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This blog is named after one of my poems. Even thought its not the best of the lot, I just fell in love with those words- The Psyche Unknown...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Life in Netherlands-Part 3-Hoi Mr.Weather!

Moving towards the north pole didn't come across as a threat when I was basking in the tropical sun.. Little did I know of the effects the temperate zone climate would create on my happy little brain..
Here seasons are so well defined unlike in India. You realise you are breezing through summer or falling through autumn very explicitly.. You see the vivid colors in fall and leaves strewn all over, lest fall on you while your biking on the road unlike in India. Atleast in Bangalore you could hardly make out when the rain sets in and when the heat decides its his turn!. Forget winter,..you have the sun blazing all day long,.
When I first reached here, I was taken aback with the phenomenon of cold winds rushing past your face during summer! I braced my jacket then and always hoped the wind would die down.. The temperature in summers do not cross 20-23 degrees! And that was maximum in winter back home for me..People are so ecstatic about the summers here that everyone is outdoors and dressed as minimum as possible.. I did not understand when I landed here why people were so freaky about summers like they'd never seen sun before..Only when autumn set in I agonised on not enjoying the sun more couple of months back.

Happy , sunny initial days...

This is kinda a fair in the square set up during summer..

Lots of events, outdoor activities and parties are held and people make it a point to attend them. Now that I have witnessed the autumn and winter here I am sure I too will during the summers.. Sunlight is precious here..a rare commodity! I had a very short time with summer here though.. Hope I get to enjoy full summer next time.. I wanna go visit places too as they say summers are the best to tour around Europe..May be I can write more about it then....

Once autumn started setting in, the sun slowly faded away.. so much so that we live here without seeing the sun for weeks! No exaggeration. I never was a big fan of sunny days in India. I loved the showers there, had made it a point to get drenched every single time.. but here, a million efforts to like the rain here went futile.. Rains in India meant hot saucy Chinese Bhel puri at the near by chat shop and a hot cup of granny's coffee. While rains here only bring so much fog, chill, dampness and make you relive your past...its like the dementor effect!! You do not feel like cycling out to get a bite of your favourite hot Vietnamese Loempia even though every cell in your body is begging you to have mercy on them!
Rains in India always had a soothing effect.. it would clear your brain and ease the frown on our face but here it just did the opposite. Cold drops of rain that sting you all over sending shivers in the oddest of places especially if you are not in gear.
Nothing stops life here unlike in India where you get a holiday for heavy rains or where your allowed to skip classes when the weather is too bad.. everything works as normal as ever. When the weather was bad, it meant you were allowed to wake up late.. Still unaccustomed here I have woken up late so many days that there is one course that I have missed altogether because of the early timing. Not that the teacher was great and would have instilled "knowledge" in me if I did attend.
But come on.. you don't wake up when it still looks like morning 4 or 5 just because it is indeed 7 or 8 am! ;D

Trust me when I say the flash has added a lot to these pictures!

(You could also check my Amsterdam pictures)

Even after turning your clocks one hour back to save day light you see "light" only for 5-6 hours a day. Note I am not talking about sunlight.. Its just the left over light reflecting from the sun shining in some other part of the world!
Biking during the rains is anguish in its own right.. A terrible pain in the wrong place.. And as nature always conspires against me, it rained worst when I had to bike the most. Fridays!! darned fridays...I had to bike to and fro to attend classes at different faculties and there I had Mr.R(P)ain Casanova feeling me all over even with my protective gear on..
And don't even get me started about the profound effects the gloom has on your psyche.. I as for one suffered home sickness in varied forms, hallucinations, desired for things/people that never existed in that form, depression, self pity, self hatred so on and so forth..

Just a week back when the sun showed up all of a sudden full and bright with no clouds along the horizon, I was so sure I was still asleep. I had only expected it to the gloom to grow worse for winters. But lo! I was in for a surprise...I opened the door and the sun was standing right outside my door with a mischievous grin something that said- "You there lassy.. did ya miss me??" Yes Yes Yes!! Only the light years stopped me from kissing the sun! ;) I stood outside for half hour doing nothing but soaking in all the vitamin D that I possibly could..

See... The sun in my room! :):):) Yeah I have kinda grown romantic about the sunlight...;)

Couple of days, it started getting colder.. The small canals around started freezing and soon even before we realised it, it started snowing. All my neighbours here and me celebrated the first snowfall in Delft with so much enthu in the middle of the night..It was F.U.N. period.
I love the snow..Absolutely! After a all night session of playing in the snow, building a snow man the next night, and walking quite a distance in the snow at around -10 degrees; I am satiated.. :) A peculiar oxymoron in this weather is that its so damn bright when it is snowing. The sun is out in all splendour and yet it shows minus degrees on the temperature scale. Its comparatively less windy too.. I really like it.. Its all white around you and you have the sun adding on to the brightness too...

I fulfilled mychildhood dream of building a snow man too along with my Dutch friend Anouk.. Building snow man is quite a task. Not as easy as I thought. I suffered from a muscle pull in the night and a bad backache the next day.. But it was worth it all. I finally built a snow man and yeah he looked good for a rookie! ;)

Today there is heavy snow fall and its few inches deep on the ground. Its utterly fantastic to see this color waking you up.

Outside my doorstep.

View from my window that I woke up to in the morning today.

And the cycles covered in the snow are so beautiful. Its quite a task to recognise your bike amidst those many, all covered by the white fairy..:)

To avoid this confusion and to de-freeze my cycle locks , I have had to accommodate my bike as a guest for few days in my room! sigh...
But I am perfectly loving this weather..Though it requires layers of clothing and yet sometimes gives you the chills, its much better than the rains.
Waiting for the canals to freeze a little more so that I can go walking/skating over them!

That's the effect when you throw a snowball on the frozen canal.. Isn't it sort of spectacular as though shot in split second of a blast?? Its actually taken almost a minute after the snowball was dropped on the ice!

Spring is yet to come..but when it does, I'll be all ready to let you know about the beauty of Europe!
As of now, I'm getting a call for a snow fight.. ;)
Tot ziens!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Life in Netherlands-Part 2-Ms.Nalapaka!

Whoa! Its been a hectic start of the week.. And I'm already drained out.. I need a bit of my writing therapy.. :) So I thought Ill let you all know a chunk about my life in the land of cheese!

I have been getting repeated questions about what I do about my food, especially how I deal with the 'boon' of being a vegetarisch (Dutch for vegetarian) in a country where everything starts with a 'kip' or a 'vis'! (Your right, I know these words cos I try to identify them first on the menu! It means chicken or fish!)
Well, well, I manage beautifully and how! ;) I do not miss home food and all thanks to the spices mom has sent and my culinary skills within the 3X4 feet kitchenet in my spacebox. I do miss eating junk on roadside though.. :'( The outside food here will come to you in another post!)

Thats an awfully maintained kitchenet of mine!
When I first landed here, Schipol airport smelt like pancakes.. sweet sweet pancakes.. For many this may be a flavour to drool but I hated it instantly. Let me get this straight to you all, I hate sweets, I hate the smell of it, I don't eat chocolates or the wedding confectioneries except peni, chiroti and doodh peda; even that has a limit of just one 'stuk'. ;) If you don't find chilly powder or chillies glaring evilly from your plate, then I haven't brewed your meal! I am the Mistress of Spices! ;)
The Dutch survive on bread and cheese alone of various forms. Naturally pancake smell wasn't unexplained! For them spice means salt. If you ask them to spice it a little more all they will do is add pepper to it and wrap it in a neat paper with a smile! I was petrified of the very thought about spending the next 2 years or so here.. I wasn't too sure of my skills in the kitchen except for making crispy, tasty akki rottis and that's hardly a thing you can do daily when you are supposed to be managing studies and a 'house' of your own!

For the first few weeks, mom's ready to cook and eat stuff saved me from starving. I binged on it all day long even when I wasn't hungry. That was my way of getting rid of homesickness. When the booty baggage started looking empty, trust me I checked for all the compartments a thousand times, I was forced to go shopping. Another time sucking menace that I hate!! Specially when you are spoilt for too many options, it can seriously hinder your decision making capabilities whether or not your a libran like me! So many brands of super markets with price and quality tags of their own and not to mention, the safe haven for all Indian food lovers like me-the Turkish shop..

One markt named Aldi..
Anyways then began My experiments with truth! boy oh boy! some major experiments with standard rules of cooking! On electric stoves that too.. I hadn't gone close to one in India! I defied everything that mom fervently shouted to me through skype, just cos I was lazy/suffered a problem of inattention and hence I brewed and concocted my steps of cooking.. Burnt rice, overheating the pans such that the teflon coating gets eroded, over spiced(yeah even for my standards) 'curries', forgetting what's on stove while chatting with a friend, the fire alarm friggin' ringing its bells off only to get stares from my chinese neighbour, spoiling a birthday treat of a friend(will post it in a topic called "How not to make kesari bath!"), burning hands, cutting fingers instead of onions, overestimating the freshness quotient of food items and having to throw away the yeast ridden saucers were some of the astronomically enlightening results!

However I strongly believe in the phrase "Try, try and try till you succeed". I dutifully tried everyday (and I still do!). I still didn't listen to mom much mainly cos I never had half the ingredients of what she mentioned. Abiding by her rules only meant extra shopping, nah! forget it! not worth it. Saying that I'd never compromise on the quality/taste of food I eat.. NEVER! I'm a connoisseur of food.. ;) Cooking is like chemistry you see. You need to know which ingredient behaves as what when added to another ingredient(s), the catalysts to enhance taste and the splendid products and by products that come out of it.. Tabulating the experimental results in my brain and applying corollary theorems to each of them, I noted a set of patterns in the conventional cooking styles. I deviated here and there slightly to get modified versions of many "difficult" dishes cooked by mom's in India who start preparing for it early in the morning. And all within half hour's toil between classes! I know,I know,,,, I'm smart.... :D

<==Here is one of my creations. Its close enough to Vegetable kurma and tastes yummmm.. believe me or else I wouldn't have survived here this long!

Aha! To the right(above) is is the pic of a bloating roti! that too on an electric stove!!muhahahah... Although I'm yet to decipher why making rotis fat is a mark of good culianry skills, I was happy when mom said its difficult to get bloated rotis on flames most of the time. And yet, there I had a cute bloated roti on the tava standing on an electric stove! Its become a routine these days! What do I say, I'm just good at it! Or else I'd simply not be called the Roti expert by my Indian neighbours! :D I could make good ones even when my "intelligent and nutrition freak" friend added egg yolk to the atta and asked me to make chapatis out of it!

<== There you go, another night's dinner.. parathas and cheese cum spice dipped capsicum!(capsicums here come in orange, red and yellow colors!)Oh yeah I make use of the Dutch items too!

Below is food for a couple of days! Saves me time at the kitchen counter during rough days ;)

There have been lot of innovative dishes tried in my room till now, some terror inducing and some hunger stimulating!
Beans gojju,
pasta with sambhar powder(it actually tastes good!),
carrot spread for the bread, bread-o-nion(its one word,careful, I termed it!),
cauliflower fry,
brinjal twists(an accident-I didn't want it to look like twists!),
raddish treats(it was the worst of my experiments I think...that was the raddish marathon week-one raddish was so big that I had to eat it for a week! a case of underestimation..I haven bought another since then..:D) etc etc and of course some conventional items like
channa masala,
fried rice,
bisibele bath,
capsicum masala,
potato bhaaji's,
all types of sambhars
and of course rice. May be plain rice is the only thing I haven't tried manipulating. Its easy and I'll leave it that way! ;) And none of them exceed my time limit for cooking of half to 3/4th of an hour a day!

Indianized Pasta!
Wheat Pakodas! ;) 

Of course mom's parcel of pickles,chutneys n chutney pudis are all there to compliment my dishes perfectly to the last taste bud!
So lay out your plates people, the new chef is in town!! ;)

PS: If you have a phobia to spices even by a tiny percentage, you should stay away from the dining area! :) I am not liable to consequences arising from your foolish confidence in trying my dishes! :D