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Posts in category Travel

Journey Back to Delft- The end of a mini vacation

It was finally time to end my two week visit to my sister in
Heidelberg, a mini summer vacation in itself. 
Back to Delft! I was looking forward to it in some ways but would of
course miss the company of my sister. After all, family is family.

I booked a ‘hitchhike’ back to the Netherlands from Mannheim
(a city close to Heidelberg). I’ve done this countless times. It’s a very
convenient way to travel to neighbouring countries, especially for student. I’ll
give you an example. If you were to take a train to Delft from Heidelberg, it
would cost roughly 100 Euros. That is a steep price to cash strapped students
and isn’t always convenient. On the other hand, if you take a ‘mitfahr’ or ‘hitchhike’
to closer cities (since your exact to and from destination isn’t always available)
it costs a lot cheaper. My price for going from Mannheim to Utrecht was 25 Euros
with a ‘mitfahr’. And the train ticket from Utrecht to Delft costs 13 Euros.
All in all, this kind of a trip is possible in less than 50 Euros (which is
half the price of the train ride).

Other than the obvious monetary incentive, you get to meet
new people and always end up having interesting conversations along the ride.
This is of course possible in a train too, but a lot more likely when taking a
car (proximity and closed environment). I always like to guess what kind of car I will be travelling in. For
instance, my ride to Germany from Holland was in an Audi A4 and for some
coincidence my ride back was ALSO in an Audi A4. I’m not always that lucky and
sometimes the cars are rather generic and old. But hey, what’s to complain
about? It’s cheap isn’t it?

I’ll admit it’s not the most convenient way to travel. But
when you’re on a budget it’s perfect.

      

Waiting for my ride at the mannheim station                                   A little stop at the border of the two countries

My ride this time back to Delft was with a bunch of German
students going to Holland to visit their Dutch friend. They had also booked the
ride online and the driver himself was travelling to Utrecht. So, there was one
driver, and four young passengers. I would have to take a train to Delft from
Utrecht. However, as luck would have it, the three other German students were
later travelling to somewhere-close-to-Delft. So they asked their Dutch friend
(once we reached Utrecht) if he could drop me on the way, and he agreed! So the
second shorter ride was from Utrecht to Delft. It turned out that the Dutch friend
they were visiting had studied in a Technical Highschool which is at a walking
distance from my apartment. So he knew the roads and the way and was kind
enough to drop me almost at my doorstep! Now this doesn’t always happen, but
you never know! J

It’s good to be back in Delft. The familiar place was
missed.

The trip was enjoyable. You do encounter traffic jams and
road blocks sometimes, but hey, that’s life isn’t it?

Tot Later!

Exploring Hamburg at Sunrise

After the dizzying experience of meeting my idol in Hamburg
and watching a screening of his new film I somehow had to make my way back to
Heidelberg in the South of Germany. This was my first time in Hamburg and it
was the middle of the night (or early morning) and I couldn’t arrange to go
back until about 9 am.
I hadn’t slept for nearly two nights now but I was completely buzzing with the
euphoria of the encounter I just had. So, until it was an acceptable hour I
decided to walk around the beautiful city of Hamburg and take pictures. I had
luckily brought my little black writing pad with me. So I walked around, took
pictures, wrote, read, more pictures.

I found some similarities to Delft and get a tab bit homesick. But still it was a great city to capture, especially at sunrise 

         

Train Station at 3 am                                    Train tracks just before sunrise                              Slowly rising sun

 

                     

Sunrise over the river                                                              Shiny Disco ball! (at a sleeping market) 

 

Delft similarity 1- Ducks and Swans  

 

 Delft similarity 2- Graffiti tunnel (‘Denk’ in Dutch means think)

 

Tot Later!

A Pilgrimage to Hamburg- The Film

Here’s the second part of my encounter with my favourite film
director in Hamburg! (click 
here for the first part)

It was dark and there were about 20 people in. And there,
standing behind the last row, smiling, was the man himself. I made my way to
him and managed to blabber ‘Made it… from Twitter…’. He remembered and
wondered if I had actually paid 200 euros to get here. ‘Hitchhiked’ I said. How
I manage to hold my composure is still a miracle to me. My brain was having
mini explosions inside and I somehow managed to keep a straight face (not even
sure about that).

He
gave a short introduction before the movie began and warned us ‘not to try and
understand the film if it gets complicated because we won’t’. I just smiled
like a madman. The film was 5 hours and 20 minutes long split into 2 halves.
What a film. WHAT AN AMAZING FILM! My brain was blown to bits. I’m still trying
to pick up the pieces. It was an assault on all senses. I won’t say more. But
seriously. Guys, watch it. WATCH IT!

During
the break I managed to grab hold of him. One picture. Managed to blurt out
again ‘It’s an honor… great film… thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU’. He was
amazingly humble and thanked me for making it all the way there. Damn. Also
happened to mention that Nishant (my friend and writing partner) would
one day in a couple of years knock on his door with a bag of scripts perhaps!

Movie over,  spasms in
brain. He leaves, I thank him again. I have that perpetual ‘idiot’ smile on. He
disappears with Fatih Akin. Yep, he was
there too!

Zainab,
you’re my unsung hero and the greatest sister. It wouldn’t have been possible
without your help. Thank you. I love you.

    

Myself with Anurag Kashyap                                           The tiny ticket to the Gangs of Wasseypur Experience 

And
Nishant, sorry you couldn’t make it. I know we wanted to watch GoW together.
But unfortunately you were in Holland fighting something called Master’s
Thesis. But you know, one day we will maybe be making our own films!

And
now, I gotta find a way to get back to Heidelberg. Damn, the sun is coming out.

Gotta
go take some pictures! (and maybe wake up)

Tot
Later
J

A Pilgrimage to Hamburg- The Journey

While in Heidelberg with my sister, I spent almost two
dizzying days which can only be described as a fortunate chance encounter that
turned into a very memorable journey.  To
get things into context, I’ll clear one thing, that is: that I watch a lot of
movies and have been, for a year, trying my hand at writing film scripts. And
this post is about that chance encounter with my favourite director (who the
right side of my brain is completely inspired by). It’s a rather long and
detailed account of the two days so I’ll split it into two posts. Stay tuned
for it. Here it goes:

McDonald’s,
Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, Hamburg, Germany
2:49 am
July 13, 2012

If
someone would have told me, a mere 30 hours ago, what was going to happen next,
I would have told them to go quit joking with me. It’s something I really had
never imagined happening. Well that’s not entirely true. But not like this.
Not this soon.

On
the evening of 11 July, I was sitting, bored, in my sister’s room in
Heidelberg. While multitasking between writing, listening to music, answering
messages, and sporadically averting my eyes to Twitter, I got wind of the fact
that ANURAG KASHYAP was in Hamburg for the SCREENING OF
HIS NEW EPIC (and I use this word in the most sincere way possible) FILM GANGS OF WASSEYPUR!

Now,
those who know me know what I think of Anurag Kashyap and what he means to me.
I could write an entire book on the inspiration, influences and, unintentional
teachings he has given me. But I guess that will become clearer with this blog.

So,
as I was saying, after finding out that Mr. Kashyap himself would be screening
a film I had been waiting to watch for aaaaaages, I instantly wrote to him on
Twitter to find out if the screening was private or public. Heck, public or
private, I started scheming ways to get to Hamburg from Heidelberg (only 700km away). Trains? Freaking 234
Euros for a round trip! I was still considering it. Hitchhike? I was just about
to check for a hitchhike online when the man himself replied and said
‘come..you get to see both parts[of the film]’. I was expecting to be woken up
any second. This was not happening.

I
instantly called up my sister who was still at work and managed to blur out, in
between bouts of hyperventilation, ‘Akurag Kashyap….Twitter… Hamburg…
TOMORROW….NEED TO GO!’. She got back home and saw for herself, and then
proceeded to give me a lecture on how it was not feasible and expensive. Damn,
why do I always have to be broke? She tried to help but 234 Euros was out of
the question! I texted 7 different people (at 1am) who I found online
who were driving to Hamburg the next day, hoping that someone would have a seat left. I tried to
sleep it off and just carry on with my shit the next morning. But as I had
guessed, sleep was out of the question.

Got
out of bed at 9, hazy and on autopilot (no sleep) and proceeded to take a
shower and get ready anyway. Just in case. And then, one guy replied! He was
leaving from Frankfurt at 1 pm. Film screening was at 7 pm. Perfect!

I
tried to hurriedly explain to my sister in every way possible and she
understood. And like always, ‘lent’ me some money. As I was hurrying out the
door, she shoved crackers and some cake she had baked in my bag so I’d
have something to eat. I love you Zainab. Really.

Took
a train to Frankfurt station and met my ride there. No hello, the first thing I
ended up asking ‘Can we make it by 7?’. No problem. Though, on the way it
rained cats and dogs and every time the speed dial went from 140kmph to 80kmph
I chewed off more of my fingernails. He asked me a few times, quite puzzled, if
I was actually going all the way to Hamburg to watch a damn film. I just smiled
in reply.

Movie
starts at 7, I reach the city at 6:30. Not bad. Then, the damn urban traffic
hits us! It would have been faster to just walk there. So, I got out of the
car, and started sprinting across the city. Ten minutes later, I realized I had
no idea where I was going. I started asking random people on the street if they
knew where the place was. No. Damn. One guy! My watch said 6:55. Ran faster.
Made it to the place, almost fell over the ticket counter. Panting. ‘Indian
film… Gangs of… has it star..’. Not yet. YES. Made my way down 2 flights of
stairs to the auditorium. Entered.

   

On the way to Hamburg                                         The Information  board outside the Theater

 

Stay
tuned for 
the rest!

 

Tot
Later

 

 

Heidelberg- Calm Siblings

My experience in Heidelberg was quite something else. I was
there for a mere two weeks and had considered maybe getting a job with the help
of my sister, but that didn’t pan out.

So I spent a lot of time with my sister, ate the lovely food
she made and watched a lot of movies with her. It was a nice break from Delft
especially since the summer had started.

We didn’t do anything crazy or go all out, but just relaxed
and caught up. I hadn’t seen her since February so it was nice to catch up with
her. Having a sibling is a lot great since you always have someone to confide
in or to be your partner in crime, but they also fight a lot. But this time my
sister and I managed to be civil and actually enjoyed our time together for the
whole two weeks!

I read a lot, finished two books and walked around the town
and wrote too. It was a ncie calm break and just what I needed, most of all in
the company of my sister!

Her apartment is situated right next to the river and I
actually managed to catch a glimpse of a cruise ship passing by. It was quite
unexpected.

                    

Just cruising through the river                                                                Cobbled streets of Heidelberg        

 

There were two days in between though where I made a
dreamlike last minute journey to Hamburg. But I will explain that on another
post.

All in all I enjoyed my time with her and it was a nice mini
sibling reunion. I hope to see her in Delft sometime soon! J

 

Tot Later

The Box Inside the Wing – Part 2

The building of the wing box commenced! We had all our data
ready and we very enthusiastic about building this monster.

The build was supposed to happen in the faculty’s structures
lab where there were workspaces of huge desks where we could stand around with
the material and just…. Put it all together.

It was the first time I had used a pop rivet gun and we had to
make all the marking quite precisely. It was enjoyable and we took turns and
divided the work in order to keep everyone happy.

While building we noticed one thing, our design had the
least weight compared to the rest of the groups and was using the least number
of stringers. Now normally this means that an excellent and efficient job has
been done and weight saved. But we had a feeling there might be something
wrong. Was it under-designed? Only the compression load test would tell.

         

We nervously watched the box as more load was being applied,
hoping it would buckle only after 5kN had been applied. However, much to our
dismay, it buckled at only 4.2kN. Something was obviously wrong with our
design. We went back to our calculations and looked hard but everything seemed
right. Then, our mentor pointed out one tiny and almost invisible mistake which
cost us a perfect wing box. We sat there with multiple ‘facepalms’. Of course!
We thought. But t was not as obvious earlier.

      

The test area                                                                                                                                Well there’s your problem 

We rectified our mistake in the report and gave a detailed
explanation of why the box failed at such a low load application.

Even though we didn’t have a successful test, the report
went great and we scored high marks on the project overall. It was because we
had made a mistake AND learned from it as well.

That’s something they encourage here at the TU Delft.

 

Tot Later!

Fresh Faces Building a Flying Wing!

I recently started missing the hands on work that was
associated with the BSc. first year project at the Faculty of Aerospace
Engineering.

In the first semester of the first year itself, the project
consisted of designing and building your own flying wing. That was some pretty
exciting yet daunting stuff for us fresh faces to aerospace engineering.

The project though was structured in a pretty efficient way
with weekly tasks where we’d learn bit by bit and gradually ascend to a higher
understanding of how a basic flying wing works.

It was up to us, so we were supposed to choose wisely on the
kind of airfoil we would use for the wing and how it’s basic for would be. When
I come to think of it now, it all seems very elementary since I have just
finished my third year. But it was still exciting stuff, especially since it
was (for most of us) the first time we were building something aerospace
related (albeit very basic).

In order to get us even more enthusiastic, a small flight
competition was introduced, where our wings would be judged for their manoeuvrability
in making turns and in their endurance.

My group, though very competent, didn’t win any of the
competitions, but it was great fun and in the end quite educational as well.

I kind of miss those days, everything was new.

Tot Later!

Two nights- One Town (no cup)

Ahh spring break- alcohol, beaches, parties and wet t-shirt
contests. Yep, TV is quite misleading.

After a hectic week of due reports, assignments and quizzes it
was time for a much needed break. So on Friday, after handing in a massive
assignment and sitting, quite successfully, through a quiz, my roommate Antanas
and I travelled to an unknown town called Heidelberg in an even lesser known
land called Germany. Why Heidelberg? Well it’s close (about 5 hours by car), which
means that it’s not that expensive to travel to. And let’s face it, I’m always
quite broke. The most important reason, though, would have to be that it’s a
nice excuse to visit my sister who has been living there long enough to be
fossilized.

So we carpooled to Heidelberg on Friday evening and headed
straight to the pub where my sister works, The Dubliner. Yep, it’s quite Irish,
and unlike pretty much everything else in Germany, the majority of the people
inside were speaking in English. After healing a dying Antanas with hot whiskey
and having an Irish dinner myself (also known as Guinness), we decided to head
to my sister’s place and rest for the madness that would be Saturday (we were
actually just pretty knackered).

          

And this is where you choose your dinner (at the Dubliner)                      The view from my sister’s apartment (I hate her for that too) 

The greatest thing about having an older sister is that she’s
your mom when your mom isn’t around (minus the extreme protectiveness). So come
Saturday morning, there was a fresh batch of pancakes waiting for us. After
devouring the pancakes like medieval monkeys, Antanas and I headed out to
explore the town. We started off by walking across the river (on a bridge, not
like Jesus) and made our way around the banks and then headed off into the main
street again. From there we hiked (what seemed like a million miles) up to the
Heidelberg Castle. Being cheap bastards, we didn’t really buy a ticket to enter the
castle and just walked around it, which was enough if you ask me. After some
heavy panting and some ‘oh my god we need to f-ing  stop smoking’ we made our way down to the main
street again. I’m told that this main street (Hauptstrasse) is the longest
shopping street anywhere in Europe. Hey, even Wikipedia says so. And we all
know that Wikipedia is never wrong.  After a coffee, we headed back to my sister’s
apartment and watched a two hour long documentary on Heavy Metal. It was part
of a deal which included him watching a documentary about heavy metal with me
and me watching one on House music with him.

    

                                 Antanas doing his usual thing of blocking nice views around town 🙂

Then, after hours of lazing around, it was time to hydrate
and get ready to go out. Starting at home, we then headed to town to various
bars whose names I really cannot recall. The night ended with a visit to a quasi-nightclub/bar.
Or at least I think it ended there, whatever, I cannot recall.

The next morning, Sunday, began like many a Sunday I have
experienced in my university life. My head felt like it had suddenly become the
size of a watermelon (minus the juice of course) and my throat was dryer than
most of Bill Murray’s humour. Hello hangover.

              

Becks                                                        We kinda missed the Absinthe boat  

We then said our goodbyes and headed back to Holland. And let me tell you, a
five hour car ride seems like an eternity when you’re hungover. But we
eventually got back to Delft. And it was actually kinda nice to see my room
again.

Getaways are good. I only wish I could afford more of them.

Tot Later!

Delft-Brussels-Leuven-Delft

 

It took me two and a half years of living in Holland to take
light of the fact that Belgium is just a short train ride away. Okay ‘short’
might be debatable but two hours isn’t that bad. And it was quite a revelation
to find out that the train tickets were not something I’d have to save up for a
year for or sell one of my kidneys for.

As the weekend of the 14th of January came closer, I decided to
visit a friend, Nishant, doing his internship in Leuven, Belgium. I had heard
great things about the place and had never been to Belgium. A perfect
opportunity, I thought. We decided to meet in Brussels first and then head over
to Leuven later in the night. So I bought my train ticket and headed to
Belgium.

Stepping off in Brussels, I remembered thinking to myself ‘wow,
this is a proper city’, or something on those lines. You see, I hadn’t been out
of Delft for a week. As I stepped out of the station I was taken in by three
music stores right across the street but contained myself until I met Nishant.
We headed straight to the music stores and revelled in the shine of the
polished guitars and the even shinier cymbals. It was then time to head to the
place that was the reason for our being in Brussels, the Delirium Café.

The Delirium Café is supposed to be one of the coolest drinking joints in Brussels,
famous for serving 2000/3000/12476192876 (I don’t exactly remember the number)
different kinds of beers. It took us a while to find the place but in the
process we got to see the narrow cobbled streets of Brussels where friendly
waiters tried to sell us chicken curry (I’m thinking the colour of our skin had
something to do with that). When we finally found the café we were not
surprised to see it packed, though it wasn’t hard to find a place to sit. After
four beers, a few conversations with friendly strangers and a list of songs we
might want to perform sometime in the future, we headed out to try and find the
station so we could head to Leuven.

      

Narrow cobbled streets of Brussels (Courtesy: Nishant Jain)                          An interesting ‘Opera’ we came across (Brussels, Belgium)

On the way to the station a friendly man walked up to us and
asked us for directions to the station. Being new to the place ourselves, we
pointed in some vague direction and told him we were headed there ourselves. He
found out we were Indian and started joking with us about cricket and we
thought ‘haha, what a funny guy’. Suddenly, he turned and said he had to leave.
Three seconds and five steps later, Nishant realized that his wallet was
missing. Yep. Beer, cricket and friendly people make us Indians forget about
our wallets. Luckily though, after half an hour of searching the street we
managed to spot his wallet on the sidewalk, sans cash of course. ‘Pickpockets
with soul’ as Nishant likes to call them.

After reaching Leuven we headed to the city centre for a
drink or two and ended up eating one of the most filling Turkish doner meals.
Leuven is pretty much like Delft. Not too big, lots of students, and some great
old architecture
.

The next morning, Sunday the 15th, I took a train back to Delft,
back to exams and studying. It was a short lived yet fun trip. Hey, I got to
witness a pickpocketing first hand! And I finally made it to Belgium.

Next time, Bruges! (well, that’s the plan at least)
 
Tot Later!

Coming Home- Part 2

So here’s the second and final part of the blog-post ‘Coming
Home- Part 1
’.

The forty hour train ride surprisingly went off without any major hiccups.
Sure, the train was delayed multiple times and it we changed seats maybe six
times within that journey, but overall it was actually quite fun. Arriving in
Goa on the 24th evening, Christmas Eve, was a little anti-climatic
but it was great to see my parents after four months.

Goodbye Delhi (The train was actually moving at this time) 

To be honest, I can’t really chronologically sequence all the events of the
following ten days in my mind. But they went something like this:
We hiked to Anjuna Beach, a beach famous for its weekly Wednesday flea market
and beach clubs that play psychedelic trance (not my favourite genre).
We went to Arambol Beach, known for being kind of secluded and also for a
freshwater lake right opposite the sea. Another beach we visited, Aswim, was
similar (minus the lake).

  

The boys are back (the start of our walk to Anjuna)                                                    At Arambol beach

During the nights we would go to the beach and walk around, sit at a shack and
have a few drinks, talk and then head home when we were tired. Nightclubs and
parties are plenty in Goa, but we weren’t really up for heavy partying and
basically just ‘hung-out’.  And hanging
out usually meant having long conversations about pretty much everything,
ranging from how to hold a drumstick properly to what the correct colour of
fried calamari should be.

I’m finally getting over the Goa hangover and it’s been great. I’d like to
thank my friends (Bhanu, Angad, Sahaj, Handa and Jayeta..for you are my friend
too!) for being there and making the trip, umm, trippy. I’d also like to thank
my parents for being quite cool with dealing with five guys and one girl and
the mess they drag along with them, especially the girl 🙂

Finally, I’d like to thank Goa for not having changed much over the last twenty
years….. who am I kidding, It’s a completely different place now. But somehow
it still manages to capture me.

For now, I’m going to hit the books, First exams on Monday, eish!

Tot later!

 

P.S- Bad SOPA! BAD!

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