Saturday, July 26, 2008

Die Reise nach Deutschland (Teil 2)

Well, rather silly of me to've left the last one at that, but I'll continue from the taxi ride. It was a rather pleasant experience. Had never experienced such temperatures, such pretty road-side views, such a good machine etc. and was, therefore, quite thrilled. On the Autobahn (freeway), the driver went upto speeds of 180 kmph which again was new and being rather fond of high-speed machines, I was already in my parallel world putting myself in the driver's place and cutting through the January wind, breakneck. Quite pleased I was. The 30 km drive took hardly 20 minutes (again mind-blowing for a Bangalorean) :-).






The Ascot was, and I guess still is, a very quaint, lovely hotel. It is removed from the hustle and bustle of traffic of any kind (not that there is much in Ditzingen), but is still close to the main road and the Bahnhof (railway station). It is also pretty close to a miniature graveyard, and through the graveyard lies the shortest way to the Bahnhof. :-)

I don't quite remember what I ate that day, but I remember that I spent almost the entire day sleeping. I think we went out sometime in the afternoon for some shopping. Yes, we did. It was a Saturday that we reached there, and on Sundays there are generally no shops open there. So we went shopping, and then having come back to my room, I went into slumber. I don't remember if I woke again that day. Doesn't matter. Sunday brought in a new day and a stern test of my elementary German language speaking skills.

I'd had breakfast from the hotel itself (complimentary) and thought I wouldn't need lunch, but found myself hungry pretty soon. Hadn't carried much food apart from biscuits and chocolates, none of which tempted me then (only then). Was too late for lunch from the restaurant below, so walked through Ditzingen hoping to find something to eat, and also to have a look around the place. It was pretty cold even then, around half past three and it was still freezing. I found a couple of places open actually. One, looked Italian, some name followed by Ristorante (am guessing Italian). But there were far too many people in there, so chose not to go in there and so went further ahead and having walked into dead ends in three separate directions, gave up and walked back to the hotel.

On the way back, I found a Turkish kebab place open. Think it was called Golden Kebaphaus (or something like that). So, considering it a safe option (kebab was about as close to familiar food as I could get then, I thought), I went in. The Turk running the place asked me something in German. It was rather strange, an Indian and a Turk in Germany; the Turk speaking what he considered German, that thought never occurred to me though. I guessed that he must be asking me what I was doing in his place when he'd rather be left alone on a Sunday evening. Well I'd learnt some German (or is it Deutsch) via an A1 course from my company, and so was about time I put it to use. I scanned the menu looking for familiar items, while the owner and the chef surveyed me with suspicion. Then having hit upon a choice, I mustered all my courage and German and said quite fluently, "Pizza!". "Mit?" was the obvious response from them. ("Oh shoot!!!") "Er... salami?" OK, if you say so... and the pizza base first and then the meat went into the oven. Meanwhile, I saw that the place also had a number of chairs and tables and thought it must be like one of our little eateries, where one also gets to sit and eat if one chooses to. I also realized that I might not look too bright carrying a pretty large pizza back into a hotel when I might have well got the same thing from there. So, I just put a small question across, "Kann ich... er... I mean can I sit here and eat?". From what I could see, that quite clearly blew the living day-lights out of them. "What??", one of them seemed to shudder. Then he seemed to regain some composure, or thought that this creature might be out of his mind and too much excitement might induce violence etc., and said "No, no... no eat here... NO!". Hmmm... categorical... Ok... No problem... "Can I have a Coke too?" Might as well have something to drink too. "Take anything, no problem!" Ok. Here's the money. See you... "Your change!" "Oh yes, thanks!" Enough adventure for lunch. What happened to the pizza is of course inconsequential. But yeah, I did eat it back in my hotel room. Not great, but who really cares.

That was the end of Sunday, for I went into slumber again, and woke up only sometime early morning on Monday. I was living in the Indian time zone still, you see. And so when Monday finally came, I was glad. Atleast we would be in office, doing something we could pretend to understand. So, by the 8.50 a.m. train, we went to Leonberg where our office was. And that leads me the essence of watching your step at every... well... step.

Having got off at the Leonberg Bahnhof, we were walking towards our office. It might be a km, probably lesser, the walk towards #6, Daimlerstrasse. As we came out of the station, we needed to cross the road, clamber up about a 150 steps (kidding, about 20, I guess) and then take the straight road to reach our destination. Well, we crossed the road, and started going up the steps. As we reached the first platform, I was offered the laptop to carry and take care off. I slung it over my shoulder and header forward. The next step I took forward, I don't know what happened. I don't remember too much of it, but I was looking skywards. I was seeing stars and below the stars I could also see my boots. Then, realization dawned and yeah, I had slipped. The whole thing might've taken 5 seconds, but time is relative to your position I guess. Not minding bystander gasps, I picked myself, which is a lot really, and header upwards, this time with much more careful steps. The wrist took the weight of the, but I could feel nothing then. Must be the cold. The pain lasted for another couple of days and then slowly slipped away. I think, though, that that is a jinxed place, because I clearly remember atleast two other times I slipped at the same place, but didn't fall. I guess I only slid then, but not very nice, no. Unless you're the onlooker of course, in which case it might have been rather amusing. :-)

That was my adventure for Monday, I guess. Tuesday was the case of the room-key-in-the-wrong-bag.

That, of course, could have happened to anybody. Well, like I said in my previous post (I have, you prolly missed it), I wasn't by myself. I was with my PL and since she had a bag with her, I chose to safely keep my room keys in th bag. That way, it would be safe. Well, not a bad idea. Only if you're going to stick together that is. Well, otherwise, you've got to make sure that the person with the key's going to reach the hotel earlier than you. If neither of them apply, then, well... you're going to have to go off on randomly planned walks after coming back from work. Specially once the lounge is as full as it is at those hours. Well, I did too but thankfully had to walk around only 15 minutes when I managed to see her and well , then it was again quite funny. But not if you're the goof with the big "SUCKA!!!!" cloud written over your head. :-)

Well I've been ranting on and on... I guess I will sum the rest of the trip quickly. The rest of the trip was quite OK. The days went well. Except for lunch with pasta. The weekend also brought with it a trip to the superb Mercedes Benz Museum. The museum is a superb demonstration of what good planning, thinking and execution can bring. The thought that has gone into the museum is exceptional. The display starts at the 8th floor with the preliminaries; and you feel like you're walking through generations as you move down the museum. It also outlines the important happenings of those times. The whole experience is absolutely brilliant. I will try to write a separate post on the museum; am not sure I can fit a half-decent description even in this sham of a post.

The star-attraction of this trip was, of course, the trip back. Having got to the Charles De'Gaulle airport fairly trouble free and having gone through the checks, we had lots of time for the flight to Bangalore. The scheduled time was 11.20 a.m. and the boarding time was 10.50 a.m. We just wandered through the numerous shopping centres and made a few little additions to our luggage. Around 10.30-ish we slowly headed towards our boarding gate. CDG is a huge airport; it takes long between gates at times and so we headed onwards knowing there was enough time. As we reached the gate, we thought we'd keep our boarding passes and passports ready. Fair enough. Only that I realized, to my utter horror, that I had neither on me. Well it was 10.45 a.m., 5 minutes to board and no passport! Wow! Didn't have a choice, ran back like mad to the last store we'd stopped in. A couple of inquiries later, some one had kept it safely. Only, they didn't remember where. Another 2-3 minutes later, someone pulled out the passport, boarding pass and my book holding them all and handed them over to me. Relief! Not yet... Have a plane to catch. That wasn't so bad, but for the fact they'd announced that if i didn't make it there immediately they'd be unloading my baggage. I fortunately managed to reach in time to avoid such a contingency and we finally barged into the plane like we'd run into the plane at Bangalore. Like catching the 43D from the Corporation bus-stop, after seeing it stop when you're still at the Hudson Circle signal. :-)

Wasn't too much fun then on, we just flew over lots of place and got off at the HAL airport at about a quarter-to-one in the wee hours of Monday morning. Of course, to commemorate my trip I had to bungle up there too. And so while the authorities asked me to slip my bag into the scanner, I dropped it onto the belt and the bag hit the big, red power switch promply turning the scanner off. Hmmm... the officials seemed at a loss of words on seeing that, specially now that it wasn't turning back on either. I wasn't too popular a guy in the airport at that point in time I imagine. But 15 mins later it was back to working and our bags were scanned, we got out of there and headed homewards.

That was, of course, a pretty uneventful ending to an eventful trip. But yes, it is one I'll always look back at with fond memories. So long for now, thanks for reading if you've got this far. I know it's been a rather long description of nothing, but then...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Die Reise nach Deutschland... (Teil 1)

Well it's been rather long... ages... no... a little over 10 months since I updated this little thought pit of mine... A number of posts lie unfinished, but I'll let them rot. Not much to say in those.
A lot of water has flown since my last post. Rather pessimistic one that... even silly, when I look back at it. Of course, I haven't gotten any more optimistic or life hasn't gotten any better; in fact, it's taken quite a turn for the worse, and I've gotten used to a pretty miserable existence; but that anyway, is not my topic for the day.

In between these 10 months, I have been to Germany twice. Mostly short trips. (I must add that these were official trips, company sponsored.) The first was for a week and the second for three. The first was a lot more memorable though. One reason being that it was my first abroad and that was quite a tempting prospect. But more because of the number of goof-ups. Must be humanly impossible to jump from blunder to blunder in such a short span of time. When I look back and think about it, it's pretty amusing, embarrassing even.

The trip was basically to attend a technical workshop. That part of it went well, no problems. Only that though.

It all started with the way the travel was planned. I wasn't in town for 4 days at a stretch. On the day I got back, I got to know of my travel plans. It was, well, to happen the very next evening. I (we, rather... my project lead also was in the travelling party) had to take a flight to Delhi first, and then a connecting flight to Amsterdam and from there to Stuttgart finally. All this was fine. But wait, something went missing... what? The tickets. Oh yes, we had no tickets. They were booked and all that, but our rather efficient travel desk chose not to send us our tickets. Well, they finally did and I left office at 2.45 p.m. tickets in hand and lots of time to catch a 5.30 p.m. flight.

I did manage to reach the H.A.L airport (this was thennnn...) just before 5... and after much hustling, was guided to the plane by a rather petrified lady at the Kingfisher counter saying, "Sir, the flight is almost taking off!! You must go right now!!!". Really? Wow... :-)
I got into the flight a little short of breath and looking straight into a pack of blazered business class travellers, looking rather bemused. Felt almost like running after a BTS bus and getting into it. Having done it 4 years with more success than failure, it felt pretty normal. But not for the poor business class babus I guess... I moved in to find my seat and to my infinite joy it was right in between two rather well-sized chappies. The author is no small chunk of humanity himself, and that made for quite a close gathering. Of course, I must add that the cabins up above were stuffed with luggage leaving only the space underneath the seat to keep my little travel bag and that made the journey all the more better with lots of leg-room and no chance of feeling cramped. Well it was to be only a 2 1/2 hour journey. So enough time to lose some flab with all those crunches I guess.

Anyway, the flight took off almost in time and we were mid-air when the entertainment started. The guy to my right (near the window) decided to watch a pretty hilarious Hindi movie called "Heyy Baby". I watched it for a while too. I guessed it was supposed to be hilarious from the rather loud bursts of laughter (not to mention a slightly rocky right side seat) from my right and from a well-mannered gentleman somewhere in front.
We were to land at Delhi at around 8.10 p.m., but were caught in a traffic jam upstairs, not at all unusual for us Bangaloreans. The pilot then must've decided to stay off the jam for a while, so he went around Mathura, Agra and back to Delhi again to keep from getting bored until all the planes went their way. Seeing that most of them had adamantly stayed put, he repeated the dose another couple of times until finally some mercy was shown and we were given the green signal. Landed in Delhi at 8.45 p.m. 4 hours to go until ദ next take off.

Nothing much happened at Delhi and a very sleepy me entered the KLM flight, with an aisle seat beckoning this time around. I don't even remember when or even if we took off, because I'd already fallen asleep. KLM is a pretty decent aircraft, with decent leg-space even for the likes of me. But nothing else is much good, specially not the food. Specially, not the sad attempt at Indian food. Nothing hurts than being woken in the midst of decent sleep to stuff your mouth with elastic sheets (they were called rotis, I think).

An uneventful, uninteresting flight later, we landed at Amsterdam sometime in the early hours of the day. The landing was the best I've ever experienced, though. Nothing as smooth. None till date. Of course, temperatures were pretty close to zero. So, the jerkin had to make an appearance as did the gloves. Then was the connecting flight to Stuttgart and about a couple of hours later we landed. The flight was over. The luggage was safe (rather surprisingly. as we learnt later), so were we. We header to our hotel (The Ascot, Ditzingen). In a Merc. In a journey of firsts, this was my first tryst with one. Quite overwhelmed I was. Inspite of it being a pretty common thing in airports there.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Me, Myself and My Interviews...

When doubts starting clogging the mind, never dispel them. Let them clog it to a state where one cannot even think. Question yourself, tear your own self to pieces mercilessly and come to a point where you've realized you're just a bag of sh*t that's as unimportant to the world as a parked car is to a dog. Unwanted and despised. Maybe once all your pretensions, all the baggage has been dropped and you realize your worthlessness, you will begin to learn. Learn to think . Maybe, maybe it would lead oneself to something more worthwhile...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Spicks and Specks!

One more... Their first hit...


Where is the sun
That shone on my head
The sun in my life
It is dead
it is dead
Where is the light
That would play
In my streets
And where are the friends
I could meet
I could meet

Where are the girls
I left all behind
The spicks and the specks
Of the girls on my mind
Where is the sun
That shone on my head
The sun in my life
It is dead
it is dead

Where are the girls
I left all behind
The spicks and the specks
Of the girls on my mind

Where is the girl I loved
all along
The girl that I loved
she's gone
she's gone

All of my life
I call yesterday
The spicks and the specks
of my life've gone away
All of my life
I call yesterday
The spicks and the specks
of my life 've gone away

Spicks and Specks!

The Brothers Gibb...

Been listening to so much of them lately... If I were to put up lyrics with every passing song, I'd have to keep doing it the rest of my time... Out of this world... Just out of this world...

For Whom The Bell Tolls (Bee Gees)

Another beautiful, beautiful track...

I stumble in the night
Never really knew what it would've been like
You're no longer there to
Break my fall.
The heartache over you
I gave it everything but I couldn't get through
I never saw the signs
You're the last to know when love is blind

All the tears and the turbulent years
When I would not wait for no one
I didn't stop, take a look at myself
And see me losing you.

When the lonely heart breaks
It's the one that forsakes
It's the dream that we stole.
And I'm missing you more
And the fire that will roar
There's a hole in my soul.
For you it's goodbye
And for me it's to cry
For whom the bell tolls.

Seen you in a magazine
A picture at a party
Where you shouldn't have been
Hangin' on the arm of someone else
I'm still in love with you
Won't you come back to your little boy blue
I've come to feel inside
This precious love was never mine.
Now I know but a little too late
That I could not live without you
In the dark of the broad daylight
I promise I'll be there.

When the lonely heart breaks
It's the one that forsakes
It's the dream that we stole.
And I'm missing you more
And the fire that will roar
There's a hole in my soul.
For you it's goodbye
And for me it's to cry
For whom the bell tolls.

I never knew there'd be times like this
When I couldn't reach out to no one
Am I never gonna find someone
That knows me like you do.
Are you leaving me a helpless child
When it took so long to save me
Fight the devil and the deep blue sea
I'll follow you anywhere
I promise I'll be there.

When the lonely heart breaks

It's the one that forsakes
It's the dream that we stole
And I'm missing you more
And the fire that will roar
There's a hole in my soul
For you it's goodbye
And for me it's to cry
For whom the bell tolls
(FADE)

Barry, Robin and Maurice... *Salute...*

Ordinary Lives... (Bee Gees)

This song is such a relief... such a relief... One for us ordinary people...

There'll be one small light all over the world tonight.
The search will go on for the one.
It was love with no name
And we glowed in the sun.

There was one small dream,
Incredible highs and lows,
What little we knew living ordinary lives (lives).
Made a dream for you, living ordinary lives (lives).

Ordinary people living ordinary lives.
Ordinary people living ordinary lives.

We were ordinary people living ordinary lives.
We were ordinary people living ordinary lives.

The clock on the wall keeps moving,
Time stands still,
No matter how the dice may fall,
Someone else always gets to call the number.

Say goodbye cruel world.
No pity no pain tonight.
Whatever the cost all is lost.
If this is love with no name,
Then it's all in the stars.

Whether it's wrong (wrong) or right,
There's no one to blame no (no) lies.
What else could we do
Living ordinary lives (lives)?
Made a dream for you,
Living ordinary lives (lives).

Oh, oh. We were ordinary people living ordinary lives.
We were ordinary people living ordinary lives.
We were ordinary people.

What else could we do,
Living ordinary lives (lives)?
Made a dream for you,
Living ordinary lives (lives).

Oh, oh. We were ordinary people living ordinary lives.
We were ordinary people living ordinary lives.
We were ordinary people living ordinary lives.
We were ordinary people living ordinary lives.

Simple lyrics and beautifully rendered by the immortal Bee Gees....
"The clock on the wall keeps moving,
Time stands still,
No matter how the dice may fall,
Someone else always gets to call the number." My word!!!