Travelling

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I am finally about to finish my Europe trip. It has been a perspective-changing experience. I am starting to feel exhausted as I am mid-way through the third week of my travel but the exhaustion is laced with satisfaction. I have been stressed, confused and dragged to the limits of my comfort zone, but I have learnt a lot, met some very interesting people and watched some amazing things. I feel proud of myself and more confident. It is a beginning. I now know that I have it in me to face the world. Travelling is indeed a life-changing experience. But I will have to write more later, for I still am on my trip and don´t have my laptop. So the stories are for another day. But oh boy, it is the most adventurous and useful thing I have ever done in my life!

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Brilliant eBook Series and an Interview with the Author

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Even though I haven’t had much interaction with the world of science, it hasn’t ceased to fascinate me. I think it is amazing how logic and creativity go hand In hand in pure sciences. Physics is my favourite discipline of science. I had feared that because of not being in touch with the subject for about three years, I might have forgotten most of it. It was an occasion of special delight when I found a series of 6 free eBooks explaining the entire basic concept on which Physics is built: motion. I mean, I have always had a sort of love-hate relationship with mechanics, so it would be helpful if there is a book that can help me overcome my issues with it. The books did really live up to their promise. The writing style is engaging, to say the least. The interactive examples and challenges make it even more fun. You don’t feel like you are reading a textbook. And the icing on the cake: they are all free! At first I had a metaphorical frown on my face. I was thinking, “Hmm.. okay, so what’s the catch?” But surprisingly, there was none!  The author (who is a physicist based in Germany) is giving the books away as part of his project, termed Motion Mountain.  The mission of this project is to bring the knowledge of Physics to the masses. I found this very interesting and was curious to know more about the author, Dr Christoph Schiller. It was very impressive, what he was trying to accomplish and I wanted to be able to contribute to it in some way, so I decided to interview him, and he accepted the request. So, my friends, let me present to you, Dr Christoph Schiller!

(And if anyone is interested in the books or in contributing to the project, please visit http://www.motionmountain.net)

The Interview

Q: How did you become interested in physics?

Dr. Schiller: I am curious.

Q: What is the inspiration behind this mission to bring physics to the masses?

Dr. Schiller: University studies are free of charge in Germany, Italy, Belgium and many other European countries. I wanted to give back to others some of what I learned for free at the university.

Q: What do you hope to achieve through your free eBooks?

Dr. Schiller: All books are written to entertain the reader. So are mine. Also, I wanted to write up all I knew in a structured way.

Q: What do you consider your reward?

Dr. Schiller: Nothing.

Q: Do you think there is a decline of interest in learning pure sciences? If so, why?

Dr. Schiller: No.

Q: What is your advice to make learning natural sciences, especially physics, engaging instead of intimidating?

Dr. Schiller: Science is engaging when it is linked as tightly as possible to curiosity.
Another aspect to remember: what one person did, everybody can do as well; nothing in the world is too difficult to learn;
anybody can learn and understand anything he or she wants to learn.

An Old Friend, A Bossy Friend and Some Friends Whom I Miss

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Hey folks! I know I have lapsed into inactivity on the blog front for more than a month, but I have been visited by an old buddy who has a tendency to show up uninvited and at the most inconvenient of times: depression. So it happened that I was busy being sulky and indulging in emotional eating, and as a result, fell back on many other things. The constant company of another friend (this one human) who is loud, bossy and dominating didn’t help things much, either. And as if it wasn’t enough, all of my friends at my home university just finished their university finals two weeks ago. They are graduates now! The fact that I am on student exchange means that I don’t graduate until the end of June. It is really hard seeing all your friends say their goodbyes on Facebook, tagging each other in posts and photos, and you are the only one who is not tagged in anything. It sucks! Anyway, in order to make up for the long absence, I am posting two articles today. 

By the way, as for the weather, it is spring, and it is so lush and colourful outside. However, when it comes to rain, it is completely unpredictable. The temperature was perfect during the past two-three weeks, but all of a sudden, it has started raining (seemingly) endlessly since two days ago. Now, I love rain, especially the build-up in the atmosphere just before the actual rain starts, with clouds and the music of wind in the leaves, but when it rains without a break, it gets so drab and boring. I am really looking forward to the summer. Hope that does not disappoint!

Rain + Beautiful Blogger Award: A Nice Day

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I woke up this morning (well, technically yesterday morning) feeling pretty bummed out. I had just finished watching the second season of Doctor Who the previous night and was disappointed that Rose got stuck in the parallel universe and couldn’t travel with the Doctor anymore. Worse, I got too curious about the rest of the series and peeked at some of the later episodes only to find that Rose returns, only to end up with a clone of the Doctor. This brings us to the events of this morning, i.e. waking up with a Doctor Who hangover and spending the better part of the morning sulking.

However, what started off as a not-so-promising day turned out to be rather nice. It started with the rain. Now, I might be one of the few people who love a good rain, slush and all. It was a pleasure to see rain after so long. And it also meant that spring is finally here, so yay!

That is just part of the reason for my excitement. The second, and somewhat surprising part was a comment on one of my posts by crankycaregiver, nominating me for the Beautiful Blogger Award. This is my first ever blogging award, and needless to say, I am honoured to know that she finds my blog beautiful. Thank you very much, crankycaregiver! Don’t be fooled by the username; the blog is really amazing. Being very fond of memoirs, I especially like her posts on some of her experiences. What peps up the blog is the easy humour in her style.

The rules of the award are:

1. Mention blogger who nominated you and link to their blog.

2. Include the award logo in your post.

3. Nominate 7 other blogs for the award.

4. Post 7 interesting facts about yourself.

I have completed the first two steps already. So, here are my nominations.

1. Julie Green

2. Where’s My Backpack?

3. C.B. Wentworth

4. Littlehiddenplace

5. Live simply, travel lightly, love passionately & don’t forget to breathe

6. level up my happiness

7. never an upstaged life

All right, now I have to say 7 interesting things about myself. Hmm… this is the toughest part. I am not sure whether what I consider interesting will be interesting to others. Nevertheless, I shall make an effort.

1. I talk to myself all the time. I even have full-length debates with myself.

2. I am agnostic, that is, I am uncertain about the existence of a god.

3. I have synaesthesia, which means that my senses are often connected. For example, I can “taste” smells, “see” number patterns and patterns of dates, “feel” music, etc.

4.I am an INTP personality type. I think too much, sometimes I can’t sleep because of it.

5. I love the the sky and seas. They make me feel so free.

6. I once went to a bar and drank nothing but apple juice (on the rocks! ;)) and watched men pole dance AND I maintained a poker face throughout the ordeal!

7. When I was 4, my teacher caned me on the palm four times for something mischievous I did. I clenched my teeth and held back my tears because I thought I was “too old” to cry.

So, there it is. Whew, that was one long post! I am thankful to everyone who has take the time to read and appreciate my blog. I hope to live up to the honour.

Snow!

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One of my German friends said that this year saw the coldest winter in about 150 years. Evidently it is prolonging the spring too. On the brighter side, I got to see snow for the first time in my life! It was at night that I witnessed my first ever snowfall, and the blanket of snow looked beautiful in the warm yellow light coming from the windows of houses. Now, I am no great photographer, but I hope these turned out all right. (The photos aren’t loading for some reason, so I just added the  links).

through the window

snow on the roofs

snow at night

snow at night 2

Germany- First Impressions

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I’m back, after a pretty long break (at least not as long as the last time I went into hibernation). I’m in Bremen, Germany now! The past three weeks were a blur, what with settling down in a new country, bank accounts, city and university registrations and signing up for classes. Things are starting to feel normal: temperatures in the range of 2-5ºC are starting to feel “warm” and the little closet-sized room I live in is starting to feel like home. However, strangely enough, I didn’t experience culture shock as much as I expected to. I did feel a little homesick, but I always feel it every time I go to a new place after staying somewhere for a long period of time (in this case, it happened to be my home). Or maybe I overestimated culture shock. Hey, I’m not complaining about it! 😉

The one thing that stood out was how empty and silent the streets seemed, at least where I was staying. Given the fact that I grew up in India, you can imagine how different it must have looked. The people seem friendly and patient with my pitiable efforts with German. The place is easy to get used to and feel at home.

I have not travelled very much, since the furthest was to the city registration office, 45 minutes away. But there are places to explore within the city as well. Last week I had wandered about a bit in the main square of the city. The main structures in the square are the St.Petri Dom (or St. Peter’s Cathedral), a statue of the Bremen Town Musicians (from the Brothers Grimm story), a statue of Roland, one of the Paladins of Charlemagne (the first Holy Roman Emperor) and a little alley called Böttcherstraße, which features a museum dedicated to the work of expressionist artist Paula Modernsohn-Becker (one of the few museums dedicated to a woman artist) as well as the house of Robinson Crusoe. A number of street musicians keep playing at and near the square on most days. Unfortunately, I haven’t clicked any pictures, but I will soon do a post with the photos.

Also, my worst fear of having to sleep on a park bench almost came true when I missed the last bus to my place after our international students’ welcome party and had to wait at the freezing bus station for three hours with a friend I had just met at the party. That was my biggest (mis)adventure so far in Germany! But there is something about misery that brings people together. I became good friends with the girl I had just met that night because of our shared misfortune.

It is all new experiences, especially since, as I had mentioned earlier, this is my first time travelling abroad. Each day is fascinating. There is so much to tell, so many things I’m discovering everyday. I will attempt to share as much as possible. For now, auf wiedersehen! 🙂

P.S: I just checked the “This post is super-awesome” option on my “publish” panel. Just to see what it does. So if any of you notice anything different, please do mention it in the comments.

A Quick Hello!

Hello from Germany! 😀 Quickly dropping by to say that I don’t have access to the internet where I am currently staying. But I will be back in full swing in no time! I have some articles to write, that I promised to some of you. I haven’t forgotten about that. So, auf wiedersehen! 🙂

A Cynic on Love

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This post is the result of my conversation with Julie Green on her post What Would I Know About Love. Since my post on Valentine’s day, I have found that there are some people who relate to my thoughts on love. But what is my idea of love? That is something I haven’t talked about much.

Let me say beforehand that I am somewhat cynical (I have been called feeling-less and hormone-less more than once), and hence may be considered ill-qualified to make a post on love, but like George Carlin said, “Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist”. So please humour the rants of the disappointed idealist in me. Besides, I am highly opinionated and love to share (read: dish out) my opinions. So you want my opinion? No? Well, here you go anyway!

If there is one thing I believe is inseparable to love, it is respect. Think about it, you can never have love without respect. How is love possible when you don’t respect your lover’s personality? Good looks? How far can they take you? Love without respect will be akin to charity. Respect is what prompts you to give each other their personal space. It eliminates the need to smother the other person. This is true for all kinds of love. Even parents need to learn to respect their children as thinking individuals as they grow up. Failure to do this often results in bitterness and controlling nature.

On the other hand, respect is not idolising. One does not have to put the other person on a pedestal, only accept them for what they are and realise that they can have different opinions from you, and that it is all right.

This is where the second crucial element in love comes in. Discussion. A relationship without discussion is doomed to fall apart. Again, this is the same for any kind of relationship. Having open discussions inspires trust. Communicating opinions and concerns helps each person understand the other, which ultimately leads to respecting their differences. This is very different from sweet talk. There has to be all kinds of talk, sweet, sour and bitter. And then, if you find that you absolutely can’t agree with the other person, you can simply agree to disagree and move on. Isn’t that far better than being (or having) a trophy to show off?

Perhaps later I’ll write about the love of my life: my books. Yes, another post on books! 🙂

Lisp and Language

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I am currently reading two books, one of which is The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. It is not usual for me to read two books at a time; it is difficult to keep up with both and one may get discontinued over the course. However, The Canterbury Tales, as you probably know, is written in verse form in Medieval English and, in my opinion, it deserves a certain level of thought and reflection while reading it. This means that if I wait until I finish this one, it will be some time before I can start another book. Hence, the two books at a time arrangement.

Alright, this post is not about reading two books simultaneously. This is about The Canterbury Tales. Now, I have not shared this earlier, but language is one of my passions. In fact, am planning on getting a Master’s degree in linguistics. It is a delight to discover outdated words and expressions. I know a bit of German, and while reading the book I come across older versions of some words which point to their Germanic origins. It is so much satisfying to compare and find connections between languages. One of my observations (which many of you might already know) is the evolution of the suffix “-eth” (as in cometh, thinketh, etc.) into the third person indicative suffix of verbs, for example, “she comes” and “he thinks” instead of “she cometh” and “he thinketh”. I am assuming that this replacement could be because “th” sounds like a lisped “s”. This observation might sound trivial to a more experienced linguist/language enthusiast, but still it was rather exciting to discover it on my own. There are a few more like that, mostly, discoveries about the origins of certain words, but this particular one is what I remember most.

So, is anyone else interested in languages? Do you have something to share? I would love to hear from you.

The Big Fat Valentine’s Day

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So, Valentine’s day is over and the post that was planned for the occasion got delayed. No, no, this isn’t about “sweet, sweet love”. This is about the exasperating sickly sweet façade that you just can’t escape, even if you live in a cave. Well, guess the delay is okay, because at least it didn’t turn out to be a buzz-kill for the V-day lovers out there. And let me put down my disclaimer: my intention is not to insult anyone or to act conceited. 

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Why didn’t I get a bigger present?

Until about a couple of years ago, I had to check a calendar on February 14 to know the date. Ah, those were glorious times! No mobile phone service providers asking me if I want to subscribe for love messages, no online shopping websites competing to have me buy flowers and gifts for my valentine from their website, and of course no wedding shops trying to convince me to let them handle my wedding and honeymoon! Now with all these people out there hell bent on creating my perfect love life, I can hardly ignore the day. Some sites even have gifts for pets! Your pets will be so touched you thought of them on Valentine’s day!

teddy, flowers and chocolate

Don’t get me wrong. I am not driven by cynicism. Yes, I am slightly cynical, but not so much as to completely scoff at people’s feelings. Indeed, what do I care if people want to express their love? But some of these don’t make sense to me. So here are some questions. What is it with Valentine’s day and extravagant gifts? And what is the big deal if your boyfriend/girlfriend does not get you a gift? Why do some people get upset over that? What is the point of giving chocolates, flowers, gifts, etc. to “prove” your love when you both already know that you love each other? And why are people so desperate to have a date on this day? And indeed, what can you possibly do with so many teddy bears?

 

The questions aren’t rhetorical. These are my sincere doubts because I just can’t seem to understand why the day is such a big deal. Sure, to people who really want to celebrate, it is fun. But why the hype? It doesn’t make sense to me at all. What are your thoughts?