Archive for the ‘ Europe ’ Category

Happy Deepavali!

“Deepavali” is an important festival in India. As the name indicates, its a festival of lights! Perhaps, it is the only festival in India which is celebrated all over India (from Kashmir to KanyaKumari!).
Of late this celebration has crossed the border, much to the pleasure of Indians living in US and Canada and even in some European countries. Whenever we celebrate this festival of lights we chant the glorious mantra, “Tamaso ma Jyothir Gamaya”, which means, “Lead us from Darkness to Light or rather, “Ignorance to Knowledge.”
Anyway, we spend a lot of money on that day to buy new clothes and ornaments (employees get a huge amount by way of Bonus!)

Peaceful co-existence

I was half asleep when I saw the “full moon”. But, in a jiffy I became alert and asked myself, “full moon on a new moon day?”. The bus in which I was travelling took a U turn and the moon or sun disappeared from the scene. What I saw was a setting sun which I looked smaller or rather, just as big as a full moon! The Why and How about the unusual size of the sun had something to do with Netherlands where I had been recently for a month.

On bright and sunny days, rare though, Netherlands like any other European countries is pleasant and glamorous and one is tempted to go out for a walk, enjoying the beauty of canals across meadows and trees. A wide variety of birds ranging from wild ducks to pigeons could be seen here and there, but some of them see us as intruders and make strange sounds to warn us!

The country has all the ultra-modern facilities but not at the expense of old world charms. They have art galleries and museums and gigantic gardens.

An interesting incident took place while I was chatting with my folks over a cup of coffee at a restaurant. A young lady who introduced herself as a journalist asked us several interesting questions about our visit to Netherlands and what impressed us the most. She made us so comfortable and happy that we felt that this was one of the interesting parts of our visit to the Netherlands.

When the dark clouds disappeared!

To be or not to be? That was the question. Whether it was nobler in the mind to go out for an evening walk or sit at home, succumbing to the pressures of nature? It was a dark and cloudy afternoon and the Sun seemed to be incapable of driving away the widespread dark clouds.

But, suddenly things changed for the better. By 7pm, it was clear and bright (By the way, here in Groningen it is evening till 10pm during summer!)

So, off we go for an evening walk, aimlessly till we leave behind a host of houses on either side of the road.

And, when we entered the enchanting world of trees and lush green meadows, listening to the songs of the birds, we became energetic and silent, recalling the words of William Hazlitt… Nature was company enough for us. Yes, wherever our casual eyes were cast we could see only trees and bushes, dancing to the tunes of those unseen birds!

Frankly speaking, we were also craving for a cup of coffee and to our pleasure, there was a restaurant in the midst of trees. The rest of our experience you can imagine!

A pleasant surprise

It could be the entrance of a park attached to some monument or it could be the backyard of some city railway stations. You would see them, scattered all over these places. “Look at these pictures… these replicas… cheap and best” you hear the parrot-like repetitions of these words, though only one in a hundred cares to look at them. Here, I must tell you an interesting incident. I was travelling in a general compartment of a crowded local train. One seller of pictures and replicas was doing his best to draw the attention of the travellers. He did manage to sell a few items but the behavior of one traveller was rude and aggressive. “Get lost, you son of a b…” was his response when the seller approached him. The seller was not all that upset by the traveller’s reaction and left the spot with a smile but some of us asked him why he was rude. “If you don’t want to buy any of his stuff, just ignore him, but you were brutal…” When he was cornered, he simply opened a metal box by his side and said “just see what this box contains… This chap knows I am a seller myself…” Yes, there were post card size photos and replicas of monuments in his box.

We are quite used to such practices in India especially in places of historical importance. But, to my pleasant surprise, I came across several such ‘sellers’ in Paris. We were on our way to Eiffel tower and we took a train to a station (I forgot the name of the station from where it was just walkable distance). All these guys carried pictures and replicas of the famous tower. On seeing them I wondered for a while whether I was really in Paris. Even the buildings resembled the ones we see in Mumbai or Delhi!

When you are travelling by bus or train from Netherlands to Paris you have to remind yourself, off and on, that you are not travelling to a hill station or to Kerala in India!