25 November 2009

Eventful / Festival Days… @ Kerala

After ~24 hours of sleeplessness (14-hour travel included), I landed in Kochi on Saturday morning. Within two hours after reaching home, I found myself driving to IJK. That was how I started with my little trips…. and there are still dozens of places to go to.

I should first tell you about IJK. Did I ever tell you that we are an acronym family? We have acronyms for the places (other stuff too) we often speak about: KDK, IJK, TCR, PKD, EKM etc are nearby cities which we have abbreviated.  Oh yes, IJK is IrinJalaKkuda. An outsider might find conversations at home cryptic.

There are some more ‘special characteristics’ at my home – for eg. we practically never ring the bell when we get back home, we identify ourselves with a specially tuned whistling. Or sometimes with a quote from a 2000 year old Indian legend/epic/story…. (story of Kalidasan).

veedu 2009-11-23 001And we hold LONG discussions too – about anything and everything – for hours and hours. The picture here shows where we four (mom, dad, sis, me) sit together. The chair on the right front corner is mine… I prefer to sit on the marble steps though (where I am sitting now) :)

So, back to the IJK trip. Don’t you guys know that Kerala is supposed to have this cultural harmony? On the way, there was a festival in a church – I had to go past the procession and I took some pictures. And obviously, I was asked to donate some money. (again obviously, I managed to slip out)

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It is typical to decorate the stems of plantain (Banana plant) with colour papers and flags – as you see here. They have it in front of every single house…. – for a couple of kilometres.

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And of course, there was sugarcane – something which I hadn’t seen like this in long times. All these together made me a bit nostalgic.

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Then on Monday, there was a festival at a (nearby, Hindu) temple. The main thing about this festival is that, people take tall decorated towers on their heads and rotate. I have some pictures of the towers here … Not many though..

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As usual, I went there with my dad. I had some meeta-paan which gave me more memories than sweetness. Look at the meeta-pan guy with this collection of betel leaves. :)

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There were many road-side shops selling snacks/toys/bangles/balloons/what-not.

shashti 2009-11-23 044 shashti 2009-11-23 045 shashti 2009-11-23 019 shashti 2009-11-23 020 

Empty, tender coconut shells, something left out after a long hot day. :)

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Ok guys, I am extreme damn  busy these days. I should have expected it during a short visit after a year’s absence. I am thoroughly enjoying it, even though my plan to sit at home and read/relax wouldn’t happen anytime soon.

veedu 2009-11-23 003So, I sit here and look out to the green universe around my home (picture shows what I see) before I start my day’s business. 

You all have a wonderful time too.. :)

I’ll go to the river and have a bath now…. Life can be a bliss – you know?

Signing off, Sands.

PS: The post is for my German friends who might never have seen these kind of things in life.

PPS: Song of the moment : “I swear to you, I’ll always be there for you” (Bryan Adams … I’ve not listened to it in long time)

20 November 2009

In the middle World….

Disclaimer: In a hurry. Unpolished post.

So… what is this middle world? – Dubai. Almost every time I go through Dubai, I have a special post. Every time I fly, my mind goes to a special state which I cannot even start to explain. Perhaps it is the transition or the mind from one setup to another.

And Dubai is the middle world.

I am being pulled by both the different worlds – India and Germany. Two contrasting worlds…

Two days ago, I had a small argument with my mom about my long (not very long actually) hair. She hasn’t even seen how it looks… but she was sure that I don’t have to go home without having a haircut.

After the argument, I needed a few minutes to cool down and I went down to the main hall in the department building. I met an old student (winter 2008) of mine. The second or third sentence she told me was “I love the way your hair looks”.

You see the contrast? This is so silly a thing and that was the difference in the responses. There is another topic where the contrast is even worse – marriage.

My mom Vs Ewelina (on finding partner) – that comparison shows me how different these worlds think. Obviously, both are concerned about ME. My mom of course more concerned.

Before I board the flight, three highlights of the past week:

  • A whole film theatre and only two persons in there – I, and the girl with whom I went (Not a date). As someone said – all the most romantic situations occur when you are not in mood for a relationship, or when you are not with that person whom you want. :( .. I wished for another person! 
  • The dinner @ an Ethiopian restaurant with D. The very best kind of food and wonderful conversation. They had to finally kick us out to close the restaurant. :)
  • Every single time I go somewhere, I meet people I know. Today too: Mani was with me in the same flight – someone who is more than an acquaintance. My acquaintance circle IS big… :)

I once again failed to give words to the mixed feelings in my mind. As some closing quote, I’ll paste a long SMS I received last night.

Lieber Sandeep, es war ein sehr schöner Abend mit dir und ich freue mich auf den nächsten. Ich denke an deine Reise und an deine Mutter und ich glaube ich möchte sie gern kennenlernen... Mir geht so viel durch den Kopf über die Menschen, ihre Unterschiede und Gemeinsamkeiten. Und alles passiert auf demselben kleinen Planeten!! Wie deine hochverehrte Mutter, wünsch' ich mir, dass du zurückkommst! Du lebst im Moment in zwei Welten :) Alles Liebe, D

Dear Sandeep, [niceties]. I think about your trip and I would like to meet your mom. The thoughts about differences and commonness between people are going through my mind. All these happen in this small planet. As your mom wishes to have you back, I wish too for your coming back. At the moment, you’re living in two worlds…. With Love, D.

That sums it up my dear fellows.. I am living in two worlds. I am trying to make the best out of both the worlds, both the cultures. But as they say: no pains, no gains.

The next post – from India.

Signing off, Sands.

PS: No proof reading. Kindly forgive my mistakes.

PPS: The translation is not the best.

17 November 2009

A day @ A Government Office

German bureaucracy is much more complex than almost anything I’ve ever seen. Even an Indian, who has seen red-tapes, will go crazy. Today I spend my entire day @ a government office.bus-queue

My lowest point: when I reached the counter after “standing” in the queue for one HOUR, I was told that they were closing the counter, and was instructed to come in the afternoon. I asked - “would I have any advantage for having stood here this long?”. She smiled and said NO.

Anyway, in the afternoon, I bypassed the queue and went straight to her. Fortunately, she remembered me and gave me the waiting number.

Oh yes, I was waiting in the queue to get a token which tells me how long more should I wait. Amazing… isn’t it?

After that, I could SIT and wait – just another 2.5 hours… oh yes, I could have watched a whole bollywood film (if only they had played it in the office).

I’ll spare you the details of the real complicated stuff. The details of waiting is enough for now.

gr-87 My high point: Finally, after the main business, I had to wait in front of another office (10 minutes until they put seal on my documents). There one could sit/stand/walk etc.. because they call your name. There I was walking in the hall and saw some beads on the floor.

I and three little kids (~5 years old) played with the beads.. hitting the beads against the wall, trying to catch the bouncing bead and etcetera and etcetera. After 7 hours at an office (and running around from one door to another), that was nice thing - for a change. :)

But I have to tell you, it is just the system which is flawed. The people with whom one has to deal are very good, very friendly and helpful. A bit less cheerful though… (that’s a German thing ;) ).

Anyway, now it is cooking time. I’ll go cook something (tasty) and gobble. :D

Sometime, I should write a post about the troubles a VERY hungry vegetarian has to face in my university.

A post about PLANT-torture in the university is in the pipeline too. When/Where do I have the time to write all these? And where do you have the time to read all the junk I write? But that’s not a reason to stop coming here… keep reading and give me comments.. :)

Signing off, Sands.

PS: And all these happened to me not because I was not prompt at doing my things. This is what all those 100+ people went through in that office today. The Visa office is never the best, but it was never SO bad as today. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr…. Hrmpf….. Grrrrrr…! :)

PPS: Isn’t life sweet…?

10 November 2009

Two States and Three Mistakes: Books

Big questions are confusing me lately. Questions about life/goals/career/etc. I wouldn’t go in depths about them here (at least here in this post).

The final thing I needed, to be officially-confused was Chetan Bhagat’s last book : Two states (the story of my marriage). And, no, the confusion was not about marriage. (clue: I want to eat “chaat”)

Two States (The story of my marriage)  [Author: Chetan Bhagat]

  • two states of my marriage; chetan bhagat 2009-11-10 001 I laughed out loud, in my room, and also in the train..
  • My eyes were a bit moist (only one single moment)
  • I was made to stop and think…

It was just a novel! I found myself folding the corners of many pages, which is not my thing. Some flaps had to be folded at both sides because the other side too had some gem in it.

Is it the very small bit of Tamil-Brahmin in me? Or the ex-IITian? Or just someone who knows the crazy-love? Or someone whose parents have similarities with the parents in the story? Or someone who knew the pain of such a break-up? Or is it because of a heart which misses Chennai?

Which of the above connected me with the story? I cannot say… a mixture of all these, probably. A story of meeting someone in the canteen/library, be friends and then fall in love etc. etc? – that sounded very familiar.. hmm… from my life?

A North Indian boy and South Indian girl falls in love, and the troubles they face and solve –  before their marriage becomes a reality – the theme is so simple.

But, the book very well exposes the racist view inside Indian society. We laugh at it because we know it IS true. It shows the divide between South/North India. It shows the perspective of a North Indian, about south India. I would give 90% marks for his observations and the remaining 10% is deducted because of over-stereotyping.

The first three fifth of the book was pure fun and fast.

Eg. Making fun of Tamil… :) [excerpt below]

…..First, the sign in every shop was in Tamil. The Tamil font resembles those optical illusion puzzles that give you a headache if you stare at them long enough….

The next one fifth gets a little serious.

Son, …..…… I have learnt you are involved with a girl in Chennai…... We should choose the girl for you, not you…


Forgiving doesn’t make the person who hurt you feel better, it makes you feel better. (The author stole these words from me, perhaps) ;)

It felt like he stole more than a little thought from me. After the break-up, when the hero went from Delhi to Chennai, just to meet her and when she refused to talk to him, I almost thought of suing the author for stealing from my life!

It was the Dad-Son part which moved me.

“My son needed help”… my father said……
“How did you know?”, I said.
His eyes met mine, he said, “Because I am your father……. …… ”

My dad has done something of the sort for me - when I was going through my lows, I don’t even know how he knew what I needed – that too when 5000 miles separated us.

I would recommend this book to any Indian. Quick and fun read. For another review – see what Smita says.

The Three Mistakes of My Life

If you are still reading… good :) [Bravo :) ]

After reading the above one, I realised that I had missed his third book. Guess what? it was available in German-amazon. I got it yesterday and finished it in two straight sittings. :)

But definitely not as good as the other one. For one thing, this was so predictable. Since it was not as great, I’d skip writing the review. :)

I am now back to Thursday Next’s third book. The main problem is that I fail to concentrate while reading it. I want to read this one, but the thoughts associated with this book… .. … …..

Anyway, that could be my next book.

Signing off, Sands.

PS: I ordered a book from amazon, all I paid was 1.35, where as the postal duty would have been 1.45. Can that be possible? How amazon does that?

9 November 2009

Dark keys to craziness

After the “Geek Week”, some of you might know what kind of keyboards I really like. After I got my new keyboard, I was just waiting to have a relaxed/lazy weekend for the following… :)

Key-plucking was half way through when it occurred to me that I could document it.

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Here are my tools:

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Now the towering keys… :)

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And the keyless keyboard..

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Finally, the final product… :)

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Even otherwise not many people have found it very comfortable to use such huge and ergonomic keyboard. Now this one would drive some to craziness if they have to use my keyboard. :P

(I had to do this ASAP because it was German layout, slightly different from the international one and as someone said in facebook, “naargh... different keyboard layouts are quite annoying..” and I was starting to get really annoyed)

Have a nice week all of you.. :)

Signing off, Sands.

7 November 2009

Codename: MusicGirl… alias MG.

Having moved back to the city, my slightly-suffered social life is blossoming again. I had the first visit from friends and the first movie night. (Watch the film August Rush, you will like it.)

Since morning, I had been really wanting to have a decent bear hug. But didn’t bearhugknow whom to ask. I put it in my status message.. someone gave me e-hugs, wished me luck. sad

(I felt, I was acting like a kid… but who cares?)
(would’ve been awkward to be hugged by a man)

I had known all day that Ewelina and Daniela would visit me in the evening and would take care of me. I just asked for a long hug and got more than I wanted. :) :)

It is funny, you know? 4 of my friends here were quite close with me even earlier. But there was some connection missing at times, because I had an inhibition to open myself up.

Then something happened at the end of August and they stood by my side when I needed. The missing thing was established and all turned A M A Z I N G.

A different topic: If you are doing computer science (theoretical) or maths, you should be a girl…. otherwise, life can be really dry.

During a party at my chair, I observed the umpteenth time – we are all <16> males (plus the secretary). Oh boy, life can be so dry without ‘birds’ in your office.

Last week, during the course organisation meeting too, there were only two girls in the 20 member team.

The strength of women in CS/Math departments is less than 5%.

As a gender-equality-advocate and as a single-unattached-man, I find it important that more women come to the field.

In this post I am more of the latter though.p
I, at least compensate with many female friends outside the university! ;)Pianist_Girl

That brings us to the title : the latest potential female friend is code-named “MusicGirl”. Someone who’s quitting doctoral studies in physics and going to learn music. She’s slowly giving me introduction to western classical music.

A girl who could very well do stand-up comedy. Amazing verbal skills, very rich vocabulary and sharp/snappy dialogue delivery too.

And a beyond-acceptably-rude user interface. But a real sweet heart.

It does take balls to quit doctoral studies (Extraterrestrial Physics at Max Planck institute) and go to be a singer. Hats off to that courage.

Finally: Either I am a too nice chap (which I doubt ;) ) or people arerosa2100x100 treating me much better than I really deserve.

OR I have some rosy glasses!

Whichever be the case, most people are just very nice to me.

The only plus I see in me is that I am VISIBLY happy – ALWAYS!. (anyway, no complaints against most people treating me well ;) )

Signing off, Sands.

PS: If you are indeed a girl in the aforementioned departments, you’ll be frustrated beyond belief, because … <i’ll let you guess>. :P

1 November 2009

Relocation, The baby I killed; and Anecdotes

Relocating is an act which I have become an expert of, in the past few years. In the last 20 months, I have relocated 4 times. More than a dozen times in the Pookkal 2009-10-30 020past 5-6 years.

I have become such an expert that, I woke up at 10 in the morning and before 9 in the evening, everything was packed and moved to the new place, the old place was cleaned and the room was white-washed as in the contract. :)

Missed my white-washing companion! :(

By the way, this relocation is going to cost me all the fun I have on my way to Uni. Now on, I’ll see only the dark/grey inside of underground tunnels instead of the things you see in the pics here! :(


Don’t be shocked when I say I killed my baby. You’ll know more if you have ever heard THIS Tamil song (go to 2 min 9 seconds). (if you don’t know Tamil, read on).

Two days ago, I woke up and decided to do it: shave my moustache - my constant companion for the past 5+ years - something which I had always pampered as if it were my baby. 2009-10-23 003(Spontaneous decisions are fun, aren’t they?)

Every math problem, every algorithm about which I thought about had taken a toll on those bristles (I pull them while thinking). 

I couldn’t recognize myself afterwards. Most people say I look better. Two of them even said that I look much younger now! (22 years old – apparently, that’s when I started growing it)

No photos for a couple of months!  :P


I played a small Mr. Holmes yesterday. I moved in, went to the kitchen and one of the apartment mates was there. I offered my hand and said “Hi, I am Sandeep”.

She hurried, took a towel, wiped her wet hands, shook my hand and said “Hi, I Pookkal 2009-10-30 014am J”.

I said, I am from India and after a small pause - “And you are from Bonn, Right?

She opened her mouth. Then closed.. then opened again. 

I said - “you are wondering, how I know that. I shall tell you later”. Then I went to my room. :P (Curiosity kills ;) )


He sat against me in the restaurant. For the first time, he opened his heart:

Sandeep, I am confused. I had told her that I will always be available for her. She is still unmarried, single – what shall  I do? Shall I go to her and talk?

Pookkal 2009-10-30 011Obviously, I didn’t know what to say. But it was strange to see a friend in the same boat. I was fearing that I will never get out of <you-know-what> :( . Stupid me?

Love is amazing right? It sometimes gives you this pain… still you love to love. Still you think/dream about that person obsessively. How long would it last? Who knows?

Ok guys, you get me in a weak moment. I’ll go get a cup of tea and enjoy a nice evening, and prepare myself for the hectic weak ahead.

All the same, I am having a lovely time of my life. I just am teeming with energy and excited ALL the time. Just lovely! :)

Signing off,
Yours truly,

PS: The pictures are copyrighted to me. Of course.