Okay. So, I needed to checkout Luxembourg, so I decided to go on a one day trip. Leave in the morning, spend 5 hours and be back in time for bed. That’s the plan.. Oh how foolish I was to think that would happen..
Surprise number 1:
I reached Luxembourg, beautiful city by the way. But it was completely shut down on Sundays and today, yep, it was a sunday. So, half the purpose of going there was lost, wanted to check out the pace of the city. No shops whatsoever. But restaurants were open and the roads were empty so I had very leisurely walk, checked out a bunch of beautiful old buildings. Remembered to take a lot of photos this time though my new phone didn’t have the best camera. No worries, I atleast captured something in the camera. It was almost the time to return when I thought I will post those pics to Facebook, when my phone says it cannot read my SD card anymore and that I have to format it in order to use it again. Urgh!! So, my first attempt at consciously taking pictures ended a disaster.
Surprise number 2:
Time to go back home. The train was on time, the people sitting next to me were very good and we were all chatting for an hour when we realized the train was in the middle of nowhere and it wasn’t moving for the last 10-15 minutes. An announcement comes on the speaker in French and the girl sitting opposite to me translated that the train was experiencing some problems and the driver is trying to fix it. And an hour and 5 such announcements later, the driver gave up and decided to call another engine to come and push this train to the next station. In the meantime, the lights had gone out and we all had a blast (at least initially) playing games like hangman. Towards the end of it, everyone realized that they will miss the last train out of Brussels and started panicking at which point, the other engine arrived and the train started moving again.
Surprise number 3:
Someone told me that there were a bunch of Indians on the next compartment and I went there and found two girls and two guys who were working for L&T and were here for an on-site trip. After we reached Brussels, I had two choices – party all night at a pub in Brussels or join the Indian group who wanted catch a train to Antwerp and continue somehow from there. I chose the other option, reached Antwerp and there were no trains available there as well. The train driver said he could arrange a taxi till Roosendal but not beyond that. The train station was big and beautiful, we though we could just sleep in the waiting room and take the train in the morning (it was around 11 pm then).Better to be stuck at Antwerp than at Roosendal. We then went out and there were a bunch of food stops open, I had an awesome beef steak. Then we came back to the station only to be told that the station will be locked down and we cannot stay inside. It’s 1:00 now and station opens at 4. So we decided to walk the streets of Antwerp. We were having fun till it started to rain. We found a place with a roof on top but it was very cold. I went to a night shop, bought some scotch and it helped me stay warm. . People returning from parties looked at us and thought we were refugees I guess. At 4 am, we went back to the station, slept for an hour and I took the first train out of there and reached home by 8 am. Slept, straight till 7pm.
Lessons learned: Always carry water, snacks, charger and a hoodie. You never know when you will need them.
Ten years ago today, you came into my life. I had a few flings with others before you came, but sooner or later I got bored and ditched them. To be honest, when we first started, I didn’t think we would last this long. But today, you are the window into my soul, a part of my very essence.
We have been through some difficult times. I have ignored you for months on several occasions but thankfully you never complained. And of course, I would always come back to you sooner or later. You always patiently let me pour my thoughts and feelings out and you brought out the poet in me.
Now, I can hardly imagine my life without you. So, please be assured that, though I am not spending as much time with you as I have been in the past, you are the only inanimate and intangible thing that I get very emotional about.
As a gift, I am going to give you a new outfit. Hope you like the new dress. Thank you my blog, for the last 10 wonderful years.
It’s so weird that I never cared for any of my possessions – clothes, gadgets, motorbike, cars but I am so attached to this piece of intangible bytes of storage.
My first post in this blog – https://thejkumar.wordpress.com/2005/08/15/an-indian-afterall/
Prospect theory is generally used to describe the investment habits and in short it says that people are more likely to negatively value losses than positively value gains of similar value. Yes, I know I lost you there. So let me explain with the below graph.
So the pain you feel at the loss of 50 dollars is a lot more than the pleasure you get for the same gain. In terms of investments, let me quote an example from Investopedia
Say one investor was presented with the same mutual fund by two different financial advisors. The first tells the investor that the mutual fund has had an average return of 7% over the past five years. The second advisor tells the investor that the mutual fund has seen above-average returns in the past 10 years but has been declining in recent years. According to prospect theory, even though the investor is presented with the same mutual fund, he or she is more likely to buy the mutual fund from the first advisor, who expressed the rate of return as an overall 7% gain, rather a combination of both high returns and losses. 
Most of my readers are smart and already know where I am going with this in terms of personal relationships but let me finish it anyhow. I promise you, I will try to make this as interesting as possible.
In relationships, especially when there is a fight, each person shouts out all the bad things that the other one has done. It is so weird that they remember each negative incident so well and the good ones maybe not that well. In essence, being the best person you have ever been can easily be negated by being an asshole for a single day. Because people tend to judge you positively very slowly but negatively almost instantly.
Not just personal relationships, even in an employee/manager situation, the list of negative feedbacks usually exceeds the list of positive ones. Another example, is when you are about to write anonymous feedback about a product that you used, the first things that enter your mind are all the problems with it. Why do we tend to focus much more on negative things than on positive things? It could be a human nature but the question is can we train ourselves to judge more positively or at least be neutral? (Treat positives and negatives on the same scale). I have been exploring this for the last few months and I still am not where I want to be but now, people are very less capable of annoying me because when someone is irritating me, I don’t remember all the help that person has done for me and realize that a momentary situation cannot speak or weigh down on long term closeness. All the best to me.
Hmm, should this go on Facebook or LinkedIn? It has both professional and personal aspects to this, so I guess I will post it in both places.
A journey has to begin with a bang and in my case, bang usually means something bad happening to me. This time, two incidents happened
- I was super hungry at the airport. So went into a store and bought some cake and came back and sat near the boarding gate. Some lady was announcing something in the loudspeaker at the airport and I was like, who the hell even listens to that. Then comes Raksheet who said he heard my name being called in a very bad pronunciation over the speaker and that I was supposed to visit the information centre. Well, that can’t be good. I quickly went through the checklist – Passport, check; Residence permit – check, boarding pass – check, debit card –check.. oh wait.. no check. Can’t find it. I run back to the information centre the poor lady had already announced my name three times by that time. I apologized took my card and came back.
- Well that wasn’t the only airport incident. The next one happened in Krakow while exiting the airport, I left my second bag at a place where we were standing for a while. So I entered through the exit gate, running in full speed (obviously I didn’t want someone to steal it) and the security ran towards me and stopped me. It took me a second before I realized what must be going on their minds and I assured that I wasn’t a bad person, showed them my boarding pass and explained that I forgot my bag. They were kind enough to be understanding.
We got our cars, drove towards the salt mines which were amazing. At 130 meters deep, I was reminded of Assasin’s creed game and the hobbit movie. The tour guide was a cute polish girl, trust me, polish people are beautiful. And one other thing I remember here was that Daniel and I had a tough time explaining Jera how 65 divided by 2 was approximately 32.
Next we went to the hotel, checked in and then went out to the oldest restaurant in Krakow (built in 1600s I think) where we had a super expensive meal. Jun wanted vodka with nothing less than 100% alcohol in it and someone had to convince him that drinking ethyl alcohol (C2H6OH) was deadly. After that we walked towards the city centre and at 2 am in the night, the area was bustling with activity with food stalls, couples walking in arms etc. While we were already full, Jun bought some street food and I loved it.
I managed to wake up on time and was feeling proud that I was up so early despite sleeping so late when I get a whatsapp text that everyone was already ready and waiting for me. I quickly shower, go down, grab some food, steal some apples for lunch (it was a buffet and the apples were just lying around there) and then we drove out towards Auschwitz.
Stephan, Raksheet and I got into one car and we enjoyed a very manly drive (no talking, just sitting and staring at the road) with an occasional joke or two. I loved it, yep, sometimes you need peace. And as usual with me, by the time we reached the place, the tickets were sold out for the morning entry and we could only go there in the afternoon at 3.
Okay, we decided to go to the home town of Pope John Paul and eat his favourite dessert there. It was an okayish dessert and the most amazing part of the trip was Jera feeling nauseous because of the long road journey and still eating ice-cream, coffee and dessert together.
We headed back to Auschwitz and I don’t want to talk much about this except that it was a very depressing place.
And yea, at some point before now, Nidhi, Saby’s wife joined as well. Now we drove towards Zakopane, where we had to trek. The road was super foggy and at one point I couldn’t see more than 10 meters ahead of me. Then we reached our hotel and boy was it a hotel. The easiest way to describe how amazing the hotel was by the number of “Oh my God”s that Binita said when she looked at it. I think I counted 23.
After checking in, we went to a restaurant to eat. One thing about these restaurants, there are people playing music, it’s warm and the food is amazing.
The funniest part was when we ordered food. I found a meat platter which contained fish, pork, beef, chicken, eggs and almost every daily animal you could think of. I asked how many wanted to share and I counted 6 people. So I was going to order the 6 people one, when Federico in his Italian style, said “COMMON….. Order the 8 people one”. Well, here goes nothing, I thought and ordered and boy was it a meal.
More amazing than the meal itself was the fact that we cleaned it. And more amazing than that was a look at Raksheet’s plate once he finished his turkey. Someone said, “that dead turkey can be proud of itself” and I couldn’t agree more. Only bones remained and they were squeaky clean.
That night we didn’t buy enough beers – only about 4 big cans for everyone and the obvious happened, we ran out of beer. Stephan called a taxi service on phone and told them we wanted beer. The lady on the other end politely told us that it was a taxi service and not a beer shop before hanging up. We looked around and found some more cans in the fridge which we finished before heading for bed.
The next day we went trekking. The long trek made us sweat a lot. I had to remove my jacket about half way through and carry it though it was very cold outside. Daniel saw an opportunity here – Binita hadn’t got her jacket and she was slightly cold. So he offered his jacket to her like a gentleman while the true story was that he was sweating too and wanted to get rid of the jacket. Damn, why didn’t I think of that first.
Unfortunately it was way too foggy and I couldn’t see the beautiful view that would be otherwise there. Now, if you are thinking no misadventure happened this day, you were wrong again. Saby, left the car lights on and it was dead by the time we reached back. Some friendly Polish tourists helped us kick-start the engine and for many of us this was the first time seeing it.
We headed back to the hotel and then walked to another restaurant. This time it was vodka shots. We managed to find 75% alchohol and went crazy about it. But we weren’t the crazy ones. There was another group of girls who were extremely drunk and three girls were trying to lift one of their friends who wished to sleep on the pavement that day. I told Saby that maybe I should go help before he dragged me away. We walked back and we were walking in the middle talking loudly and making a lot of jokes. We were told that the “Police people arrest only the Polish people” so we didn’t calm down.
This time we had more than enough beer and I feel ashamed to admit that we couldn’t finish them all. Again, I couldn’t find my card holder (a small box which contains all my cards – debit, residence permit, license etc) and I was pretty sure I left it at a McDonalds where we stopped for a coffee the day before. But yea, the next day I found the box on the window pane. I swear there is a naughty ghost that stays beside and does all these things invisibily.
Well, on the final day, we finished our journey and headed back towards Rotterdam and if I remember correctly, by some amazing karmic intervention, nothing bad happened.