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

The J Travels – Pune

Pune:

After Bangalore, I had to go to Mumbai again for submitting my passport for visa stamping. I then left for Pune. Unfortunately Pune didn’t have any hostels. I checked in to the cheapest hotel that I could find and it was dreadful. It was a small cubicle that had a door and I could constantly hear a rat squeaking somewhere in the night. I decided to spend a little more and checked into another hotel (slightly costlier but way better). By this time, I had lost two days and done nothing except visit malls (FYI, loved the phoenix mall in Pune). The next two days I went to lonavala and to matheran. Both the times, I woke up way early in the morning, rushed to the railway station in the cold and took the first train I could find.

I reached Lonavala by 8:30 and was told that the first bus to the Lion-viewpoint wasn’t till 10. I decided I will walk to that point. Bad move. It was a steep road and I was tired by the time I walked a kilometre. There were 6 more kilometres left. Another bad move was, not taking a bottle of water with me. I saw an auto guy going who demanded an insane amount of money to go the view point. I bargained to half that insane amount and reached the point. First thing I did was to buy a bottle of water and then took a look around. The views were mind-blowing. I spent like an hour there just admiring the views. Then I headed back to the station. I also checked out a wax-museum there (which was just ok not that great) and then headed back to Pune.

The next day I headed to Neral and took the toy train to Matheran. This was my first toy train experience and I loved it. I was sitting on the right side of the train and for about the first 20 minutes, it was just rocks on my side and beautiful views on the other. I was so pissed off. But then the trail changed and my side of the train got the best views. I have posted all the details if anyone else is interested in this in a separate blog.

On the last day, I went to Mumbai again to collect my passport back (with the Netherlands visa stamped) and then came back and relaxed.

Next stop: Ahmedabad

The J Travels – Goa

Goa:

Getting to Goa from Mumbai was pretty easy. There is a train that runs every day that starts at around 5:30 and reaches Goa by 2 pm. A sudden entry into a healthy environment from a polluted city made me fall sick. I caught cold. Despite that I rented a bike and roamed around Goa without any pre-determined destination. This was the part that I loved the most. There were so many awesome places where I just parked the bike and sat down for a while and absorbed the scenery. I was staying in a hostel again and I had told my roommates that my name was Thej and when they had trouble pronouncing it, I told them it rhymes with page. I roamed around again on the second day and at the end of the day my cold was worse. I took a couple of tablets before I went to sleep that day and didn’t wake up till 12 in the afternoon the next day.

A couple of guys that I had become friends with in Mumbai had come to the same hostel. I had told them that I was going to stay in that hostel earlier. They had asked some folks whether an Indian named Thej was staying there, everyone said no (apparently they thought my name was Page). I also met an Indian here but he was still employed and was on vacation so when he left for those expensive beach parties, I, being a budget traveller couldn’t accompany him.

But we four were stuck together wherever we went for the most part. I visited a bunch of beaches, climbed a fort and then trekked down into the sea from the opposite side of the fort, lost a bunch of money in a casino, beat everyone in a pool table game.

There was a bunch of folks who were heading for Hampi from there but I decided to get rid of the ultra heavy luggage I was carrying with me. I, an Indian was carrying the heaviest luggage there when some of the foreigners just had a couple of shirts and a couple of shorts with them. So I booked a ticket to Bangalore, to leave the luggage at my sisters’ place and travel light from then on. I had one more night in Goa after these guys left so I just decided to get high. There was a British-American there for who it was the last night in the hostel and who wasn’t drunk. She chauffeured me around the town in a bike. We got the weirdest look from a guy when we went to a party and ordered strong masala chai.

Three things that I learnt by this time and will probably be useful to others as well:

  1. Keep your things organised or you will end up misplacing/losing your stuff. At any point you should know which bag pocket has your toothbrush and where your phone charger is. I had to learn this the hard way when I had lost both the laptop and the phone charger. (Side story: The charger costed 2800 rupees. And Goa is probably the only place in India where if you say “How about we make it 1500 rupees and I buy you coffee” to the sales girl, she would laugh and say she already has a boyfriend (could’ve been a polite lie) instead of slapping you)
  2. Being a back-packer, you need to know how to utilise space in your bag effectively. One tip, don’t fold your clothes. Roll em up individually but ensure you there are no creases when you roll them.  That way they stay wrinkle free and occupy less space.
  3. Travel light. Don’t plan for very corner scenarios. That means no rain-coats, leather jackets, umbrellas etc. What if it rains? Buy a polythene cover for the time being. And what if it gets cold? If you are outside, light up a small fire else put on more layers. (two shirts worn on top of each other are better than a sweater)

Next stop: Pune