Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Germany at a Glance!

With 2 days left to leave the land of my dreams, i thought i should be sharing some useful info for the benefit of others keen on visiting Germany in the near future !!

The first thing that often strikes a traveller is the currency there...i may be wrong though..)

Germans follow Euros...Now 1 euro often falls between 51-63 rupees..( at least in the last one year, the variation was like this.! )

To know the exact conversion rates whenever you decide to travel, visit:

The best and safest way is to bring a Euro card along, that can be easily received from most of the reputed Indian banks, ICICI for example!
Your credit card may fail to work at many places!!

Be sure to have transactions from only those ATM's which have associations with your respective Indian bank, otherwise you may end up losing a lot of money as the currency exchange fees ..

I'm emphasizing on this because i have lost a lot of money (1.5 euro per transaction), everytime i used to do transaction from my Euro card..(

Next it is very important to understand the Economy of Germany. Till date, Germany is the largest European economy, and the third largest in the world -after US and Japan!

Some body may question why is it important as a tourist....to give you an idea why Germans feel so self sufficient here that they hardly understand the international language English!!

Who wil be the sufferer..certainly not the Germans..Will give you a live example...Today i and my friend Geeta went to de-register ourselves from Deutschland..The incharge at foreign affairs could not even understand the purpose of our visit...!!

Ultimately we used certain signs to convey our purpose..!

So what is the remedy..Atleast be in contact with those who understand German a bit..or carry a mini English-German dictionary for translating some basic words..

A major persistent issue of concern here is the high unemployment rate..

Germany's government runs a restrictive fiscal policy and has cut numerous regular jobs in the public sector..

Your HR or may be you will have to work real hard to prove the German embassy, what special skill set you've which they can't find in their own folks...

Even if you get through, you'll end up contributing a good chuck of your salary for the National unemplyment fund..But then i assure you..there is no such bigger wonder than working here..Germany is well connected to other European countries...And you will surely love that!!
A good way to emerge as a winner is to bargain for your basic onsite salary in the beginning..especially for those in the IT profession!

Another worthwhile thing to know beforehand are the important states of Germany!

The ten largest cities in Germany are:

Berlin (capital of Germany)


Let me share some Do's and Don'ts:

1. Use formal pronouns especially when talking to people older than you..The people here are highly courteous..!

2. They are very punctual so dont shy to apologise if you are late!

3. Very thorough in their work, and at the top of it, very helpful..no compromises on quality..If you can't achieve something in a particular timespan, dont worry they will move the deadline further!

4. Shaking hands is the established form of greeting.
Take the other hand out of your pockets and look into the person's eyes.

5. They speak their mind immediately, dont feel offended!
Trust me, there will never be a personal assault!

6. Good to carry a small gift when invited for lunch /dinner.

7. They exhibit a lot of table manners. Wish "Güten Appetit" before eating..
8. Germans are used to rounding up...but follow this only for cents..not for Euros..unless you are too generous!
9. The GSM emergency numbers are the same. 112 ..though by God's grace, i never had to try that..
10. Passport photographs stand a very high chance of being rejected, unles these meet the high quality standards here..)
11. Most of the grocery shops are closed on Sundays..unlike in India..So be prepared to have some time left for shopping on Saturdays!
12. The garbage here needs to be segregated and has to be thrown in differen bins ..primarily glass, paper, waste and packaging..
13. The chemist shops won't give you medicines unless they have been prescribed from a German Doctor..The fees of the Doctor is at times equivalent to your India trip cost..But the good part is it can be easily reimbusred through medical insurance here!!
14 .The most amazing observation for us here was that even the normal water was being charged in a restaurant..even if the owners of the eating joint are themselves Indian..!!
So friends......dont ever miss an opportunity to Germany....Hope you enjoy Germany's multi-faceted appeal to the fullest!
For this Deutschland is Simply Inspiring!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What Kind of Shoe Are You ??

You Are Bare Feet

You are a true free spirit, and you can't be tied down.

Even wearing shoes can be a little too constraining for you at times!

You are very comfortable in your own skin.

You are one of the most real people around. You don't have anything to hide.

Open and accepting, you are willing to discuss or entertain almost any topic.

You are a very tolerant person. You are accepting and not judgmental.

You should live: Somewhere warm

You should work: At your own business, where you can set the rules

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This Year's Love

This years love had better last
Heaven knows it's high time

And I've been waiting on my own too long
But when you hold me like you do

It feels so right
I start to forget

How my heart gets torn
When that hurt gets thrown
Feeling like you can't go on ...

-David Gray

Countdown has surely begun..

With 11 days left to bid good-bye to my Düsseldorf, am not really sure if my current mode is introvert or extrovert..)
Guess inside every introvert, there’s an extrovert fighting to move out and be appreciated,
just like inside every extrovert, there’s an introvert fighting to merge with inner peace without being judged!

Here’s a quiz to help us figure out our true selves:

The real fun begins when we share our scores!
Mine -> 35% Extrovert...!!!

Last weekend, i visited a small yet so great country, Luxembourg, with one of my dearest friends Geeta.

Our train journey started at 6 in the morning with the countryside mesmerizing us with a lot many rolling vineyards, medieval castles, beautiful lush green pastures and placid rivers in between..

Our first delightful site on the way was the PONT ADOLPHE, the first bridge made of natural stone with such a large span (84 m), built at the beginning of the 20th century, on a steep-walled sandstone rock and spans two little rivers, the Alzette and the Pétrusse...Guess my frd Sandy from civil background, is surely gonna like this!

The word Luxembourg means little fortress. The fortifications and the historically impressive old Town enjoy international reputation, in 1994 UNESCO listed them as World Heritage.
It was really soothing to visit a country having the largest proportion of the people who are satisfied with their living conditions…

We took the capital city tour twice in a hop on and hop off open-top, double decker bus having audio commentary, to have a glimpse of all the major attractions ..!

For those who believe in investing their money (…not for me, i am often hardly left with any…), Luxembourg may be a good option. It offers relatively lower taxes to non-residents and foreign companies, besides being at the crossroad between the French and the German states.

Probably that’s the reason why India’s big shot Lakshmi Mittal, acquired one of the largest steel manufacturers headquartered in Luxembourg, "Arcelor" to give rise to "Arcelor-Mittal", the largest steelmakers in the world.

The multi-cultural environment here is bursting with opportunities.
The visitor has a lot to appreciate in the classic as well as the contemporary arts section.

It also happens to be one of the headquarters of the European Union, the other two being Strasbourg and Brussels.

My friend Geeta, has deep regards for Gen. George S. Patton, famous tank commander of World War II. Patton is also known as a great romantic poet, he used to read the Bible daily and believed in re-incarnation.

We visited the American Military Cemetery in Luxembourg, where more than 5000 American soldiers including the General are buried.

One of the caretakers there told us that after the popularity of the Hollywood movie, "Patton", a lot of Chinese tourists often visit the memorial, but unfortunately hardly any Indian could be seen there. Geeta really believes that perhaps we’re the first Indians to visit the Patton memorial.

Surprisingly, this highly industrialized and export-intensive country has no navy or air force, just the Army.
Somehow, we felt there a world-wide deep respect and regard for the Indian Army…
For my tolerant friends, who’ve managed to accompany me till this point, I’ve the Luxembourg’s National Anthem for them, translated in English:

Where the Alzette slowly flows,
The Sura plays wild pranks,

Where fragrant vineyards amply grow
On the Mosella's banks;

There lies the land for which we would
Dare everything down here,

Our own, our native land which ranks
Deeply in our hearts.

Our own, our native land which ranks
Deeply in our hearts...

O Thou above whose powerful hand
Makes States or lays them low,

Protect this Luxembourger land
From foreign yoke and woe.
Your spirit of liberty bestow
On us now as of yore.

Let Freedom's sun in glory glow
For now and evermore.

Let Freedom's sun in glory glow
For now and evermore…..

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Invisible Stranger….

This mirage echoes a sound, the one i wish to hear & hear,
Finding an unknown always around, i see no one else so near!

Like every twinkling star, my heart contracts n expands with fear..
Am i in love with an invisible stranger, the one my heart finds so dear..?

I want to give you all my lives, dazzling with unending cheer ~
For you fill up my senses, in the budding spring of this special year..

Every flower looks so fresh, perhaps amazed by its own glitter..
My left cheek blossoms in red, with innocence pouring out on the peer.!

How do i justify this feeling, filling every corner of my air..
When my God wants me to love all the same, even while shedding my most precious tear ..(

Will the world term it a sacrifice, if they can’t see you with me here!
For i am so incomplete , without your incessant melodies of love and care…
-- A tribute from my side for the purest love of Radha Rani for her Lord Krishna !

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Point of Departure

I hardly have a month left with me to collate all my sweet memories in the amazing Deutschland..
Last Tuesday evening, I visited the library to get my membership terminated.

I sat there till they kept it open..I remember a very sweet voice wishing me in the end:
Ok Madam, we r closing now, Bye!
Hope you liked Germany, Good Luck!!

How can I not like Germany..

A place which has helped me transform from an extremely impatient & impulsive character to an organized and a responsible human being..
I m sure nature has some pleasing surprises to offer me for the moments ahead, but still can’t help feeling nostalgic…

One movie song says:

Dil hai to phir Dard hoga,
Dard hai to Dil bhi hoga,
Mausam guzarte rehte hain..!

Last week, one of our German colleagues threw a post-wedding party. He very affectionately told me that his wife would have loved throwing the flowers at me..) Amazed by his words..i asked why..??

My colleagues explained me the tradition that after the wedding, the bride throws her bouquet over her shoulder towards the young unmarried female guests and whoever catches it becomes the next bride..!

Such a sweet gesture..

In Hindu culture also we have a similar tradition exhibiting generosity.

The bride is supposed to be an embodiment of Maa Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth.
While she is about to depart with her husband from her parents’ home , she throws a bundle of auspicious collections over her shoulder towards her home and prays for her family!

Coming back, i'll always remember my good times in the office lab.
The lab entrance had a poster displaying a hand with a finger half cut..
Oh God, I used to feel so scared and wondered how Papa’s delicate Puju will be able to move and operate these heavy equipments..

.I often used to play some vocab games in-between while running those long duration tests..)
Almost every hour I used to rush to the pantry to drink a glass of water, thinking that will help in curing my pimples and hair fall in this cold region..

How the courteous German guys always used to wait to open the door and let the ladies go first, whenever they saw any lady nearby..

Our dear lunch group used to assemble at 12 …I used to feel hungry in almost every 2-3 hours..Poor me and the greedy vending machine accepting only cents..

I often used to see myself asking people for change…”Excuse me, do you have a change for 5 Euros..”
At times, I was asking for a change for 20 euros..)

This lovely “kurfurstenstrasse-30’ where I used to stay, at the 11th floor of a very posh building having a 4 star Japanese “Hotel Asahi” at the ground floor..
No wonder, I had lot of Asians and Germans as my neighbors..
And yah special thanks to Pizza Hut..for quenching my pre-dinner hunger almost every weekday…
I m so sorry Mumma..i know I shd have cooked more…
Will surely do a lot of justice in times to come by cooking a lot of Indian delicacies ..this one year has really helped me improve my culinary skills..!
I’ll always relish my journeys in Europe’s high speed trains running above 300 kph..Almost every technology here is stupefying..

.Hey, my German Boot heels..i loved wearing them n seeing myself taller..The problem was they used to make a lot of noise inside the otherwise silent lab..n most of the times I had to rush in the morning to catch my train..

Guess the reminiscences r so many..i can shed my tears of joy for the whole day thinking about them..
My post will be so incomplete if i fail to heartily thank my dear frds who made these moments so memorable.. !
Thank you so much ..
Nitya, Geeta, Shronik, Nadir, Ashish Jain, Priti, Shanthi, Ashish, Sandeep, Subrat, Madhav
Akash, Prashant, Shri Prakash - Rakhee n dear baby Rakshit, Shweta - Shantanu ,
Saurabh, Shallu, Mandeep, Hemant, Gaurav, Pallavi, Amit - Bindiya n lovely Priyal..,
Lakshmi, Kavitha, Bindu, Betty, Manoj, Rajilakshmi, Karthik, Ravi, Mr. Peter
and all my dear Aricent, Wipro and Infosys friends here.. !

Quoting my learnings in Duss in my own words:

Let me appreciate every little beauty surrounding me,
For i may be hooked to something, not forever meant for me!

Hard Work pays at all stages of life,
Helps us sail through all virtual fears of life!