Thursday, November 25, 2010

At first I didn't understand the enormity of the question. And when I did, I didn't know how to stop myself from screaming from the rooftops! (this was immediately remedied by lack of rooftop and sub-zero temperatures).
I (that is my colleague and I, the two people on this project) have been invited to - hold your breath - design exhibits for the Solvay Exhibition! *looks around at the complete lack of response, at the puzzled looks, and at some politely smiling as if to say 'umm oh that's great!'*
So to make you understand the enormity of this let's journey back - The Solvay Conference in 1922 was the first world Physics conference. The International Solvay Institutes for Physics and Chemistry, located in Brussels, were founded by the Belgian industrialist Ernest Solvay in 1912 (thank you Wiki!).
Still not impressed?
Maybe this will change your mind- the most famous Solvay Conference was held in 1927. A man was talking about a certain Principle when one of the attendees remarked 'God does not play dice' which was countered by another attendee - "Stop telling God what to do". Ring any bells?
That's right! Einstein vs. Bohr, Solvey 1927!
And where do I fit in in the scheme of things - well things seem to have come full circle - I need to make the younger generation understand what the older generation did - build the bridge as it were.

Friday, November 19, 2010

She left her French beret in Spain

The upside of 'the institution' is that you always have someone to go on holiday with - which can also been the downside. An impromptu holiday in Madrid was the perfect way to find out which side of the line I was on.
I never pegged myself a city-lover. Born as I was to parents for whom this was always a point of contention, my father being a city man and my mother a small town gal (in their likes that is), and harboring the romantic notions resulting from a childhood diet of Enid Blytons - I always thought myself a small town girl, a small village girl even (somethingortheotherShire).
Needless to say I went to Madrid with no expectations and what I felt left me wondering how many facets of myself I am unfamiliar with.
I loved the city, the shops, the dreadful (but refreshingly familiar) restaurant chains punctuating the main street. And the people. See, the problem with Brussels is not the dirt, the inefficiency, the lethargy or the weather, the problem with Brussels is its people. They look like they were the supporting cast for a holocaust movie and no one said 'cut'.
And, as is the nature of such things, the much awaited break went by much too fast. So far still walking the upside.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It is a seeping kind of cold. Not the kind to be warmed up by a fireplace or a steaming hot mug of tea. It is a creeping kind of cold. The kind that steals up behind you and before you know it it's not just the weather that is cold - it is you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I sit alone in the drawing room. My single cup of tea does not have a companion today, nor a biscuit to accompany it. The belan is stowed away, the atta is sealed and pushed to the dark recesses of the cupboard, frying oil is drained into the sink and the whole spices will soon be forgotten. The house no longer smells like hot parathas and loving concern. There is no echo of my name called from the other room, no midday emails to ask when I am coming home and if I've eaten lunch, no impromptu shopping trips and visits to a museum! The spare duvet is rolled away and the extra bed deflated until the next time she's here. Come back Ma!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It is one of those days - the kind of which there have been very few in the last few months, the kind which you don't want many of - at all!
After giving serious thought to my condition, I realise that I am heading for a full blown burnout.
Thinking backwards to my last real break, I realise I haven't had one!
I got back to Brussels in June, before that I went to NZ to get married, before that I crossed continents, time zones and language barriers to move to Brussels, prior to that I was on a whirlwind shopping trip in India buying out stores and scoping alleys for one entire family's worth of wedding finery. This was after packing up four and a half years of PhD life in Canberra, vacating house and the like. Before this I was frantically trying to submit my thesis, dealing with a hostile work environment and a lack of support. Rewind four years and I moved to Australia from NZ a few months after finishing my degree, even before I graduated. Dial it back another four years and I was doing my undergraduate degree. And for ten years before that it was school just like the rest of the world. I will stop here and not retrace my steps to the womb.
So, penning this down, it hits me and hits me hard that I have not had a break. I did not take time off after school, after undergrad years, after PhD, nor did I do the mandatory honeymoon post marriage.
All these years I have been diving head-first into the next thing, sometimes taking with me energy and sanity and other times forgetting to bring them on board. Right now they are part of a distant past. Sleep is measured in fragments, the day is divided, leisure is stolen in between these, not always successfully.
So why am I blogging? Because I need to - I need this final shred of calm to touch base with the old me, to feel that the creative juices are flowing albeit slow and haltingly.
Now where is that Kit-kat?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another Ganesh Chaturti has passed us by. I remember the time when the hailed remover of obstacles would be welcomed into the house amidst much fanfare! While the rituals have not stuck, the feelings have.
Bringing Ganpati home, the 'mandap' with banana leaves and flowers. The deep red kumkum and bright yellow of turmeric, air thick with the scent of camphor, agarbatti and amvade, tinkling of gejje and akshate, cotton of the deepas and the gejje vastra, burning ghee, baale yele, kadubu, don't look at the moon.
It has not been the same since we left Bangalore, it will never be the same but I am richer for having been there and for the memories. Blessed for being able to transport my thoughts back to those of the excited child that could think of nothing better than a morning of pooje and an afternoon lunch on a banana leaf.
This year we celebrated. A makeshift diya, fruits for the naivedya, aarti and lunch. A new city, a new house, a new person on board - but the unchanging sanctity of the occasion and the unchanging God.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I think in blogs every now and then. Just don't get around to typing my thoughts. It is a rainy Friday morning. A Friday of a very busy week where things that were not priority got done and those that were priority are still sitting on the back burner, getting slowly charred.
If I were to begin where I left off, we would have to journey back to June and the wedding. I realise that there wasn't a wedding post. Now it is only snippets from memory:
- Being received by my uncles at Auckland airport - for someone so used to hunting for the bus/train/taxi rank at airports this was brilliant!
- The food! Oh! the food.
- Cousins at home, after 12 long years!
- Cousins' babies in tow
- Noise, deafening noise
- Laughter, tears, late nights
- More food
- Friends who are so much more than just friends
- The beautiful mandap, the clouds clearing just in time
- Eating out of silver plates
- The glowing reception
- Colour, chaos, contentment
- Dancing till our legs fell off!

Yes, it was a Wedding to be remembered. It was not completely the happy chaotic affair I had hoped for, nor was it executed with clockwork precision (that my Mom hoped for) but the anthem was and still is - All izz well!

Friday, July 16, 2010

All excuses done for not updating this space. For anyone that is still reading here - thanks for sticking around and sorry for testing your patience so.
I will work backwards because some thoughts need to be penned right away. Everything post wedding has been subdued. My grandmom took ill a few weeks before the wedding, took a turn for the worse after the wedding and passed away last week. She from whom I inherited my broad shoulders, my love for piping hot showers even in winter and my dislike of all things cold. She who would call every Sunday at 8 pm, reprimand us for missing her calls and ask us if we have eaten and if I have gone to the gym. She, who was the cause of my speaking Kannada like an old woman! She who held all her life that all problems are best tackled on a full stomach. Even as I write this I cannot believe that she is gone. Last night as I cooked the first meal in the apartment that I will now call home in Brussels, it came as a passing thought that I should call Ajji since I haven't spoken to her in a while - it was an afterthought that I cannot speak to her anymore.
I cannot take solace in the fact that she lived a good, full life - she didn't. But for her sake I want to believe in afterlife, may she have a wonderful afterlife.
For us, the ones left behind, my father misses her like a limb, my mother in her own unsaid way, my sister is still in shock and for me it has not yet sunk in. When I do remember - I miss her in ways I didn't think possible. I miss her voice on the phone saying yeno puttanna". I miss her asking me about my week, about the little things that are happening in my life and when I will visit again.
There is left a void in our lives that we will never be able accept - we just have to find the strength to move on.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Seeing Zeeland

Stag day - 23rd May 2010
Train to Knokke, bike hire, first tandem biking experience, first ever experience biking over 40 kms at a stretch, climbing up a windmill in Zeeland- all the way up! Beanbags at the beach, sipping a cold drink as the sun sets over the Belgian coastline, a moment of bliss, a memory forever.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It has not become imperative to record here the events of the last few months for posterity. I can count the hours of sleep I have had since the last time I updated this space - not many. It's been a stomach churning roller coaster with all the highs and lows that go with such a ride. The PhD is done. Wrapped. Sealed. Delivered. And much as the heart breaks at not having the opportunity (read leave and money) to attend graduation and receive the very degree for which one has suffered more sleepless nights, grayed the hair and generally lost all confidence and faith in Science - it is consolation that said certificate will now vie to hang proudly on a wall at home.
It came as a surprise that writing the thesis was but the tip of the iceberg. Once the markers were done tearing it apart, searching for every missing comma in every caption of every figure (which is no small task considering there were over 50 figures!)the 'student area' which is a grey area where theses go to die, decided to sit on it till the chickens hatched. Meanwhile, back in Brussels the admin were sitting on my head and breathing down my neck for every cent that I was costing them. As a result of which many a heated email was exchanged between self and supervisor, many a secretary was wakened to do the jobs they are paid for and many a sister (ok just the one) was called upon to trudge to printers and binders. At the end of all this though, I now have the very prestigious and a little ostentatious title of Dr.
So the week following this ordeal was spent in Scotland - road trip London to Scotland with a friend. Broken windscreen and taped on rear view mirrors notwithstanding, us two girls really painted the towns and the motorways red. The 'official' reason for the trip was a meeting in St. Andrews - the home of golf- which was duly played, on immaculate courses and amidst professionals who, surprisingly enough, didn't laugh us off the course. A visit to Scunthorpe, Edinburgh, Glasgow and of course finishing off in London with the 'Londoners' - a great week!
The time back has been a little flu ridden. Overcoming a hangover and exhaustion whilst having to pack up is not something to look forward to. The next bit of excitement awaits. The family has started flying in, stress and smiles both growing. Cross your fingers that airline strikes and volcanoes hold off to get home safely. See yer all on the other syde.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The mind is willing but the body fails
The head it hurts and the nose runs pails
blood shot eyes and weary mood
if only the weather understood
as birds and bees and flowers abound
and parks full to the brim are found
somewhere we sit, stifling a sneeze
bodies shaking against the pleasant breeze
the sun smiles down on our suffering
hay fever - the downside of spring.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It happens about four times a year, which for some people is ridiculously less and for others it is more than they can ever imagine. I endure it just like the others do. More often than not, I see familiar faces and we silently nod in the long, white, windowless corridors, our eyes betraying our frustration.
In the long, white, windowless rooms time stands still as I wait my turn. Other have gone before me but try as I might I have failed. The art eludes me. I am not an expert like the Others. They can effortlessly transport you to a state of trance, where you are looking but not seeing, hearing but not listening, the eyes are open but you are not awake. Every fibre of their being can transport you, their voice, their walk, their actions. I have failed where numerous others have succeeded.
It is the constant explanations, justifications and questions that I hate. The false sense of security, the reassurance that things are under control when it is plain that they are not. The Others tell you how good it all is, when you know it is not.
However, the end of another day comes, bringing with it hope and sunshine. I leave the windowless rooms and corridors and walk out.
Yes people, I am free, until tomorrow... free from the optics conference.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Londoners vacationed in Brussels this weekend past and I should chronicle the happenings before the eyelids droop any further.
As an aside, it has been a Herculean task getting through today without dozing off on my desk and smacking my head on the same. And, of course, time crawls, to play its part in heightening the agony.
So, as previously mentioned, Brussels played host to the London friends this weekend and, in true bizarre fashion, it did rather well!
While the initial plan included tackling the sights and sounds of the city with full gusto, ticking off each major landmark as done and generally waking up early and setting off to make the most of each day - only some of the plan saw the light of day.
What happened instead was much, much better!
Beer, fries, waffles and chocolates - tick.
Grand Place, Mannakin Pis, Delirium, Atomium, tour bus - tick
Food, paani puri (!!) and more food - tick
late nights, laughing, conversation, good-natured ribbing, more laughing - tick
Another excellent weekend - tick!

I realise that most of my holiday posts seem to be rather brief, but this is how I come away from a holiday. Very few specifics and lots of feelings, thoughts and images.
For places come and places go but the memories (and the ticket stubs I collect!) live forever.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blogger alternates between English and Dutch (Flemish) so right now I'm not 'Blog Maken', I'm Aanmelden.
It's t-shirt weather y'all! Finally stepped out without at jacket/jumper at 8 pm last night and it was beautiful! The streak continues today and I'm thinking it might be Abhinav, the chap landed up at my doorstep yesterday morning to surprise me and brought with him the good weather! Nicely done, *high five*!
I was walking past a colleague's office this morning. She's a post doc in the type of stuff that I did before landing this job. As I walked back to my office it hit me that that might have been me!
I could have landed some sort of post-doc passing light through things and reading papers that I didn't understand and basically dreading the rest of my life.
Instead I did something that I, in a million years, would have not thought myself capable of. I gave up the chance to do a pure Physics post-doc, gave up a relatively high paying job to move across the world and dive head first into uncertainty. And every time I get frustrated at work, I question my decision. I question my judgment.
But today, when I saw my colleague, I realised that I did not want to be her right now. Maybe in a few years when I feel the love for Physics the way I did as a lowly undergrad. But not now.
Right now, I like what I am doing. Most importantly because not many people get paid to do something that they wouldn't mind doing for no money at all!
So watch out kids of Europe, here we come to teach you Physics!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Keeping up the almost-two-posts-a-week trend, I think my first movie-watching in Brussels deserves a post of its own!
So it has been over a month since I landed in the land of chocolates and beer and whatnot and I had not been to the movies! Surprisingly, another friend was in a similar position and we decided to make an evening of it. So the three of us, Ashanka included, decided to go watch Alice in Wonderland in 3D.
Turns out movies in Brussels (Im not sure if I can speak for all of Belgium) are very cheap and the theaters are not half bad! 10 Euros (or thereabouts) for a ticket to a 3-D movie plus a pass for 2 bucks more for a free movie anything this month! Hell yeah!
The movie itself - loved it! And not just because it stars Johnny Depp (actually it has a brilliant cast!). I liked the movie because it has captured the essence of the story. AiW is not, for the most part, a feel good book. I have always seen a dark-side to it and for years I felt like I was the only one. I mean its 'wonderland' for Godsakes!

In other news the colleague has taken off since it is a sunny day and the weekend will be cloudy so he would rather work then. I, for my part, am determined to finish what I had planned for the day but somehow the motivation is waning. Amidst this, the general 'meh'ness that surrounds today and the fact that I made the stupid mistake of listening to 'Tum Mile', the mood is fast dipping.
Tum Mile is the song that I have avoided since I came to Brussels. This is the song that floods my mind with memories of Auckland and the summer past. The song that I played on repeat in the car while driving around with my folks and sister, to do wedding type things and soaking in the sun and enjoying the carefree-ness of being home, the warmth of family and friends just feeling Auckland and trying to file away every little bit to keep with me while I moved.
Needless to say, the song came on, and the eyes welled up.
I long for another Auckland summer.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sing it with me boys n girls

The pre-post that I am putting up post the trip: I am amazed at my blogging frequency! The last time I blogged with such fervor was second year of PhD when I was not really liking where I was and what I was doing.
So the thought of opening a travel blog crossed my mind but such thoughts must not be entertained. Mostly because implementation calls for taking and uploading of photos and the like - an arduous task and one that I am not at all likely to complete. The reason for such thoughts was the tomorrow I visit Amsterdam. Ashanka of 'Spiritus Mundi' fame is here and we are going to take in the sights and sounds of Amsterdam this weekend. While there are several things on the agenda we both hope that we can pack everything worth seeing into one weekend and Ashanka wins the Facebook Photo load-off!

In true nomad style, the weekend was spent in Amsterdam with Ashanka. And even though I have the worst headache from not sleeping enough and the worst backache from lugging my bag around it was well worth it.
Booking were done very late in the day and the hotel held up, even though the location was not the best. The weather held off and it only drizzled instead of pouring. And, trooper that she is, Ashanka held up with full gusto in spite of a bout of illness. All in all a great time was had by us. Two girls, unleashed in the city!
The museums, canals, cafes and restaurants were well explored and we came back with several bags of goodies and a lifetime of memories.
In Brussels it is back to regular life and work with more weekends to look forward to.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Now that this, hitherto dormant, space has been revived I thought I should give the old gal some polishing. Much in the style of re-painting houses the blog now has a new look and so far I like!
So as many of you that read this blog, and several others that don't there is impending something arriving in the form of the wedding in June that is happening contrary to all expectations.
Yes, mine.
So I have been told that I must introduce the unfortunate 'soon to be spouse and bearer of all brunt' on this blog. I must admit that I have tried before and I cannot come up with a smart name for him (a smarta*se name yes, but not a smart one). It is most difficult to find a name that combines what he means to me as well as appeals to my sarcastic senses. Of course several options were considered and vetoed. These included 'UO' for Unfortunate Other, that is 2 blank spaces and so on but - just as I have not 'hidden' my name on this blog, yes it is Amrita, I see no point in hiding his. His name is Abhinav.
So everyone wave hello and now that the niceties have been taken care of, and rather well one might say! we can move on. Google says that 'Abhinav' means 'Young, new, innovative'. Is he? He is as young as his age permits, he is new to this blog and he is innovative in finding ways to annoy me!
He is also one of the most brilliant scientists I know, patient to a fault and honest beyond all measure.
How I landed him - well as the age old saying goes 'good things happen to good people' (or, I prefer it in Punjabi, 'neki kar puttar neki pa').
How he landed me - that story remains to be told.
So we are taking the plunge and hoping that the bungee cord holds up against the tensions of life. Wish us luck and see you at the wedding!

Monday, March 08, 2010

It is 4.20 on a sunny Sunday afternoon and I'm sitting by the window, with the wind howling outside, sipping tea and biting into a flaky chocolate croissant. Yes, the resolutions to eat only salads and no carbs after six have flown out the window - new resolution being to work out twice as much tomorrow.
I was thinking up a list of 'Weekend absolutely do-not's' while making dinner last night and here is the list
1. Work!
2. Eat cereal for breakfast; this, to me, is the ultimate weekend mood killer. Weekends are meant either to eat sumptuous breakfasts dripping in fat stuff and sweet stuff or to starve till lunch and which is dripping with... you get the drift.
3. Work!
4. Work out; I salute anyone who works up the motivation to hit the gym, go for a run, cycle or generally put on them training shoes and manage to break a sweat due to exercise that does not involve dashing for a moving tram that gets you to a shop/cafe/bistro/club.
5. Work!
6. Go to the office (to pick up work!): This does not include going to the office to print/download/have lunch/coffee or any 'social' or 'socially associated' reason
7. Clean: Now this is not a weekend do-not for me but, turns out, that it is for the spouse to be! He has specifically 'requested' that cleaning type activities be relegated to work type days and when in Europe one will do like the homeless (for the want of a better simile) and take off on a trip every weekend! Although how much traveling is done remains to be seen.
8. Make the bed: The sign of a lazy weekend (hence, one well spent!) is an unmade bed and the crawling of self into said bed at regular intervals with laptop in hand and a cup of hot beverage (specially on winter weekends).

Consequently where there is a do-not list, one must specify what to do.
Eat, sleep in, read, write, blog, drink, walk around and take in the surroundings, enjoy the leisure and make sure that you take time out to smell the roses.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

So I'm in Brussels but what the heck am I doing here. I mean let's be honest, Brussels is hardly your dream city and no it was not a dare.
As all of you that have read my blog know by now, my PhD years, were not fun - to put it mildly. What you may not know, is that I became part of (co-founded!) a very interesting group during my PhD that resulted in some very lucrative and interesting extra-curricular activities. Interesting, because I discovered that it was something I loved doing and was marginally good at and lucrative because now that is my job and pays for the proverbial (and sometimes literal) bacon that I bring home.
Now before the imagination goes wild - this is not a guessing game. I left applied science - yes, but not that far behind. Let's say I walked out of the lab - to the corridors. Science communication. This does not mean that I preach the benefits of studying science to impressionable young minds (saint style) - or maybe it does. But I try to show them that science is cool. And every once in a while tell them that it matters who your boss is! But that is the case for all jobs and they will learn it anyway (Life lesson 1 it is!) and its always useful to show them that being at a university is just as bad as being in the corporate world.
What makes it work for me - well flexible hours, more annual leave, travel paid for - you know the usual.
So far it has been good, the days are packed with things to do and, for the first time, I have work people to have lunch with rather than sitting morosely at my computer with a dejected looking sandwich, or worse still, McDonalds!
If only the weather would echo my sentiments and throw some sunshine our way then I can off with a merry song - but for now it is less of 'Season's in the Sun' and more 'Raindrops keep fallin' on my head'.

Au revoir

Monday, March 01, 2010

Taking up a tag from Vatsa for International Women's Day, albeit very late!
What does it mean to be a woman in the 21st century. Apart from the obvious 'rights' and 'perks' which have been discussed to death, the very fact that women can discuss being women in the 21st century is a testament to how mindsets have changed.
Vatsa wrote a lovely post on the people behind a successful woman and I think that she has hit on a a very significant aspect of success.
I think that as 'modern' women we have it harder. Period. We have the additional responsibilities without the privileges. After all, is it not a privilege to come home to a hot meal, a clean house and a warm bed. Is it not a privilege to enjoy time with your children, without the responsibility of their upbringing, is it nor a privilege to be the 'bread winner' and not worry whether the bread has been bought or not. Is it not a privilege to be applauded for long hours at work and not questioned for ignoring your family and being 'career oriented'. Is it not a privilege to be able to walk the streets wearing whatever you like and not have to listen to jeers and cat-calls. These are privileges - not rights.
As a modern woman, I believe in only one thing - striving for equality. Not female chauvinism. I had once written a post about how my parents brought me up as a human being, not as a male or female. And that is what I believe in. But that is not to say that I am not proud to be female. Sure there are times when I am frustrated at the undeserved privileges that men enjoy but there are other times when I can see the changes that are coming about. I see it at home, at work, all around me, everyday.
I do not think that successful women are a testament to modernisation of society or changing mindsets. Success testament to the women themselves. Their struggle against several odds and the support of their families.
From personal experience I can say that the family is but the single most important entity in governing a person's mindset. For much as traits, opinions, likes and dislikes can be acquired, even the fact that one is open to such acquisition comes from one's family.
So in saying all this what is it that I'm trying to say - plain and simple it is this. In several parts of the world people (men and women alike) believe that emancipation of women means that they work, drink, smoke and have the 'right' to do what men do. But these same people do not acknowledge that emancipation comes not from what they can do but that they can choose to do. These are the same people that would raise eyebrows at a mother who worked all day and didn't have the energy to cook. At a woman who told a man she loved that she wanted to meet some career goals before marriage, or one that didnt' have the aptitude for decorating her home so it was always a pleasant mess. Because yes, society has 'given' women the 'right' to do things - to do more things. But not the option to forego their 'duties' in the process.
This is not to say that things are not changing. Just as men are patted on the back for helping out with the chores in spite of work, women are applauded for being successful at work as well as doing the chores. Both things being equally important for a good life.
So to me being a woman in the 21st century means being able to express myself, in thought, in deed and action. It means being able to share a part of myself with people and putting myself up for praise and criticism alike. It means having choices and the strength of make decisions and choose whether or not to stand by them. It means being able to walk, talk, think and fight. It also means being exposed to a lot of BS - and taking it like a man!

Monday, February 22, 2010

With friends like these....

One has a fantastic time!
So London is the new Sydney (and by extension, Brussels is my new Canberra in all senses of the word). A weekend away in London was had for a second time and once again, thanks to my awesome friends, I come away feeling great (and a little sad at having to leave).
Comedy store, huge Indian lunch, Tayyabs for dinner, moroccan tea, mulled wine and bag shopping along with great conversation and good friends - I can't think of a better recipe for a relaxing weekend. It is brilliant having friends who, so willingly, open up their homes to you and free their schedules. Thanks Pinks and My3 and I hope to return the hospitality.
Its strange how life gives you exactly what you want - not what you think you want at that point in time, but what you really would like deep down. No more, no less.
When I was but a wide-eyed teenager, it was my dream to hop trains across Europe, 'If its Tuesday, this must be Belgium' - type of life. And now I have it.
Here's to making the most of it!

Friday, February 19, 2010

So blogger has finally switched to English from Flemish (Dutch?) - I realise I confuse it at the best of times with my moving across continents at the drop of a hat (or a job). Thanks for your patience blogger and thanks for keeping up!

I discovered Phillippa Gregory over the summer and what a delightful writer she is. I read 'The Other Boleyn Girl' and even though it has taken me five tries to correctly spell 'Boleyn' (and again!) it is well worth a read! Prior to reading this book all I knew about aforementioned Boleyn girl was that her first name was Anne and that Natalie Portman acted in the movie (did she not?). The book is delightfully dark and poignant and transports one back effortlessly to the courts of Henry the Eighth and in fact, introduces one to the first Boleyn girl - Mary.
So this book was a find when I was browsing a second hand bookstore in Royal Oak, Auckland after my dentist's appointment. Incidentally, I had raved about my dentist and turns out she remembered me like my appointment was just yesterday. She also said that she is moving to outback Australia (everyone seems to!) and will miss me because 'cummon everyone loves a challenge' (her words not mine!).
It was a day of good finds - 'Stories to stay awake by - Alfred Hitchcock' and 'Confessions of a Shopoholic' were found and duly consumed. The former spine chilling short stories and the latter a ticklish account of well, a shopoholic complete with letters from the bank and creditors!
The Twilight series was also read and, much to the disappointment of my 'better read' friends who do not consider Twilight even a work, let alone a published work, I didn't mind it. In fact - I daresay - I liked it!
As my sister said, maybe it was just a case of me not having read the work of Anne Rice or other 'vampire writers' and therefore my lack of exposure to better written works on the topic. Or maybe, as I said, if one can so easily accept witches and wizards then why not vampires and werewolves?
Or maybe it has to do with the fact that I think Robert whatshisname is pretty good looking - no, it is definitely the witches and wizards argument.
Either ways I think I prefer vampires to werewolves - the air of silent mystery and the cold hard interior is appealing. Although, the movie itself does no justice to the books. Plainly, the books are romantic, the movie is - frustrating and the dialogues sound like someone stood around with a clipboard and asked random people to say things - random things and these became the dialogues.
So current bookshelf material includes 'Eat, Pray, Love' and one Alexander McCall Smith along with 'The Old Curiosity Shop' by Dickens and 'Gods Behaving Badly'. So reviews are due soon.
Incidentally, I was speaking to a friend about Kindle and I'm wondering if it feels the same as curling up with a good book, the smell of the pages and the beauty of the colourful spines covering your bookshelf. Do tell if you own one and what your experience has been.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Observations from the new land

So it has been a week in Brussels. A cold week. A relatively good week.
And already I feel qualified to talk about Brussels in passing - 'Oh! that's Brussels for you'
So from my vantage point this is what I feel obliged to tell you.

- The Belgians are not used to the snow!
- There is a Belgian Standard Time like Indian Standard Time (and it ranges from a few hours to never!)
- If it's broke, don't fix it
- If you call someone about it, they won't know what you are talking about
- If they do, they will say that they'll call you back - and they won't!

- Belgian humour takes getting used to.
- Inappropriate websites are not blocked at work (as was unwittingly demonstrated by a guy who shares my office)
- People function without drinking water!
- The average response time for email queries is 1 week (and this for something simple like "What is your phone number")
- EVERYTHING available to eat outside of lunch and dinner hours is sweet!

- Random things happen here, like naked people at perfectly respectable clubs and orange throwing at carnivals.

At the end of every day though, as I walk the 5 mins from my workplace to 'home', which is actually a double room with attached bath and kitchenette, wondering if the elevator has fixed itself , I feel strangely 'in place' in this quaint city. Maybe it is because I was born in the wrong era, or maybe it's because of my love for all things cobblestoned.
Either ways - it could be home!

Monday, February 15, 2010

This post had several opening lines. Ranging from pitiful excuses to profound proclamations. Then I thought it best just to write.

I must recap - if only to preserve memories for my own. After wrapping up things in Canberra, wrapping up my 4.5 years of life there literally and figuratively I went home. For the first time in four and a half years, we were a family of four. Eating, talking, laughing, crying, fighting and finally it was home again. The New Zealand summer went by much too fast for my liking, but it was packed full of excitement.
The engagement happened and even though I don't feel 'engaged' as it were, a great time was had by all. Then the summer happened, the summer of 2009! And what a brilliant summer it was. The weather more than held up the whole time and as a consequence one did what one longs to do in a perfect summer holiday - relax, unwind, eat, sleep, read, party and frolic on the beach.

So time, keeping true to its nature, flew by and before I knew it, I was packing to move to Brussels. The arrival into Brussels was eventful, complete with snowfall, flight delays and more snowfall.
So now I am in my very own 'cookies n cream' city, a room with a view and daring to look forward to each day.
Wish me luck, keep in touch and will update soon!