Friday, November 25, 2005
(though i didnt want to make my blog like another travelogue, doing a bit this time)
Yeah so Berlin isnt just quite like a standard european city, it being a capital for a long time is entrenched in history, as well as being an epicanter of the COLD war will the Berlin wall was around. (the reunification of germany was done on Oct 3, 1990. No i am not a history buff to remember these dates, it just happens to be my birhtday as well)
yeah so here in the western part, one sees display of wealth, all the trappings of a materialistic life, the american mall culture and loads of shopping arenas. But move to the east and one comes across a place wiht 14-20% unemployment. People living of government unemployment benefits.
See this funny car in east berlin (right) compared to the ones that are in the show room in west berlin. (Left) Also you can see the NOTICE at Checkpoint Charlie which was the old entry point between the 2 places. There is also a museum at that place dedicated to all those who tried to crossover the WALL and in memories of those hwo lost their lives.
This also speaks about the innovativeness of people. They used hot air balloons, made helicopters out of a motorcycle engine and a boat propellor and many other things apart from the mundane sneaking in a boot of a car and digging tunnnels
Also there was the little bit of wall remaining, which had on one side the open museum called the topography of terror, with pictures and clippings about Fuhrer Hitler and the war crime cases against his generals, which ony la few were punished and the rest were let go easily.
Also there is the beautiful bradenburger gate, where the allies came amrching form both ends (Russians form the east and Americans and Brits form the west)
This was unfortunately a part of the death strip in eats berlin, where any one venturiong would be shot at sight to prevent people form crossing over.
A little ahead is the Reichstag the seat of the parliament. (not posting their pics, u can always google for them)
Just a little further was the Potsdamer Platz. This place was barren land, right in the center of berlin and a death strip too, but today its a commmercial center with a lot of tall glass skyscrapers coming up, and is a show case of the comtemporary architecture.
Not your old fashionned cuboids, but really nice geometrical shapes.
This is the part where the westerners have made it ultramodern, and then walking a bit ahead you move back to the older communist regime.
Also we came across the university of Berlin, where Albert Einstein had taught for a few years before WW I.
The blog would not be complete without mentionign the wonderful A&O hostel and the african american Sean who we met there.
Sean was travellign across europe for a year or so. At the same time was making money as a tour guide. He gave us the best pitch for a guided tour ever, speaking about the hitlers bunker in the car park and giving insight in to the history of the place. Also he conducted another tour called the pub crawl where he owuld take you to 4 night clubs in east berlin, would have surely gone, but some one had cautioned me earlier about the safety issues. I still regret not going there.
Yeah thats Berlin for you.
I had also visited the Sachsenhausen Concentraiotn camp. That had a couple of barracks left the rest were destroyed. Also there were the old bunk beds and the prisons preserved.
It surely was a bit moving, but i do not have words to describe the exact feeling one got there. The closest one could say is spooky.
Another sorry for my readers as this time the pics asrent that great, its cause i didnt have my camera and akhsay has reduced the size of his pics so fit on his lap top.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
I would like to write more about the interesting people i met during my travels, some of the more interesting conversations
Amsterdam has a lot of interesting places, like the Anne Frnak Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rembrandt Museum, the flower market for tulips, ... the list goes on and on. But nothing attracts more tourists to amsterdam than its vice industry. Not only is Marijuana and Cannabis freely available in "Coffee Shops" but the biggest tourism attracter is the Flesh trade. (yeah prostitution is also legal here)
The Red light district is very near the Amsterdam Centraal Station (thats no typo, there is a double 'a') .
This is one interesting place, full of tourists gawking at the prostitutes on the street. Lots of british guys especially land here on saturday nights.
For tittilation one has various choices. You can either go to bars where women dance on the top of tables, and there is some pole dancing, there are strip clubs, places where you can get lap dances, ... right upto going all the way with the women standing on the street.
Though i will not tell what all did i do or not do (so that you would not criticize me, either for not having guts, or being immoral...)
but what i will tell you here is the few conversations with prostitutes
(By the way the most common rate in the street was 50 Euro for F*** and S***, which is steeply higher than the 30 Euros a couple of years ago, when my friend visited the place. Maan 67% inflation in 2 years and they call the Eurozone a LOW INFLATION region. Seriously something must be done bout this run away inflation, time the guys at the European Central bank raised the interes rates ;-) )
1) The English Boys
there were a couple of English "Laads" were making fun of all the whores, sayin "your too faat" or "your too oogly" ... and then one middle aged englishman comes and says in a pukka geoff boycott type yorkshire accent.
"don't 'orry laad, unce u get in 'ere they r all the same; go in an f*** 'er"
2) I tried to talk to one and know what was the going rate, so i knock on the glass door behind which this sizzling hot female is standing and ask her how much?
She answers condenscendingly 50 Euros f*** and s***. I think lets talk a bit more so i try bargaining, to 30 and then when she finally agrees for 40 after a bit of haggling, i (with all my good middle class upbringing would never go ahead) say ahhh, let me check out if i get someone better for the same price. And then you should have heard her curse me, my manhood and my race.
Also in my conversation with an elderly bar tender at a bar and a coffee shop, he spoke about how girls come in as strip dancers, then full time prostitutes, when they become too fat go on to gie lap dances and and once again they are really old and fat they move to the cornr of the red light district where u can get one for real cheap.
the man spoke about it in a detached way, the way a professor o f strategy explaiend the BCG matrix "All companies start as question marks, become stars, then cash cows and once they become dogs .. its time to move out"
Really this kind of shook me up, the detached and objective way these guys can speak about prostitution.
Also as soon as I stepped out of the coffee shop, there was this black man trying to sell me soem LSD, cocaine, hashish (as if one waouldnt be high enough inside the coffee shop, that you would need other stimulants, that too which are illegal)
thats about it from amsterdam, no pictures here so no reminders for anyone
Also visited Den haag and stayed overnight at the college senior Ajay Galdhars place. I thank him and his flat mate for the wonderful food as well and
Monday, November 14, 2005
have been travelling a lot (esp that the econometrics exam is over), and have no time to blog at all,
anyways in addition to the trips to Berlin and Amsterdam (yet to write a trip log bout them) I visited Switzerland and Paris.
Paris is pretty safe (unlike the BBC reports) the riots and the curfew is only in the outskirts (North Eastern Suburbs)
The main city was pretty calm.
And yeah though not writing much about them right now,
a few special things
1) many thanks to the batchmates from IIMA who let me stay over with them (Kartikeya at St. Gallen in Switzerland and Moi, SFI, Jhatku, Lota, Chaitu and Pager in Paris)
2) As i returned to Koblenz at 00.39 hrs and the last train to vallendar had left, I walked from Koblenz to Vallendar and now i am in the competer laboratory (yet to go back to the dorm)
So yeah the experiece of walking alone 8km at 1 AM in the night ... that really requires a separate blog.
See you then time to catch some sleep and then i would blog about my experiences.
Monday, November 07, 2005
this was my first Solo Trip.
I went of to Munich (and then to Fussen) to visit this Fairy Tale like Castle.
Actually the Southeastern Province of Bavaria is full of Castles and this one is supposedly the best one.
the Lonely planet guide says, "Given an eccentric mind and an unlimited budget, then the Castle is what you get"
It was made for King Ludwig II in 1880s. The construction was far from complete when the King died in mysterious circumstances.
the Castle itself is kind of spooky, and one could see the eccentricities in the interior decorations, too many porcelain swans, one artificially created cave, paintings depiciting poems by Wagner (soem german great poet, sorry for my ignorance)
Apparently Mr Walt Disney based his haunted house in Disneyland based on this Castle itself.
Travelling alone is also fun. It not only keeps you independant, but it gives you the unique opportunity to meet other people.
I met a couple of japanese tourists, who were medical representatives, and spoke to one lady who was doing a research project for UNDP on Sustainable development.
This is all from this short trip.
Then i went to Munich and spent an evening there.
Munich is nt much of a place. A regular European city (oh now any Bavarian Reading this would kill me)
Then i moved on to The Netherlands (Amsterdam)
ending the blog here, as Amsterdam needs a Blog to its self.
And now i need to Bid for my 6th Term Courses.
though i need only 4 i am bidding for 6. only one needs some bidding, all the rest are currently goign for Free.
The Halloween party was arranged by the TGV (Tauschie Government Vallendar, not to be confused with some high speed french trains) on the 31st October in the Bundesheim Dormitory (thats where I stay)
Not much to write about, there was some killer punch (special alcoholic drink for the event) and the American girls Anne and Kimberly baked some cookies. (Oh they were wonderful)
Yeah now time for some pictures...
(left) I did not wear any costume as I anyways look spooky enough.
(right) Here is Anne with the cookies (Damn i could only eat one for free)
Then we had the party ministers (Damien and Veronique, below left, they were serving the drink "Killer Punch")
On the Right we have Arnim Emrich.
Thats Ian, Marie and Alexandre
Gerald Looks as if he has come out of the movie "The Ring"
there are many more, but i am having some server problems
so can't upload them (trying for 30 minutes now) will upload more later.
And the rest of the Halloween party was the regular stuff, drinking, dancing ... and I hope you guys know the rest.
I am not making any accusations, but the French guys here know the best way to exploit such situations. Drunk gals make good company, (hic!!!) but i guess video taping all their activities after they are drunk crosses the line.
the only worse thing was that not only they got fresh with the Polish Hottie, when her boyfriend comes from Warsaw (to meet her 2 days later) after a 24 hour bus journey, they told him to relax in the TV room, and played that same CD.
You should have seen the anger on the Polish guys face, all colour was drained and was seeething with anger, there was a bit of steam coming out of his ears.
Rest of the details are way to personal for the parties involved. You can use your imagination.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
11 out of 16 from my group in engineering days are doing their PhDs at various grad schools in the US and i to nearly fell in that trap.
but going through the PhD comics i feel i can do a small comic strip about my experience here as well. Need to think a bit about that. Also need to have some spare time (from travelling and now again some more work is piling up)
Meanwhile the Israeli guy Eyal thinks i am crazy to keep travelling, my parents in india think i am crazy that academics is not my prime importance here, and my aunt (dads younger sister) she does keep mailing sometimes, enquiring how is my life as a student in Germany.
So let me sleep over the thought of getting out some funn comic strips. Wont dissapoint you guys (whoever is actually reading this blog)
Meanwhile I would want some feedback if possible, on how do i make this blog a little bit more entertaining as well as informative as i stumble my way through europe, living my life as an exchange student, and the culture shock to a indian guy of conservative brahminical upbringing in liberal europe.
Yeah please post some comments with any form of feedback.
I am just back from Berlin. (more about tht trip and the Halloween party once i get the pictures from Akshay) and on the return journey i started reading the book "Diaries of Anne Frank" which Akshay bought from the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. (i plan to go there soon as well)
Anyways coming to the point, its an exremely well written book, about the pains of grwoing up, and not liking the nagging parents and the perfect sibling. The writing style is fantastic and the way she starts off describing the people in her school is really nice. I too would love to write a lot like that. (so if you feel i am copying, the book might have some influence). I am htinking about giving pseudonyms to all people around me and write about them. OR may be i might not publish the post at all and save it like a draft.
What is so great about it is the complete honesty, (yeah thats missing form my blog) he ability to be so nasty, (ok i am not really very nasty here, specially since many people might be reading, or even if no one cares and no one reads, this might be later digged up as evidence against me)
The good thing about her is she doesnt try to be funn (which unlike me makes the whole blog sound stupid)
I know I am not that well read, but i do reccomend this book to every one. Especially to gift it to some teenage cousin / friend / sibling. I sure did find lots of things similar, only diference being that there was no world war.
though i am yet to complete the book already it has been having an effect.
Also i had a nice discussion with Farzad ( the german student who gave the econometics exam with me) about the book, catcher in the rye, another tale about the care free youth.
anyways i gotta write more about my experience in Berlin (lovely place) and the lovely youth hostl there, as well as the SachsenHausen concentration camp, but lemme get back to the Anne Franks diary. Might write some hing tommorow (and with pictures as well)