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Sunday, April 26, 2009

America murdabad?

I was recently at a friend's place for dinner and we ended up discussing politics, religion and conspiracy theories till 3 in the morning. The topic mainly revolved around the United States. I have heard lot of Indians complain about the Americans and their attitude, the Muslims of course have their own reasons, but what came as a complete surprise to me was that how Europeans absolutely hate the Americans too! The Americans here are seen as the fat, rich, arrogant and stupid (of,course after Bush, one can see that coming). I never ever expected the Europeans to hate them, to the extent that they can tolerate anybody but the Americans.

For the Dutch people though, the Americans being fat is the most amusing point of discussion. The bread eating, ultra diet conscious countrymen seem to be absolutely bewildered as to how everybody in the US eats so much. Right from the size of the Starbucks' 'Tall' (which is actually their small size) coffee to the number of fast food joints that they have, they just don't understand how someone can eat such things. The normal Dutch coffee cup size is about 1/4th the 'Tall' Starbucks coffee and an average lunch consists of 2 small sandwiches and thats it!

For the rest, its about anything and everything about the US that they can't tolerate - their culture, their materialism, their lack of family values and so on. An Italian friend of mine gave me a conspiracy theory for almost every single bad thing happening around the US and the vehemence with which he refused to accept anything else was extremely surprising to me. He even gave me a theory of Osama Bin Laden being a fictional character!!!But there were so many questions that he asked me which I just couldn't answer either, in support of the US.

I always assumed that the US was looked at as the ultimate powers and especially in the Europe I expected a different reaction. People here don't even want to go the US! hmmm...these are probably recent developments, with the unpopular image created by the Bush government and the depression looming everywhere.

Well, to me what I really don't like is the double standards that the Americans take. If they are fighting for the lives of alive Americans by killing innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan, what do they mean by "war against terror" and who exactly are the terrorists here? Why can't there be a "war against the terror of AIDS or HUNGER"? After all, these still are the biggest killers! If they solve some of these problems, why would there be terrorists anymore? Sigh! I know the solution is not as easy as that.Or perhaps it is!

I sometimes feel that these few years are perhaps the most important historic moments of my lifetime. I watched the American elections much closely than the Indian. I cheered for Obama and I have high hopes on him. I hope the depression in some sense gives the economies a chance to reset their strategies and start afresh.

On the bright side, everybody seems to love Canada!! :D. Being normal and nice does pay off. haha!

Twilight, New Moon - Stephenie Meyer

God, when will I get over such books! I simply loooove fantasy books, to the extent that I sometimes wish I lived in that world! haha! These books are definitely not comparable to the Harry Potter series, but nevertheless, such a wonderful page turner. I devour such books in 2-3 days..:)..The story is so elegantly simple. It revolves around two young people madly in love with each other. There is only one glitch! one of them is a vampire! This is where the narration skills of the author come into play. The whole book (especially the first one - Twilight) is all about conversations between Bella and Edward - and the author so beautifully builds it up on that. The chemistry between them is magical!

I still have two more in the series to go. Hope they maintain the tempo. I keep telling myself that I should not spend so much time reading such books..hey what the heck! everybody has some weaknesses! ;)

Go for it fantasy lovers! :D

Death in the Clouds - Agatha Cristie

As ever, Agatha Cristie's books have such thrilling story lines that keeps you guessing till the end. I used to LOVE her work as a teenager and have read most of her books. This one is about a murder committed in a plane. I realized though that I actually got a little smarter, I could make a few reasonable guesses of the murderer. :)

A murder mystery, how it is supposed to be!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lipstick Jungle - Candace Bushnell

From the author of the novel turned popular TV show - Sex and the City, the book failed to deliver anything to me. So if you are a rich, driven and smart woman you can do anything (ya, you no longer need to be a man to do crazy stuff)! The book is about 3 successful career driven woman and how they win in their lives. It seemed all to predictable and boring frankly. Some sort of continuation of Sex and the city.


The Mistress of Spices - Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni

Aaaagh! what was the author thinking? I love fantasy books! I can delve in fantasy lands. But this one was too much even for me. I will absolutely not see the movie made out of it (appreciate the sheer guts of the producer!). A woman with magical powers that give her control over the spices!An American falls in love with her! End of story! who cares!

If there is no other book left in the world read it!

The Death of Vishnu - Manil Suri

The Eindhoven library has very limited English books.This was one of the first books I read after coming here. It basically reminded me of a Tamil classic movie - "Edirneechal". The book is surprisingly well written and depicts realistic characters. Mixed with sad and happy stories, it portrays the life (actually the death!) of an ordinary Indian man and the bizzare situations surrounding him.

The book revolves around the life inside a flat in India, from their daily "khitpits" to steamy love affairs between neighbors and how Vishnu fits into it all.

Good read!

Friday, April 17, 2009


Its funny sometimes how everything can go wrong in a day! So for my first official trip in the Netherlands I decided to go out with a group of Indians, half of whom I knew, to some kind of a theme park. Now,all the decisions were made by the other guys and I assumed since they had been living here for about 2 years, they would know what the plan was and where we were heading. haha..nice try!

To begin with it was a rainy and cold day! After traveling for about 21/2 hrs we ended up going to a "kids" theme park (Koningin park) where the seats to the rides wouldn't even fit teenagers. It was strictly a theme park for '10 years and younger' kids. Everything was miniature and I felt like the giant in "gullivar tarvels".God, was it stupid! The kids were literally staring at us. And as if that wasn't enough one of my friends screamed on top of her voice and literally freaked out when we went on the 'miniature' roller coaster. :D...the whole situation finally cracked me up!! Not knowing what else to do and almost every single one of us equipped with some sort of a camera, there was a huge picture taking session of everything! I attacked the free coffee machine there with vengeance and tried to drink as many coffees as possible to compensate for the ticket...sigh! At least I had packed my lunch!

We just couldn't stay there for more than 2 hours( including several several several photo sessions). Then a guy suggested that we go to this place famous for its windmills called Volendam. We had a ticket for unlimited travel around the Netherlands by train that day. After another loong loong journey and after getting lost several times, we reached this place in the middle of nowhere. We ended up in a completely wrong place and there were absolutely no windmills there!! grrr..By this time I was half considering going back to Eindhoven on my own.We roamed around aimlessly, ate some food that we bought off the supermarket by the side of the ocean. What next? Another photo session. I did some local shop hopping...and it was time to go again...

Next we went to was late in the evening...Amsterdam on that day was so packed! It reminded me of T.Nagar in Chennai (a super crowded shopping area). There was a football match between Scotland and the Netherlands..The streets were brimming with men in orange and skirts, drinking beer. There was such merriment everywhere around. I actually liked the last part the best..:)..We decided that since everything that day had gone so wonderfully well, we should celebrate by going to an Indian restaurant - Gandhi. My first visit to a restaurant in the Netherlands. The food was actually much cheaper than in Eindhoven. I don't know if it was because I was so exhausted but the food tasted awesome! We got back into the train to Eindhoven. Actually everybody seemed to be in their highest spirits while going back. We played cards all the while. phew! what a day! Oh, did I mention I had motion sickness all the while we were traveling (which was about the entire trip), a guy lost his mobile phone on the way and I didn't gel into the group at all. Well that should sum up the trip. :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cartoon Time...

Mark, my colleague Giorgia's friend is an awesome cartoonist. This is what he drew of me, Nicolas - the brainy guy and Damian sipping his mate (Argentinian tea)..:)

and it grew into this -

The green one on the right is my work..:)

Usage of office whiteboards in interesting ways...:)
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