Sunday, March 23, 2008

Skiing @ Serena

A long weekend laid ahead of us and we were not sure if we had all our plans ready to kill time. It was a religiously packed weekend with good friday , holi , Easter etc ... . Though we didnt celebrate the traditional way either by eating cakes or by applying colours on each other's faces , we had our bit of fun and adventure, we went to Ski at Serena.

Intially we had plans of going to another Ski resort at Vihti . However , we could not catch the proper bus at the appropriate time and had to make it to serena to enjoy Skiing , We later relaized that it was probably good that we didnt go all the way to Vihti :) . I had grand plans about skiing. I thought i can make all those S curves and C curves and do down hill , cross country etc. But when i wore the Ski boots for the first time , i relaized how tough it is going to be. Luckily , we thought it would be better to hire an instructor as neither of us (Vishy , ram and myself ) had skied before. Our instructor started smoothly by teaching us the first moves and slowly we started moving on the snow. She taught us how to put the breaks , how to accelerate and how to shift weight on the legs so that we can make the turns. It was a nice learning experience as it showed me sking is not as romantic as they show in the movies.

After the first 30 mins it was time for us to do a down hill and we took the lift to go up. I had my second fall here ( the first was when i put the skiis on) as i was unable to keep up the pace with the moving lift and started skiing back wards. Just imagine, i was in no control what so ever and skiis were taking me down hill. I suddenly realized that i was leaning back wards and that has shifted the whole weight towards the slope, I immediately bent forward and though i didnt stop completely , i fell on the snow and stopped. This was one of the many to come.

Our instructor took me up hill and started teaching us how to maintain balance without to poles ( the ones you hold in hand when skiing). It was a nice thing to learn as it gave me an insight into what actually makes skiing a not so easy job - the balance. My instructors point was that people from other countries (like India) do not have slippery surfaces to walk on which gives them the habit habit of walking straight ,with a completely erect body. However people like the Finns have to deal with these slippery surfaces every day and these make them naturally good at skiing. I saw kids and toddlers hardly 5 -6 yrs old doing down the hill perfectly , where as we were striggling to take the left turns , put the breaks and etc .... After another 45 mins of slow practice, I grew confident and made my first complete down hill . Though , it didnt go in the expected direction , it was a big improvement from where I started. Soon the instructor left us to ski on our own and we had quite a bit of fun for another hour and took the bus to Espoo , from where we would catch the train to Helsinki. I was amazed to see the beautiful country side with small and nice houses and frozen lakes. There was one lake which was completely frozen and is probably suitable for walking.

However , it is not well untill it ends well and it wasnt supposed to be the case. In a hurry to catch the tram i started running with these formal shoes, lost balance and fell on the road. I have small bruises on my ankels and left palm. Though minor , they are inaddition to the already sore ankles and shoulders. On the whole it was a very nice experience as it was my first ski ride inaddition to visting a beautiful country side. Looking fwd for a repeat , of course without the bruises :).

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Those were the best days of my life....

Two things have contributed to this post. First , i was listening to the song with the same title by Bryan Adams and secondly , i was looking at my orkut photos and saw the oldest photo of all - rajesh and me trying to pose as if we are ghoting.
Today , thousands of miles away, i sit in this room in a cold country and all my bitsian life seems as if it were a thing from another world. Eyebrows dont lift when i wear this sweatshirt and go to the office , people ask me BITS- pilani ? .. never heard of that ? (not every one ofcourse , some of them do know about it). All those days of adulation and the hype of being a BITSIAN , look as if they are gone. It has been more than an year and half since i spoke to some of those people who made my stay at BITS a worthy one and i am not sure if i would ever get a chance.

I still remember the last two days , 13th of December when most of my frenz left, 14th i had an exam and the 15th was the last day of my BITSIAN stay. I wasnt able to understand why so many people were crying and feeling sad. I was speaking to a lot of my frenz on the way to delhi and was saying , i dont feel psenti , what is there to get so emotional about that etc ... But now when i look back at those old fotos and think of all those good times , lachha sessions , night outs , tests , ANC , volley ball and c'nnot treats , i get a sense of nostalgia. The strange part of this feeling is that i never had it back in India , even after staying away for an year and a half. However , here in Helsinki , i suddenly remember pilani , not only because of the little similarities Helsinki has in terms of the climate , but also because i dont have any BITSIANS around me any more. Back in Bangalore , i used to see a couple of them either at the office or at home or on the Airport Road. Probably it is true that the day comes for every one.

However , looking at the positive side of things , i can easily say the 4 yrs of college life are worthy of memory . They made me what i am today (not that i had achieved sthin really gr8 , but hope to), they gave me sooooooo many memories , in addition to a little bit :) of knowledge . Atleast , they help me to write posts like this and at times take me back to the good old times of my dreams. Surely , "They were the best days of my life" and will remain so forever.

Enough of psenti stuff, i need to make my cup of chinese noodles, thinking of which i remember the fired maggi at ANC :( .... looks like this never ends.

**Thanks to sandi for the photo

My Finnish adventure

Off late i have been very busy , not only with work but of course with my own finnish adventures. Before i write about my adventure @ 9 in the night , i need to explain a few things that led to it. Here in finland you need not have any key to go out of any building , whether it is the nokia office at karaporti or my house in Uudenmankatu. The doors are in such a way that if a person wants to go out of the building , all he needs to do is turn the knobs and he need not even lock it while going. You push the door and that is it , it gets locked.

Under this context , i write about the small adventure that i went through on thursday night. I wanted to collect the duplicate bill for my SIM card purchase at the R-kioski shop near my house. So after coming home (and entering it properly) , i rushed off to that store. I got the required bill and returned home , only to find that the keys i had are not the correct ones and there is no way that i can open the door for my house. My passport , phone , travel card and wallet were all locked inside. There was simply no way for me to enter that house. I was really tensed , coz the temperature outside was a freezing -2 and i didnt have any place to sleep. The prospect that i have to probably lie on the foot steps , or roam around the streets till morning sent a shiver. After some pondering over i remembered that a colleague whom i had met a couple of days earlier stays just two blocks away. I immediately rushed to his place , but was unable to operate that speak through at the apartment door. Some how after 15 mins i realized how to operate it and called him up. We then spoke to the rental office about our problem , for which they replied that nothing can be done till the next day morning. So i slept at narasimha's place for that night and went and collected the duplicate set of keys in the morning. It was a big lesson for me that whatever might happen never forget the keys in finland. If you loose them there is a big process of filing a police complaint , paying a fine of 80 euros etc .... Atleast have your mobile , wallet and travel card when you go out.

Today ,we are planning to go to a place called Suomenlinna , a place that is kind of etched in time. They say it has a long history of withstanding various wars and etc .... Shall write about it when i return. Till then adios.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

My first international experience.

It has been just two days , but then these two days are probably the days that i wont forget soon. Sitting here infront of the window , munching these raffels and looking at the ice melting down the green sheets , i feel like Wordsworth looking at daffodils :) ..... i might not be that poetic , but this place is probably one of the best for people who love the chill and cold. you have so much ice that it can probably solve bangalore's water problem ( this is an example of how bad my poetic skills can be :) ).

When i boarded the lufthansa flight to frankfurt , i was a bit tensed. My first flight out of the country , a host of countries to cross and a long 10 hr flight didnt make me feel any comfortable. However , the treatment in the flight was very good and the flight was awesome. I dont know how comfortable the business and the first classes would be, but the economy class in itself was good. The flight attendants , mostly german , were cordial. The first snack that was served was very tasty and i tasted wine for the first time. When the lady sitting next to me ordered red wine , i felt i should atleast go for some white wine. Though , it was difficult to start , the taste began to sink in after some time. I expected a short severe kick , as they show in the movies , but it was absolutely nthin. I had some payasam , upma , idli sambar , yogurt and bread with butter and jam in addition to a very good tea (well it is a long list , but i didnt put on much weight :) ) .

However , everything didnt happen as smoothly as i expected, especially at the frankfurt airport. It is a huge one and there is every chance that you might get lost if you dont read the signs properly. To my advantage ,there wasnt a big crowd at the immigration check and the german who asked me a couple of questions , though was a bit curt , was good enough to add a thank you , unlike his Indian counter part at the bangalore airport who didnt even acknowledge a thanks from my side. The airport was good and had a vast mix of nationalities . My connecting flight to Helsinki got delayed by an hour and a half thanks to the weather. The time was 1:30 PM (German) and it has already been 30 hrs since i last cleaned my teeth. There was some chewing gum in a box in the rest room ,to clean the teeth , however i could not understand how to get one out. After an hour and after some struggle with the language , i came to know from one of the cleaners that i need to put in a euro in the machine to get the gum . However, as they say nthin is easy till it happens and i didnt have any coins with me. I had to ask the old finnish lady sitting infront of me at the airport for some change and after using some sign language and some sound i was able to get the sufficient change to by myself a chewing gum tooth brush.

I took a table with a nice view of the airport and started chewing that gum , when a chinki came and sat infront of me. I didnt notice him at first, but after sometime when I looked at him , he gave me a warm nice smile and in his typical boom boom english he asked " u from India ? ". I said yeah i am from India. His next question was " you good at software / hardware " . I smiled at his question as it gave me an impression that half the world thinks that Software skills are ingrained into Indians by birth , I said i work on SW. He said "Yooou from Bangalore ? " . I know that bangalore is famous but didnt expect such a question from a Vietnamese that too in a lonely corner in frankfurt airport. I asked him if he knows bangalore , to which he replied " of course every one knows bangaaaaaaalore , hyyyderaaaaaabad. yooou guys are faaaaamous." . I later came to know that he is Mr. Vu from USA , emigratted to US after the Vietnam war and i found that he has a very good knowledge about everything that is going round the world. Right from the iraq war to the poor infrastructure in Inida , to the past , to what to do with my life , to his experiences with life we discussed a lot of things till our flight arrived.

On board , the airbus flying to Helsinki , i had a lot of finnish guys for my company. I had some pasta , milk chocolate , and apple juice ... the guys from lufthansa were pretty good and overall flight was comfortable. The first thing one would notice when one lands at Vanta , Helsinki is the sudden change in temperature. The airport was more or less like Bangalore's in size , but was pretty neat and clean . I took a taxi from the airpro counter and reached home , ofcourse not before some nice walk in the snow that was coming down strongly. A nice cozy mattress made me realize that i hadn't slept enough in the past 36 hrs and off i went into the bed , of course after cleaning my teeth, using the tooth paste in the check in bag :) .