It was seven years ago when sitting on my computer in New Delhi I was trying to decide whether I wanted to go for my Master’s to a University in Copenhagen, Zurich, Stockholm, Paris, …. . Of course the rankings mattered, the scholarships mattered but also my fear of the unknown mattered. Here I was in India having never ventured out of the country trying to decide where to spend the next two years of my life.
And this is where I came across the blog of a student (which I cannot dig up despite trying for 5 long minutes) who used to narrate her experiences in Copenhagen infrequently. While there was no dearth of organized blogging advertising for Copenhagen, the self-motivated nature of the blog was endearing and real. It was my first connect with the city which I was going to call home for the next six years of my life. It was my first brush with Danish naivete, Danish hygge, the student life, the parks, the sea, the weather. It was my first date with Denmark from the eyes of another narrator.
The student blog was hosted on a blogging infrastructure which was part of an initiative from the Humanities department at the University of Copenhagen called KU student blogs which used to be hosted here (the link might be broken now). This service encouraged students to create a blog and to write what their heart desired. One of the best features was the blog feed so you could read in one place all the content from different KU blogs. It was a great window into the lives of other people without all the glam of social media. It was great for old-school, boring people like me. I blogged here (maybe a broken link) for five long years infrequently which kept the world was sane.
And then the storm clouds gathered. The KU student blogs became a platform to allow KU affiliated individuals to create websites and it was not a purely student blogging infrastructure anymore. It became a website creation tool which meant the feed feature was not desirable since depending on the reader, the feed contained a lot of uninteresting information. At this point the feed was taken off and KU blogs was rebranded as KU sites. While I have nothing against website creation infrastructure, better thought could have been given to its management to keep the student blogging feeds intact.
Since the blog feed feature was gone and KU site service was hosted using WordPress and I already had a free account on wordpress.com, I moved all my content to it. KU blogs also had a questionable security policy in its integration with the KU one identity authentication systems. The KU blog password was a special rewrite of the KU password (I am not going to detail it here) to account for incompatible password policies across systems which hastened my decision to move.
Overall, a dedicated student blog system with a blog feed feature to read about student experiences is an invaluable tool both for local and international students. Its something worth preserving and I wish it had been so. Thank you KU blogs for all the initiative and the help and for encouraging me to come and live in Denmark. Hopefully, you revive the initiative again.
Its that time of the year again. I am in India for a short, hectic vacation which provides me ample material to rant about. So, its my due ranting time again. And before any of you classify me as a ranting no-good, let me tell you that I belong to that small group of homo sapiens who believe in bringing out the pile of rubbish swept under the carpet. And of course staying true to my actual abilities, I am not good enough to clean it up but hopefully someone good enough will see it lying around. Now let’s move on.
A few days back I was sitting comfortably in a train looking out of the train window on a platform crowded with people. While I was self indulging myself in appreciating (as a pseudo-intellectual) the diversity of the Indian landscape, a few beggars (4 to be exact) came by my window asking for alms. Two of them were old women, one was a child and the fourth one was an old man. They used various forms of begging and used multiple forms of emotional manipulation. However, my usual dogged response mechanism kicked in i.e., it is not possible to pay all the beggars (all or nothing), most of them are impostors, there are organized syndicates behind it etc. The mechanism ensured that I did not pay them a single penny. However, as usual after a few minutes my guilt kicked in for not being empathetic towards needy people. It was all the more overwhelming because of what had happened before the train journey.
I had booked 3 flight tickets and then had to cancel all of them because of a mini personal crisis (not mentioned for privacy which is in vogue these days). I had booked the tickets using Indigo and Jet Airways using Makemytrip booking site. When I cancelled the tickets, the cancellation charges were ~50% of the total booking charges amounting close to 5000 INR (quite a fair amount of money by my moderate standards). I am not going into discussions of whether it was fair for making me pay up for not using their service for valid health reasons, or for the airlines to exploit alternative sources of revenues, or for other stuff (lets leave that). If I could afford to lose ~5000 INR, I definitely could afford paying at least 4 INR to the four beggars. Somehow the hypocrisy inherent in me was magnified. I chose conveniently to ignore the ill-doings of a stronger party over a weaker one. If you look around carefully enough, the irony of conveniences in making choices affects us all the time. Maybe its time to pay attention to this irony. Its up to us to make this choice where convenience can again be involved.
Before I end my rant, I found the practice of these booking sites of asking for an additional “convenience” fee extremely insulting. Who is the convenience for ? Are there alternative forms of making the same booking (like in the railways) so that you can deem it “convenience”? The word “convenience fee” reeks of glib superiority and a condescending attitude towards the customer. I am not being naively stupid so relabeling it as “online booking” charges would make petty complainants like me happy for the nearer term. Makemytrip was a glaring example although they compensate to some extent by providing a guessing game in the form of redeem vouchers which go by the name of “MMTXXX”.
Lightning streaked across the sky lighting up the shivering wet timeless sky. Thunder claps reverberated across the skies in pursuit of the lightning bolt. A pursuit epic in magnitude and relentlessness. The huge woollen rain clouds had gobbled up the blue skies so that there was neither beginning nor end of the clouds. A shade of dark grey hung all around. Amidst all this, there was restlessness all around, the dry leaves were fluttering all around as if afraid of the impending rain. The little insects and birds were indulging in their last minute hurried chores. The river waves were rejoicing in welcoming their brethren from abode above. There was harmony all around.
The huge old house by the river stood a silent testimony to the spectacle. It was an old 2 storey British-India bungalow. With huge pillared verandahs overlooking a garden overgrown with grasses and various flowering trees fashioned to the last detail, she stood old, firm and elegant. On the first floor verandah he stood with furrowed brows lost in thought. He was gazing at the river flowing right across the road, he was gazing at the garden below, he was gazing into the shoreline of the river on the other side, he was gazing into the beautiful yet mysterious grey sky, he was gazing into into nothingness yet everything.
He was thinking about her, thinking about it all, thinking about how she and the rain were so alike. And then it all began. It all started with the wind picking up, singing that long lost tune which soothes one soul. She did the same to him, her words always started with the same delicate softness that always left him in peace. And then came the first raindrops gently falling upon the dry earth, the dry leaves, the tinned roofs and the dry hearts. One by one they left their mark, clear, precise yet delible. A melody was taking its shape and it all started with the first raindrops. The first raindrops in the river were like a gift to the waves, so was she, a gift to him. She always came like a breath of fresh air, subtle,ever present, firm and her memories always started playing with that little unmistakable charm. And then the intensity of the rain grew.
The raindrops became bigger and louder, the pools of water started forming in the garden. The pools became larger and larger until their water was gushing down to the river overpowering everything in its path. The coconut trees swayed as if they were mesmerised, they were free, they were alive. The green coats of the trees glistened all around. In all this, the only thing visible was the clean sheet of water descending from the heavens and the music it created. All that was alive
before was now dead and all that was dead before was now alive. The river water was alive, dancing the everlasting dance. It was alive to the last drop, a huge microcosm of energy and activity ready to hand out life and death on an even platter. The rain drops were working their magic when they reached fever pitch, some trembled and some rejoiced. So it was with her,she always worked her magic. Her memories when they reached their their intensity overpowered him. They had an equal power of ending his life and bringing him back to life. They had the power of cleansing his soul. They had the power of making him realize himself in a completely new light. They had the power of making him live in the past, present and future on an equal footing.
Then the raindrops lowered their intensity and vanished without the slightest bit of warning. The skies cleared and the magic disappeared and everything which had been touched upon cried out. It cried out for more. Sometimes they returned, sometimes they did not. A liberty nobody grudged them but always when they finally left, it was without warning. It was always abrupt so the last parting thought was happiness and not sorrow. And they always left everything they touched with its soul cleaned so that it could survive another passage of time until they returned. So it was with her, whenever her memories left him, they always left him on the edge, with the unknown flash which he could never remember how hard he tried. They always left him with a smile on his face and a tear in his heart. They always left him void of anger and hate and full of compassion but they always left him.
He could not bear not talking to her anymore. Damn the fight in the morning when he decided he will not talk to her. Damn the anger. Everything all around him was an encapsulation of her and she was an encapsulation of everything around him. Damn everything. He picked up his phone and rang her number. She disconnected. He rang again. She disconnected again. He rang again. She picked up and said “Hello” and
It started raining all over again.
(Photo courtesy trekearth)
Hello from Copenhagen !!!!!!!!!!!!!
I remembered while pursuing my application at the University of Copenhagen, exchange students blog served as a big help and insight into life at Copenhagen. As an international student, it makes for a fascinating imagination period especially when you have never gone out of your country. So, when I first came to Copenhagen, it has almost been over a week for me I decided to register my own blog at the University blogs network and finally here I am taking off.
Photography is the new hobby that I have fallen in love with and my Canon Ixus 100 digital camera is currently my best friend. Copenhagen is a beautiful city and you cannot take a bad picture of it how hard you try. It depends upon you whether you can produce that amazing picture or not.
A few of the pictures I took in my first week are above. I have Picasa album here.
I need to blog more extensively about my past week now which I will do in the coming weeks. Its exciting and fun being here in Copenhagen. Thank you Copenhagen for the fun and the weird weather 🙂 and the language. I need to learn Danish at all costs.
I have created a new blog on blogspot in order to post my personal muses without cluttering the planet with too many of off topic posts.
I am going to be at home for Diwali after 4 years which were all spent in the College hostels. It feels a bit awkward, strange to feel that the other day when I saw the streets warming up for the “Festival of Light” and Kali puja I was 4 years younger but it still feels like the other day. Looks like the office break is perfectly timed on my part.
Also it is a perfect time for me to invest my time in my vested interests.
Right now I am leaving for New Delhi from Kolkata to join my first job in Belzbar Software Design Pvt. India Ltd. Its quite exciting time for me. Looking forward to a new juncture in life
What a hectic 3 days it has been…. Serving a huge food mountain to 1500 hungry people was a tedious task. People just looking for any chance to jump on the food tray while you trying to save it. 5200 rasmalai’s vanished into thin air and so did 8000 puris. My God!!! For the first time in my life I realised how hard a task Mother Nature is facing trying to feed so many hungry people.
Today we went to Sujanpur, a 3 hr. drive from my College to immerse the deity in River Beas. Before we went I did the short puja and aarti as the pandit had not come. My mother would have gone mad seeing me do it. Using the ghanti along with the incense sticks and the aarti was a difficult job and often my process concurrency was broken. We had fun in the bus shouting chants of Jai Saraswati Mata. It is an altogether different matter that the chants got louder while crossing the members of the opposite sex. On reaching the ghat 5 of us took the idol into the water. Believe me, it was tough job. With uneven rocks on the floor and the strong current of the mountain river and the algae, a wrong step meant certain death. 5 more people were holding the 5 people who were holding the idol so that those 5 did not do their immersion. It was fun. On the way back, we had laddoos, samosas and apples. Hemant has made a nice collage of the Puja. The 3 days have gone by and its a bit saddening I will not be part of any more Saraswati Puja celebrations in my college, being in the final year. This is one memory to cherish for a lifetime. I have 125 unread mails in my inbox. That is another pain …………..