Monday, August 31, 2009

A trip to Zaanse Schans

This Sunday we visited Zaanse Schans. I wanted to visit this place since the day I heard/ read about it but somehow it could not happen and finally we managed it this weekend. It is in neighborhood of Zaandijk near Amsterdam on the banks of River Zaan.
It is a nice place for a day out, its old age windmills showcase glimpse of Dutch life in this rural riverside region in the 17th and 18th centuries, a good introduction to the Dutch countryside, its people, and their traditional way of life.
When we reached there, by mistake we took the turn at river side of the place and were confused how to park as all were reserved parking, and then one kind lady instructed us that there is a bigger parking for visitor just few meters away... so here we go. So main entrence to the place is around 300 meters away from river.
There you can see tourist buses and cars parked and the Museum. There is no entrance fee to Zaanse Schans, but there is a small fee for the museums and mills. For parking, if you stay more than 30 mins (which you are going to) then day fee is charged which is 7€.

Our first impression was, its so beautiful...those cute old age windmills, which we keep seeing in pictures/ posters and river. Fortunately it was a nice sunny day so a cold breeze touching you with a warm sun ! Nice feeling !
Zaanse Schansis made up of various buildings, some of which are original to the site and some which have been moved and re-erected here. The area was named 'De Zaanse Schans' after an entrenchment which was erected in 1574 to hold back Spanish troops at the beginning of the Eighty Years War between the Netherlands and Spain. The dikes were probably built as early as the thirteenth century; the first villages were built along these at a later date. Until late in the last century these were typical 'dike-villages'.

At one time there were over hundreds of windmills cramped into relatively small area, lining the banks of the Zaan, and were the reason that this area became so heavily industrialized. Now they are reduced to a handful. A boat tour on the river Zaan offers a particularly wonderful view of these mills, though we couldn't take one.
Surprising part was there are still people living in the Zaanse Schans. You can see people working in few operational mills, some houses which they have converted in souvenior / antique shops. The open-air museum also features a wooden shoemaker, a pewter factory, bakery, cheese and dairy farm, and a century-old grocery store.

At Zaanse Schans you can see and visit The windmills, De gekroonde Poelenburg - paltrok windmills/ sawmill , De Kat - a mineral mill, De Zoeker and De Bonte Hen - Oil mills, De Huisman- mustard mill, De Hadel - This drainage mill, Museum Het Noorderhuis, a restored home that features original costumes from the Zaan region.

One of the Highlights include the Albert Hein shop (Dutch 7-11, now one of the biggest retailers in the world, owns shops in Sweden, US, Portugal etc.) and the shop where they make wooden shoes.
The nearby 'Schoolmeester' (Teacher) is the last remaining paper windmill in the world. For many centuries, paper produced in this region was considered the best quality paper in the world. We even came to know that America's 'Declaration of Independence' was written on paper from De Zaan !
I would say it is a beautiful place, only disappointment was not as big as I had assumed from reading on internet and its website. But when you live in Netherlands, you probably shouldn't miss it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are you afraid of living below the sea level ?

It's shaking to I think I am writing this sitting 5 meters below sea level right now and my efforts to learn swimming are going in vein! But question is for a change consider I am a good swimmer, and the need arises, how much will it help me !!

But thanks to the precautions taken, learning from past flood history of the country, and thanks to this project "Delta Works", I don't see the fact of having ocean as a neighbour and leaving below sea level bothering me too much to live here !

Last year after moving here, my boss in my last job (yeah same I wrote about here) included a few lines as below in his e-mail to me...
"Holland has implemented very innovative ideas for protecting the land from Sea as the Sea is higher than land at many places. The country is also one of the largest exporters of dried milk powder etc."

I knew what he was talking about and so much I wanted to know more about it too ... yes I am talking about "Delta Works".

It was on our list to visit as Ashu had already been there and me being an engineer (That’s how people perceive it, though the fact that I never worked totally on technical side), he thought I will like to visit it. But just that fact that how people recognize this project made me more curious to visit the place as soon as possible! After all I didn't want to reply negatively to people asking me whether I visited it or not, living in the country!

So we decided to visit Delta Park . It was such a nice time learning and knowing so many things about this project and history of this project. It is a nice place to visit once while you live here.

The day turned out quite memorable in other aspects too considering we were new here, hardly understood a word in Dutch, we had to take so many public transport connections to reach there (to be precise we had change 6 connections to reach and 6 on the way back so 12 in the total) and it took 3 hours 32 minutes each way so about seven hours. We were so tired on the way back that we both fell asleep on bus and only woke up when bus-driver spotted us in the empty bus at last stop ! (Fortunately, it was the last stop where we were suppose to take other connection, so lucky we, didn't have to travel back )

Something about Delta works... If you tell me that you live in Netherlands and don't know what I am talking about... arrr....ummm....hhhhh.... I am speechless! Dutch are proud of this project and they have a reason for it.

It's the engineering excellence which this small country has achieved, with about 27% of its area and 60% of its population located below sea level, to protect itself from sea and floods.
After the North Sea flood of 1953 destroyed 4500 buildings, drowned 10,000 animals and killed 1835 people, the Netherlands began work on the world's largest flood protection project,
Delta Works (Dutch: Deltawerken).
According to the Discovery Channel 15% of the total budget for the Delta Works was spent on fundamental research. Today Delta Works consists of over 16,500 kilometers of dams, 300 structures and 1,650 sq. km. of reclaimed land... (Wikipedia Page)

You can find the details, history and some interesting fact about the project on many websites, I have noted down a few ...
Delta Works
Water Land
Discover the Netherlands
Modern Holland

Wondering how suddenly it is on my mind today? Because we are planning to visit it again with some visitors. And I hope this time it will not be that tiring as we won't have to take 6 different connections to reach there!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book which made him read....

I love to read, and I am not that choosy about what i read. I read everything ... fiction, science-fiction, thriller, romance, non-fiction, self-help, motivational whichever comes my way and whatever interests me enough to continue reading on first few pages to get through it.

I had ordered few random books. One of them was "Playing for Pizza" by John Grisham. It was still waiting to be in my hands for a few months now, So I thought to take it with me on my vacation to read on flights.
I took it out from my bag to read while taking seat on flight and Ashu asks me if i have any other books in spare which he can read.
Now he is not one who loves to read. He likes that i have this hobbie but sometimes when I am too busy wandering in my imaginative world he complains that I get so indulge in other world that sometimes I forget everything around me. I do not dely the fact but now I try not to indulge myself in books especially in day time when there are other peoples around or things to be done, not to behave totally lost.

But now he asking me for a spare book, that is a big surprise!
So for the first time I did that... I handed some one a book to read which I had just started and hadn't yet completed ! ( Yeah I know, I had just started so had gone through few pages only, but still !! !)

That made me come face to face with the reality, I could see why he complained when I was reading, as he kept reading whenever he could sneak out some time, also at nights until he would fall asleep. And yeah I understood the meaning of "what you give away, come backs to you" in a funnier way! hehehe

And man, could I be any happier when he asked me for some other book on completing that one !
He started reading "Who Will Cry When You Die" by Robin Sharma and was loving it. Unfortunately we missed bringing it here with us!
So next book I have given him is "Winning" by Jack and Suzy Welch. I thought it will be a nice read for him, getting into groove as he is starting his executive MBA from this January.
But this book needs to be taken in slowly as it is not a story, So far he is saying he likes it, to be seen when he actually finishes that one.

I hope he continues with readings now developing it in a hobby, he always appreciated but now it is great that he appreciates my reading love more!

By the way it did surprise me with no end when I saw him sticked to a book and actually completing it !
I was wondering what was that, and soon realised ahhhhhh FOOTBALL !!! Aaaaah, He and his love for sports !

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Love Story - "It ended !"

I knew her from many years back....
After all we studied together and shared a love and hate relationship... Not sure whether it was us or group we hanged out with.

Then we all moved to different places, some pursuing careers, some pursuing higher studies.... By chance we ended up moving to the same city for further studies.

I had a home there. She was new to the city and had hardly any friends there. She would often complain when we talk occasionally that how boring it gets at time.
I felt I shall at least help her to settle down in the new environment which was a home to me... and just like that we started going out either dining or movie or just for a drive. We even laughed at how we disliked each other those school days. Opposites do attract and I think may be we started liking each other's company as we never left an evening before deciding on a next plan and we both always looked forward to it, or at least I did.

We used to chat whole day... online, on call and otherwise on SMS. Sometimes we talked through msg whole night. We would know each and every minute updates of each other.

I could see through her eyes, how she felt for me, but I could never admit that I felt the same way... All I always felt like doing was holding her hand and sit there forever and not to leave her for a moment. I felt miserable every evening while dropping her down her apartment and I could see same reflection in her eyes....

May be I was scared, after all I had gone through a break up earlier and that still hurt whenever I thought of it. I was so determined not to do same mistakes again and so there I was, scared and confused.

Days passed just like that and a day came, I had to move to a far away city for my first job. We met for the last time. I could see what was coming next but I felt so weak from within.
She cried.

I don’t know how I will survive in this city; wherever I see and will go it will remind me of our good time together.

All I could do was to hold her hand. I rub her wet eyes with my fingers, it felt soft. I told her reassuringly everything will be alright.

Don’t you think good memories are for to be cherished forever and not to be wasted crying and feeling sad? Won’t I miss you? I will miss you too but in a good way with all these good memories that we shared and feeling good that it happened!

Wasn't it true?? I believe in my words till day but I even repent why I didn’t say anything more that day! Was it enough to reassure her?

I moved to this new place. I had to.
Initially we talked and messaged each other whenever possible through out the day.
We exchanged everyday how we feel and how much we miss each other and during one such talk she asked me what do I feel for her, what do I think about her?
And still I couldn’t say anything... Only thing I could say…

I adore you!
You just adore me? That you always said but even now nothing more than that??

I was confused. May be I was still not ready. Why didn't I say "I do more than adore you...”?
Wasn't that simple?
But I didn't.

And then gradually it happened, from talking all the time whenever we could grab a phone to talking once a day, then just good night message and then on weekends.

Days passed, weeks passed and then came the New Year holidays, I was so excited to be back to the city, to see her again.
I wrote her that I was coming and I wanted to discuss about something when we meet.
She wrote back in one line, unfortunately she will not be there on holidays as she is going to visit her parents!

I called her immediately asking if it was possible to adjust a few days here and there so that we can meet when I am in the city. She laughed saying "No".
I persisted…

"Hey don’t you want to meet me? "
"I do, but doesn’t seem possible this time…"
"Come on…."

"Or may be I don’t want to .... as I know how I felt when you left last time and how hard I tried to overcome that loneliness. I feel it is good for me that I am not there at that time as I would not want to pass through it all again ! "

My mind went blank, I wanted to tell her how I feel about her, how I wanted to think about our future together but I could not!
Looking at my pause she gently added…

"I will see though…. will give me a call when you are there."

I waited and waited, that call never came.
I didn’t have her any contact, I didn’t hear anything from her, I didn’t know where she was and her cell phone number didn’t work!

Holidays ended. I came back to work, but I could not concentrate on anything. I still waited for her to get back to me. She didn't. It hurt. And I was hurt that I didn’t try to contact her either after coming back. I decided to move on but passing days realized me I will not be able to until and unless I vent out my feelings, which was more and more suffocating me.

I could not stop myself writing a last letter, sorry an e-mail, to her before putting a full stop on once so beautiful chapter of my life!
I wrote about how I felt and how much I realised her importance in my life staying away. How much I wanted to see her this time when I was there so that I can tell her all these personally and we can think about our relationship seriously together. And how it hurt to see her changed!
But now that I realize may be she never felt that way and so now I am moving ahead, and will never look back.

A reply came in a minute I clicked "send".

I waited long enough to hear it. I even asked! And when I couldn't stand the reality I decided to move on. And I have moved on now.

And it ended, A most beautiful chapter of my life !

Monday, August 17, 2009

back to routine ... !

So I am back to NL now and also back to work...

Vacation was nice in a way meeting family, eating lots of delicious food and shopping but at the same time wasted quite a few days in health problems. First Ashu got sick and then when he recovered I did. Tried to catch up but still couldn't achieve 100% on list of all that I wanted to do there.

Some things more apparent to me right now....
While was there, didn't have to cook a single day and so after coming back home here cooking felt like a pain.... hahaha
I ate so much while there, I feel I have turned into round watermelon shape now!! (Not kidding, really. I double checked in the mirror to confirm before claiming this!! )

We are again struggling with driving direction orientations ... you know all that left hand driving and right hand driving differences... !

By the way, what stands as a popular belief about driving in India that no one follows traffic rules and signals; I will say It IS wrong. People do follow; it's just that they require traffic police at every cross road or traffic signal to remind those to them!! And yes, there IS lane driving in India, only possibility is - not all knows lane driving rules and regulations!

It's nice weather in The Netherlands right now, and it was so warm on Saturday when we landed here. We felt that we might need our summer jackets as it was 13 degree in Frankfurt from where we changed the flight. But when we arrived here it was so hot that we started sweating... something not so much Dutch!

Quite busy today, home is still mess, but now getting into routine and so I guess I will be back to normal rate at blogging too!
See you till then. Enjoy the warm sunny weather!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Celebration of brotherly love....

Today is “Rakhi” or as we call it in Gujarat “Raksha Bandhan” (‘Raksha’ means ‘protection’ and ‘Bandhan’ means ‘tie’ literally meaning “Bond of Protection”), a festival dedicated to all the brothers and sisters In India, symbolizing the love and emotional bond shared by them. Traditionally there are many things and rituals done on this day, but most important and very common is every sister ties a knot of sacred thread on brother’s wrist praying for brother’s health and prosperity in all aspects and on the other hand brother promises to protect and safeguard his sister from all the hardships, problems, obstacles and evil forces in whatever ways he can. ( And ofcourse brother gives sister some gifts ;) hehehe )

May be this tradition was developed when women used to be not so independent and used to be dependent on male counterparts for many things, and may not appear very relevant today but still I love the essence behind the festival. We so enthusiastically celebrate Valentine’s Day, Friendship day and Mother’s day and Father’s day, so may be this we can take as indianised way of celebrating Brother’s day for all the sisters and Sister’s day for all the brothers.

I remember last year, this day I was as depressed as I can be. I felt homesick, which normally I don’t, considering the fact that last 10 years I was on my own from the day I entered the university, then masters degree and then for career. But then that was the time anyhow I used to visit home at least once or twice a month for a weekend. And never ever I celebrated any festival alone away from family.
And last year it was the time when we shifted to Netherlands and it was just 2-3 months and it was not possible to make a trip to India. So on this day I felt homesick. I missed everyone so much that I almost cried.

Today while tying a knot on my dearest brother Viv’s wrist, I felt so happy and blessed to be with my family this time.

Life as it goes on... | Desenvolvido por EMPORIUM DIGITAL