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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...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Life in Netherlands-Part 7-When I saw sound....

“Hey Soul Sister...Ain't that mister mister..On a radio, stereo.. lalllaaalala” played the radio gleefully as we left the woods and highways behind and saw the face of civilization . Flooded by a bright summer sun, archaic European houses emerged on both sides of a shady downhill road. My mouth was slightly open in an 'O' as my gaze tried keeping up with the speed of the car.. Absolutely clean, big roads sparkling here and there in the shade of flowering trees and a hearty spirit of mild summer that infixed a spring in the step of young and old alike, welcomed me to the beautiful city of Arnhem. It couldn't have been a more comfortable journey to a fabulous new place, especially when the relocation was for work.
City center of Arnhem
I was lucky enough to get an internship at a really cool company whose head thought making the employees feel comfortable was important! (How many do that??) I was picked up from Delft and comfortably dropped at my new home (which they had rented for me!) by one of the cool guys working in that small but kickass company. My 'O' was stuck as it was, cos Arnhem had something that Delft did not. I could not quite place it then, but I realize now, what it was! Keep reading..

Well, I got a nice little studio apartment for myself right above a cafe called “Grandcafe Metropole”. I loved it instantly! It was like a cross of “Central Perk” from F.R.I.E.N.D.S and “MacLaren's” from How I met your mother! My little room was surrounded by tens of shops that sold items right from groenten to goud (veggies to gold)! A colorful, slithering centrum, beautiful lakes and farmyards, couple of good places to visit and an awesome Kannada family for occasional homely company and food.. Hail Arnhem!
Well, this place, job, people influenced me in so many (good) ways, it would be impossible to forget these 4 best months in abroad till now.
Nearby lake

I began my internship. I was lost . Let me give you a background. I loved electrical/electronics as much as anyone would love to eat raw Brussel-sprouts for all three meals and knew as much as Agatha Christie would know about it!(I blame P.R for it!) Programming was my nemesis, the end of the world as I knew it! The only reason I took it up was because of Acoustics. The little section in one of my courses at Delft had caught my attention for longer than the quarter it had lasted. Plus the wise advice from the donors of my DNA , that it was high time I faced my fears, marked its space against my will in my awfully little brain. And so when I encountered a room brimming with electronics and computers running hundreds of lines of codes, I felt like my intestines were being pulled out like Draupadi's saree!

But miracles exist and they happen! After a confusing first couple of weeks in which my face had turned into the shape of a question mark, and my evenings back home revolving around wiki articles and e-books for dummies series, I began to re-valuate my feelings towards the subject. The biggest source of inspiration was my supervisor. May Science bless him with a long, happy life! A prodigy in programming, he had the magical ability to make me want to program! In the four months of his mentoring, my programming skills got such a boost that I understood, edited and wrote part of a complicated code for my project! * yay * Also since it revolved around signal processing, and I was even unaware of its definition, my supervisor deserves a standing ovation for teaching me with such clarity and not losing patience with my obtuse learning capabilities.. Not in my strangest fantasies, did I dream of working on signal processing, but Acoustics as it mainly deals with signal processing, had me in its reins. I loved it! I remember my friends from EE branches complaining about SP in bachelors. If only they had the kind of supervisor I did, they would have learnt to adore it. But I still elicited laughter from those doing their Masters in SP! May be I did not learn statistical math and probability functions from the Master tracks, but I still learnt to appreciate something from the EE sector! And learning Matlab alongside of SP in the way my supervisor made me do it was absolutely rewarding. For the first time I felt like I could do something in Science! And now my mind yearns to do more with aircraft/space acoustics!

All this- because of Acoustic Sensors. What a fascinating area! So many techniques, so many dimensions, a subject because of which I saw sound! Yeah, no kidding, try scan and paint with a good particle velocity sensor and you will know what I mean. I understood some of the basics of electrical engineering and sensors that I never did before, in ways I always wanted to understand. I saw things that I hadn't seen before, I worked with them, I understood them, I began to appreciate the same that I feared before!

One of the Indo-Italian dinners with
my roomie
And the people here- Oh my! I never thought the Dutch could be so friendly! I dunno what is the problem in Delft, but here, I found some of the coolest and friendliest Dutch people! Not to mention others like Spanish, Indonesian, Scottish, Omani, Italian etc. And the amount of cultural gyaan I got here beat what I acquired in the last one year! (My Dutch vocabulary improved a tad bit too!). And not to forget, the variety in cuisine every now and then. To top it, there were the casual, relaxed late evenings after work while we grabbed a drink and played darts or PS3.

And the work culture in NL is absolutely comfortable. Unrestricted (not completely) work hours, approachable heads, easy-go-nature with your superiors and colleagues... To think, where in India could you call the head of your company and the technical head by their first name?! Or atleast your own supervisor for that matter. It doesn't mean people don't respect each other here. It means they just don't overdo it with every step they take! Everyone is treated equally. From an intern to the head. What you say evokes an encouraging response and is well received even if it has the tiniest of significance attached to it, unlike some work colleagues and supervisors I have met in India, who shut off their brains when an intern has something to say.

Colors of fall
Blinding fog
And the city itself has some charm to it. I saw 3 seasons here and it felt wonderful to see its beauty each time with a different eye. It was somehow unlike Delft. May be because, it was a new place or because it was bigger, but I enjoyed it better than last year! I will always remember the bright mid-day sun piercing through the cool wind when I biked uphill during late summer(yes, I finally saw some ups and downs in the streets of NL! Arnhem is full of it.), the horrendous and yet beautiful winds of fall that blew the groovy golden leaves all over my face, the chill of the sharp rain that densely fogged my spectacles making me ride back home almost blind, the softness of the snow on the path to work that was so considerate seeing me in jitters, the friendly neighborhood felafel shop that made my dinner on most nights and the mouth-watering Indian restaurant 'Mantra' that drove my homesickness away with awesome samosas!
Whity white!

Also, there are quite a few things to see around in Arnhem, ranging from a variety of animals and birds at the famous Burgers' Zoo to the age old Dutch way of living at the Open-air museum, to the historical John Frost Bridge (watch the movie “A Bridge too far”) to the Rhine river and a wild Sonsbeek park, this city is an absolute delight!
Coming from a small 'city' like Delft, this moderately big city was a like a big teddy in a toddler's hand! I felt life breathe here..Living right in the center of the city, I saw traffic and people on streets which hardly one can in Delft .. When I returned from Delft once at around 2 a.m, it looked like evening 8 with people casually strolling on the streets and some pubs and small shops still open! I'd bet, in Delft you'd get the feeling of being in a graveyard!

View from the office one eve..
Lot more to tell, but it still wouldn't completely justify the extent my experiences. I am not an expert in sensors and acoustics but hell, I overcame my fear and I actually like EE now and am interested to learn more about it! A feat I thought was never possible. (I hope you are proud of me Anil =)). I learnt, I enjoyed, I was a little more content with myself than usual, I socialized more and I lived for the first time in the last one year......I will miss Arnhem...But on the positive side some rocket gyaan awaits me in Delft along with a million other positive/not-so-positive things.. So I think its phases out! =)
I shall yap more soon!

Tot ziens!



Anil said...

"I learnt, I enjoyed, I was a little more content with myself than usual, I socialized more and I lived for the first time in the last one year" - Indeed I am :)

aeroyogi said...

:) :) All thy blessings! ;)

Ann said...

Brilliant!! one of ur best posts!
things i absolutely loved abt this one> ur language!! hell! too good! expressive yet easy n fun on d nerves.. absorbs d reader in ur world...n lets em travel alongside u thru ur experiences.. absolutely perfect! ur sense o humor totally grips gal! n d pictures.. d parallels drawn.. just awesom! n yes! absolutely loved d 'science blessing' part ;)

personally m glad.. uve had a great time at Arnhem.. n uve overcome ur fears!! Behold> its just d beginning ;) i hope u hav many more fascinating n liberating experiences ahead.. gud... not so gud.. just keep learning! n having fun while at it :) :) best wishes ;) :D

Anonymous said...

Good read... the best of your Netherland series....!

Vijay Nag said...

u are bcoming professional in all domains.(poetry, literature, technical...etc)..thatz awesome.

Vijay Nag said...

u are truly a versatile :)

aeroyogi said...

Hey Vijay,

Tumbaa mara hattasta iddiya..biddaga tumba novvagutte.. :P But thanks for reading and the comments!