Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Right here. Right now

In my n-th attempt of getting better at writing, I decide to write whats going on right now in my life, all the new experiences and the joys and sorrows that lie ahead in the near future. I think this is the best topic to write about when you feel the need to write something and can't think of anything interesting -- writing about yourself. Its so easy to ramble know, about yourself.

So the past couple of months has been both good and bad. Good in the sense that I got to spend priceless time with my father-in-law to-be (and I'm not saying this for extra brownie points)and got to visit Switzerland along with him and my fiance. The country is beautiful and just like how I'd imagined it when I was a little girl. Gorgeous landscapes, clear blue Rhein river, delicious chocolates and trains that truly define luxury. Its expensive all right but totally worth every penny. I got a chance to sit and discuss those little nothings with my father-in-law and Fiance. He cooked some delicious homemade food for me and taught me some new and easy recipes. His functioning in the house was brilliant. I silently learnt a thing or two from him.
The sad part of the first half of my year was some of the disastrous exams I had. I let the Professor/ exam get the better of me. I need to mention this one aged, rotting and racist Professor who has been teaching for donkey number of years. After his biased questioning on things related and unrelated to his subject, he reluctantly gave me a passing mark. I'm still fighting to forget the dark past that's left me to a state of self-loathing. Having fought so many odds in the past (and looking into my immediate future), I'm confident to get past this and wrap-up the course as soon as possible. Like they say, after every bitter bite, there is something sweet. (I just made that up, by the way) I must, must talk about the next couple of months.
I'm getting married in October. That's right, baby! Its wedding bells for Pooja this year. Like the cliche, I've dreamt of this day since such a long time. (I'm actually ashamed to tell since when exactly) I'm kicking myself for staying away from home when there are so many wedding-y things going on there. Folks are so excited to get their only daughter married to their much loved son-in-law. I still pinch myself to check if its all a reality. Well it is and I couldn't be more happier.
So I'm getting married in my hometown which means I'm flying home soon. Unfortunately, its a good 8 week wait from now. But I think I can wait since I have so many things going on here. 3 exams and a project presentation stands in my way. I hope to conquer them all and do my parents proud before I actually see them.
There are so many things changing suddenly. Like I'm gonna be a part of two families. I have more birthdays and anniversaries to remember. I need to divide my time and attention for friends, family 1, family 2 and fiance. But the best thing is, I'm gonna get lot of gifts soon. I know, I know this sounds cheap but hey, people hardly ever surprise me with a gift. Its OK to expect something at my own wedding. After all, we're getting them all the return gifts and delicious south-Indian feast. I'm also gonna get a lot of attention and in a good way (hopefully). Being the older sibling at home, my brother always got the attention. I'm gonna live those two days to the fullest and make up for the loss. ;) And of course, I'm gonna get a gorgeous husband. Yes, we've been together for almost 3 years now and yes, we've had a long courtship and sufficient time to know each other and have date like elements in our 3 year old courtship. But this time, its permanent. He's stamped and sealed as mine. Its a good feeling, you know. ;) I'm also debating changing my name from "Pooja Shankar" to "Pooja Shankar Sharma". Or changing his to "Arjun Pooja Sharma".

I'm pretty sure I won't be blogging until the wedding is over and I'm back here.
So until I become the Missus, its Auf Wiedersehen from me.

P.S - Its an overwhelming feeling of joy and crises. Joy because I'm entering whats possibly going to be the best phase of my life. A sense of self-denial and crises because I'm so grown up and anything childish said or done is only going to be laughed at. I'm holding a permanent and an important position after all. I'm *the* WIFE.
I guess its quarter-life crises.

It should be gone before my mid-life crises kicks-in.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Ilmenau and Indian pregnancy

OK, you might judge this to be a stupid, mere observation post but it is something to think about.
Ever since I moved here, I've met two Indian families. One a slightly old mid thirties couple from Uttar Pradesh and the other younger couple from the land of five rivers.
The second couple got pregnant back in 2009 or something and delivered last year. The nice lady narrated the grievances of her what was perhaps the worst 9 months. Of course, being the (new) mother that she is, she was only happy to see a beautiful and healthy baby girl at the end. In Germany, mid-wives deliver your baby and whatever happens, until the worst they make sure you have a natural birth. The lady here, had terrible complications and had to take anesthesia due to her other ailmenrts. This apparently has adverse affects on the baby. Having stayed in the hospital from the beginning of her last trimester, she successfully gave birth to her baby whose name is in accordance with the German pronunciation and spelling-thing. I found that quite funny. It's different my name has never been pronounced correctly. You see although I'm brown and bigger than an average Chinese girl, they like to call me "Pooya". You see the "J" is interchanged with "Y" here.
Coming back to the subject, after knowing all this, it's mating season again. ;) The other couple decided to go the family way and are on their way to giving birth to their child. This time, the lady fell down and broke her knee or something. OK, I know falling has nothing to do with the cosmic co-incidence that I'm trying to show here, but everything kinda adds up you know. And now she's in the hospital, in a 'city' 20 kms away from Ilmenau and her husband asked me to go visit her sometime. He also tells me they might have to cut open to bring the baby to this world. I can only imagine the complications given that such C-sections are very rare here.

I don't know why they couldn't go to their homes in India, where their mothers, mother-in-laws, neighbours(?) would pamper them, bring them pretty gifts and take care of them. I guess a European citizenship weighs more than a seemanta
Now, there is a third Indian couple that I know are here. I hope they read this post before they do anything silly. :P

Way to go my fellow Indians!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

La belle PARIS!

Christmas of 2010 was great for me. I decided to make a weekend trip to Paris. 2 nights and 3 days.
Somethings we booked before we went there was the hotel, obviously. We booked this budget hotel near the Notre Dame cathedral called Hotel Des Boulevards here. We also booked the Eiffel tower lift service from their own website. You get to select the time you want to visit the tower; saves you a lot of time waiting in the queue.

We took the Eurolines bus from the Netherlands to Paris, cost us 40 euros each way and the bus was worse than the Volvo intercity buses in Bangalore. A slightly expensive alternative would be to go by the Thayls train from Holland or Deutsche Bahn. Of course, there are these budget airlines as well.

I should mention about the Belgium chocolate milk I had at one of our rest stops. The machine ones you get are truly amazing. For a mere 0.75cents, it's pure chocolate pleasure. It was perfect given that we were travelling in cold December.
It was 6am when we reached Paris. A chilly, windy morning and we had no place to go. One of the sad things bout these hotels are their check-in and check-out times. I don't understand why they can't let you stay when you've paid for that day. So we had no where to go to freshen up till 1pm. So we decided to get out of the station and find one of those modern WC's that we've all heard about specially in Paris. It's actually a pretty clean and big place. A good breakfast was beckoning and we decided to eat at one of the cafes in the train station. A mediocre vegetarian sandwich and a small cup of coffee kept us happy for a while. Louvre was the first thing on our list. So we went there even before it opened and took some pictures of the immaculate place. At 9am, they opened and we were one of the first people to get in, that too for free. If you're a student under 26 years, you get in for free.
We were not quite the connoisseurs but I can appreciate the art work and take interest in it. We spent close to 3-4 hours inside. Some of the paintings and sculptures were pure magic. On the other hand, the much hyped Mona Lisa was disappointing. We had to walk almost a kilometer to get to that painting within the building and what you see is a 10x12 sized painting in a bullet-proof glass, heavily guarded and heavily crowded. The lights around the painting is simply annoying. I guess the curator didn't consider the simple science of multiple reflection before installing the painting or the lights. I was just happy to see the painting after having read the Dan Brown books and hearing about it over and over again.
The Greek sculptures are a must see in the Museum.
After a tiring half-day in the Louvre, we couldn't wait to have lunch and check-in to the hotel. We did the latter first. Although the hotel is located quite close to the Notre-Dame cathedral and is well connected to the rest of the city, our rooms were quite disappointing. Clean, fresh but torn bed-covers and a small bathroom was more than welcoming after a tiring day. The staff of the hotel were quite nice to us. Just outside the hotel was a Pakistani/ Indian hotel. We knew where we would have dinner.
So the first day ended with a visit to La Chapelle , which is quite close to the main station, Gare du Nord. Loads of Indian stores, restaurants there. If you're an Indian staying away from home for a long time, you'll certainly enjoy this visit. We also had idlis and vadas at Saravana Bhavan, Paris. We also packed some pakoras and unwinded with a bottle of Merlot.

Shall write about my second day in Paris soon...

Saturday, November 20, 2010


It was finally on a Saturday morning that we decided to go to Amsterdam. I was already in Holland but in a different city. We took an early morning train to Amsterdam. (Oh, and by the way, we traveled first class ;) ) It was early November and winter had still not set in. The minute you land in Amsterdam, the first thing you notice - People! Its really crowded, people visit Amsterdam mostly as Tourists. An early morning ride had gotten us all hungry, so we decided to stop for breakfast before we begin exploring the Dutch capital. Since we were vegetarians, it was hard to find a good place. After looking around for 30 mins, we decided to visit the tourist office first to get some information and possibly book tickets for museums and other attractions of the city.
After a long wait, we were finally called to the counter and the lady at the information desk told us the tickets to Anne Frank huis were sold out and gave us some details about the places we wished to visit. Not very helpful, we thought and decided to go one of the main attractions of the city. The Dam square. Its about 15 minutes walk from the Amsterdam Centraal Station to Dam square. On our way we decided to stop for breakfast and convert some currency we had. Stopping for currency was the best thing we did. This place called GMX traveller, on the main road does currency exchange and sells tickets at discounted prices. They also give away free maps of the city. It is otherwise 2.50 euros at the information office. We decided to book tickets to Madame Tussaud's and the canal cruise. The tickets to Madame Tussaud's worked out to 16 euros/ person and the canal cruise was 7 euros/ person by one of the famous cruise company, the Holland International. We collected our tickets and decided to visit Madame Tussaud's first. This ticket we got for 16 euros has some time constraints. You could visit within 12pm or after 4pm. So went in there around 11 and as soon as you enter, they make you stand next to Obama's wax model and take a picture, which you can buy later for 10 euros, I think. And then we were on our way to see the wax models. There is a brief history to the place and beautiful wax models depicting it. After a certain point, there are two ways you could take, one is the scarier place which apparently has 'live' pirates trying to scare you and the other, the normal way to see the rest of the stuff inside. Having seen other scary house kind of stuff, we decided to take the normal way. The usual pop artists like Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Victoria Beckham and the likes were all there. But the best ones for me were George Clooney, Johnny Deep and the wax model of Albert Einstein. They were all really nice. On our way out, we got a wax hand done for 15 euros. It was a very nice and slightly painful experience.

Next stop was lunch in of the döner places. I think it's the best and cheapest option for a vegetarian. We also tried some 'frites' with mayo.
After lunch, we went to the canal cruise. This was actually a little disappointing. The company, Holland International has these huge boats which can seat up to 50 people,with tables for 4. So we ended up sitting with a couple and that too, against the direction of motion. It was quite annoying. They play an audio recording as we pass by about the history of the canals and various other places in 3-4 different languages. I remember it to be Dutch, English, German and French. Apart from the bad seats, we quite enjoyed the ride. There were boat houses which were permanent houses of people. Many canals were almost a 100-200 years old. The houses in Amsterdam or any other Dutch city are built beautifully with small but many windows, pretty drapes and small flowering plants.
After this we decided to walk to Anne Frank huis to see if we could buy a ticket there but there was a huge queue of people waiting to get inside. We thought of dropping it for this time. On our way back to Dam square, we stopped by to have a nice cup of coffee in one of those street cafes. It was really nice to sit outside, looking at the passersby, drinking coffee and thinking of the good times :-)
We also stopped at one of the souvenirs shop and bought a few things for family and friends back home.
As we were walking by and decided to take a little detour to explore more than just dam square, we ended up at the Red light district. There is a board written saying no photography allowed and that is when it occurred to us that we were already in the place.
Although, this place is very safe, looking at the girls dressed in bikini by the windows made me sad. It was so demeaning. The girls were trying to attract customers by doing a little act. Every girl there must have had a story behind before they landed there.
It was almost 8pm and time to return when we saw many 'coffee shops'. Having read and heard about them, we thought of going inside to see how life is like there. I was surprised to see so many Indians buy the stuff in bulk. Thankfully, this place was also selling milk shakes and coffee, we bought a coffee from there and quickly made our way out.
The whole day was well spent and the experience enough to last a life time.

Amsterdam, where drugs is legal, prostitution is legal and such huge floating population and many industries, it's unbelievably clean and surprisingly safe. Although, it is advised that certain localities must be avoided after it gets dark.

Some notes:

-> If you've never been to any of the Madame Tussaud's, do make a visit. 16 euros is totally worth it.

-> If this is the only time you plan to visit Madame Tussaud's/ Amsterdam, get one of those wax hand thing done. 15 euros sounds expensive, yeah, but its totally worth it.

-> Never make any conversation with a stranger, they usually give you the information you asked for and then ask you for money.

-> If you feel adventurous, you could try (and I know most people go there for) some pot. Apparently, they have really mild stuff for beginners and stuff that can be a delicious snack, a Muffin.

-> It's always a good idea to book tickets to places like Anne Frank huis/ Madame Tussaud's or Canal cruise. Do so in of the currency exchange places. They usually have good offers if you buy all the tickets in one place.

-> "Moeven Pick" is one of the hotels I recommend for medium-high budget bag-packers.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Do you really want to buy fur?

It can't get more cruel. Please say NO TO FUR!