I walked back, there was this white butterfly flying around near the bushes. Half way through it disappeared. In my heart I wanted to see it one more time, I dont know why. I was almost back to the caves and I had given up on seeing the butterfly again, laughing at my own silliness. Towards the absolute end, as though for my consolation, I did see a butterfly, this one was yellow in color though. :D..haha....

We walked our way back. It was almost evening and we reached the city by boat again. They dropped me at the station and I walked to inquire about my ticket. I had plenty of time, and I decided to go to a nearby restaurant and get something to eat before boarding the train. It was a South Indian restaurant (I had had enough of chat stuff, I wanted some traditional food). The place was super crowded, so I had to share a seat at somebody else's table. I got talking to the guy sitting there, Vimal, who was going to Chennai too, boarding the same train as me! The guy was so nice, he actually even paid for the food I ate!!! He told me about his family, wife, and especially about his mother who had passed away recently. " Not even God is as great as one's mother". We even went to a temple just outside the station and just as we came back, the train arrived. We were sitting way apart, me on my Sleeper class compartment and he in his AC compartment. He did come to my compartment a couple of times during the journey but the whole place was so crowded and I really din't really know what to say to him after a while...but I will remember him...

As I was waiting for the train to leave, there was this young boy who had come with his grandma. He was a Kannadiga born and raised in Mumbai. He had come to send of his granny. He looked like a creep to me for a few minutes (God! me and my first judgements, I am always wrong!!), but as he started talking to me he was really nice! I was beginning to feel rather sick by that time, the cold, my itchy eyes and everything together were beginning to make me feel rather feverish. The boy was so nice!! he asked me if I wasnt feeling well and asked me if I wanted him to buy any medicines for me! The cutest thing about him was that he had difficulty speaking to me in English, so I tried speaking to him in Hindi. Nope! that just wasnt good enough, he chose to speak in his broken English continuously...:)..the train was about to leave we wished each other good luck!! As the train picked up speed, I couldnt help but think of this song - " Ey dil hai mushkil hai jeena yahaan, zaraa hatke, zara bachke ye hai Mumbai meri jaan".

On my trip back, there were so many people who were nice to me, shy girls, bold aunties shared food with me and inquired if I was feeling sick, I just couldnt help feeling better...:)...India may be a grimy, overpopulated and sometimes a rather nauseating country but the people are simply amazing and I love her with all my heart!! ...:)
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