The day the train stood still

It takes a superman to stop a moving train but yet an ordinary human being managed to do the same and she didn’t even use both her hands. I am filled with pride to be friends with her. But before we know more about these, I need to tell you guys about a day where sooo many things went wrong and yet we had the most fun ever…

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Me, Dye, Sonya, Chime, Nora, Jr. Monster and Hima had planned to go to Maastricht on Monday. The train ticket would cost 48 euros (to and fro) which was way expensive. Luckily they were selling discounted day passes (one day travel anywhere in Netherlands) at 17 euros. I bought one and told other to buy the same. The ticket you get is actually just a bar-code that you need to activate online, generate a ticket and print it out. Now, Monster and I printed out those tickets on Sunday itself. Chime, Nora and Sonya had planned to buy, activate and print out in the morning. Wow, that’s optimistic I thought. Anyway, Chime and Nora managed to buy those barcodes from Albert Heijn (shops that sell these discounted tickets) but it’s not easy to print a ticket (unlike India) unless you have a printer. So Chime and Nora walshed into a library and demanded that they print out the ticket for them. Either Chime managed to threaten them or Nora managed to charm them, I don’t know, but they managed to get a print out.

Now Sonya, well.. Sonya was altogether a different story. She had been running into a streak of super unluckiness lately, losing her passport, getting mugged and so on but she still hadn’t lost her optimism. She hoped to buy the discounted ticket in the train station itself. This will run into a number of pages, if I go on describing more about it. So, let me just shorten it. We went to the shop near blaak – closed, the shop in Central Station – they don’t sell the tickets there, a shop near Central Station – they ran out of tickets. And to add to all this, we took the wrong tram and ended up at about 2 km away from the station and had to walk back. She finally had to get the full priced ticket. The main point of discussion at this point was, whether or not, her bad luck had touched the rock bottom.

Well, everyone’s got their tickets and it was 10 am. We missed the train but the next train was at 10:20, so no worries. If you thought that, then you are wrong. Turns out during all the charming and threatening, Chime printed out the wrong tickets. We now had to find another place that can print these tickets. Luckily we found one finally and printed them out. Sonya and I at this point were wondering why Rotterdam loved us so much that it didn’t want us to leave the city. By the time we were out of the shop, it was 10:15. We ran back to the station but missed the train again. The next train was at 10:50 and we surprisingly managed to get into it.

The train journey was all fun where everyone was saying whose country had the worst traffic rules. Point to note, India, Russia and Nigeria seem to be the worst. We switched trains at Eindhoven and got to Maastricht. All of us were super excited that we somehow managed to reach the place. The next task was to Find Dye and Hima who had reached the day before and we were supposed to meet them. I called Dye, he didn’t pick up. I called again, he didn’t pick up. Nora called him – he picked up on the first ring. I didn’t know what I did that made him not like me :-P . Anyway, he wanted to go to a book store and get a haircut and so couldn’t meet us then. He told us, he would meet us at the caves (famous in Maastricht) themselves. No idea, what book he wanted to buy that wasn’t sold anywhere else in the world and what hairstyle he wanted to get that no one in Rotterdam could do.

We reached the caves and Dye and Hima were no where to be found. We waited as long as we could and took the trip. It’s a train trip inside the caves with the driver slowing down and explaining everything. Monster and I wanted to sneak out of the moving train and wander ourselves. But the others forced us not too. Monster was super disappointed at not finding any ghosts or monsters in the cave. After the train trip there was a light show in the caves which was super amazing. There were dozens of projectors that were synchronized to light up every part of the cave and turned it into a colorful real life 3 dimensional art. More amazing than that was seeing Monster’s imagination at this point. Some of the things that she said – that looks a person who was a goat in his previous life, she is a ghost who is missing her lover…

In the meantime, there was whatsapp discussion going on about where we actually were. Dye was pinging asking where we are and we wanted to find out where he was. The best reply was by Sun, “this is beginning to sound like a rescue mission”. Now we came out and Dye was still not there. Then, both Sonya and I called him, he didn’t pick up the calls. We asked Nora to call him up and again he picks up on the first ring. So what happened they couldn’t find the caves and headed back to the Statdhuis. Now, we know that Stadhuis is a place in Rotterdam and were wondering how he managed to teleport to Rotterdam. Well turns out there is a place called Stadhuis in Maastricht as well. It took a huge amount of location sharing on whatsapp (including one which google pinned us at the middle of a river) before we managed to find him. We had dinner where I broke a glass and the Dutch lady said it was actually good luck to do so.

Now for the part you were all waiting for. We were all playing Mafia in the train. Some trends that emerged was – Monster was always the mafia, Nora was always the first casuality and Chime was the most suspicious one. Well anyway, we are all playing, Chime excused herself to visit the washroom and we continued playing. Suddenly, the train jams to a halt. I almost fell down. There was no station around us, so we were wondering what happened when Chime walks down and squeakily says “I did that”. Yea right, great joke. But she wasn’t smiling. The ticket guy comes over and she held out her arms so that she could be cuffed and said, “I am sorry, I did that. I wanted to open the washroom door”. Now as serious as she sounded, I couldn’t hold myself and burst out laughing and everyone else joined. That guy was cool about it and just said that it was no problem and the door to washroom was upstairs. Chime, you are a rockstar, the girl who stopped a train, someone should write a book about this. And next time you want to open a door, push it, don’t pull a lever…

We finally reached back at 11 pm and man what a day it was. I hadn’t laughed so much in a long long time. In fact in the tram station, I was standing alone waiting for the tram and was laughing like an uncontrollable idiot thinking about the train incident. Everyone around was pretty sure I was mad or high.

Note: Names changed to protect privacy :-). And this part fiction (more like exaggeration but that’s fun eh?)

Closed book in an open book exam.

So, I spend all Sunday typing out all the necessary stuff that I would need for my QPB test. I looked several at examples and typed the formulae used in them in my laptop. While I was still not 100% sure of the test, I was sure I could decent get marks especially because I had everything that I needed with me (in my laptop).

Day of the exam, I go to the hall, remember that my pen might be running of ink, so bought a new one and stepped into the exam hall 5 minutes before the test. Settled down, opened my laptop and powered it when I glance through the instructions on the exam sheet. No electronic media allowed. This must be a mistake, I talk to the invigilator who tells me that I should have registered by last Monday if I wanted to use the laptop and now it was too late. Okay, I still have 5 minutes, I can go and printout whatever I needed.

I go to the computer room, there was some examination happening over there and I wasn’t allowed to go in. Time – 2 mins left. I ask the IT guy for help and he allowed me to use his printer. I printed out the bare minimum I needed and rushed back to the exam hall in time. But as you might have guessed, those printout weren’t of much use. The worst part of this was, the exam was so easy, if I had my laptop, I would have aced it.

Right now, I am so angry with myself. I did well in my mid-term test, so hopefully I will pass (I need a minimum of 27/100 in this test to get an overall pass and trust me, without the textbook/laptop this is kind of iffy)

Song of your heart

It aint something you know

It’s not completely a feeling

It definitely isn’t  science

Probably closer to conscience

Happiness, is a just a song that your heart sings.

When you see a bird fly in the sky

Or a child, to stand, try

Maybe a sweetheart’s kiss

Or a cheese cake from Swiss

Your heart grows wings in bliss

Happiness, is just a song that your heart sings.

Practical Lesson number 1

The “Me” happened finally yesterday.

The professor in the class had asked us to come 5 minutes early for his lecture as there was going to be some prep work. So, when I woke up at 6:15 in the morning, I was feeling pretty confident that I can be there on time.

Now, I was ready by 8:45 but because I knew it was only a 5 minute ride to the school, I was in no hurry at all and by the time I got out of the flat it was 8:50. Okay, so I needed to ride a little faster than usual to reach by 8:55. No problem.

Now, I got down and unlocked the bike, sat on it and put my leg on the pedal, it was a free fall, the pedal moved but the wheel didn’t. Crap, not right now.. I tried to see if I could fix the chain but the chain is covered fully in my bike and I couldn’t manage to remove the cover. I looked at the time and it was 8:55.

Well, I was not going to be 5 minutes early but I can at least be on time (or a minute or two late) if I walked really fast. By the time I reached it was 9:03. Now, funnily enough, two of my team mates(in a group of 6) were late too. And I decided I would just run along with them and all three of us entered the class room at the same time.

I noticed something was wrong as soon as I entered, unlike my other team mate who actually took a seat. What was wrong was, we were in the wrong class. I blurted out a sorry to the professor and ran out quickly and my team mates who realized the same a second later and we ran out of the class.

When I finally got to the right class, it was 9:05.

I have decided to add lessons learnt in such scenarios. So here goes:

1. It’s always good to be a few minutes early especially in cases you are actually able to be.

2. Don’t try to fix an unknown problem when you don’t have time. The number one priority at that time was to make it to class on time but I spent a few minutes trying to fix my bike.

3. Don’t follow blindly. All I needed was to look at the TV screen while entering the gate and I would have gone to the correct class.

Ciao for now…

Half a month in Rotterdam

I arrived on the evening of 6th Jan in Rotterdam and it has been 15 days now. I thought I would write about my experiences till now.

Before coming to Rotterdam, I had a flight transfer in Istanbul and that was where I saw snow for the first time in my life. In the just roughly 30 seconds walk it took me to board the transfer bus and then onto the flight, I shivered like a jelly fish. I braced myself for Rotterdam, but it wasn’t half bad (probably cos I was expecting the worst temperature).

I had decided that I would take a taxi (29 euros) if it was too cold or the public transport (3 euros) if it was manageable. Since I didn’t seem to find much trouble with the cold, I went out dragging my luggage and boarded a bus. It took me a minute before I understood the transport system there and how to pay for it. Then got down at the Rotterdam Centraal and took a tram that dropped about 30 meters from my building.

I was supposed to meet a guy (a classmate who had already arrived), leave the luggage at his place and go to school to get the apartment keys. I connected to a free wifi network from a nearby restaurant and pinged him but it seems he had forgotten about meeting me and left somewhere. Whatsapp didn’t even show the message as delivered. I then pinged the entire Whatsapp group asking if anyone was there in the building. But just then, a MBA 15 entered the building. I explained my situation to him and he agreed to look after my luggage till I came back with the keys to my apartment.

I had already downloaded the Netherlands map on my phone and was able to find the school with ease. The only problem was it had started raining by then and was already night. I walked to the school, got the keys and came back all the while shivering in the rain. Some folks had already replied to my message on whatsapp by then. I met one of them who took me out for dinner. After that, I took a shower and dozed off.

Some interesting episodes since then:

  1. Most of my old friends won’t believe this but I am the main cook in my apartment. Surprisingly, I haven’t burned anything (yet).
  2. I went to a 2nd hand bicycle shop and said “Can you show me the cheapest bicycle that has handbrakes?” in the same tone and accent that I use in India while saying “Sabse sastha waala dena bhayya” I got an old rusty bike but as some of my schoolmates would know, I am used to such bikes (remember my good old pushpak viman?)
  3. The first morning here, I felt like I had a good night sleep, opened my eyes and slept off again because it was still dark. Then my mom called up which is when I noticed that it was 8:15 am already. Sun rises at 8:45 here in winter.
  4. One day, I went out without wearing a jacket just to see if I can survive in the cold (about 3-4 degrees). Not just my friends, even the Dutch people were looking at me strangely. And yes, I managed to survive with only minor discomfort.
  5. It’s kind of the topic of the day here if the sun ever came out. You could go weeks without every seeing the sun or the blue sky.
  6. On the day I was supposed to register at the city hall, I didn’t take my passport along and had to come back to my apartment and go back again. Typical me, Huh?
  7. We bought a kilo of apples from the Saturday flea market and didn’t realize till the next morning that they were actually plums.
  8. I wanted to see ‘I’ movie but seems it isn’t released here. Also rotterdam doesn’t have anything like the BookMyShow of India.
  9. I got a phone call from my mom one day and she asked me not to go walking late in the night. The very same day, after a pub-crawl, we had to walk about 4-5 kilometres because the trams weren’t running that late.
  10. I have already re-arranged the furniture in my room thrice, the last time being today but haven’t yet used the washing once. My laundry bag is more than full.

I think that is enough info for now. I have intentionally not written anything about the school. I will probably start a new blog for that.

Love Recursion?

Ruchas Story:
Tanay was the shoulder that she leaned onto after her break up. Her ex-boyfriend was a jerk who would dump her after three years of dating. Tanay had suffered through a major break up a couple of months before and so really understood what she was going through. Had it not been for Tanay, she would have committed suicide by now. He literally saved her life and showed her how to move on with her life. She was finally strong enough and had gotten over the break up.
Now, three months after the break up, Tanay was suddenly behaving like a jerk. Soon, he was making unreasonable demands, asking for her passwords, posting silly pickup lines on her FB wall, texting on an hourly basis. Soon it became clear to her that Tanay was interested in her romantically. She never found Tanay attractive and to add to that, even though she was over her past breakup, she was not ready for a new relationship just yet. She was hoping she was wrong and that Tanay was just being stupid.
But then, on her birthday, he called her and asked her out. She became furious. “I thought you were the only friend who understood what I am going though” she said. They had a huge fight and she decided to stop talking to him. He still wouldn’t understand and continued to pester her for a few days. He texted her on an hourly basis about how beautiful she was, or how unfortunate he was, or sent some other irritating emotional message. She finally was fed-up with him and threatened that she would call the police if he didn’t step pestering her. That did the trick and he left her alone.
Tanays Story:
He couldn’t understand why Anjali dumped him all of a sudden. More than that, the way she moved on quickly hurt him. The only person who could understand him was Vani. He always thought she had a crush on him and had always avoided her. But now, since she was the only person who seemed to be able to help him, he talked to her 24×7. But almost as soon as he was ready to move on from Anjali, Vani confessed her love to him and he was pissed and dumped her immediately. “Just because Anjali dumped me doesn’t mean it’s now your chance now” were his exact words.
But he also realized that dumping Vani made him feel better. While he felt horrible when he got dumped, he felt some sort of weird pleasure when he dumped Vani. He, derived some sort of sadistic pleasure each time Vani called back begging him to reconsider. Finally after more than a month of ignoring her completely, she left him alone. It was a few more months after that he realized that Vani might have planned all this in order to help him get better. But he couldn’t risk asking her directly because he was not sure. Then when he heard about Rucha, he knew how he could help her – Make her dump him.

Vanis diary:
I loved him truly and helped him so much when he needed me. Without me, he would have probably died. Tanay is a jerk.

The J Travels – Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer

Ahmedabad:

I stayed in the railway dormitories in Ahmedabad. Though not exceptionally good, they were dead cheap and for that amount of money, I couldn’t complain. Also the first thing I noticed about Ahmedabad was that it was super hot. I didn’t expect that kind of temperature in winter. I couldn’t tolerate the weather in the afternoon and so went to a movie. The mall was pretty big (AlphaOne I think) and I thanked God for the comfort of AC. While coming back in the evening, I checked out Kankarla Lake. This was super clean. Kinda wished Hussain Sagar was as clean but then remembered I was no longer a Hyderabadi J . The next day, I visited the Sabarmati Ashram and the Sabarmati river front. Keeping a river clean in India is no small task and you got to hand it to the Gujarat govt for managing to keep this clean. My final thoughts while leaving the city though were that I didn’t like it much for some reason. And I booked a bus to Jodhpur from here. So, I popped the customary Avomin tablets and jumped into the bus. The journey was pleasant. Suggested duration of stay in Ahmedabad: 1 day

Jodhpur:

This was only an intermediate stop for me because there was train that I needed to catch in the evening to go to Jaisalmer. So I checked into the railway dorm again and headed out to see the fort. It was magnificent and reminded me of Halo game (there is one level where there is a huge structure like this). I also got tempted by the Flying fox thingy they had there. I definitely enjoyed it but couldn’t shake off the thought that I shouldn’t have spent 1.8K on it. I also saw a place called Ganta Ghar (clock tower) and the food was amazing there. I would’ve stayed for at least one more day here if I hadn’t already booked my tickets. You can easily stay for three days without getting bored.

Jaisalmer:

The dorms were really cheap here (200 per day) and the hotel I stayed at was pretty decent for that price. That night was going to be a full moon and I didn’t want to miss that chance to be in the sand dunes. In a hurry I booked a package that I later felt bad about. This package involved a luxury swiss tent and was about double the price of sleep under the stars package. But I had fun all the same. I had never seen the sun shine so brightly. The camels slowly took us to the desert where we enjoyed the sunset. I tried sliding down the dunes but there was just too much friction. Then we headed to the tent for the night stay. While everyone was getting drunk and enjoying the Rajasthani dancing, I walked off for a bit following my own shadow under the moon. It was cold but not so much I couldn’t handle. I came back just in time for dinner and dozed off immediately afterwards. I was really thankful for the super-hot water in the morning and took a long shower and headed back to the hotel.

And oh! Because this was a tourist place, there were a bunch of other folks who were travelling. We spent most of the days just playing cards or watching shows on the computer or just walked to a nearby lake for the sunset or swimming in the pool. It was interesting that I had seen more British comedy series than some Brits. They loved one of the shows ‘Coupling’ which they hadn’t even heard about and that became our daily evening routine. I also wanted to go to the border but the hotel guy advised against it.

My suggestion: In Jaisalmer, get a bike. You can cover all the places you want to on the bike itself. You can save money on the desert safari too that way. Suggested duration: 3 days.

Next stop: Delhi