Lake Constance and around

After a long interval, there was a little bit of travel a month ago..  happened to be around the region around Lake Constance in Austria and Germany. The entire region is quite beautiful, especially it was Spring then, when everything comes to life. 🙂

The trip began with Austria, in the towns of Dornbirn and short trip to Bregenz and Feldkirch followed by the German side of the lake, in the towns Lindau, Kressbronn, Markdorf and Friedrichshafen..

Beginning from Austria..  Bregenz is a nice town by the lakeside, and is capital of the Vorarlberg state of Austria. It has a nice art festival each year (Bregenzefestspiele) around July-August when people from around the region come to enjoy the music and theater plays.  I stayed in the bigger town Dornbirn, in the same state, which was also quite nice..

Bregenz

Bregenz, Austria

Dornbirn

Dornbirn, Austria

Bregenz town..

the text translates to ” From apprentice to Master” (somewhere in Bregenz town)


Now coming to Germany, Lindau has the lakeside just outside the main train station and so a nice place to sit or take a stroll. At a short distance to Lindau is the village of Kressbronn, where I was hosted by a wonderful couple. We went to a concert of a Polish all-girls band in the neighboring town and had dinner together.  Such friendly and kind people they were!

The next day was at Markdorf and Friedrichshafen. Friedsrichshafen is a totally amazing place , with again lakeside just outside the main train station. Some old friends came to meet so it was even more fun. We took a boat ride (‘Hello Kitty’ was our boat :D, as chosen by the boys ) in the Lake, and saw (for the first time!) airships (Zeppelin) floating across the sky and spent the rest of the time just sitting at the Lakeside..

I would say Europe is a place to be in Spring, even more than Summer.

To happy travels! Enjoy!

Lindau

Lindau

:)

at some shop in Lindau..

Markdorf

Markdorf

hello Beautiful!

hello Beautiful!

Friedrichshafen Lakeside

Friedrichshafen Lakeside

Sea shells!

🙂

See you again!

See you again, Lake Constance!

[Thanks Viru for your camera!]

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Beautiful Belgium

A few weekends ago, I was in Belgium with some friends. It was our first visit in the country though we study not too far from there.

We visited 3 places; the capital Brussels and two other towns, Ghent & Bruges, and here’s what I liked the most about them:

Comic Art cult

So Belgium boasts of having the highest density of comic artists in the world! There are university degrees offered for this area 🙂 and Tintin and Smurfs are some of the creations from Belgium.

Tin tin art somewhere in Brussels

Tintin art somewhere in Brussels

so very cute! =) somewhere in Ghent..

🙂

We get to see a lot of graffiti elsewhere in Europe but Belgium definitely has more cute art around its walls.

the beautiful exteriors!

Frankly we didn’t expect Belgium to have much different architecture than its neighbors.. but it really is nicely different.

The houses are colored brightly and many of them have a staircase shaped front which looks nice.

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houses in Bruges..

market place in Bruges..

what a beautiful Blue!

what a beautiful Blue!

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Towns like Bruges have a medieval look and it is so pretty..

Bruges to you, folks!

Bruges to you, folks

and the beautiful interiors

Not just the outsides, their sense of interior design is also very nice. In each shop, we found uniquely designed mannequins and a different sense of style.

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travellers' bar..

travellers’ bar..

Valentine's Day theme all over! =)

Valentine’s Day theme all over! =)

and how can we forget their sense of beautiful chocolate styling! 🙂

hammer 'em down!

hammer ’em all down!

Music on the Streets

This might singularly refer to Bruges but the music we heard on the streets there was just out of the world. The artist played fusion music using a hand pan (heard about it the first time there!) and a really long pipe like instrument (a Didgeridoo) accompanied by a Shruti box and some Ghunghroos! 🙂 We got a pleasant surprise when we saw the Indian musical instruments among his repertoire of tools.  Probably, Good music comes when combining some bits from everywhere! =)

His channel if you might want check out a little.

the music that takes you somewhere above..

the music that takes you somewhere far..

Cuberdons!

Do not forget to also try out Cuberdones in Ghent.. It was something really different.. plus it was vegetarian.. plus the vendor we met was a very nice person..

It is basically a cone shaped candy which is hard outside and fluidy inside and is fruit flavored.. Also it stays great until about 3 weeks, so pack some along for the journey..

yumm yummm..

yumm yummm..

Everything else

  • Potato fries come from Belgium as we got to know, but they are fried mostly in animal fat, so vegetarians be careful. Waffles are nice and soft, and the authentic ones are topped with just plain sugar and nothing more. U shud try them out! 🙂
  • Every 3rd shop at all places we were was a chocolate shop, so we ended up just drooling at their beautiful chocolate creations. We spent all our time trying to search for the most authentic chocolates and ended up with nothing in hand! 😛 Maybe one more trip just for chocolates..
  • Belgian railways is comparatively cheaper and is particularly generous to youth < 26 (so travel b4 u turn 26!)
  • Weekend tickets are usually at 50% discount so try to plan the travel accordingly.
  • Take a USE-IT map for all places you visit. It is super cool and offers super local information for free! (thanks for finding ’em, Viru)
  • The best way to travel within the country is by trains and within the cities by walk..

It was a great trip in the tiny country and we look forward to another trip there sometime.

Belgium, indeed..

Belgium, indeed.. (Clockwise from left: A store name we came across, the Belgian waffle,  USE-IT info maps, postcards made with lace designs)

Happy Travels folks! Spring is here!

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the home coming..

I am flying home tonight after a long stretch of 850 days.. came to Germany for my master degree and going home after completing it.. 🙂
It has been an incredible journey and taught many many lessons.. and as this phase of life comes to a conclusion,I am reminded of an incident from the movie Life of Pi.. so the story is a about a little boy stuck with a tiger on a small boat in the middle of the sea.. how he manages to survive with the big cat and other conditions until they find the shore. When they finally do reach the shore, the tiger takes his own path and that incident breaks the boy’s heart.. since the tiger was part of his struggle,he thought he would stay with him afterwards too.. but instead he just walked away and the boy who was so strong during the entire journey… wept like a child grieving the loss of his cat friend..
What he didn’t realize was that the cat was with him as a matter of chance.. and the purpose he served was to make the boy stronger..and when he found a way of his own,he pursued that..

A lot of people and places touch our journey and shape us in different ways.. but not everything and everyone carries along with us .. they serve their purpose and then move on in space and time.. we must learn to accept that,shouldn’t we! 🙂

A note of gratitude to everything and everyone who shaped me.. and to all things yet to come!!


And I just realize how strange spaces most airports are.. too much of artificial light all the time to know whether it’s day or night,or how the weather is outside.. too formally dressed staff,long faced immigration officials :p .. crazy expensive goods…isn’t it! I love to see a plane take off and the technology marvel it is, but the airports could be made better.. 🙂

A few hours more to reach the best place on the planet… home..!

happy holidays folks! Until next year!

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let’s switch our jobs!

So the idea is that the brain and the body should be in good co-ordination, for a healthy living.This is for a simple reason that we are both,the brain and the body, and not just one of these..and so we better make sure that both are in good terms.

Most of the species in the animal kingdom seem to follow this regime quite intuitively, and we hear of less cases of being couch potatoes or falling sick too often from them; except for the human species who have some concerns.

So lets have a look at the kinds of work that our human world consists of:

We have sports where one’s physical fitness and dexterity is tested… and then we have arts including music, dancing, drama, painting, poetry and a lot other forms and they require one to be creative among other things. We have the sciences from physics to life sciences to social sciences where one needs to be primarily a  good observer and understand the underlying phenomenon and then we have the workshop techniques where one needs to be good at handcrafting and applying different concepts to build stuff and a lot of other professions including agriculture  and administrative jobs and a lot lot more..

What we might observe that is that each kind of work requires a particular type of skill and when one practices the work more often, one becomes more skillful..which is nice. But what we might also realize is that somehow most of the jobs use the physical and mental faculties quite disproportionately.For example: jobs in the domain of household are more physically stressing  and academic jobs require more desk sitting. And also so it happens that quite a large fraction of us might do the same assigned job for years together, some might do it for their entire career lifetime.

So how about if we had a mechanism to switch our jobs from time to time? (or say more practically switching for a little time from our main jobs?)

Lets begin in a home environment. That the roles between mamma, papa, children and the elderly are switched for one day a week, and so the tasks of cooking to looking after the shopping list to cleaning the home are assigned randomly to everyone. It might already be a good exercise to know how the whole home runs! =)

Next would be at the level of an Institution. If it were an educational one, we might definitely try to inculcate a Gurukul  system for the students where along with academic skills, they would also learn how to cook food and keep their surroundings in order. Apart from that, switching the roles between the students and the teachers for a while and also every member of the institute taking the role of the head of the institute for a day during the year might bring in newer ideas and a sense of responsibility in each and everyone, wouldn’t it!

So be it!

So be it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If it were a corporate institute, it would require  everyone to spend some time in different positions once a while.

At a more larger scale of a city or a state within a country, it would be more diverse multiplexing and we could go to do some different work which would be in a different place too.

So it might be possible that probably depending on the climatic conditions of a land, the kinds of jobs developed might relatively be similar,say more warmer countries might have more agriculture and so more work related to that while colder climatic conditions might need more industrial and technological work to survive in the ecosystem. So we would then consider exchange across countries. Apart from doing something different, just relocating oneself to a faraway place might bring new learning related to languages and cultures.  It would be a more substantial experience than simply travelling to a new country though.By being in different places, we might realize how each location and her people add to the total diversity that our planet consists of, and make friends from all over the globe!

Zooming in back to the individual, one could definitely start off by making sure to do a bit of both,work which requires brains and which needs brawn. Develop different hobbies and make sure to keep the balance of health well.


So in summary the advantages of switching jobs would be:

  • Gaining a new perspective in our work, by doing something entirely different and by collaborating with people from different domains.
  • Letting go of any little pride that we might have gathered doing our work, and by excelling in that.. by realizing how little it is in the domain of all the work that is in the world.. 🙂
  • Since each job comes with its own set of skill set, gain some new skills..
  • Experiencing life in many more dimensions than before..

so imagine a future where an industrialist works on a farm for a month and an artist does an internship in a biology lab and a technician goes to a music school..

blog post

 

A more balanced and playful globe! (Ok, once we find life outside earth, we will think about planet hopping too!)

Happy Diwali Folks! Oct 23,2014 

=)

 

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2 years in Germany!

2 years ago, on this very day, I landed in Germany..Somehow today reminds me of the day when we had our counselling session at NIT,Surat sometime in July 2007, when we began our undergrad lessons there. We were a bunch of anxious 18 year olds, most of us away from our homes for the first time, looking forward to the 4 years of life that we were to live at this new place. 

Just after a week of our beginning of the first semester, we had a counselling session and we were told a wonderful story by Mr. Mahesh, who was also an alumni of the Institute and was conducting the session. 

The story was about 3 types of people put in a new environment. He said a new environment is like boiling water. Some type of people are like carrots. Quite hard and strong before we put them in boiling water. Once they are put in the water, they become softer.

Then there are people who are like eggs. The egg is soft inside before it is boiled, but when it is boiled, it becomes hard. (Never boiled an egg myself, but seems it happens so.) 

And finally there are people like tea leaves. When put in boiling water, they put their aroma in the water. 

He said the carrot kinda people are those who are strong earlier but after being put in a new environment, they give in to the situation, loosing their sense of self. The egg type of people are those are nice and fun on their own who but when put in the new environment go isolated and don’t mix at all. 

Whereas the tea leaves kind of people make the new place their home and add their fragrance among the place and people they are now. 

We choose what kind of people we would like to be, when we are put into boiling water.  Hopefully, the third type, each time.. 🙂 


It was such an inspirational story then and now too.. while now,I am a couple of thousand kilometers away from home than back in Surat where I was a couple of hundred kilometers away, and that I stayed with friends who came from different states of India vs. now where they are from different countries.. it is the same situation, just on a different scale.. 

All those lines of the session just seem like yesterday, the motivation they gave and the anxiety about what shall be next, also similar.. Do we really grow up? I ask myself.. Only if we choose to, I think! 

New places and people awaiting, now again.. 🙂 

 

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Venice trip

July was a month of some travel and we were in Venice too for a day. During my first trip there, I missed out the visit to the neighboring Island of Murano and its glass factories. This time as soon as we reached Venice, we took the water bus towards Murano. Alas, it was evening time and the factories were closed for visit and we missed it this time too![Factories are open for visit from morning hours until around early evening. So plan accordingly!]

Venice and the neighboring islands have been known for glass works since a long time. The glass-makers there use different techniques to make distinctive patterns on the objects.

earrings with Murrine pattern..

Mille-fiori (million flowers) pattern earrings

But then as we walked around a bit of Venice in the remaining time, we got to see some torchworking, as it is called; or making of small glass objects using a torch and colored glass sticks. The shopkeepers were kind enough to answer all my curious questions and let us have a look around how they made those objects.

Apart from the torch with its stand and the special type of glass sticks which they needed (they said, of all the glass manufacturers in Venice, only 1 produced the kind of thin glass sticks that were required for them), they had some tools to clamp and give the required shape to the molten glass. When the glass softened,it was amazing to see how it could be molded into any shape..

workplace:  Colored glass sticks, torch

the workplace

an object under creation

an object in the making

and a beautiful one! :)

and look what he made.. 🙂

sooo cute!!

freshly made lil elephants! =)

and many more to see..

and many more artifacts to see..

Apart from glass objects, Venetian masks are also quite unique. There are lots of shops in the town completely dedicated for costumes and masks of different designs, and they are quite spectacular.

[Watch out for the imported plastic masks at reduced prices when buying. Venetian masks would be a bit expensive but then wouldn’t be plastic ones.]

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Venice is fun to walk around, from Piazzale Roma upto the Rialto Bridge through the small streets and bridges.. and the small shops and the gelaterias..

Until some other trip back there..

Ciao Venezia!

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Printing Expo, Strasbourg

A few weeks ago, we were in Strasbourg and there were a lot of events happening in the city; one of which was Gutenberg 2014, an exhibition of printing techniques, and it was quite interesting.

We have been using different forms of printing since a long time. Whenever we wanted to make an impression on a material and do it multiple times, we made objects that would help us do that.  Seals, Rubber Stamps, henna blocks, typewriters are examples of such objects.  Lots of objects around us use some form of printing in their making, for eg. Currencies, patterns on fabric, books and other documents, product labels, newspapers etc.

Printing is usually an additive process as we add a layer of some material on another one rather than take away some (as in sculpting). The most essential elements to any type of printing would be 1) material on which the print has to be made(let’s call it the base) 2) object through which the print has to be made 3) the material that is to be transferred on the base.

These days printing has been extended to depositing a material layer by layer one on top of other to create complete objects through such additive technique,which we call 3D printing.

Festival of Printing

Festival of Printing

The name of the festival comes from Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type printing press.

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Some of the Printing Techniques that were demonstrated at the expo:

Lithography

Originally in lithography, a specially prepared limestone was used to prepare the image for printing just as one would draw an image on a paper. The drawing on the stone can be made with any type of greasy material. Once the image was prepared and inked, it would then be transferred to the substrate using a press.

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Lithography stone

 

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images ready to be printed

aligning the stone in the press for transferring the image to the substrate

 


Screen Printing is a commonly used technique to print on fabrics and a lot of other substrates, wood,paper,plastic, metal.

In  this technique, a stencil is first prepared on a mesh by leaving the image areas uncovered & covering the non-image areas with some substance.

When ink is then swapped across the whole screen, the ink permeates through the uncovered areas creating an image.

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Offset printing is probably the most common technique for commercial printing industry. It involves the printing plate transferring the ink onto a blanket which then transfers the ink to the final object.

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Offset printed images of Strasbourg cathedral

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an offset printer

 


Apart from this, there were a few other techniques on demo and it was fun to watch.

a press to print on small rubber type materials

a press to print on small rubber type materials (using  cellophane sort of paper)

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some typography

It was most of us’ first trip to France and we loved the place. Friendly people and beautiful city!

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au revoir!

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