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Posted in December 2011

Soon. Home.

Tomorrows the day. Amsterdam-London-Home.

Saturday, as I had mentioned earlier, was my last day of
work at PostNL and it was by far the most intense work day. Five hours in the
rain and it was quite cold and dark. But I had to pull through, since it
wouldn’t matter after that. The sigh of relief after work was quite rewarding.
That and the thought of finally going home!

I will have quite a few ‘firsts’ this time when I go home.
It’ll be the first time I am going to go through Schiphol airport. I know, I’ve
lived here two and a half years and I’ve never travelled to and from Amsterdam
(It’s always been Frankfurt). I’ll be in transit in London. That’s another
first since I’ve never really been to the United Kingdom. It’ll also be the
first time I’ll be going back home in the winter. And once I’m home, it’ll be
the first time I’ll be travelling to Goa (from Delhi) on a 36 hour train ride
with my friends. And all of this before the 24th evening!

It has been quite a hectic week here in Delft and I’m glad
to have had the last two days to relax. Though now coming to think of it, I
should start packing. IT hasn’t snowed yet! It has rained quite a bit and even
hailed, but no snow yet. Normally, that would suck because I find it quite nice
when it snows, but I’m thankful at the moment since last year when it snowed
all the flights in and out of Amsterdam were either heavily delayed or
cancelled. So yeah, let it not snow,
for a few days.

Delft, meanwhile, has been getting in Christmas mode. It’s
quite nice to see the city centre all lit up at night. And all the cafes and
stores are playing, without fail, every Christmas song that has ever been
recorded. I’m pretty sure it’s similar in India, but Delft has a different
charm.

Anyway, I’m off! I should start packing. And YES, I almost
forgot… I should print my flight tickets too! I’ll hopefully be sitting on the
beach under the warm sun when I write my next blogpost.

 

We all love a beach sunset (Baga Beach- Goa, India) 

 

Tot Later!

You’ve Got Mail

I hope everyone’s mail gets delivered properly. It’s nice to
see that even with the heavy use of electronic mail (which is also in its dying
phase) and more popularly, social networking sites, that post- the kind with
paper and a postman is still alive.

I work at PostNL. It’s a Dutch postal company which… well
you get the point. And I work as a post man or in Dutch, a ‘postbezorger’. I
took up the job back in May to make some extra pocket money. Another reason for
this was so that I could finally tell myself that I have worked and actually earned money, apart from the odd car
washes I’ve done back home. This week, on Saturday to be precise, will be my
last work day for PostNL.

A usual day work day for me consists of cycling to the depot (a garage where
the day’s post arrives, sorted) and picking up my designated bags. The bags are
marked according to what area or zone I will be delivering post in that day.
Then the fun part begins: the actual delivery. Yes, it is as easy as it sounds.
Reach your zone, open the bag, take out the post and start delivering.

 

 Actual letters and no bills? (A typical post bundle, Martin at work)


Why am I quitting my job? Well to put it simply, I cannot afford to work there
anymore. Being a student, studying Aerospace Engineering for that matter, and
having a part-time job that takes place during day time is not the easiest when
it comes to time management. That coupled with my already weak time managing
skills is not the best combination. 

But I must say I’m quite happy to have worked there. The
work days were flexible, the timings weren’t that taxing and it’s kept me fit. Most importantly, though, I
earned enough money to be able to afford a ticket to India to visit friends and
family in the Christmas break. That was something I had never really imagined
and I am really looking forward to it!

I have also been very lucky. It’s not easy to get a job for
an international student. And for that I’d like to thank my good friend and
last year’s TU web blogger Martin, who worked for a few months at PostNL before
I did and gave me the idea and motivation. The weather, whenever I’ve worked,
has also been surprisingly good! It has only rained a few times and the snow…. what
snow?

But my unsung hero has, without fail, been my trusty
bicycle. Thank you Gazelle, you are gezellig!

My helpful colleague (My trusty Gazelle bicycle with post containers) 

Now I can get back to my life as being a proper student! One
less string attached.

Tot Later!

That’s a lot of Baggage

Have you ever lost your luggage traveling by air?

Being a third year bachelor student has its advantages,
one of the most interesting ones being the minor. At the faculty of Aerospace
Engineering here in TU Delft (and I assume in other faculties too) the first
semester of the third bachelor year usually consists of a minor. No the fun
part is, that the minor doesn’t necessarily have to be from your own faculty or
even the TU Delft itself. I happened to do half my minor at the Erasmus
University in Rotterdam in Cultural Sociology. The second half, currently, I am
doing at the TU Delft itself.That brings me to the opening question of this post. One
of the courses I’m taking deals with baggage handling system of airports. I
travel every year to the Netherlands from India and back. And I sometimes
wonder about what happens to my bags after I check them in, but that lasts mere
moments followed by my eyes wandering to the nearest duty free stores. The
thought is revisited again when I reach my destination and wait for my bags at
the claim area. I must confess that waiting for the bags is not very exciting,
as many of you would agree.

 

My bag is missing! 

Studying for this course has made me realize that it is
quite a mammoth task to handle thousands of bags every day and get them on and
off airplanes to and from passengers. The main ‘grade-getter’ for this course
is that I, along with four other group-mates who happen to be close friends,
have to design a complete new terminal for an airport, mainly focussing on the
baggage handling part. Eish…We have been regularly meeting at the library for the
past few days, brainstorming and trying to get our heads around this task. This
also entails annoying colds and litres of coffee and many laughs. It’s not easy
but it is quite exciting and challenges our technical and creative intellect,
like most things at the TU. We are also trying to finish off as much as we can
before we go our separate ways to our home countries. I am certain of one thing
though, we will be thinking about the baggage handling system when at the
respective airports on our way home!

 

Working hard or hardly working? (In the TU library study room ‘Einstein’) 

As an additional fact, I’d like to state that the library
was considerable empty today (referring to my previous post ‘Exaaaams’). No
wonder, exams are in the end of January!

 

This never happens! (The almost empty library bicycle parking)  

So, I’ll try to be patient when I wait for my bags at the
New Delhi Airport next week. I know what goes on behind the curtains of duty
free stores and security checks!

 

Tot Later!

Getaway

It’s always nice to go travelling around Europe, especially
as a student since it’s a nice way to take a break from the routine of
university life. I usually go visit my sister who lives in Heidelberg in the south
of Germany. It’s always nice to have relatives close by but I know quite a few
fellow students who travel around Europe in their free time even if there are
no relatives around. These places are usually the closer countries like the
neighbouring countries like Germany, France and Belgium or even England, Spain,
Italy and Sweden to name a few.

 

The Heidelberg Castle- One of the places I’ve visited

The Dutch train authority or NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) is
well connected with other railways authorities (with highspeed rail links) in Europe and it is quite easy
to find a ticket to your preferred destinations. They aren’t always cheap, but
if you book well in advance it’s not that bad. And of course, the Delft station
is well connected with other stations in the Netherlands. And if you’re looking for longer distanced trips, there’s always Easyjet and Ryanair.

 

A Typical NS Train- Not the only kind! 

 

  So hop on the next train. Explore Europe while you can!
Brussels? Munich? Paris? Why not!

I have my eyes on Bruges, a little town in Belgium which I
have been in awe of since watching the film ‘In Bruges’. I recommend you all to
watch it. I’m sure you will be amazed too.

 

 In Bruges- My inspiration to visit Bruges

Don’t get me wrong. The Netherlands itself has many sights
to see too, including our very own Delft :). But while you’re here, it’s not a bad
idea to have a getaway at times!

 

See you on a train soon!

 

Tot Later

 

P.S – Here’s the link to the NS website (http://www.ns.nl/en/travellers/home)

‘In Bruges’ poster sourced from- http://piperbayard.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/bayard-holmes-movie-no-popcorn-in-bruges/ 

 

Got a Roof Over Your Head?

‘How about you sleep on the mattress on my floor till you
find a room?’

Yes dear readers. Housing is a tricky thing in Delft. As a
first year bachelor student, more than two years ago, I had set foot in Delft
without a fixed housing situation. If you apply to the university as an
international student and you get accepted, you can be certain that the
university will do its best to provide some form of shelter at least for a
fixed one year. However, this was not the case with me because, in a nutshell,
my registration was a tad unconventional.

The university has some kind of a deal with DUWO, a not for
profit company that provides housing for students. DUWO has had, well, a colourful
reputation. And most students have a love-hate relationship with it and have
complaints about poor maintenance and over-priced rent. I happen to be living in
a DUWO apartment. But it is a little different from the conventional one room
studio apartments that the company provides.

For international bachelor students, housing is pretty much
provided guaranteed for the first year (provided your registration goes
according to ‘plan’). After that, well, a lot of students form groups and rent
out apartments on their own through agencies. Now this process can be quite
tiresome and time consuming. But it usually works out fine eventually. I
personally haven’t really had to search hard for an apartment since I found an
apartment quite early on with two friends and have been living there since. I
have had friends who have had the search problem though. But a friend in need
is a friend indeed right? So there’s always room somewhere while you’re in ‘limbo’.

As for the prices, a single room can cost anywhere upwards
of 200 euros a month. Though the cheaper ones are a little hard to find and
usually taken. The rent also depends on the inclusive/exclusive costs of energy
(electricity, gas and water) and internet. For instance, the rent for a one rom
studio apartment in Roland Holstlaan (a student housing apartment by DUWO) is
around the 400 euro/month mark. This might sound steep but it’s including
energy and internet! Some cheaper apartments cost less but are excluding any
energy or internet costs. The rent also depends on the location and the size of the room.

I actually live in
the south of Delft, a 15 minute bicycle ride away from the university (on a
good day) and the centre. But it is not bad at all. You get used to it and
Delft is quite a small town so no distance is too long for bicycles. I share an
apartment with two friends of mine and there are three separate rooms for each
of us. But the lucky part is that our housing contracts are conditionally open
ended. This means that we can stay until we finish our studies and do not have to
worry about looking for new places to live in!

 

 

 

In my first year in Delft, there seemed to be a serious
housing problem as there was a severe shortage of places to stay with respect
to the number of students. However, this seems to be changing as every year
newer and bigger student housing blocks are being built by the university to
meet the demand for housing.

 

 

 

So not to worry, you will always have a roof over your head
in Delft. And if you’re finding it hard to find the apartment that fits your
needs there’s always someone who will be there with the opening sentence of
this blog post!

 

Tot Later!

Eat the Hair-dresser

Mmmm… Its heavenly. If there’s any form of fast food that’s
truly for the soul, it’s the Kapsalon. Served in an aluminium take-away
container, it’s a surprising mix of meat, fried/baked potatoes and vegetables.
All this is mixed well with either sambal (spicy red) sauce and/or knoflook
sauce (garlic). It is then covered with a layer of cheese and baked. Now this
might sound quite fattening and un-healthy. Well, it is, if it were eaten every day. It is then cleverly disguised
under a bed of salads. A kind of compensation for the mountain of calories you
are just about to consume.

 

 

 

The Kapsalon is, originally, a variant of the Turkish doner.
And instead of being wrapped or stuffed in bread, it is served in a deep
container. However, the word ‘kapsalon’ actually translates to hair-dresser in
Dutch. It was actually conceived here in Holland! So it is kind of a
collaboration between the Turks and the Dutch. And what a collaboration might I
add.

Whenever I’m not in Holland and someone asks me what I miss the most, without
fail, every time, the reply is ‘Kapsalon!’.

 

 

Now unfortunately the Kapsalon is non-vegetarian. But I
would still recommend it to everyone,
who knows; maybe you could request a vegetarian variant J

Fortunately, it’s available in every Turkish doner shop. And there are plenty of those in Delft.
Though my favourite comes from Doner King in the centre of Delft. But, when its
late and you return at 3 am from heavy partying, there are two doner shops that
are open till the early hours of the morning. One of them being Alev and the
othr one being Acacia. And trust me when I say this, there’s no better meal
than a Kapsalon under the waning influence of alcohol you might have consumed a
couple hours ago J

I’m just waiting for the day they will start serving it at the university cafeterias 🙂

 

Happy eating!

Tot Later 

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