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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!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseni

Undoubtedly one of the best books I have read in a long long time. Narrated in simple language, the book revolves around the life of two Afghani women and their fight for life's fundamental issues.

The story's background begins even before the days of the Soviet war in Afghanistan when the Mujahideen is seen as a nationalistic group, out there to oust the foreign enemies, to the rise of the Talibans and finally to the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and the current coalition government. The story feeds at periodic intervals, the troubled history of the country and the injustices of war - the people killied, the families torn apart and most of all the apathy of the women in their country.

Amidst all this are two women - Mariam, to whom the only thing life has ever taught is to endure and Laila who's surprisingly liberal family and childhood love have all been nurtured to only be crushed brutally. How the two disparate women's life intermingle and how together they win over their circumstances in life is put in such explicit and sometimes heart breaking detail that you almost pray for them towards the end.

All I can say is that I feel blessed after reading this book. I am so lucky to be me. To think that such stories are a reality in some part of the world, put a few things in perspective to me.

A must read for every woman and more so for a man.
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