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Sunday, March 22, 2009


I like the Netherlands for several reasons but one of them is that the whole country is bike crazy. The number of bikes or bicycles i the country exceeds the population! Most people have 2 of them, one for work and one for ordinary chores. It makes you so mobile. I have hardly used the bus here since I came 2-3 months back. It is perhaps because the land is so flat here all throughout the country that the bikes are so popular. But what is really great is they have these separate red colored lanes everywhere for the cyclists to ride uninterpreted by the regular traffic on the streets. Its such a pleasure to ride the bike then.

The traffic rules can be rather confusing here as there are separate signs and signals for regular vehicles, pedestrians and for bikes. And the cyclists have the right of way almost all the time. But pedestrians beware! Just because it is a bike lane does not mean one can freely walk on it. These people ride really fast (most of them with their hands off the handle bar ) and they can silently come for behind and knock you down! I once had that misfortune! (Though in my case I knocked someone down..:D) The scary part for me though is this scooter that whooshes down these lanes at top speed and with a deafening noise! eeks! But rain or shine, wind or snow, the Dutch people determinedly use their bikes non stop.

Aah! the biggest peculiarity (there is always atleast one :) ) is that the typical Dutch bike does not have hand breaks, one has to reverse pedal to stop. This took me quite a while to get adjusted to. I would jump off every time I had to stop...:D (Another reason why the mishap happened! ). Now I am doing better though!

I could imagine the love the Dutch people have for bikes when my supervisor told me that he and his wife would take up tours on their vacation in which one had to ride from one spot to the other all day! He said they covered 50-60km everyday by their bikes!! Wooow!!! I don't know if I would do that on my vacation...:D

Though I do ride around the city when the weather is nice. It is indeed such a pleasure!

This is perhaps the landmark symbol of the city of Eindhoven - Bowling pins -

These two are pictures of the University at the entrance -

De Zwarte Doos or " The balck box", a popular restaurant, theater and conference hall at the TU/e-

A peculiar site to anybody who enters the University, they are solar cells and the energy created should be enough to levitate a Buddha statue in the tube placed at the center, but apparently it din't work ( turned out to be big joke, ours being a Technical University and all that..:)) -

The Dutch IND office where I got my Residence card, called the "Hooghuis" -

A lake close to the campus - Karpendonkse Pas -

My beautiful bike:)(this is actually the department's bike. Will be getting my own soon) -

Monday, March 16, 2009


I had desperately looked for any Indian Association that existed in the city of Eindhoven and found essentially only one - The Indo-Dutch Association. I had mailed them a long time back and had not received any response at that point. But they did put me in their list and invited me for their Holi celebrations.

It was a potluck event with havan, gana bajana, food and of course colors. Now I am not sure if they are psychic but they seemed to know about my cooking skills and had asked me to bring juice...:D

The event was at a Shiva temple and it felt quite good to attend a havan after a looong time. I sang all the bhajans that I knew and din't loudly and crooned cheerfully...It was a gathering of about 10 - 15 families. Now, I must say North Indians know how to celebrate in style. After the havan they made sure "Everybody" danced to the Amitabh wala "Rang Barse" song. It was real fun!

I was waiting like crazy for the food part. I literally ate like a pig. I was not even shy to ask if I could have a second serving and a third and actually even a fourth!!! hahah!! some of the people must have thought I was starving or something...hehe...

We made good friends with lot of families and some have promised to call us home for lunch/dinner ( I most certainly hope that they do!!). We had biked almost half hour (plus 15 mts of being lost). Riding back home fully covered in colors in the middle of the night, it was hillarious to watch the expression on some of the Dutch guys riding along side...:D...

That I almost had a nightmare cleaning up all the mess that the colors made in my home, is another story.

My sister always kids me saying how I seem to have a very good memory remembering the food that I had eaten at various events even if I cant remember absolutely any thing else!! Well, this will definitely be one of those events!! :DDD

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Potluck at Anna's

There is an Introduction day for international employees. It was day long workshop and was quite nice and fun. But I honestly did not think I would end up making any friends out of it. haha!! boy was I wrong! I think I formed most of my friends here so far out of that single day workshop!

Four of us girls out of that group are also Pilates buddies and one of them organized a Potluck at her house (Anna and Ivan). It was awesome! I had made vermicelli kheer (Thank God it turned out decently well!). Initially I felt a bit odd, but after food everybody was goofy enough and we had complete fun at all our guessing games!! It was gezellig! Gezellig is one of the typical dutch words to describe something pleasant and comfortable. :). Thanks Anna!

Fighting Loneliness

I decided to do something before I turn crazy. Thank God for for small favors!! The sports center is 5 mts from my home. Ahem!! and my ambitious schedule -

Monday - Badminton class
Tuesday - Pilates
Wednesday - Swimming class
Thursday - Badminton
Friday - Gym
Sat/Sun - Biking

Well, as ever, I am good at planning lets see how far I stick to this plan. So far I manage to do 3-4 of these things every week. And I must say, man! the days I feel a little low, it feels pretty good after working out a bit. Swimming classes are almost a rewind of my swimming classes as a kid. The entire group that started with me (and after) can actually swim now! I am still stuck with the float!! :D..But I am like hey! whatever! whenever my body gets comfortable with the water. No pressures!!

Badminton classes are awesome!am actually learning to improve my game and the Pilates classes are stretching me out in places where I din't even know you are supposed to stretch!! haha!! My muscles ache and I enter the lala land the second my head sinks into the pillow. I am finally sleeping well!! :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Water Problem in Eindhoven???

The funniest thing happened to me the very second day I started my life in the space box. I began my program in January' 09 at TU/e which happens to be a exam month here. So courses were beginning only in February. I got up leisurely in the morning and happily went to the bathroom, and I was thinking to myself, while I was brushing, Ah! the luxury of being in a country were the water comes out of the tap just so easily. I decided to keep the tap open all the while I was brushing, just out of whimsy, and there, in just in a few seconds as if to slap me back to senses, the water stopped abruptly!

It snowed the very first week I was in Eindhoven and the temperature reached its lowest ( about -10 to -15 deg C) in decades (This keeps happening to me. When I was in Vancouver for the first time, they said the same thing!). I thought there was something basic wrong! Probably I had turned off the knob of the water pipe or something. I did not have water the entire day!! About 4 plumbers came home that day and they had no idea why the water was not coming. I did more investigation of the pipes than them all!!

They actually told me that I had to find out if the the two apartments right below me had similar problems and only then could they do anything. I tried and they were empty!! So no water that night too!I actually had to borrow water from my neighbors in large dishes (I got reminded of my childhood in Chennai, we collected water in large pots and would use it more dearly than oil!). The next day they figured the pipes were frozen and they heated it and within few minutes I had water ( The funny part is the plumber who actually solved the problem did not even enter the house, the pipe connecting to the house underneath was frozen at that junction).The problem haunted me on and off for almost 2 weeks until finally they insulated the pipes better (and the temperature increased! )an so far so good!! It was almost as though nature was playing games with me...:)...

I realized how much we take things for granted! and how much such things affect my life. The first two times the problem occurred, I simply got so upset. Then I realized that I shouldn't be a slave to my circumstances! Water or no water, I have to be sensible and not act as though the world would end( Told myself the "Imagine the kids in Somalia" dialogue!!) and I survived after all!! :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009


After about a month since Block D began ( At TU/e the school year has two terms with 3 blocks each (A,B,C - Term 1 and D,E,F - Term 2), the school closes for about a week for Carnival. Not knowing much about the whole thing, a random bunch of us went to the station center to see what the whole deal was about.

Tradition has it that the Christians celebrate for the last time before they begin their fasting period. Celebrated mostly in the south of Netherlands, the Carnival has of course taken up a more modern and fun filled version. So, basically beginning from Friday to Thursday (into the carnival week, but mostly during the weekend), people dress up in all sorts of costumes and go about the city center.There is a normally a parade which is more of a family business. Literally EVERYBODY dresses up in one costume or the other and goes to see the parade. Beer is sold in plenty and people basically have a good time. We watched the parade too and we acted like typical kids when the people from the floats threw candies at us. :)

We then ate something called the Oliebollen, a Dutch delicacy, made of balls of fried dough spattered with sugar powder.

It was hot and yummy..:D..then we being we, we went to a costume shop, tried out some of them and took pictures and came out!! :D...People go to other cities during carnival to watch a bigger and better parade like in Amsterdam or in Maastricht. The adults of course have a different kind of celebration. They still have their costumes, but they go bar trekking all over the weekend. So they basically form a big group and go from bar to bar and get crazy drunk...One of my friends actually said that they went as a group of about 130 poeple!! At the end of the night there were totally random people in their group whom nobody actually knew!! haha..

It was a good day for me too. I got invited by a Polish guy I met (my friend's roommate) to some kind of international students' dinner. I did go there! it was actually cool...:)

Next year perhaps I will get an actual costume!!
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