Thursday, June 30, 2005

and i thought i had forgotten all about them essays.

A funny thing happened on the drive to work today. As I was making my way to Cambridge one of my favorite songs came on the radio. As soon as I heard it, memories of writing one of my essays came rushing in. It was strange because I wasn't even remotely thinking about anything bschool related.

I don't remember what school it was for, but it was deadline time (no surprises here!) and I was working on the describe-a-failure-blah-di-dah essay. I was going to write about an experience in grad school where I came up with an idea, tried to start a venture around it with a few friends, worked really hard, eventually failed, but I realized that this is what I was cut out to do, and that entrepreneurship was my career goal, etcetera. But I was really struggling to find an interesting way to start my essay.

That day back then, on my way to work, I heard the very same song on the radio. And I had found my opening:

I got my first real six-string
Bought it at the five-and-dime
Played it till my fingers bled
It was the summer of '69

Me and some guys from school
Had a band and we tried real hard
Jimmy quit and Jody got married
I shoulda known we'd never get far

Oh when I look back now
That summer seemed to last forever
And if I had the choice
Ya - I'd always wanna be there
Those were the best days of my life

Stupid move perhaps, quoting Bryan Adams in an essay, but I thought it was pretty cool. The school didn't. Ah well, at least I'll remember those essay writing days everytime I hear a certain song.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

LinkedIn: Spam 2.0 ?

I use, as in I have a list of contacts, on LinkedIn. One of the things they promise you when you signup is that there won't be bogus contacts etcetera because it is referral-based, and you get to approve/introduce people to your contacts, blah-di-dah.

So, I was more than a little surprised when I got this email from them a few minutes ago, from an email address that said: It says:

I understand that {COMPANY} is growing, as a colleague of yours recently advertised an open position on a Boston job board. We'd like to offer you a free credit to post a job on LinkedIn and discover the power of referral-based hiring.

Your company's success will be shaped by the people you hire to work there. I would therefore like to introduce you to LinkedIn Jobs - the new way to hire. LinkedIn Jobs combines the power of referrals with the ease and convenience of online job listings.

Try it - there is no charge and we're sure you'll be happy with the results! If you would like to take advantage of this offer and post a job on LinkedIn, then simply click on the link below to instantly receive your free job credit."

It actually says (COMPANY} - not the name of my, or any, company !! My first thought was that this was bogus, but did click on the attached link anyways to check it out - and it did take me to the LinkedIn site. So, maybe it's not spam per se in the strict sense of the word. But it's scary.

Let me get this straight: the dudes over at LinkedIn were trolling a random job board in Boston, saw a posting for a job from a company, came home and looked through the LinkedIn database, found that I worked for said company, and decided to email me to get me to post a job on their own new job board.

Or: they just decided to send me a random email with a made-up story, without even caring to at least put a company name in there.

C'mon guys, this is NOT cool. You can NOT pull crap like this and expect that no one will notice or care.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Two days, Two mails.

[file under: Are We There Yet?]

Sometimes I think Chicago is a lot like me. They seem to be very laid-back about 'important' things such as visa documentation, financial aid etcetera. While admits to other schools were getting their I20's a month earlier, our budget wasn't ever finalized. I am reading about others submitting their loan applications, while our office didn't even have the paperwork printed to be mailed. Not that it bothers me much, kinda suits my pace actually :-)

Finally, things have taken a few steps forward. Yesterday, I got the loan application for internationals. And this morning, my I-20. Now, more forms to fill. Documents prepared. Visas gotten. Fun stuff.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Blogger Images

So, Blogger's launched an 'easier' way to upload images to blogs.

Checking it out ... took this pic in Berlin. And, no, it's not the Indian Embassy :-)

I got you a gift, but ..., it was a matter of life or death.

[file under: Back to The Real World]

So, it's done. The Travels of Thousand5, Part One.

I'm sitting at my desk back at the job, and I can't get the trip out of my mind. There are drinks lined up with friends so that I can regale them with the stories ... and feel ever more depressed that I am back. Ah, but such is Life.

A colleague of mine asked me not to return without bring her back some chocolates. And, the gentleman that (I think :) I am, I obliged. I picked up a pack of six of these things called Dreamers they had at the Australian Chocolate and Ice Cream place in Berlin. The last leg of my trip I was in Madrid and I had read about this tiny place called La Violetta that sells candy that supposed to 'look, smell, and taste' like violets. Found the place and picked up a few boxes of those, just in case I needed to, you know, i don't know. One of them was a little glass box package with a nice bow knot tied on it. One of those can't not come into use someday, ya.

One of the reasons I hate planning is that things usually don't go according to plan. But I did want that my last train ride be a chill, best-of kind of thing. Say Au Revoir to the Old Continent in style. Got myself a first-class seat in a train bound for Frankfurt, (just barely made the train again), and settled in. It was a really hot and humid day in Paris and I was so looking forward to the air-conditioned ride.

The train starts, and pretty soon I get very hungry, and ask the conductor for directions to the Cafe Car. And what do you know ? there was none on the train. excuse me, i thought I had misunderstood. Nope. Wow. A 6-odd hour train ride without any food or water. No vending machines either.

I figured I could sleep my way through the journey and dream about things other than hunger and thirst. The only thing I could dream about? The Dreamers :-) Didn't help that the group across the aisle were having a little picnic. A 3-course picnic, it seemed like. So, I check my pack again to see if there were any leftover chips or peanuts or anything else at all. Finding none, I reluctantly opened up the bag of chocolates. And was on a strict ration. One piece of chocolate every 15 minutes past the hour. That way, I could maybe survive the ride without passing out.

I did, with one solitary piece of chocolate left. And I gave that to my friend when I got back :-) We had an awesome laugh about the entire episode, and I think that made that much more memorable than just me bringing back a box. And, of course, to make up for eating all her chocolate, I pulled out the fancy-shmancy box of violets. See, told you they would be useful. Rico Suave, she now calls me :-)

This will definitely rank among the best trips I have ever taken. 8 countries in 19 days. It was a wonderful mix of periods of solo travel interspersed with meeting interesting people; half the places I explored myself, others I had amazing local guides. It was awesome to hang out with Suzy, Farbe, and 3app. Thanks for all the hospitality folks, and you know you are always welcome at Casa Yogi.

So, was it an adventure? Well, Viljhalmur Stefansson has an interesting perspective.

"Having an adventure shows that someone is incompetent, that something has gone wrong. An adventure is interesting enough in retrospect, especially to the person who didn't have it; at the time it happens it usually constitutes an exceedingly disagreeable experience'.

I will not disagree that most of the 'adventures' I've had on this trip were due to things going wrong, maybe even incompetency in planning or some such, but I will have to disagree about one thing. I found all the mess-ups to actually be exceedingly agreeable experiences. Then again, that's just me.

I'd love to go do it again. With some extra food, maybe. Or, maybe not :-)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Journey be the Destination

Things happen, and sometimes you´ve got to wonder why.

So, a question for you, dear reader. You are travelling and all of a sudden you feel the onset of motion sickness/nausea. But you don´t have medication or even a sickness bag. What do you do to pre-empt things getting worse? If you aren't the type to be grossed-out by the options, you´d have loved to be on the train two days ago.

i said my goodbyes to 3app and hec and changed two trains and got to Gare Montparnasse in Paris. Eagerly await the arrival of my train - the mythical TGV - to take me to this town on the southern French border called Irun, where I have to take a connecting night train to Lisboa, Portugal. Get my ticket validated by a machine, get told that it was the wrong machine, find myself a yellow machine, and I am finally on the train. The train leaves right on time, and I doze off.

A couple of hours later, there is an announcement in French and there are loud sighs all around. I wake up and see people talking to each other, and on cellphones. All in French, of course. There was an older American couple from Charlotte travelling with their grand-daughter a couple of seats ahead of me. They try to ask some people what´s going on and the one understandable word in the reply they get is Fire.

fire? on this train? - goes the grandma.

The people around us don´t understand. And she gets more agitated. Her next question was one for the ages.

who did it? the terrorists?

I had to laugh. So did the grand-daughter. She calmed down her granny with what was the best line I´ve heard this entire trip.

grandma, there are no terrorists in france.

;-) By this time, the train has slowed down and pulls into Libourne where it stops. I decided to get out and see if I can find someone to tell me what´s up. The scene on the platform was glorious. The place looked like a beach. It was beautiful hot and people were lying on the platform soaking in the sun ! to add to the scene, there were these eastern european model-looking long-long-legged women who decided to take some pictures. and you´d thing it was a fashion shoot for Vogue or some such. I´ll just say there was luggage, cool hats, and even a trumpet involved. The only information I gathered was that there had been a brush fire ahead and trains going south were stopped until it was contained.

The train finally left after over an hour. My connecting train was to be 40 minutes. Shoot.

We then get to Bordeaux and one of those life´s little miracles walked into the coach. A frenchman who spole fluent english. Turns out the fire was 10 kilometers along the track !!! and no word on when it would be safe to go. also, there were 3 TGV´s stopped ahead of us. So, basically it looked like I was hosed and would have to spend the night in the town of Irun. I asked the guy if he knew anything about this town. Non.

How about an alternate plan, i thought. Maybe get off and spend the night in bordeaux? do some wineries maybe? Lisboa can wait, ya. But before i could make up my mind, the train started. At this time, there was another announcement. ´Le Voyageur ... Irun ....´. Le V´s going to be in Irun? Not so. the frenchman said that that was for all passengers connecting in Irun. A conductor was going to come down the train and we had to talk with him. Am I glad the frenchman spoke english ! coz the conductor was speeding down the train in a hurry and i would have missed him if I didn´t know. Stopped him, and all he did was take a headcount.

So, I´m thinking there´s going to be some arrangement. Cool. a few hours later, just as we are pulling into Hendaye, there is an announcement in English that the next stop after this would be the last one, Irun, and we should see the station master about connecting trains. This was going to work out. Train pulls into Hendaye and some dude walks in telling us all to get off !! wtf !! the only thing official about this man in a t-shirt and jeans was that he had a walkie-talkie. Everyone was getting off, and do did I.

On the platform, #1, was another backpacker couple who were going to Madrid. They were asked to go to platform 2 and I was asked to see the office in the lobby. Now, Hendaye is this really small train station under repairs. And, of course all offices were closed. walk back to the platform and the madrid-bound couple are also coming back. there´s nothing from platform 2, we were told. So, we think, maybe the police are a good source of information. the one cop we saw looked like he was a junkie. And both his arms were completely tattooed over. He had a gun too. He tells them that a train to madrid will arrive sometime at night on platform 1. they were to stay put.

He then proceeded to address my case. ´ ... ... ... autobús ...´. wait. you´ve got to be kidding me. did he just say autobús ? turns out, he did. the plan was to get me on a bus to Lisboa. i briefly considered getting on the train to Madrid, but hey, if i´ve come this far, I´ve got to go that far. ya.

So I´m sitting on the street outside the station, feet propped up on my backpack, looking at a taxi driver waiting for a fare. In his underwear. True story. I then leafed through my journal to look for something. On my way from Köln to København, I was talking to a woman from Lithuania (who btw hated chicago :-) who showed me her lithuanian-to-english dictionary. As i was leafing through it, i came across a phrase that i noted down. Nenusimnk(-ite). I don´t know what the brackets were for, but the translation was: Keep Smiling.

A bus finally does show up, but i don´t know if that´s the one. My vocabulary at this time is limited to one word: Lisboa. Say it to everyone around and get assured(i think) that this is where the bus is headed. Pile in. After what seemed like eternity, the driver climbs aboard and makes an announcement. I make out españa. what? luckily, he was met with loud shouts and boos. yeah. and whistling and clapping when the bus finally took off.

now, i´ve slept on buses before and you try to strecth out however you can. but it´s usually within the confines of your own seat. give or take. on this one, however, people had their legs streched out across the aisle into the seats on the other side. it was give and take. legs came your way too ! there was one guy who had his legs up on the headrest across the aisle. comfort class, was this?

the bus gets going and the driver was speeding like a maniac. on a twisty road. that´s when I felt the onset of a nauseating feeling. (gross-out moment ahead:) So I do the old backpacker´s remedy. Take off my shoes and smell my socks. That one always works, trust me. Try it the next time :-)

needless to say, there was very little sleeping on this ride. endured it until around 6-something when the bus stops in some deserted little town. the lights come on, doors are opened, and so is the luggage compartment. driver gets out and walks into said building.

Lisboa? Lisboa? ask the people around me. Suddenly finding myself fluent in the language of the moment, I join in. Lisboa?

The reply was a hurried return to the bus by the driver, shutting of doors, and speeding away. A little startled, everyone settles down. about a half-hour later, the same routine is repeated at another town. Only, this time people are getting off.


no. turns out the bus wasn´t headed to lisboa in the first place ! it was actually chasing the train we had missed !! I had a really beautiful ´around the world in 80 days´ moment right there. he was stopped outside a train station in a town called Villa Formosa and the train was there. Wow !!

Life throws you these amazing curve balls, but it´s not beyond offering up rewards either.

I get on the train, the conductor checks the ticket, shows me to a berth - a bed - and as he´s leaving, I ask him when the train gets into Lisboa. the ticket said 10:50. he shows me that, then points to his digital watch, my analog one, and is saying something in Portuguese. No english spoken here. he´s trying hard, and making all kinds of hand signals.

Then, I understand. In the ways of the unspoken sub-language of men under dire circumstances, he stops talking. He understands that I understand. I smile and give him a thumbs-up. He smiles and gives me a raise of the eyebrows. We shake hands and I settle into my bed.

You see, he was trying to tell me that Portugal´s time zone is an hour behind France. That´s one more hour of sweet, glorious sleep.


Saturday, June 18, 2005

Trouble in Baixa

[file under: why can´t you stay still, dear yogi?]

What adventure is complete without a run from the police, ya?

I am in Lisboa, Portugal this morning. Lazed around in bed to beat off the scorching heat and headed out to find an internet café to blog about the unbeliveable journey I had all of yesterday from Paris.

So, i´m walking about and come across this monument of some sort in the district of Baixa. Standing there trying to see if I can get a picture without the sun getting in the way when i hear some commotion. Now I´m standing just off a main street and next thing I know the main street is filled with people running. There were some people with flags wrapped around them, but most of the others actually seemed like reporters. You know, the big cameras, booms, the works. Actually snapped a picture of a Reuters cameraman. They were actually running backwards filming a platoon of gun-toting policemen who were marching up the street. All of them stopped right in front of me, a lot of standing around going on, and things were quietening down.

Then, all of a sudden there was a shout from the street above(this area is hilly-ish) and everybody runs there including the cops. And me. Yup, curiosity always gets the better of this cat. So I can´t really see what´s going on, but everybody congregates in front of a shop with big glass windows. The shop keeper proceeded to close his shop. With all the reporters outside I thought for a minute that this was maybe Paris Hilton in town kinda thing.

Then, the shopkeeper near me is shutting his place down in a hurry and all the shops around me start to do so too. One Portuguese woman sees me snap-snap-ing pictures and i think she said Journalista? Hell, no. I ask her what´s going on and she said something I couldn´t follow and then in english, quite agitated at this point,"we are all portuguese".

So I climb onto a closed shop-window-ledge along with my fellow curious-istas and am trying to see what´s up. Then some guy walks up to the cop around the corner and is shouting at the top of his voice at him. The woman who I had spoken with says something to him and takes him away from the cop, who just stood there. Shouts of ´portugal, portugal´ start from a couple of spots on the street and then ...

Run, Yogi, Run.

It´s a riot now, cops chasing down some dudes, everyone running whichever way they can. I ducked into a side street and into a shop window that was set back from the street. Luckily, the running happened down the bigger street. Things calmed down a bit then, and feeling a little bolder, I ventured back onto the main street. The cops on foot were joined by siren-blaring cars - no idea how they got onto the narrow streets. There seemed to be no more fighting etc so I ventured into the center where everyone was.

Found an english speaking portuguese who gave me the scoop - this was a right-wing anti-immigration demonstration gone all wrong. Apparently the cops beat up someone and that started off the melee. I stood around talking to him and a couple from Florida.

He stated very matter-of-factly: I´m not a racist, but I am a xenophobe. I don´t want foreigners to live in Portugal. Only tourists.

The American woman said: I wish it was the same in the US.

The American guy asked me: Where are you from?

me: India.

The Portuguese guy: Goa?

me: no, but Goa is good.

The two men then proceeded to talk about prisoners and why there are an inordinate number of black people in prison, both in Portugal and Florida. Me: I stayed out of the debate, being from India and all.

Then the Portuguese man said: This is going to get worse. He pointed to a bunch and said that they were African gangsters. Apparently, they had just showed up, possibly to ferment more trouble. At this point, I decided maybe it was a tad too much adrenalin for the day and found my way here.

I have to say though, Lisboa just pure distilled rocks. I don´t know what it is, maybe the weather, the sea, the women, but i am just so relaxed. It´s past 5 and the city may just be cooling off. Off I go for a walk.

Will blog about yesterday´s events maybe tomorrow. Just a teaser: they were kicked off by a big fire :-) yeah, these things happen to me. anyone want to come along with me on my next travels? never a dull moment, that much is guaranteed.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Party like it's HEC

[file under: Master of Booziness Adminsitration]

Are you kidding me? These cats know how to kick it. Well, at least the Grand Ecole folks at the HEC do. It's 4:35 AM and 3app and I just got back from a party on the HEC campus. The student cafe was turned into a full-fledged dance club with lights, smoke, DJs, the total works. Actually, 3's still after-partying at the "Piano Bar", which is the lounge in the MBA dorms, got to go back and join the fun. Any party that starts with 'brimful of asha' and ends with a HEC group dance rendition of 'the lakes of connemara' is now super in my book.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Scared Sleepless on a Ghost Train

Fuck. Sorry. It's been that kind of night.

My bike adventure of yesterday was followed by another dash in the still drizzling rain to the S-Bahn station and on to Ostbahnhof to catch my night train to Paris. Made the train, settled into my bunk and was looking forward to some much-needed sleep.

Sometime in the middle of the night I wake up. Cold. Look around and see that my blanket, which I had wrapped around me was on the floor ! a little fuzzed out, i recovered it and tried to go back to sleep. a little later, i feel my pillow being pulled away from me. didn't make much of it in my half-asleep state. pulled it back in place. it happened again after a little while, and with my sleep now slowly getting shot, i thought it was due to the train slowing down maybe. some more time passes and my sheet is now pulled in the other direction. jeesus, i was a little psyched out by now; the train was dark and i look around and everyone was asleep. I tried to go back to sleep too. At this point, I was thinking ghosts.

Then I had a nightmare moment when I feel my hand getting grabbed from below. I'm fully awake now. Fuck. Sit up and wait for like 10 minutes. All I hear is the rhythmic motion of the train. Then, it hit me.

There was this really raggedy looking dude who had the lower berth and when the conductor had come by to check tickets, he asked for the top one. He was told that it was a full train - at which point he got irritated and said that he didn't like the lower berth and REALLY needed the upper one.

so, i look down slowly and this guy is like sleep-walking zhile sleeping in his bed, hand and legs going all over. man, i was freaked out. I dozed off again, and this time was woken up by a dream (i sure hope it was one :-) where this dude levitates up from his bunk and is floating in between the two middle bunks, right next to me. that woke me up fast. Realized there was no floating going on, but another mini-panic set in. When I went to bed, the bunk across from me was empty! there was a man with his baby son and the kid was crying so he slept next to his dad on the top berth (i was in the middle in a 3-level sleeper). I looked closer in the dark and it seemed like the guy in the bunk across was the strange dude.

So, who the fuck was in the bunk below ?

With no further appetite for answers, i just sat tight through the occasional kick to the berth and pulls of the sheets and made it through the night. I dozed off sometime along the way and when i woke it up it was just me and another lady with a little baby. the rest of the folks were gone.

Phew. Got like an hour of sleep before the train rolled into Paris Gare du Nord. This has to be the funkiest experience I have had in a long long time. wow.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Berlin: Speeding in the Slow lane

[file under: Two Feet better than Two Wheels?]

Get out and travel everyone. Anywhere. And throw away that map. It's so much fun that way.

Had the perfect 'vacation' start to the day. Woke up at noon, nice long shower, great lunch, and set out to explore more of this amazing city. Only, I decided to rent a bike for the day.

First stop: A long ride past Checkpoint Charlie into the old soviet sector and to Libeskind's incredible Jüdisches Museum. Ended up spending 3 hours there. And, very moved. Deserved a post of its own some other time. I very highly recommend a visit. If ever a museum can really disorient one and make them question things, this must be it. Libeskind is a genius.

Then, I set out further east to check out the 'world's longest art gallery'. It's a one mile section of the Berlin wall that is still intact, and half of it has been restored with art work all over it. Walked by that place and decided to get myself a drink on the beach.

Beach? Ya. There are a couple of places where the wall is broken and there are man-made beaches with sand, beach chairs, graffiti-filled beer stands. Every little thing seems to add to the coolness factor here. So, I'm dozing off enjoying the spanish rap on the radios and all of a sudden it cools down. Next thing I know it's dark and thunder and lightning. Then, the downpour started. Make it twice in two days. I was right next to the Ostbahnhof train station but since I had a bike I waited for the rain to stop. Well, it didn't and it was already 6:20. The bike had to be returned by 7 because the dude closed right about then. Worse - he had my license as a guarantee. And I'm leaving Berlin tonight.

So, out of options, I decided to bike it back in the rain. It was SO much fun. Wow. Trouble was I wasn't going in the right direction. Checked the map but I was far too east and the streets weren't marked. Thought back to that old American war-cry: Go West, Young Man. So I did. Once I found myself back on a mapped street, i was a tad too north.

Thus began the race. 15-odd minutes left and I'm zooming through traffic, bike lanes, car lanes, pavements, parks, wherever the heck I could find some cycleable space. It didn't make things any easier that central Berlin resembles a war-zone right now. There is construction everywhere. New buildings, a new subway line, and in the ultimate of ironies - new bike lanes being laid ! All for the Football World Cup next year.

Anywho, made it just back in time and stopped to reward myself. There is this place called Australian home-made ice-cream. The girl behind the counter told me that the stuff was all Belgian but the 'concept' was Australian. Did I say this city was cool? I'll tell y'all - there's nothing better than macadamia vanilla ice-cream in the rain after a hard cycle ride.

So, there end my two days in Berlin. Got to run now. Train in an hour and have to still take a subway to get there.

Next stop: Hotel 3app at HEC.

Monday, June 13, 2005

hej då, Göteborg

[file under: Wingin' It]

oh boy. Göteborg turned out be quite the surprising little adventure.

So, I managed to find a hostel that would take same-day bookings over the web and made a reservation before I left Oslo. The confirmation email said that the checkin time was between 4-6 so i sent them an email saying that I would be late.

Got into Göteborg around 9:30 and checked my email for the reply from the folks. And what do I get? An apology from them that the earlier message was incorrect ! they were all booked for the night. They gave me another hostel's # to call, which was nice of them. Call them and the cost of a room is 700 kronor! so i then try to call as many phone numbers I can find (and this being Sverige, it's 2 bucks everytime you lift the receiver). Finally I found only a hotel that i was referred to by another one since they were full. This was 500 kronor but it was a hotel and included breakfast the next AM. Out of choices(the sleeping in a park was shot 'coz it was raining out :), I said OK. Asked for directions from Central Station and couldn't understand a word of what they told me. So I said I'll look on the website & they gave me the url.

Type it - and it's all in Swedish. No english option anywhere at all. Sitting there baffled, I asked the guy sitting in the next kiosk if he knew where it was. He asked for the address, walked off to talk to someone, and comes back and is looking on the web. I realize something's odd - look over his shoulder and he tells me he's googling for it. In French. Turns out he's also a traveller like me, from Paris. It was nice of him, but we got nowhere. So, I said my thankyou's and walked over to the bus station (the train station was just about shut) and wanted to buy a map. The only store open didn't have one ! but the three ladies behind the counter conferred among themselves and managed to give me some sort of directions. I have to say, that was really kind of them.

I walked out of the station, and follow the directions and along the way realized something didn't add up. It was almost 11 by this time, streets were pretty much deserted and I was getting a bad feeling about this. Then, one of those unexplainable mysteries occured.

Litter. In Scandinavia !

Thrown on the side of the street, and soaked wet, was some kind of map. True Story ! So I picked it up, and it was some kind of map of a shopping mall that was supposed to be in my path. Followed it, stopped a few more people along the way, and finally found one of those big city map boards. Figured out where I should be going. And, me being me, decided to take the scenic route. Pretty soon I found myself at some sort of deadend facing smokestacks. Luckily, the hotel was around the corner. Phew. Warm Shower. Sheets. TV. Heaven.

Woke up yesterday morning, had a hearty breakfast, walked to the train station, made reservations for the next trains and walked around town. I like Göteborg. It doesn't seem as compact as say Amsterdam, but it has canals, cobblestone streets, the entire package. Found myself near something called the Universeum. This is the Swedish Science Center or some such and has an aquarium that traces the path of water from the Swedish highlands all the way to the ocean. It's on several levels and has lakes, streams, rivers, and even an ocean with sharks in its huge aquariums. The next section is a rainforest with piranhas, birds flying about, even an anaconda ! Very cool.

Walked over next to the världskulturmuseet - the world culture museum - and strolled through an amazing exhibit on voices from Africa. Everything from the music of bob marley to the history of voodoo, slave trade to immigrants in sweden. Awesome - I highly recommend a visit to this place if anyone is in town. It's free to boot.

It was getting late for my train, but managed a walk through the ridiculously charming grounds of Göteborg University. Bought myself a chorizo sausage at a roadside stand and this was dinner, eaten along the banks of a canal.

Found my train and made it to Malmö. From there, got on a night train that stopped after 20 minutes or so. Turns out it was loaded onto a ferry! Asked the conductor and he said the ferry ride was 3 hours long. And, we could go onboard. Headed out to deck with a backpacker couple from Seattle, bought ourselves a 24-pack of Carlsberg from the duty-free shop, and proceeded to get ourselves piss-drunk over a game of 3-man :-)

Now, am in what I think is the coolest city I have yet encountered on this trip - Berlin. Why so cool? I was strolling around East Berlin this afternoon, and walked into a junkyard-type alley. Among the painted trailers and broke-down cars, I found what looked like half a helicopter all graffit-ed over. Flying proudly next to it - the Indian tricolor !!! Funky !

Saturday, June 11, 2005

D -> NL -> DK -> NO -> ?

[file under: Wingin' It]

This had to happen, ya. I am sitting at a ridiculously expensive internet cafe in Oslo Sentralstation trying to figure out what to do next. When I got my Eurail Pass they gave me a timetable. Turns out it isn't really accurate. So, my 13:32 train left at 13:00. I was at the station at 13:05. And there is only one train out of Norge at 17:00 going to Göteborg. and no more trains for the night from there. And I really can't book any hostels online because its the day-of. fun stuff ! I think i may try to call some places in Göteborg to see what's available. I've also heard it's legal to camp anywhere in sweden. I'm thinking maybe leave my backpack at the train station and sleep in a park ...

So, my little trip here has taken me to Heidelburg, Amsterdam, Den Haag, Utrecht, Köln, København and Oslo so far. Have slept three nights on trains, three in hostels, and two at a friend's place.

Met up with Farbe(and may I be the last to congratulate you on IMD :) and Suzy; discovered a gem of a restaurant in Amsterdam ... that only opened last friday!; was tried to be picked up ... by a Pakistani gay man!; sipped green-colored wildberry beer on a terrace garden in a castle; shared a great conversation at a jazz bar in Köln with an old german painter who went overland from München to Delhi in 1973!; hung out with hippies and fell asleep on a bridge in Christiania; walked around town at 2 in the morning and grilled dinner the next night in a park in Olso! ... ah, the stories. I'd love to write more, but no time to sit down at a computer until now.

Off I go now to figure out what to do about tonight. Oh, and the train timetables change again - summer timetables come into effect tomorrow :)

Sköl !

Monday, June 06, 2005

On a Train and a Prayer

[file under: Wingin' It]

So, I'm in Amsterdam. ya. After weeks of increasing envy over all the bloggers travelling - Aregon, Le Voyageur, Atta Girl pops over to Thailand, and Iceman already planning to scam Vegas while doing Indonesia, I decided to get outta my cube too. Took me a little over a week from deciding to buying tickets to getting visas. All I have is a train pass,a backpack, and 18 days.

Taking this one day at a time. Oh, and I've already missed a train here ... :-)

Proost !

Thursday, June 02, 2005

what type of traveller are you?

Your travel type: Rough guy

When the going gets tough, the rough guy gets going! Sleep outside, hike up mountains, eat raw lizards for breakfast, that's his perfect holiday. Ten days of hiking through unspoilt jungle between Colombia and Panama, that kind of thing.

top destinations:

Ciudad Perdida

stay away from:

get your own travel profile

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

My Chicago Celebrity Essay

[file under: Thoughts for Applicants]

Continuing the thoughts from my previous post.

Halle, a fellow admit, had this to say in a comment "Dean Kole also explained what the Adcom was looking for. Though memory fails me on the mascot question, she said that they wanted to know what the admit would do at a particular moment in a celeb’s life. Or rather, what do we dream of doing given unlimited access, fame, fortune, influence, etc." I just re-read that essay and do believe I managed to convey some aspects of those. Hey, she said OK to my app, so maybe I should claim that I kicked ass :-) No, none of that here.

What I can claim with reasonable confidence is that Dean Kole must have laughed at my, I don't know, honesty? I still do whenever I read that essay. There's a funny story associated with it. As I said in my previous post, I didn't have a suitable opening for my essay. And, anyone who's sat up trying to start an essay the day before it's due can attest to how big a writer's block that can be.

So, how exactly is a stellar essay that gets one into a school like Chicago written?

As I was struggling to come up with something, I received an email from my math-analogy-making friend. As part of our conversation, I had posed him the question: which celebrity would you rather? He had just sent me the reply: Hayek, he said. Hayek, who? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this Chicago-bound-future-finance-god had never heard of this Hayek chap. So, I google the fella, and find a reference to some random book. I trot over to Amazon, and instead of working on my essay, start to Look-Inside the book. Ah, the joys of procrastination. Anywho, I read through some sample pages etcetera and finally ended up on the back page.

There I see a quote ABOUT Hayek by someone. Looked pretty good to me. As in, maybe I can start my essay with this one. I have to say, that was the creative spark I needed. One thing led to another and in the wee hours of the morning, I had my essay. Next morning, my roommate/reviewer, with a hearty laugh: I can't believe you said this! I didn't realize it, but in my 'zone' I had blurted out the naked truth. After committing an essay no-no by starting with a quote, and an unrelated one at that, I had gone on to state that I didn't know who this Hayek guy was :-)

How did that play out? Read for yourself.

If you could step into any celebrities shoes for a day, who would it be and why?

“When he wrote 'The Road to Serfdom', Hayek's was a voice in the wilderness. Now the fight has been taken up by the people all over the world, by institutions and movements, and the ideas that seemed so strange to so many in 1944 can be found in scholarly journals to television programs.”

The above was said of Nobel Prize winning University of Chicago economist Fredrick Hayek. I find the idea of a person taking a stand in the face of adversity, to be initially discounted, but proven right in the long run extremely inspiring. It speaks of a character trait – an inviolable belief in one’s own convictions – that I personally aspire to hone. I am not acquainted with the life and work of Professor Hayek, but there is one other person who holds equally strong convictions whose career I have followed with awe.

It would be a privilege to step into the shoes of Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy, founder and chairman of Infosys Technologies, for a day.

I first heard of Mr. Murthy when I was in college. He was in a celebrity at the time in India for creating the company that was producing India’s first technology millionaires. But, he has done much more than that. I consider his to be a career that I have dreamt about for myself.

I want to be him for a day so that I can get a sense for what drives the man who has single-handedly changed the face of opportunity for a generation of young Indians.

I want to be him for a day to experience his sense of accomplishment as he enters the campus that bears the name of a company he founded with six other friends and $250 dollars in savings; and that is home to over 30,000 employees today.

I want to be him for a day to gain an understanding of the leadership style that attracts the best and brightest; see how his own set of values have been transferred to an organization that, more than any, is considered to be truthful to its stated values.

I want to be him for a day to sit in strategy meetings to learn how the leader of a company so successful can still approach every business issue with the energy and urgency of a startup’s make-or-break deal.

I want to be him for a day to make the journey out of the air-conditioned software parks to the slums of Bangalore to oversee the work of his philanthropic organization, the Infosys Foundation.

I want to be him for a day to take the trip to the offices of governments across the country to make the case for tax reforms and enhanced investment in education and infrastructure

I want that day because, at end of it, I can go home content in the knowledge that I have impacted the world in a positive way.

Edit: JEEHZUZ ! I *just* realized that I said: "He was in a celebrity at the time". Now I'm sure Dean Kole was rotfl-ing.

Edit 2: '$250 dollars'? Shouldn't the $ suffice? Boy, am I glad I have the admit already :-) Seriously, though, I think this might be anecdotal evidence that suggests - to the BW-forumers who obsess about the littlest of typos after they submit - that its maybe not such an earth-shattering deal after all.