Thursday, October 08, 2009

Quand j’├ętait en Suisse




I was in Switzerland in August visiting my friend Shruti. It was the perfect opportunity to see her after so long and also take a much needed break from my dissertation. Lausanne is so different from London. It's more peaceful, but sleepier, with a zillion opportunities for nature lovers and those crazy about adventure sports. Oh and it is so French, only better (mainly because I could understand the Swiss French accent, unlike the French French accent).
Lausanne is also a city built on the slope of a hill, so the roads are quite steep in most places. You can even feel the inclination when you travel by the underground metro. The cutest part about the metro is that when a station approaches, there is a themed music that plays unique to that particular station....so even if you miss the name of the station, the sound effect should be enough to tell you where you are.


I even went para gliding en Suisse, over the Valaisian Alps. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.



You glide through the air, over mountains, into clouds, staring down at corn fields and little chalets. The air ever so gently pushes you in different directions. You stare down and see your feet hanging miles away from land. The road is just a thin line, the houses look like a Monopoly board game and the magnificence of the mountains becomes clearer.



It is liberating, hanging from a few pieces of string, feeling the cool breeze and feeling nothingness beneath your feet, but at the same time feeling as though the entire landscape belongs to you. It gives you a strange sense of power and at the same time you're at the mercy of the wind.



Navigating myself



Christophe - my instructor


My instructor Christophe, taught me how to navigate myself and let me take control of the glider for a few minutes. Ahhhh, one can't imagine how that feels - Being in total control in mid air, knowing that you could lose that control just as easily. Adrenaline.....lots of it !!!

Of course, i even visited Geneva to see my very own south Indian super star Affan. Too bad we didn't get to spend a lot of time together, but he did take me the United Nations building in Geneva.





A Memorial to all those people who lost their limbs due to land mines, right outside the UN building.




Jet d'eau (Jet of water)
Apparently there was a pipe burst long ago because of which the water shot out like a fountain...but because the people of Geneva liked it so much, they just kept it that way.

Now that I'm back home in India, I miss my life in London and my travels to Europe. I wonder what's next.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Interpreter

Thanks to Janice, this quote from the movie 'The Interpreter' has become one of my all time favourites:

" The gunfire around us makes it hard to hear.

But the human voice is different from other sounds.

It can be heard over noises that bury everything else.

Even when it's not shouting. Even if it's just a whisper.

Even the lowest whisper can be heard - over armies...

...when it's telling the truth."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Enough with the Shah Rukh Khan thing

Alright, so the King Khan got stopped at Newark airport and got questioned. BIG DEAL !!!!! Who doesn't get frisked or questioned these days??? I don't understand why the media, the film industry, the government and Shah Rukh Khan himself are making a big fuss about it.

Yes, it is upsetting and yes at times embarassing. I have been stopped plenty of times at airports to be frisked and questioned. Initially I used to think it was some form of racial abuse, but now I understand why they do it. The fact that people stop me at the airport to ask questions makes me feel safer, it makes me feel that they're doing their job. I wouldn't deny that the colour of our skin, our names or the fact that we look South Asian has nothing to do with them stopping us. But I think it is necessary. Haven't most terrorist attacks originated from our part of the world lately? They have all the reason in the world to be suspicious and cautious. Blame your own fellow men who are involved in terrorist activities. Stop blaming the poor immigration officer who was only doing his job.

The thing is, I don't see why Shah Rukh Khan shouldn't have been stopped. A lot of people from the film industry have been found guilty of various offences, both minor and major. Besides, isn't Bollywood known to have close links with the underworld? Why then should Shah Rukh Khan make such a big fuss about being questioned? Why isn't this made a big issue when normal Indians, who do not have fame to come to their rescue, are frisked and questioned? I normally never agree with anything that Salman Khan says or does, but today he was absolutely right. Things like these are normal, given the current security concerns. There's nothing bizzare about it.

The West is no doubt more fearful of the Muslim world or even the 'Third world' than it has ever been in history and they have reason to be. Ambika Soni's version of 'tit-for-tat' by frisking American visitors just sounds ridiculous. Would you frisk someone only because they frisked your countrymen or would you frisk them because they posed a genuine security threat? Yes, there is a racist dimension to it, but the primary concern is security at the end of the day and I do not blame the airport officials. Get a life and move on.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Inspired

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments

by narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way

into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led forward by thee

into ever-widening thought and action,

into that heaven of freedom, my Father,

let my country awake.


-Rabindranath Tagore


Its 7 am. Been studying since afternoon. This is possibly the only thing keeping me awake, other than the coffee of course.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Euro Trip

I’ve been travelling across Europe for the past 3 weeks. When I started the journey I didn’t realise how super duper fantastic it would turn out to be. Paris, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Krakow. 6 wonderful cities, 6 very unique cultures and languages. I must say I liked Vienna and Krakow the most. Vienna mostly because it was home to Gustav Klimt and the secessionist movement and to me it seemed like a wonderful place to live in........And Krakow because of its cultural charm, history and the fact that there is so much to do there. I did like Berlin, but the fact that I was always reminded of the holocaust or the wall wherever I went wasn’t very appealing. It seemed like an apologetic city. I understand why. It is important to remember history so that we don’t risk forgetting and repeating it again.....but then again, even though Krakow has an equally gory history, there were plenty of places I could go to where memories of the holocaust weren’t always in my face. This trip made history real for me. All the statistics came alive, all the sentences in history textbooks were translated into sentiments and the people and what they felt became a reality. I am definitely going back to some of these places to spend more time there, especially Austria and Poland. After graduation perhaps.....Pictures will be up soon :)

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Small Update

The past few months have been such a roller-coaster ride. It is the longest I’ve ever been away from home and honestly I do enjoy the independence. Just a few months at LSE have been life-changing. I know this sounds very clich├ęd, but it’s true. For the first time I’m truly excited about what I’m studying. The subject is something that I can lose myself in and get so involved in. I’m not going to sit and give a day by day account of everything in the past few months, but all I’ll say is that it has been an eye-opener. I always knew that I had so much to learn, but never quite really knew what it was that I had to. I still don’t know everything, but being at LSE these few months, I’m starting to realise some of them.....And I find some of my friends so inspiring, it’s hard not to learn anything from them. I’ve had so many ups and downs since I got here and I love having the freedom to take care of things myself.
Apart from that, the environment here is so stimulating. Dinners are filled with interesting conversations and controversial debates. I’ve already met people like Thomas Friedman and Jeffery Sachs.....How often does one get opportunities to listen to well-known people and question them in person? I’m loving this whole academic experience here. I know some people might wonder why I’m so much in awe of it because for many it isn’t really that great an experience.....But coming from a place where little was expected and where education had a completely different meaning, my mind feels liberated here. I enjoy the freedom that I’m given to have my own opinion and not be afraid to share it. I have an enormous amount of learning ahead of me and while it does seem challenging, I’m nothing, but excited about it.

PS: I miss all of you back home. Even if I’m not in constant touch, I want you all to know that I always think of you :)