Monday, July 18, 2011

Remembering Her...

Its been two years since she left us. Time heals all wounds it is said. Well, it is partially true. Time does heal wounds. But it leaves scars. I can still see the scars. Every time I look at my college ground, I remember the day I sat with her under the trees talking nonsense.

I would not say I remember her everyday. But I get reminded of her in flashes. Sometimes, I feel she is still around me somewhere looking over me. Every time I face problems and it gets solved quite unexpectedly, I like to imagine that it is her doing, my guardian angel.

She was an angel in real life. Ever so patient, ever so smiling, there wasn't a soul brighter than her. Perhaps, that is why she left so soon. She was too noble to be among the humans. Whatever it is, she was my confidante in college. She has left a space in my heart that would always remind me of her.

We miss you a lot, Pavithra. You will remain in our hearts forever.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Memoirs from Deutschland V

I met a person from Iran on the third day of my stay at Iran. He was a friend of my buddy. After everyone left the restaurant, he accompanied me until the station. While walking, he asked me my age. He was pretty much astonished when I said I was nineteen.

Then, he went on to tell me how much he wanted to come to Europe when he was eighteen. He had even got the admission. But his mother was adamant and did not leave him to come to Europe. He later came when he was 24 years old.

He told me his life would have been on different level if his mom had been different at that time and told me how lucky I was. I realized on my journey back to my room that he was indeed right. I was contemplating on what he said. My parents were always supportive of me. After my board exams, I said I wanted to take some off the track course and my parents readily agreed. They never insisted that I must do this course or that course. It was always my choice. Same story goes for the internship as well. I told my parents that I am applying for the internship and all they asked me was to be safe when I go there. Nothing else. Thinking about it, I realized I have been blessed with such parents. That night, I sent a silent thank you prayer to God before I went to bed.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Memoirs from Deutschland IV

Even before I left for the internship, I heard from so many people that Germans are workaholics. So my thoughts were prejudiced in that area. And what I saw there in the firs two days, them silence convinced me that my prejudices were well placed. But on the third day of my stay, my friend invited me for an outing in the evening and all my delusions about them were cleared.

My buddies took me to a Mexican restaurant. We would have reached there by six in the evening. Then, their group of friends joined us. I literally did not know anyone there. I was appalled by this thought at the beginning. But the thought lasted only for few minutes. After the introductions, it was fun through and through. They never let me feel like an outsider. I had my first cocktail that day. My buddy asked me hundreds of confirmations before he actually ordered for me one. The most remarkable of the questions was "Will you be able to look at the mirror after you have this?" I have always been up for adventures. So it was easy to decide. I was going to try it and I boldly said yes. I just had one cocktail that day while my friends had lots of them. The most astonishing thing was their steadiness. It is often depicted in Indian movies how people go flat after they drink. My buddy had three glasses of beer n a tequila shot. But he was sane still. His manners did not become burly as shown in the movies. As for myself, I did not feel any change at all. We left the restaurant at 1 in the night. The day became engraved in my memories as it was the day I had my first drink.

My prejudices about the Germans being workaholics also got cleared. Germans do work hard five days a week, but they party hard in the weekends. Weekends for Germans are very important and they really go out and enjoy life during the weekends, thus making up for the weekdays.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Memoirs from Deutschland III

If there was one thing I was uncomfortable with while in Germany, it was the silence. The silence that people maintained in trains, in offices. It was a bit unnerving.

The first night I slept in my own apartment there, I must confess I was a bit terrified. I felt the silence very unnatural. I guess I had never ever been in complete silence until then. In India, when we sleep, there is at least a fan running. There is some noise. Back in Germany, in my room, there was no fan. Well, fan did not seem necessary. The nights were chilly enough. So once things got settled down, there was complete silence. Except for the music which I used to play, there was no external noise. There were occasional sounds of footsteps outside the door in the hallway of the flat and sometimes, there might be voices. Other wise, it was dead silent.

Even the dogs seemed to know how to remain silent. My friend used to complain about this: "Here, dogs dont bark, mosquitoes dont bite and children dont cry..." Yeah, quite true. I think it was nearly a month after my stay that I heard a dog bark. I guess the dog was in a ecstatic mood as it was putting its head out of a big speeding truck. The simple sight made me happier.

I used to travel in train daily to reach my university office. I was completely offed by the silence I saw in the train. I guess perhaps they should take out a leaf or two from the Indian Transportation systems on human behaviour in trains. The kind of interaction that people have in any given transportation system in India was missing there.

All my observations in the first two days about the silence and germans were proved wrong in the subsequent days. I am saving it for the next post.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Memoirs from Deutschland II

One thing that I admire the most in Germans is their sense of respect for the rules and regulations. On my first day, my buddy took me around for administrative works to be completed before I could join as an intern. I was totally awed by their administrative process. They had loads of paperwork to do before an international student joins. But still, there was one thing that impressed me. It was their efficiency. Paper works, loads of them were completed in a matter of minutes.

Another impressive train is that people rarely jump traffic signals and they never do in the presence of small kids. When asked why, my buddy told me that he did not want to set a bad example for the kid.

Unlike in India, no matter what the social status of a person be, when it comes to queues, he has to stand in line. There is no quicker way. But, normally one doesn't need to wait for more than fifteen minutes to get something done in public offices. This is unheard of in Indian government offices.

In Mensa(canteen), professors stand in the same queue as the students and get their food billed. There is no show of power or any such thing. There is no show of influence nor money. They seem to follow one very simple rule "Respect: Give it to get it". Quite true.

So coming to the reason for writing this post, today I had one awful day with someone trying to use the influence for self, which might lead to complications to others. I had a hard time convincing the person not to do so and to make the person think of the greater good for God's sake. My evening was totally spoiled and I was reminded of Germany where I never encountered such a problem, where rules were followed to the last dot and where the quickest way to get things done is to follow the rules.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Memoirs from Deutschland I

In one of my earlier posts, I had written about my encounter with the legendary German kindness. So let me continue from where I let off.

From Frankfurt airport, I had to take a train to Stuttgart. Quite unwittingly, I had booked a train with a transit at Mainz Station. I had not foreseen the enormous luggage that I would have. The transit seemed tedious.

There is one more thing very famous about Germans. Its their punctuality. Even trains are mostly punctual. But, as my luck would have it, the train I was waiting for, was late. I arrived at Mainz station only to see the my connecting train ready to start. Though it was just a platform away, I was not going to be able to make it in time. I had nearly 30 kgs of luggage to drag with me. It was a hit and miss case. I somehow dragged myself onto the platform only to see the train start off. There, I was, at a small station stranded. I went to the service point of DB there only to find out that the service people knew very little English. In few simple words, I explained my situation and managed to make them understand. I soon found out that I was stranded at the station for two long hours.

My buddy, Andy who was to pick me up at the Stuttgart Station had already foreseen the possibility and had given me his number to call in case of delays. Now, there began my first experience with the German Public Telephones. After some initial hiccups, I finally managed to call and inform him that I am going to be two hours late.

Finally, the train arrived and I got into it. I had to shell out forty five euros for the journey (when converted into Indian Rupees, it is too high). Finally, I arrived at Stuttgart at around 10 30 in the night.

My buddies were waiting for me. Normally, an international student is always assigned a German Student who would help in all possible ways to make your stay comfortable. I was extra lucky in this regard. I had two buddies, Andy and Veronica. I would say, they are the sweetest persons I met in Germany. The first time they saw me at the station, I was quite a mess. I had a trolley bag with broken arm which I was dragging in one hand, another air bag tightly packed to the last inch on the other hand, a big shoulder bag and then, the one sided laptop bag on my shoulder with puffy eyes and cocooned in jerkin. They offered to carry my luggages which I relinquished quite happily.

I knew I was in heaven then. I knew I was going to have a great time with them at that moment. And indeed, it was quite true.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My 30 day challenge

I was lazing around today, thinking how useless this weekend has been. It is my strongest opinion that weekends are meant to be lazy. Yet, seeing people around me busy made me a bit guilty about being lazy. So as I was brooding over the wasted weekend, I came across a Google Buzz post by a friend. It was about a TED talk by Matt Cutts. He spoke about the 30 day challenge, about how 30 days is just enough to form a habit or to get away from a habit. This talk inspired me to take up a 30 day challenge. At last, something fruitful has come out of the weekend.
So here is my 30 day challenge. I have just returned from a wonderful internship from Germany with lots of memories. I never took care to catalog them properly when I was there in Deutschland. My 30 day challenge would be to pen down a memory each for 30 days. Let me warn all the readers before I begin. The posts might be mundane, stupid or interesting.
Happy reading :)