Search this blog and beyond

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Carnaval in Maastricht

With snow falling almost the entire day we braved our way to Maastricht on Sunday to watch the Carnival parade. We saw 0 people dressed up as we marched our way to the Eindhoven station. I almost thought perhaps they had canceled the whole thing. Getting into the train leaving to Maastricht, we were all slightly relieved that our 'costume efforts' had not been a complete waste.

The entire train load that got off in Maastricht was probably walking towards the parade. I actually spotted some other friends and colleagues from Eindhoven. The whole city was in such festive mood. What I truly love about the carnival is that its not a festival for a category of people. Young and old, everybody is on the streets celebrating wearing some crazy costume. A lot of people do take it rather seriously and the dressing is elaborate. The city looked like an animation movie with all characters ever created running wild!

We were extremely cold in a few hour's time. As the snow fell continuously, my feet and hands went numb. The parade showed no signs of stopping so we decided to move on.

Interestingly, the names of the cities are changed for 3 days before the Ash Wednesday. The name given to Eindhoven is Lampegat which means a Lamp hole from Philips' association with Eindhoven. I found it rather funny actually to name a city Lamphole...:)

Picture Courtesy - Vinaya Sekar, Abhinav Rohit

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dutchiness part 2: Carnival

Vastenavond or Carnival is almost on us. It is hard to believe that it has been over a year since I lived in the Netherlands, for it was among my first posts on my life here (link). Carnival is a celebration of indulgence and merriment before the fasting period begins. Seven weeks before Easter, the weekend before the Ash Wednesday, begin the festivities or rather the craziness. The name Carnival is derived from 'Carne' or meat which the Christians give up during the fasting period. In the Netherlands, Carnival is celebrated mostly in the Catholic prominent southern provinces - Noord Brabant and Limburg.

Okie, enough with the history of it, the Carnival as I understand is about getting as crazy as possible. On Sunday, the mayor of the city passes the keys of the city to the fake Prince or the jester in charge of the hullabaloo. From Sunday to Tuesday is the parade consisting of really fancy and weird large shaped floats, people dressed in the strangest of costumes (everybody is dressed up, if you don't then you must be a foreigner for sure!), the thumping oomph- oomph music and humongous amounts of beer everywhere on the streets. The all but deserted places in the bitter winter become suddenly warm and crowded over the weekend. A one week holiday for the students, a lot of the university crowd goes 'bar trekking'as they call it, skipping from one bar to another all night.

Breda, Maastricht and 's Hertogenbosch have the most elaborate celebrations. Last year I went to the one in Eindhoven. A large group of us are planning to go to Maastricht tomorrow to catch in on this year's parade. A much needed change to the cold weather here. More pictures and details later. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

And I love Chennai...

I just cannot continue with my other posts without completing my India series..

Home is where the heart is and no matter where it is and how it is, there is something that draws you towards home. Well, these are a few of my favorite things...

1. Filter coffee: I know how picky everybody is about coffee, but I have almost quit coffee since I left Chennai. It has to be this good else no thank you! :) Served traditionally in a steel 'tumbler' and a 'dabara' bottom.

2. Tender coconut: You get this about everywhere in south India. The refreshing sweet water in a tender coconut makes it a health and useful drink in summer (which is what Chennai weather consists of all year! :))

3. Food: A traditional meal on the banana leaf to its modern version on plate, I love them all. This could be a typical lunch or dinner. Our breakfast is only slightly less complicated!

4. Mehendi: Ok I cheated, this is typically not from Chennai, but I still get the henna tattoo done every time I am there. I did this design on a friend's palm.

5. Knick- knack shopping: The perfect place to shop those tiny things you always wanted but could never find. Ah! the joy of shopping on small alleys and the art of bargaining (or the lack there of :)).

6. Movies: There are more movies released in India per year than in the rest of the world. Oh no! I am not even trying to compare their qualities, but we Indians loove to watch movies. Chennai has several multiplexes and theaters for such crazy people. I watched this amazing movie called "3-Idiots" this time with 9 of my family members.

7. Marina beach: One of the best places to hang out in Chennai for free. Preferably in the mornings, to watch the glorious sun rise before the city awakes. This place has just so many memories.

8. Nature: The Vedanthangal bird sanctuary is a much needed breather. About two hours from our home you reach this wonderful gift of nature where birds from all over the world migrate to, during the winter.

9. Silk sarees: These drape around piece of cloth is among the most prestigious possessions of a women. The grand onces are worn for special occasions, but simple ones are worn everyday. You must try wearing one! They are one of the most elegant pieces of garment for a women.


10. More elephants: I just love them..:)

Picture Courtesy:

Bandipur to Mysore

Continuing on my vacation in India, from the serene Bandipur forest lodge, we moved on to Mysore for 3 days. We visited sooo many places in this wonderful city that I am just going to pick the pictures that I loved the best from every place.

Nanjundeshwar temple

Brindavan Gardens

Chamundeshwari temple

Nandi: the bull

The Mysore zoo: two of my favorite animals :)

Mysore Palace: one of the most famous tourist spots

St Philomena's Church

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

Tipu Sultan, one of south India's famous and powerful emperors; his summer palace

Gumbaz, the tomb of Tipu Sultan

Sangama - meeting of 3 rivers: Kapila, Kabini & Kaveri

The city had such variety to offer in terms of food, places to visit, shopping, and what is best is that the cost of living here is much lesser than the metropolitan cities. Mysore, a good trip.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bandipur forest - a relaxing getaway

After quite a few years, on my trip to India, my parents took off on a vacation with me. We had forgotten how good it can be. The first stop was in the state of Karnataka at the Bandipur National Park. A two hour car ride from Mysore, takes you to the Bandipur Safari Lodge which offers package tours for one day to a week.

The lodge we stayed in, the hill on the backdrop we scaled the next day

The lodge was a place of complete serenity. It felt like time had stopped while I was there. We were completely relaxed. Have you ever felt that silence is simply beautiful? With only the birds chirping, it was hard to believe such places existed. Unlimited chai, no TV/internet, just nature and wilderness around. Bliss!

Some of the animals we saw in the forest

As we went on the safari trip we saw quite a few animals. The guide explained how we were a little off season and may not see the big cats. But we got lucky. A long shot of a leopard below. As it turns out, the wildest of animals run seeing/hearing the slightest hint of human activity.

The elusive leopard

Can you see it? Every single person at the lodge had a look at this shot. My father who took it was ecstatic..:) The next day morning we went on a 8km hike up a small hill just in front of the lodge. There were pug marks everywhere!

Pug marks

Well, we were mostly supposed to see elephants around the hill, but ended up seeing plenty of elephant dung..:D. The guide sniffed and prodded the dung to check the elephants' trail but to no avail. We could hear them from time to time but never could spot the big beasts. At the top we could see the border point of 3 states - Tamil Nadu (where I am from), Kerala and Karnataka (where we were).

Connecting 3 states:Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala

Completely rejuvenated, we did not want to leave. But leave we did, to see further.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Award Time!

I came back last week from India and am still reeling with the 30 deg change in temperature, an exam and periodic confusions over whether to ride the bike towards the right lane or left lane (India follows the British way). Well what better way to be surprised than a blog award. Not one but two them!! :)

The first one is the Beautiful Blogger award given to me by Isabella from A Touch of Dutch an American expat giving valuable advice on just about everything important. Oh, you must check her photography!, Sandra from Presepio com Vista para o Canal, a Portuguese expat whose exotic blog crosses barriers of language and Lopa from Life as it goes on...a fellow Indian blogger in the Netherlands, who in the recent past has turned into a buddy of sorts..:). Thanks a lot girls! It means so much for me to receive these awards.

As per the rules here goes a list of the 7 beautiful things around me:

1. My friends! Thanks for just being there.
2. Supervisors. Believe me when I say they make your life at least 100% better..:)
3. The Netherlands. Travel, nature, people, culture...Sooper!
4. My royal stooge - my bike. It takes me everywhere even in the darn snow. I must oil the beauty this weekend as a surprise!
5. At this moment, my Dutch teacher who let me write the exam today as I misses it while in India. I passed!
6. Free time - I have done atleast 5 new things in the past year. Things I wanted to do for a long long time.
7. Blogging! Am loving it...:)

Most bloggers I read have already received this award, hence I pass it on to one othe - Efrutik at Psss It's Efrutik's world! a relatively new blogger with great posts on her blog.

The second award, Just Read it, I received was from Presepio com Vista para o Canal. Thank you again Sandra!

Many many thanks to Isabella, Sandra and Lopa once again.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...