November 15, 2005


n. pl. in·ter·reg·nums or in·ter·reg·na (-n)
  1. The interval of time between the end of a sovereign's reign and the accession of a successor.
  2. A period of temporary suspension of the usual functions of government or control.
  3. A gap in continuity.
What is happening? Am I lazy? Or have I simply run out of steam? If anything is sure, it is that I have definitely not run out of ideas to write a few words on this blog. Well, I do not mean just typing what I feel, because even though this is supposed to be a personal blog, I understood long back it had transcended that barrier and become public property. Meaning, I have an unspoken responsibility towards the readers of this blog, and take care not to just spew trash in the name of a blog. That would be simply unfair of me, irrespective of what every one else says or does.

So does that mean I write a rigmarole everytime my fingers kiss the keyboard? Write only of cerebral or esoteric stuff? Nay, that is not why I started writing this blog for. I wanted to put in words my experiences here in Germany, so that I can re-live them, and also let the readers relish them. And I do have wonderful experiences every day. Though I would love to blog every one of those, I think it is not worthwhile, as such an exercise will only tone down the intensity of my blogs about other more pen-worthy experiences.

So, I have decided to do this. Make it a point to write atleast a post a week, probably more, but at the same time keep them worthy of being read by every one. This means I have to exercise my 'grey cells' at least once a week, so that I am always blog-ready. It is also good way to keep my brain active, what with my lazy lifestyle at the moment - having finished my course and just applying for jobs, and doing some part-time jobs, and of course, having fun. It is time that I start using other areas of my brain (Ooooh...enough said...get on with something else da...)

There are some 'events' that I wanted to write about very badly, but simply could not do it so far. I would write about them in the coming days. Some of them may be deemed unpalatable to some people - I mean the way I saw them and see even now. But it is imperative that I write what I feel, because if I do not defend myself, no one else will.

And then, there was this piece that my classmate Ms. Pallavi Rao sent me. She wanted me to post a blog on this piece - an extract from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. Now, how many times have we seen his name cropping up out of nowhere, and every time there is a gasp, with people finding it quite unfathomable why on earth would onle like to disturb his ghost? Well, in this piece Mr. Hitler refers to India (the British colony of India, that is), and Pallavi wanted that I post my views on this. Well, I would not post a literary criticism on it, but just express my views on how relevant the issues expressed thereof are to the present-day country that is India. But I need some time to read it and do a write-up. Patience.

The following events deserve mention, and a few lines of blogspace here:

1. The Diwali function(s) at Darmstadt that I took an active part in organizing.
2. My adventures in the guise of having fun - my late-nighters at discos, my cyciling trip to Mainz and other such adventures.
3. My views on the piece about India in the extract from Mein Kampf, recommended to me by my friend Pallavi Rao.
4. My forthcoming proposed trip to Austria.

With this teaser, I sign off for the moment. But keep looking in this space in the coming days. Es lohnt sich (It is worth it). The interregnum is coming to an end.

October 19, 2005

'U' and 'I'

Aeons came and aeons went past,
But I always felt something missing,
So cruel that time slips by fast,
Too hazy for me to realize a thing.

Was it love or just something cheap,
I can but only stare and wonder,
'Tween me and ye lay a chasm so deep,
Me stranded here and you over yonder.

Was it trust or belief shatter'd,
That caused us to part our ways?
But what use it is, all that matter'd
Was the truth, we haven't met for days.

I do know dear what's missing,
I saw across aeons the vowels queue,
They had in them almost everything,
Except may be dear, just 'I' and 'U'.

Note: 'Aeon'
- alternate spelling for 'eon', meaning 'age'.

September 13, 2005

For whom...

Well, my Thesis is finally over..and with it ends one of the longest sagas in the history of Darmstadt...hahaha...I don't know how easy it is for others to have a Schadenfreude of their own selves and actions, but for me it is all the same. I am only relieved that it is all done and dusted..good or bad, it is over.

So many trials and was a case of
trial and terror (the 't' is not a typo) for me all through this time, losing friends at a time when I needed them badly, and it was a strange sense of de ja vu every time when, as they say, another bird flew off the nest. Reasons were given, but none asked, of why it took so long for it to finish, or why I took so long to finish it (both do not necessarily mean the same). But except the fewest of the few, no one was there to cheer the end of the Thesis, save me. And that was all that mattered. I am still there, as proud and sanguine as ever, with the past behind me..I would love to write more, but at a later date.

For now, I would just present the poem that I wrote in the
Dedication section of my Thesis report. It reflects my state of mind during my Thesis, and how I felt about finishing it, and to whom and why it was dedicated. Many may not agree with me, and most will just brush me off as another sick weasel that has forgotten its destination, but I care less...for the moment, all that matters is..I have finished my Thesis. Do you hear me? I-have-finished-my-Thesis.

I am a wary, way-laid traveller...
Left with nothing but my spirit.
But a spirit which refuses to flicker,
For ages it has but not been lit.

Do I deserve to go ahead,
After all that's transpired,
Or should I just stop dead,
For sure I'm no more inspired.

I can't see any one on the wait,
Who will hold me in their arms,
When I've got the better of my fate,
One who can conjure up those charms.

And then I hear some one say,
Hey wait, you do have some one,
May be they are light years away,
For them, let this work be done.

They may not know your pain,
But they know who you are,
The phoenix that time and again,
Rises to give destiny a scare.

“To them I dedicate this work...

To my parents...”

September 05, 2005

Gabel und Messer

I had known all along that my German was not bad. But today (Sunday- Sept. 4), while working at my coffee shop, I found that it was not just 'not bad', but also good enough to compose a poem (hehehe...). I was having a pizza, and was fiddling around with a knife and fork. It was then that this brainwave hit me.

"Warum brauche ich Gabel und Messer,
Wann mit Hand geht es besser..."
(Translation: "Why do I need a knife and fork, when with my hand it would do better...")

Watch out folks, who knows may be another Goethe is in the making!!!

August 19, 2005

An evening with 'Vishy'

Photo courtesy: Manoj Kanakamedala / Dibakar R.C.

at Mainz for the Grenke-Leasing Classic.
I was halfway through my daily cursory scan of the news websites last week, when something flashed across my sights. So what's great about it? That I live not a stone's throw from Mainz, free to travel anytime there free of cost with the aid of my student ticket. And this for the past 4 years. And Vishy (Vishwanathan Anand for the uninitiated) has been visiting Mainz every year the past 4 years. And as was custom, I would plan to visit Mainz every year to meet him and miss out on it owing to some frivolous last-minute work crossing my path and dumping my plans in the bin.

Oops, cool, shall I go meet him? (I could hear my 'other me' mocking at me: O! Lazy moron...fourth year in a row, and you're not gonna make it again...guffaws...) I was determined to make it this time. And then I saw the date. Goodness gracious...the tournament ran from August 9 through August 14. And it was already August the 11th. Should I risk my schedule to make a trip which I was not even sure would be successful? I did not know about the situation in Germany, but if it were India, the organizers would normally have not let me get anywhere near Vishy. Well, I decided to take the baton.

Now, I needed a camera. A digital camera. One thing that I did not possess, despite all my journalistic adventures, was a camera. Luckily one of my friends had bought a new camera, and another had bought a new battery-charger. As if things were falling in place specially for me. So, equipped with the camera and a set of charged batteries, I planned for my trip the following evening to Mainz with one of my friends - Mr. G - who I will now reveal to be Gururaj. (Mark Felt? "I am Deep Throat"? Move over Woodward and Bernstein!).

Note: All the photos and scanned copies of the autographs may be found here.

We reached the Hilton Mainz hotel. We were revelling in the surroundings, but there were more pressing issues ahead, including the small matter of meeting the World Champion (ok former, but he still surely is among the top 3) Vishy. We were unsure of what to expect and were loitering in the grand corridor outside the playing halls, when a desi guy (that too from Madurai) ran into us. And cool, he was a close friend of Vishy. He cooly asked us, "While you are waiting for Vishy, why not take the autographs of some other chess players?" Who? "Like, Peter Svidler, who is right behind you!!!" Wow...there was Svidler himself, and he gleefully posed for a photograph with us, and signed an autograph. But the occassion could get only bigger...and there was Vishy himself arriving at the playing hall with his wife Aruna. No trace of pretension, no showmanship. Simple. He appeared cool and calm, his match due in ten-minute's time. When we approached him, he gave us a warm smile, and we spoke to his wife if it was possible to get an autograph from him. She just said, "Shall we have it after the match?" Well, we sat in for the match.

Believe me, that was the first ever chess match I had ever sat through in my life. Just like Svidler was the first ever renowned chess player I had met in my life. Yes, I agree I may sound silly and childish in my descriptions and exclamations, but even that would not have described in full my sense of awe and excitement that pervaded me that moment. Vishy was playing the black pieces against Alexander "Sasha" Grischuk of Russia. After about 45 minutes of intense duelling, Grishchuk ran out of time, and resigned. Anand had won with the black pieces!!! Man, I am a lucky charm (hehehe...)

We shot pictures of ourselves with Anand at the table, and then got autographs and photos with his wife, who on hearing that I was from Tamilnadu, spoke to me in pure Brahminical Tamil: "Neenga evvalavu naala inge irukkel?" (How long are you here?) So simple and unassuming the couple was, I seriously began to harbour doubts if the non-cricketing fraternity in India is reallying getting the cold shoulder from fans and others alike. I have been used to the arrogance and upmanship of the Indian cricketers, having met them just before the historic 2001 series against the Australians, when they trained at the IIT grounds at Chennai.

Vishy's (and his wife's) attitude was a sea change from those of the cricketers. And that too, Vishy was not just another club player or a faceless amateur. Here was a two-time world champion, a man who challenged the chess demi-god Kasparov for the world title and made him sweat before losing out, the undisputed king of rapid chess, the man who single-handedly gave India its respect in the sporting world, at a time and in a place where acievements by individual Indian sportspersons were rarer than Bush uttering a whole long sentence without his usual Bushisms. Well, to put it simply: Vishy was, and still is, India's pride in chess, nay, the entire sporting world. Bloody hell, he is an icon!

OK, ok, back to business. After the usual post-mortem at the end of the match, Anand moved out of the hall for a press conference. We waylaid him and requested for an autograph, and, er, a photograph. And there we were..our 5 minutes of fame with Vishy. He patiently posed for the photos, without as much a hint of unease or such things as is shown by most of our cricketers (well, Sachin Tendulkar was an exception when I had met him 4 years back). Then he politely asked me, "Neengalum Press Meet-ku varalame?" (Why not come to the Press Meet?) So we sat through the Press Meet.

Once it was over, there was a short interview from Doordarshan, India's national broadcaster. Once he was done with it, he stood up to leave. Now was the moment. We approached him and asked for a photo of him and his wife with us. "Oh, eduthukkalamae!!!" (Why not? Let's have it!!!) And them came the sucker punch. Our camera memory had run out. We had forgotten to bring an extra memory card. With it, even our brains began to run dry of ideas. Should I delete this picture? Or the next? We had to delete atleast two pics, if we had to take the group photo with Vishy and his wife. I was getting mad with every passing minute.

Photo courtesy: Manoj Kanakamedala / Dibakar R.C.

"We are making him wait, you idiot...No, delete this, not that..."
, I was shouting at poor G, who was totally blank, and was like the proverbial hare caught in the headlights. And all through, Vishy was smiling and waiting, and so was his wife. "No problem, take your time". I can't believe my ears. The evening was filled with surprises, and they were never-ending. Once we had settled our dispute as to clearing the memory card, we snapped pictures of Vishy and Aruna with us. And we got autographs from Grishchuk and (Zoltan) Almasi to boot.

And there was more in store for us. The parting line from Mr. and Mrs. Anand summed up not just the entire evening, but also the personality that he is. "You must both be present tomorrow for the remaining games, too". And, "marupadiyum vandellna nanna irukkum" (It will be nice if you can visit again). Simplicity and humility at its best.

In a world where even an amateur sportsman or the new kid on the block flaunts his wares, it is indeed rare to see people like Vishy and his wife, who never for once forgot the twin principles of humility and courtesy. And I put it bluntly to Anand: "If it were India, I doubt if we would have been allowed to even get near you. Even if you so wished, the organizers and policewallahs would have never let us get anywhere near you". And he just gave his usual smile in reply.

Did I go the next day? Well, I would have loved to, but for the only fact that I thought frequent visits would render the magic of that first evening with the Anand couple meaningless. It would be nice to boast in the future that I met Vishy Anand three days in a row from close quarters, but I felt it was far more important that I did not lose that sense of excitement of meeting him as casually as a friend walking in on a visit. I wanted to savour that moment of having met the first ever down-to-earth icon I have personally come across in my life. And man, am I savouring it!!!

Note: All the photos and scanned copies of the autographs may be found here.

August 18, 2005

An epic in six words

It is a poem I composed almost 4 years ago, when I was new to Germany. My German was horrible, save for a few basic words, and my Hindi close to zilch. It was under such momentuous circumstances that I composed this wonder of a poem, if you would call it so. It consists of just six words - yes, just six in all. Two German, two Hindi and two English words.

It is all about the musings - or ramblings for that is what it is - of a poor lover about his beloved. He is so desparate to show-case his love to her that he is lost for words, and is all at sea as to what language to use. So he uses all the three mentioned above. Concisely.

Tum bin, ich bin, dust bin...

Here is a translation:

Tum bin (Hindi) - without you
ich bin (German) - I am
dust bin (English) - of course what it is, dust bin!!!

An epic in six words, eh??? But I am one who firmly believes that language is no bar to express your love. Or, to put it thus, "No dictionary is useful to him who can not understand the language of the heart..." Am becoming too amorous, I guess.

August 15, 2005

All About A Wish

My uncle got married recently. Strange, but he is just a year elder to me. I call him uncle, though, as that's how my mother taught me to call him when I was a kid. And as with all kids, it stuck. Not without reason did Haim Ginott say, "Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression". Many have wondered why I call him uncle, even though I am but a year or so younger to him. And I have always quipped, "Well, because he is my uncle". But still to many, it is inded strange that I should call him this way.

Ah, I told you he got married. His bride is younger than me by more than 2 years. In India, especially the southern part where I come from, such a situation sometimes leads to interesting complications. Should I call her aunt, because she is my uncle's wife, or should I call her by her name? And how it be when I call him uncle, now that he is married and the sight of some one about the same age as him calling him an uncle in front of his wife and others? Not important questions, I agree, but intriguing and funnily interesting nonetheless.

And talking of him, oh my God is he married? It just seems like yesterday that we were in the same school at Dharmapuri, my native place, where there were four of our family studying at the same time - I, him, another of my uncles and an aunt. Well, let you not think they were too old simply because I call them so. It's the same as my calling this uncle an uncle. Let me not make it more complicated. Not a single day went by without at least one of us filing complaints on another over events during the course of the day at school. No incident, no mis-doing, no incident of misdemeanour by any of us would go unreported. In fact, I personally feared more for the end-of-day reports made at home by one of these than the teachers themselves. Probably because I could hoodwink the teachers at will and get away with my tricks, but not the Big Brother - not one but three of them. They seemed to be omniscient, aware of incidents which even I did not remember having perpetrated.

Well, in any case, now he is married. And I have to greet him. It was unfortunate that I could not be there at his wedding, me being a little far away (the little matter of 8000 km notwithstanding), and I had to make up for it. Why not send him a greeting?

Easy to say, but what exactly should I write in my greeting. First of all, what can I wish some one who is elder to me, even though by just a year or so? This was but one of the few confusing questions that floated in my mind, before I hit upon this poem you see below. It may bear some resemblance to my previous blog regarding Viel Glück-Viel Spaß. I just developed upon this idea, only that I reversed the roles - of the bride being the poor one having married the mischievous trickster my uncle used to be (LOL)!!! And thus it goes...

All About A Wish

Many a time I've wondered aloud
How to wish you dear the best.
But more so if I'm allowed
At all, at your expense to jest. (1)

To dearest you a happy married life
I could wish, to be just simple.
But what with wishes so rife,
'Tis hard to pick a good sample. (2)

Even to bless you is tall order
'Tis my wish though to bless you rich.
How can I, for to me ye're elder,
And she not younger than me by much. (3)

Finally I'd rather settle for this one
'Tis a wish that'll stand time's test.
To you tricky dodger a lot of fun,
To the poor li'l dame all the best. (4)


August 10, 2005

Viel Glück - Viel Spaß

Germans use two words very commonly - Viel Spaß and Viel Glück. The first means Lots of Fun and the second Lots of Luck literally. Viel Spaß (pronounced feel-shpas) is used whenever we take leave or at the end of a work day. Viel Glück (pronounced feel-gleeck) is used to wish some one good luck, as one may have easily deduced.

I used to wish my friends either of these two whenever they were about to take an exam or some other endeavour. I always wish some one Viel Glück if he has worked hard and prepared well, coz the poor guy needs all the luck so that his efforts do not go waste. On the contrary, if he has not prepared anything, I wish him Viel Spaß, coz what else can the poor bugger do at the exam hall without any preparation, other than just staring at the question paper? It is only apt that I wish the guy some fun with his exam, as there is nothing else for him to do there!!!

The other day I was asking my chef at the coffee shop where I do my part-time job, what the usual greeting in Germany was, when some one got married. He was confused, coz he could not remember a single greeting that was common throughout Germany, at least not at that particular moment. It was then that I got a brainwave. I suggested that they normally say Viel Spaß to the bride, and Viel Glück to the poor bridegroom. It took some minutes for the laughter to die down at my workplace. Come to think of it, isn't it true? And apt? God bless the couple. Amen!!!

July 27, 2005

Labour Pains

Author's Note: When I started writing this blog, never for a moment did I believe that I could use this as a forum to write on 'serious' topics, though some of my posts (viz., A Damning Revelation, Cause for Concern?, etc.) would point to the contrary. So I was quite unprepared when I got a call from one of my friends - a couple whom I have known for quite sometime now, and was perplexed when they narrated to me the incident described here.

The couple requested me to post a write-up on their experience, so that others will know what they suffered, and be a tad more careful and cautious when they face a similar experience themselves. They were, and still are, unsure whether they should take legal recourse to their sufferings. But they wanted that their sad experience should at least be made public, in the interest of others who might end up in a similar situation, as well as the general public who might comment and suggest what the couple could possibly do to alleviate their misery. This article, however, is NOT a reflection on the state of affairs throughout Germany, nor is it a blanket accusation on all doctors alike. It is just a whistle-blower on some ironies in the system here.

At the time I wrote the post Cause for Concern? the most I expected to come out of it was a slight caution on the side of the students and others here who might read it, when they approached the doctors here. A random one-off incident - that is how I dismissed it, though my experiences during the past 4 years suggested otherwise. Little did I realize that I will be hearing about an even worse and more serious example of the apathy and callousness of the system (read: doctors) here.

I have known this couple for more than three years now. Let me just call them 'she' and 'he'. Sounds odd for pseudonyms, but I cannot get myself to name them otherwise, even if it is only for the sake of maintaining their anonymity. I am afraid I will lose my sense of neutrality if I use their original names (not that there are no other reasons for doing it), and I will be doing gross injustice to myself if I narrate the incident as having happened to some one else, even if it is only the names that I am replacing. No, let it be just 'she' and 'he'.

Around January this year she approached a Frauenärtztin (Gynaecologist) in Darmstadt, suspecting she might be pregnant. Blood tests were done, and the results were negative. She was given twelve pills – hormones to regulate her menstrual cycle, of which she consumed all but one. At this juncture, just on a whim she wanted to confirm her suspicions. She performed some pregnancy tests herself, using kits available at any pharmacy. To her shock, she found that she was indeed pregnant, whence she returned to the doctor. By now, she was sure there had sincerely been some mistake in the blood tests. Her suspicions were confirmed, and she was declared pregnant. The foetus was eight weeks old. In her own words, “She (the doctor) gave us lots of hopes saying that the foetus is visible clearly in the ultrasound scan and further said she is going to measure the heart beat of the baby next time …”. She was prescribed some vitamins, and was asked to consult the doctor after a month. Joy turned to despair when it was revealed that the foetus, now three months old, was dead. (She suspects it was probably because of the hormone pills prescribed by the gynaecologist.) She was referred to a famous hospital in Darmstadt (name withheld), for surgical removal of the dead foetus. Sometime in April, she was operated, and the foetus removed.

When she returned home, she had some pains. Three other ladies upon whom the same surgery was performed seemed to be relatively at ease, showing no signs of pain or malaise. In June, the pains got so intense that she approached another gynaecologist, who was of the opinion that the surgery was probably not properly performed, as a result of which her womb was damaged. The doctor also opined that probably she might never get pregnant again. Nevertheless, the doctor thought it better to diagnose her for some hormonal problems, the results of which are still awaited.

The couple wishes to take legal recourse, but they find the cost and complexity of the legal system here prohibitive. Especially for a foreigner, who might easily be branded an Auslander, it is but the last resort to seek the services of a lawyer here. I am not exaggerating facts here, but this is the situation with most foreigners here, especially those from the third world countries. But at the least, they wanted their plight to be made public so that others might know of it and be aware of the pitfalls in the system here.

This is where they stood different from most other Ausländer - foreigners - especially from a third world country. Where one might easily have swallowed his / her bad experience and resigned themselves to their fate, this couple decided to put one back. Where others would say, "Hey, yes I have a problem with this aspect of the society. But what can I do? I am after all an 'Auslander' who came here for some work, so let me just digest anything and everything that is thrown at me, and ignore them", this couple decided to brave the odds. Believe me, in my four years here as a foreign student, most of the people in this bracket (third-world-foreigner / student) have never openly come out against their problems with the system. I do not suggest that one must be bellicose and be ready for a fight every time he faces something unpleasant. Rather the contrary.

For one, I believe that if you keep quiet when you face a problem, you are guilty of omission, since you are not helping some one else avoid a similar problem in the future. By not letting others know that there is a problem, you are snatching an opportunity to address this problem prima facie, which may well have helped solving it. But after all, is this not the norm? It is just a handful of people who are man enough to accept that there is a problem in the first place, leave alone come out with it in the open. May be it is because of the attitude prevalent in our countries that it is not manly to tell others you have a problem. If you have a problem, then keep it to yourself, and do not go about washing your dirty linen in public, for it is not the mark of a man. Pity, linen it is I agree, but definitely not dirty.

I would discuss the implications of this incident and the mentality of the lonely Auslander in a separate post in the future. For now, it suffices to say that I am pumped up and glad to see at least one person (or two) having the stomach to hit back. Two Davids, against the Goliath that the system here is. Hats off to thee. Carpe Diem.

July 21, 2005

'Hairy' Potter

'Hairy' Potter a bit carried off...No comments!!!

July 20, 2005

Stillborn Fantasy

Hmm..the comma is really turning into a let me get my paper and pen again (or as you may call in the age of computers, "...let me get my fingers on the keyboard...") Though it may seem to be quite a break between my previous and current posts, I was not snoozing in the meantime. I was, as usual in the past, busy with my Thesis which is certainly nearing its conclusion, but also writing up some posts for the blog, which have as yet not been published. They have to wait, at least for the time-being.

I started writing a novel some 2 years back, but as befits my dilettante nature, I discontinued it after writing some pages. Partly because of this, and partly because I was forever changing the theme of the novel, I did not deem it fit to continue writing it, at least at that moment. A lot has changed since, my outlook on certain events among other things, and I thought the time was ripe to restart it. Well, things may happen, my outlook may change and so will the theme of the novel, but I decided to nevertheless carry on with it. I can not let this baby of mine be any more stillborn. Let me whack the life out of this moribund effort.

As with the theme, the title of the novel also has changed many times. What started as Metamorphosis became Diplomatic Immunity and later turned out to be Guest Appearance. So much for my determination to write a book, and a Novel (with a capital N) at that. I am not sure what I will name it now, or if the title will persist to the end, but one thing is certain. I am determined to continue with my endeavour :-) (yeah, I can hear your guffaws...take it out on me), even if it means only a few lines at a time. As they say, Rome was not built in a day.

So, let the magic begin...

June 29, 2005

'Comma' or 'Coma' - Back with a bang

Hmm...comatose I would call it..the huuuuugggeee break I had between my last post and the current one..let me calculate...April 6th was the last is June 29th..this makes it 84 that was indeed comatose!!!

Well, I had been sort of busy with my work but that is not a reason for not writing regularly, especially when the actual reason I started this blog was to keep my writing skills alive, and also as a detour from my schedule. Na, forget it then...better now and late than never again at all!!! And I have something to write? Why, hell a pardon me meine liebe Damen und Herren if I decide to choke you with so much stuff all at one go.

And talking of being 'comatose', this quip crossed my mind some time back..I promise you it is original and I made it up myself:

"Every one faces problems at some time or the other in his life. Those who take it as a 'comma' and get on with life, make history. Those who take it as a 'coma' and plunge deep into it, become history!!!"

So I think the basic difference in facing a problem is in whether you consider it just a 'comma' and carry on, or a 'coma' and fade into oblivion!!! I thinking up stuff....Well, I just came out of a 'coma', eh? So I can be forgiven for that I guess...that is, atleast until my next 'coma'!!!

April 07, 2005


Hier ist einen Witz der ich irgendwo gelesen hab' (aber auf Englisch). Ich fühlte daß es sehr klug wäre, wenn es ins Deutsch übersetzt ist, aber mit einer kleinen Änderung.

Der Witz auf English läuft so: "Before his marriage, a man is incomplete. After that, he is finished!"

Ich hab' es ein bißchen modifiziert...hier geht's:

>> Vor seiner Hochzeit ist ein Mann 'ledig'. Nach der ist er 'erledigt'. <<

Guck' mal: Nach der Hochzeit ist er nicht mehr ledig, sondern ist er er-ledig-t!!!

Es ist ein kluges Wortspiel, wo man die Bedeutung von Englisch ins Deutsch nicht verliert!!!

March 29, 2005

Twice, yeah...Coincidence, naah...

This is one for those of you who have been parched for life after the gutless performance of our dearest men in blue (though this time they were donning white flannels) against the men in green from across the border.

Once, they say, is an incident. Twice, coincidence. So the saying goes, thrice is a conspiracy. Say this to our friend R. Poor guy, his place (Delhi) has of late been in the news for all the wrong reasons. OK...incident, I agree. But what if both the times the places in news have something or the other to do with R? I mean both the DPS-MMS scandal last year, and this one at IIT-Delhi!!! For those uninitiated, here is a refresher regarding the DPS scandal.

And yeah, I forgot to mention something. DPS@RK-Puram, the site of the scandal, was the alma mater of R. And IIT-Delhi is where his brother studies. Now, that is something I would just not dismiss as a coincidence (though it has been two out of two times now). May be a conspiracy? Wait until the next episode unfurls, where else, but at DCE (Delhi College of Engineering)??? (That's where R had his Engineering degree from!!!)

March 27, 2005

Sticky when hot

For quite some time now, we had known summer was back. But the reality struck hard on our faces when this happened. We were having our routine coffee break (the only peculiar fact being that we usually work between breaks rather than the other way round!!!) When our friend 'G' lifted the coffee-pan off the heat-pad, something more than just the pan came off alongwith.
Too hot to handle???And hey here we go!!!

Seems that the pad got quite worked up, and couldn't stand the heat. Quite surprising, coz we had been using it day in and day out with hotter stuff (I mean the temperature here, guys). May be the summer caught up with the poor pad. Thought summers were sticky only in India. Surely not in Germany, though!!!

March 26, 2005

NEW - XML Live Feed and Headline Animator

Was just playing around with the design of the site, and came up with some the Headline Animator and XML/RSS Live Feed for the site (feel free to fool around with these features on the right sidebar).

Quite a useful feature this Animator thing, available from FeedBurner, which also provides the XML Feed. One can use it to publicise his/her blogs, by appending an animated GIF picture as signature to his email or website. There are other interesting features too available from the site. Also got a XML/RSS reader - FeedDemon from the same site. Pretty cool and useful this one.

Also changed some settings for the site like replacing my ascetic-looking good-boyish pic with a casual one (this one was taken during a boat-ride at Luzern, Switzerland in August 2003). Hmmm...let me get my Thesis over with, and then I can devote more time to such stuff!!!

And by the way thanx a lot to Mr. M. for his comments and sincere wishes, for the completion of my Thesis..he joins the legion of my well-wishers who have so far been kept at bay regarding my lengthy sojourn!!!

More soon...Happy blogging and XMS Live feeding (??!!!)

March 24, 2005

A Damning Revelation - Part 1: IITs blacklisted?

I was quite shocked when I read this newspiece on Rediff. com. It was regarding upgrading the status of some institutions in India to the status of IITs. Shocking I said, because a few of these institutions have in fact been blacklisted by many German and US universities. I am not entitled to talk of the US situation, but here in Germany, a few Indian institutions have in the past gained quite a dubious reputation of being the source of fake certificates and other scandals. Some colleges from the Hyderabad region have been the source of such fakies. Name what you want, you will get that certificate, be it a simple Software Skills certificate, or a German G-3 certificate, to the most advanced degree certificate or a GRE / TOEFL scoresheet. (It is worth noting here that even now some German Universities do not press for the official GRE/TOEFL scoresheet posted directly from the ETS).

Moreover, quite a few other universities in India have been marked for sidelining, as the standard in these universities has plummetted to unfathomable depths. Take for instance the scoring system in some institutions. When I came here in September 2001, having obtained a Bachelor's degree in Engineering from the University of Madras, it was not so difficult for a student to obtain 80% marks for his / her final average. The corresponding benchmark at some other universities, like the Bombay / Pune University, was a mere 60% where this used to be invariably always the score a university-topper. When the German Universities set a benchmark for admitting students, many deserving candidates from such universities used to lose out to other not-so-deserving ones from some other universities, just because the standard in these universities was so high that the selected candidate's credentials were no match to the one who lost out.

On realizing this, a few universities, notably the TU Darmstadt, started adopting a scaling procedure, wherein they had a list of GPA's from different Indian Universities, thus gaining insight into their standards, which they promptly adopted as one of their criteria for selection. More importantly, they have started recommending GATE scores as a criterion, among other things. Please check the link to know more in this regard.

Well, the crux of the issue is that many institutions recommended for upgradation to the status of IITs are simply not worth consideration, as they have already gained a bad reputation here abroad, in addition to defacing the value of India as a whole, as one of the parameters that any foreign education institution uses in estimating our country is the standard of our own educational institutions.

March 23, 2005

News from Darmstadt

Just got this teaser from Murali and Vidhya when I was at their place yesterday. Why not start a separate blog just for the news from the region - the current goings-on, who is meeting who, background politics, interesting events, upcoming events / functions, useful piece of info. for every one, etc. The site / blog would be updated very often to keep pace with the 'developments' at Darmstadt, Dieburg and Frankfurt. It will cater to all, but especially to students and those interested in this region.

An important fact about this blog is that it would contain only news and not views. It would serve as a reference page for any one interested in just catching up with what's on and what's not here at Darmstadt and its neighbourhood.

Inputs are welcome from everyone who has a piece of info. or news to share with others. You may update it yourself, or can e-mail it to me (just shoot the gun on the right side-bar) so I can put it on the page.

You may locate the blog at Enjoy...and blog it up!!! Cheers.

March 18, 2005

Proud to be a Dieburger

Hmm...every one at Haus 5 is excited about the notice from Studentenwerk Darmstadt, which announces the closure of the Haus 5 by the end of the semester (October 1). Did I say every one? Well, not exactly. There are a few who aren't. And there are quite some, like yours truly, who are feeling downright depressed!!! Yeah, you will never know what it feels like leaving this place that has been my home for the best part of 4 years now. I pride in calling myself a Dieburger. It has been the butt of many a joke over the past years, but believe me man..I have been one of the very few people who liked staying at this god-forsaken place in the middle of nowhere. Or should I say at the end of everywhere? There is a joke going round here...Dieburg begins where sanity ends!!! And not without some truth...

It is tradition (if I may use the term) for people to use Dieburg as a temporary stop, a way-side motel where one stays till he gets a 'proper' accommodation in a more civilized place like Darmstadt or Frankfurt. Or should I say it was? No one save me dared to stay for long in this place, let alone love it. I may sound stupid, but I have never known how it is like to live at another place. May be that is the precise reason why I love Dieburg.

Time and again over the past 4 years I have been advised, both in friendly and not-so-warm tones, to get the hell out of this place, for various reasons. Like for example saving time travelling in buses and trains, walking a long way to the Bahnhof or bus-stop, etc. to name just a few. But I took these things as just a part of life. I am one who thinks that life must be dealt with in its real form - with all its inherent and unavoidable trifles. I bet there are many who would not agree with me - that is the part concerning my belief. I may not have stayed true to my belief in other things, but concerning Dieburg, I have held steadfast to the belief that I must learn to enjoy the minor troubles that complement my stay at Dieburg. Yes I mean it when I say complement, because those discomforts consummate my life, and it is this very fact that has added spice to my life here as a student in a foreign land, in a totally different culture, a strange language, sombre people, and the like. It has helped me face life in its entirety, helped me with improving my German, whatwith all those converstaions I used to have with old ladies and gentlemen walking their dogs on the roads who seemed only too eager to engage me in a conversation but were unable to speak much English. With a little German from my side and even lesser English from their side, I have conversed with such people many a time, some times the 'conversations' extending as long as half-an-hour or so on otherwise-deserted roads.

These are but a few of the valuable things that I have gained as a result of my stay in Dieburg. Sure I agree that I may have gained some other things, however different they may be, if I had moved to Darmstadt, but I still feel that my decision to hold on to Dieburg come what may, has been a fruitful one. I have faced the ups and downs of my German stay with a common denominator - Dieburg. The best of my times I have enjoyed at Dieburg. The worst of my times I have reminisced alone at Dieburg. Dieburg remains the place that holds many a secret about me, good or bad it might be. Be it my Altheimer Strasse room (# 34016) or my Max-Planck-Strasse room (# 5524), I would give anything to hold on to Dieburg, if I have the slightest of chances.

Many things - good and bad - have happened during my stay here. Friends made and lost. The four seasons enjoyed to their fullest four times over. But behind all this din lies the eternal hum of the one place on earth that I would pride calling my home away from home - Dieburg. As the saying goes:

Kennedy (1963): Ich bin ein Berliner.
Bhuvan (2005): Ich bin ein Dieburger.

Times change. Personalities change. The pride remains the same. PROUD TO BE A DIEBURGER !!!

March 15, 2005

Cause for concern?

This is with reference to some worrying cases of wrong diagnosis of some students by the doctors at Darmstadt. Although these have been isolated incidents, few and far between, it does provide us with some cause for concern. There is of course no reason to panic, but I thought it better to bring it to the notice of those concerned, as well as those of you who may be using the services of a doctor here at Darmstadt.

About two years back, a student complained of problems in his chest, and consulted a doctor. After a week of tests and check-ups, the doctor was not able to diagnose the exact problem. The student was referred to the Klinikum Darmstadt, but here again they just performed every test possible, to no end. After 5 weeks of clinical tests and lots of pain, the student had no clue as to what was happening, except that his condition was no better than before.

Next was the case of another student who had a relapse of some condition he already had at home. He thought that Germany with all its reputatipn as a Western country and advancements in medicine, would cure him. The contary!!! He was wrongly diagnosed, and horror of horrors, the guy's conditon became so worse that people feared his life was in danger. He had a series of surgeries over a period of one year, lost a year or more of his studies, suffered hell a lot of pain. Add to this the fact he had to move with a metal frame screwed into his skull for about a year!!! Well, I am not saying the doctors here were totally responsible for it, but they surely could have prevented his condition from regressing so bad so fast. It was one more instance where the doctors could not diagnose a patient properly.

And finally now comes the case of a new student who was admitted into Klinikum Darmstadt, with acute stomach ache. The doctors took quite some time to diagnose him, during which period he started having bouts of vomiting and fatigue. This he claimed only after being admitted to the Klinikum. And then they told him they suspected Tuberculosis. Fine. But what irked me and many other people here was the fact that all the while the doctors kept him in the dark regarding his condition, and moreover refused to divulge the details to his friends even after they claimed that they were his guardians. Desparate to get some information about his condition, they even contacted a GP who had earlier treated him. This GP requested Klinikum to detail his condition, which they seemingly did, but were later angry at this student for having contacted an external doctor for reference. The latest news is that this student is seemingly recovering, but only just. He still has NOT been diagnosed, and they keep shuttling him between rooms. He has been prevented from using the general toilet, and he ahs been instructed to share a toilet with other TB suspects.

When contacted, no plausible explanation was given by the nurses there, when we asked them what if some of the 'suspects' really had TB, and our friend did not, and what if he contracted the disease from them. Even those details which we could extract from them was only after we got some one who spoke German to speak to them.

Such is the strange condition here at Darmstadt. I am not aware of the situation at other places in Germany. Well, I re-iterate that my aim is not to accuse or condemn the system here. Rather, it is the desire of all international (read 'foreign') students here, who would wish to get a better treatment from the system here. When I say 'treatment', it does not necessarily refer to 'medical treatment'.

Not to panic..all is not lost. I surely do believe that there is scope for improvement. But I felt that people must be made aware of such things lest they should face some inconveniences like these in the future.

Comments are welcome, as also your own experiences if you have had any, on such lines.

Update: The student in question has been finally diagnosed with TB, after 2 full weeks at hospital, and 4 weeks of undertaking treatment. - BHUVAN (March 18).

March 13, 2005

Hair-do Hungama

Its Oscar season again. And competition has never been more fierce than now for a few of the awards that are on offer - especially for the best make-up (read hair-ishtyle!!!!). Now, here is one field where there is a runaway winner - Guess who??? Click here to have a close-up view of the man who has redefined what hair-styling is all about. (Photo to be uploaded soon.)

Well, the story goes thus...Seems that he was trying out his new hair trimmer, and was fiddling with the settings for the cut depth and such things. All hell broke loose when he did not know how the depth was scaled - a 1 meant a deep cut and a 5 a superficial one. Our poor guy reversed the settings, and ended up with a tuft of his precious mane in his hands. Less said the better of the guy who was actually doing the trimming. I heard he had a torrid time trying to choose which to hold back - his laughter or the tuft of hair in his hands. Wanted to savour a piece of his magnum opus I think.

Öffnungszeiten der Frau?

Und da gibt es diesen Freund von mir, der Guru heißt, der sich an Verbesserung seinem Deutsch sehr interessiert ist (Entschuldig' mich für mein 'krankes' Deutsch!!!). Spricht er normalerweise eine Sprache die eine bunte Mischung zwischen Englisch und Deutsch wäre. Manchmal sagt er Sachen, jede von denen Material der Legende ist ("Stuff of Legend").

Und es so geschah, daß er mich nach einer Chinesischen Frau fragte. Sie ist seine Netzwerkverwalterin (Network Administrator), und er möchte mit der sprechen. Wahrscheinlich möchte er ihre "Sprechstunden" kennen. So fragte er mich plötzlich: >>Wann gibt es ihre Öffnungszeiten?!!!<<

Natürlich könnte ich nicht ruhig bleiben, und leitete es an anderen Freund von mir weiter(der heißt Raman). Er sagte: >>Na ja, sie 'kommt' normalerweise um 12 Uhr, und so muß ihre 'Öffnungszeiten' wahrscheinlich um viertel vor sein!!!<< ("Normally she 'comes' at 12'o clock, so her 'Opening Times' must be around a quarter to twelve"!!!)

(Entschuldig' mich noch ein mal, dieses mal für meine 'geile' Sprache!!!)

March 12, 2005

Taxing Peter to allay Paul

I came acoss a good article today on (click here or the title of this post above), regarding the Government's right to tax the citizens over something. One particular aspect in the article that struck me was the author's comment that indicated the common man was taxed by one ministry (namely Finance) to cater to the whimsical spending (read squandering) of other ministries. How often have we seen profligate ministers fritter away the taxpayer's hard-earned money for something frivolous, or an inefficient ministry plan scuttling away all available resources? True that the sincere and hard-working citizen earns and pays his sweat as tax, and the Government (read the various esteemed departments of it) dissipates this money. Why should the citizen pay tax then? One toiling man paying so that some one else fools around with this hard-earned money???

And this brings me to another issue which I have been glossing over for quite some time now...It may sound scandalous, but I wonder if I may be right after all...

March 09, 2005

Der Anfang

Cool..for ages I had been trying to do something worthwhile than just fooling around with my time...I have tried my hand at writing before...both publicly and otherwise..Some of my articles - technical and non-technical, poems, etc. have already been published in college journals during my Bachelors in India, before. Also I started writing a novelette (or was it an EPIC?)..I would deliberate on it some other time..but for the better part of my life, I have not tried seriously my hand at Journalism..At least now, let me do what I have liked always...well, at least one of let me give it a kick-start with these Blogging sessions!!!

I have always wanted to write my "Autobiography"..well stop laughing..PLEASEEEEEEEEE..will u kindly stop tumbling over the cliff with your guffaws??? I know autobiography and such stuff are only for people who have done something to write about..(I am deliberately avoiding using the word "achieved", coz you don't always have to 'achieve' something to write about yourself). But let me say that one day in the future I am sure going to put pen to paper and scribble whatever i hav done in my least those events that I remember!!!

If you are loooking for something literary or refined, I will forewarn you that you are bound to be disappointed buddy!!! May be some things you find here would be interesting only to myself and to no one else...but I just wanted to have a forum to start writing my brains out...almost everything I wanted to write..whether or not they make sense...

The my future I go!!! Es geht jetzt wirklich los!!!