December 29, 2006

bonne année

Vacation time in Paris….the city without confusion and chaos, yeah! You can enjoy the calm and tranquility just in the middle of the city, I am sure more than 50% of the Parisians are out of the city, nice time to read and meditate. As I was organizing and taking backup of my photos, I thought of making a New Year card, with the photos and the things I was reading/ seeing in the past few days… Here it is…

If you are wondering what made the Prince Siddhartha say that, and if you have 50 min of free time, you can this documentary made by BBC. As we are all preparing ourselves to welcome this new are my wishes for the new year.

December 26, 2006

Life is like...

How was my life while I disappeared from my blog for last couple of weeks.....?

I received this bunch of beautiful tulips, its one of my favorite flower, since I read the novel “Black Tulip” in my school days. In the last few days, when I was feeling very lazy to come to work, these flowers inspired me to come to my lab...Belive me Tulips, I just came to the lab to see you…

Played “Make the silver spoon stand on the nose” game with my friends both winners and the losers got chocolate cake. Well that was an international game, with 11 nation’s participation, I just realized not only my lab, but also my friends from outside my work are very international, well the gold was taken by Iran and the silver went to Germany.

Took Bala, and his friend (cool dudes from UK) around Paris, The usual question,” Are you not annoyed taking people around in Paris, every time different people, but to the same places?” The answer is “No”, Paris is beautiful, and each day has its own colour, which adds beauty to Paris. Look at the picture, isn’t Eiffel tower look beautiful even with grey cold background.

Adding cheery to all the above exciting events was the mid night mass, Almost half of my life, I almost lived as an catholic as I studied in catholic collage and school, Going to church was part of my life, I love the carols and to listen to the good words from the priest , I feel very positive. Mid night mass was always my dream, which got fulfilled yesterday after almost 20 years

December 14, 2006

31 going on 13

Finally….its time to accept the reality and speak the truth… I am completing my 30 years today. I will be stepping into 31 tomorrow. I was planning to take off from my lab on my birthday, have a day for myself and spend the evening with my friends. So, my lab guys arranged for a surprise party and dinner today itself, well!! It was a real surprise….got lots of tulips and gifts. The most sentimental part was this card…wishes and signature in 11 different languages. When I turn back and have a look at my 30th year….it was very very rewarding, its in this year I fulfilled my long term desire to travel… this one year, I have travelled in 6 different countries… and I feel its just a beginning ...I remember one of the fortune teller once predicted that “my” life will start only after 30+..Yeah..I really feel like 13 at my heart!

December 13, 2006

The Alter Hof ...

Among the places we visited in the old city center of Munich, I liked this place specially because it has a small 'monkey' story behind it, as monkeys are one my favourite animals, I was fascinated by the place and the story. The Alter Hof, was also called as Ludwigsburg, was the first Munich residence of the Bavarian Royal family. The Emperor Ludwig of the Bavarian, ruled the Holy Roman Empire from here it seems. This place have a beautiful courtyard with a beautiful Late Gothic oriel known as the Affenturm (Monkey's Tower). Now to the story... there was a fire in this royal residence when Prince Ludwig was an Infant, and a pet monkey from the royal residence saved him and got him back safely only after the fire was extinguished. Now there is a very fine restaurant in that place with a small monkey logo and torch with flames. I took a cheesy touristy picture next to it....

December 12, 2006

More Munich!

I was surprised to see such a ‘wild’ nature, just in the heart of the city.

I told you…People were surfing in the heart of the city…

The Christmas market, with lots of hot wine, cookies and christmast stuff..and lots of people! Beautiful skyline of Munich More home made Christmas cookies, by Jenny... More of Munich

December 10, 2006

Nice Day!

Weather was much better, still cold rain..baked Christmas cookies with Jenny, long walk into amazingly gorgeous English garden...believe me, people do surfing in heart of Munich...took tons of picture..(coming soon)

December 09, 2006

From Bavaria

With bit of turbulence in a baby Lufthansa flight, we arrived in Munich yesterday, Jenny (Micha´s sister) and Jo (her boy friend) drove us trough the city and took us to their huge house, .was very happy to see every thing so spacious and big in contrast to Paris, I was able to take a deep breath and recover from the claustrophobic feeling of Paris. Today the weather was not so great, very cold with bit of rain mixed with snow, but had a nice warm host... Jo took us around the city, we did some shopping and went around the old city center. We had some hot wine , which is a speciality of Germany during winter and Christmas called Glühwein . Had lunch in a very cute Bavarian restro. Not many pic today...thats Micha and Jo enjoying hot Glühwein, in cold snowy rain.I guess the weather is better tomorrow for exploring more of Munich.

December 08, 2006

A Friend in deed..

Finally its the day... I am leaving to Munich (hopefuly the fight will not be cancelled..its so windy today)..with my best friend Micha, for a long weekend, One very common feature of all my good friends is their Patience..its really takes lots of Patience to be my friend, to put up with my stupidity and talkative nature, with out any filter between brain? and mouth.. and specially Micha is an ocean of Patience..he puts up with my stupidity and still always nice to me....just like this cute monkey.. Its going to be lots of fun.. going around Christmas markets in Munich with him.

November 30, 2006

In a foggy night…

Its getting cold in Paris… start of winter… the beauty of Paris never inspired me to venture out in winter….a stroll next to the river…to see Eiffel tower in snow…no way! … Just like to fold myself inside thick rugs and keep drinking liters of tea, of course with lots of chips watching all the possible crappy movies, just by keeping with the eyes outside the rug. I was dreaming to do that tonight too, but thanks to Sharmishta, a ex-colleague from India visited Paris on a business trip, she took me out for a long walk, to the Eiffel tower and for a French dinner. Going out in winter was not as scary as I thought; you get warmed up after a bit of walk. More over there were nice things to watch, lots of Christmas trees, the light city Pairs was lit up with more lights for Christmas, more over Eiffel tower stood magnificently with half covered fog. I guess I should stop being a couch potato in winter and discover Paris and Europe by winter too. Thanks to Sharmishta, thats her infront of Notre dame, the cathedral where Napolean got married.

November 28, 2006

As the sun went down yesterday …

One thing I miss a lot, living in a city like Paris is the view of the horizon. I think it’s very typical of a city, which are not boarded by sea/ocean. In Paris it may be also because of Haussmannization. In 1852, urban planning was done by a very famous French civic planner called Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, which still conserved and make Paris one of very unique city, without skyscrapers (there is just one inside the city). In the Paris all the buildings are just 6 -7 storied, with almost uniform design, in a way this adds charm to this city, but sometimes it makes me feel claustrophobic too. Especially during winter, when the parks close very early and it’s too cold to sit next to the river. But luckily I have nice view of the sky from my present work desk; it’s nice to see the clouds making new designs in the blue sky. Yesterday since I was already feeling blue, with Andy’s farewell, may be the sky didn’t want to add more blue, it showed me some magnificent colors and designs to cheer me up!

November 27, 2006

Charlie’s Angels…

Andy, (you guys might have already read about him in my earlier blog) a very intelligent post-doc in my lab, and I was lucky enough to work with him for almost 2 years. He got a position in a very prestigious genome Institute (Tigr) in USA, and today he left back to him home country. We are very happy and proud of his success in getting a prestigious position in such a young age. We will miss him a lot, he is an open encyclopedia, we can jump into his desk with any type of SOS question, and he had instant solution for our problem and more over a nice friend to get very frank opinions. But luckily we will be still working with him through skype to finish couple of publications together. We took this picture today in the airport, that’s Nazanine and me with our Charlie. We will miss you Andy!

November 20, 2006

Uma, la petite déesse!

I guess my Christmas started already; today I got a very cute gift from my lab friend Nazanine. She bought me this book called “Uma, la petite déesse” meaning “Uma, the little Goddess” . It’s a French book on Hindu mythology , Goddess Uma. My friends are trying all the possible tricks to make me learn French. French men and French movies didn’t inspire me to pick up French, let’s see if this book inspires me. Touch wood! where ever I go, I am blessed with wonderful ,Caring and Warm Friends! Thanks Nazanine!

November 17, 2006

University Visit!

Today, I officially step into second year of my Phd. We had our annual meeting in my university, Université Paris-Sud 11, which is in orsay, a beautiful suburb of Paris; unfortunately we have to go to this beautiful campus only one in a year, Today it was a nice drive out side Paris, with autumn trees, standing with colorful leaves. That’s my boss with his wonderful students, in side the university campus. My first year report was quite satisfactory. I started writing articles, for publishing my first year results; I am giving a tough time for my British boss, with my great English (as you might have my noticed in my blog). Anyways this month is meant for hard work ‘writing’, and as usual, I am gifting my self with a nice trip, early next month, to celebrate my birthday and Christmas with my best friend, in his own country. Well! Its going to be my first visit to ‘this’ neighboring country, which is very famous for its Christmas markets. Let me keep the suspense alive till next month…

November 13, 2006


Something I learnt about myself from my recent travels.. I don’t like to spent time before my computer during my trip…even if the hotel room have wifi, Also I take some time to come back to my laptop after my trip….yeah, I was just feeling lazy and spent time in writing reports about my conference. I wanted to update my blog with small exciting things happened during the conference, the most exciting part of the conference was that I showed my work poster to Peer Bork, a bioinformatics big-shot from EMBL and to Ginger Armbrust, a oceanographer (diatom) big shot and got constructive criticism. Also my talk in small satellite meetings, Algal and Toxic Algal meeting was very rewarding, got a chance to explore the Algal world. Now where did this great conference held?

Just 30 mins by speed boat or 45 mins in a ferry or 1 hour in a train from Naples you reach this very cute town Sorrento. My conference held here on the top of a small hill, in a luxurious conference hall in Hilton. Most of the balconies of the Hilton had a view on the sea and the volcano, Mount Vesuvius, we didn’t have much time to explore the town, but enjoyed the music, dance and food of the region as a part of the conference dinner, drank liters of Limoncello. That was lots of science and fun.

Other lessons I learned: Don’t take a speed boat, when the sea is rough. On my way back to Naples in a speed boat, the sea was rough and every one from my lab got sea sick. 2. Don’t eat in Indian and Italian sea food restaurants, these guys reuse the fish oil(well they consider fish to be vegetarian), and I get my sea food allergy even if I eat veggie stuff there.

That’s a picture with Angela, an Italian colleague, during the breakfast, with Mount Vesuvius in the background.

More pics from Sorrento

November 08, 2006


I had sometime (just half a day) to go around Naples, with Marc. Inspite of he doing his PhD with me in Paris, he does some experiments in Naples, as a frequent flyer to Naples he knows the place. Naples was more like some doggy city in India,it seems not very safe for girls to go around alone . During my one week stay, there were 10 murders, Mafias killing each other in public. I got so much of security tips before going to Naples, to be careful with the hand bags and cameras, infact I even didn’t take my SLR with me. If you don’t believe me you can see for yourself, how they lock their cars in Naples. The most of the ATMs don’t work here. I got my money after walking across five crashed ATMs. In restaurant you have to have your eyes open on the bill. I ate an gnocchi for 7 euros and got a bill for 13 euros. I wanted to tell them..”Guys! I am from will be difficult for you guys to cheat me, we keep our eyes open even when we sleep”. Inspite of all these things I am happy with my trip, I was able to see the strong network of family here. Mothers hugging their babies as they walk rather than carrying it like a super market commodity…In touristy places and in restaurants you can see young and older generation eating our as family, which is very rare to see in Paris (unless its Christmas). I was able to feel why my friends love India, inspite of they end up having atleast one police case, with their stolen things during their travel in India. I felt the same in Naples. More Naples...

October 27, 2006

At my Second Home...

Yeah! Today I arrived in India…sorry Italy…actually… I don’t see much difference between India and Naples. Crazy traffic…dirty streets…. wonderful food…smiling people…also lots of thefts and cheats on the street, I feel at home… From the airport I directly took an taxi to go to my lab, the taxi driver started friendly conversation and start to show me around, people were surprised that I arrived saftly just by paying 22 euros usually the taxi meters from airport to my lab show from 18 to 50 euros it seems…just as flexible as Indian auto rickshaws. If you are wondering which lab I am talking about... FYI …my boss Chris have two labs one in Paris and one in Naples. Naples lab is located in a lovely beach facing the sea. In one of the oldest marine biology institute. Its in the marine biology lab…so, this is my new cute little friend in the lab…people in the lab call her valentine but for me he is the little ‘Squirt’ as in finding Nemo.

October 26, 2006

Gulf of Naples

I disappeared for sometime, I was lost in my preparation for the Marine genomics Conference. .finally.. I am leaving tomorrow to Italy …yes! very excited about it…that too to the birth place of Pizza. I will land in Naples tomorrow and the conference is in Sorrento, and will do a bit of traveling after the conference. I may disappear again from my blog for next 10days or if I get hold of good internet connection, will update you guys with pictures from this beautiful gulf of Naples, the sleeping mighty volcano, thermal springs, natural thermal spa and lots of Pizza... See you all from Italy

October 18, 2006

Grey Weather..Happy Working!

Weather is grey for last few days, in fact its favouring me to stick with my computer to finish a tiny project before my conference. thanks to the weather again, I got some time to do a quick and dirty scanning of photos which I took during my summer holidays (Switzerland and Nice) with my SLR.

October 13, 2006

World Peace!

We all crave for Peace in life and that’s the thing the world needs the most. Many people believe that they are working for world peace, and they make “war to have peace”. Today morning as I was reading the News on the potential Nobel peace prize winner for this year, I was really shocked to see Sri Ravi Shankar’s name. He has a spiritual organization called the Art of Living; I really don’t know how it works, but for its very basic nature that it’s not affordable by an average Indian, makes me have my own doubts, as I grew up seeing lots of money making spiritual organizations of India. Can we sell peace and harmony as a commodity? Finally among all the controversies, it’s nice to see this year’s winner. Hope this decision will make people think about the fellow human being who are still fighting for just one complete meal, before they waste money on war and religion, ironically in the name of Peace.

October 09, 2006

Blessing(Ticket)in disguise...

Yesterday, I got extremely lucky to see an amazing concert of Shiv Kumar Sharma and Zakir Hussain . You may be wondering that the ticket posted here is not used and it says Samedi (Saturday). You are right, last week I went to buy this ticket and I saw a display board saying Saturday - Complete, I asked for the Sunday ticket, and she gave me a cover, which I didn't open it till yesterday morning. When I opened it on Sunday morning ....I had shock of my life...The ticket was for Saturday. I was almost into tears, anyway I wanted to give a try and thought of explaining the mistake and try to get a replacement or something. But when I went there, I saw "Complete" (House-Full) board. The Theater people just asked me to try my luck in the entrance, if some one wanted to sell their ticket or something like that...It was just 10 minutes for the concert, Poonam,who was suppose to see the concert with me and as I bought both the tickets, she was also in the same mess as me. When I made up my mind to go back home, I heard Poonam wishing some one and heard her saying.."Sir! this is my friend Uma.!" I didn't know who he was, I just said,"Hi ...Sorry! I am in Mess and Put Poonam in the mess too! " , After explaining him the condition, he said he had booked four tickets and can gift us two tickets. Finally this 'ticket mess' promoted us from the last row to the executive class in the 5th Row. and Later I got to know that the Angle who gifted us the ticket was Owner of the Garment factory, where Poonam is working. In all these mess I forgot my camera, even if I had taken it with me, I wont be able to give you guys the feel of the Magical hands of Zakir Hussain and Shiv Kumar Sharma.

October 08, 2006

Nuit blanche

Today is Nuit blanche (white Night) in Paris. Every year in October, I guess on full moon night they have this thing called white night, when all the museums are open for free till mid night and many art pieces and installations exhibited in main areas of paris. We went to an Iranian museum, many gold and silver art works remained me of ancient art pieces of India. I felt the same in last week’s Thai expo too. I guess our ancient India had lot of cultural and art exchanges with the neighbors. We just strolled through important monuments...that’s in my favorite square, Place de la concord.. Fountains and statues around the square were lighted blue. People were going crazy in the road,city looked as if the whole Paris was on the street, took a hell lot of time to drive back home, with the drunken teenagers jumping in the streets.

October 06, 2006

My New Office!

Just today, I moved into my new office, just across the corridor but nice, big and sunny. It was lot of work, we bought the flooring and fixed it with Marc and made some cleaning and moving my things, with all my plants…Hmmm! Lots of work….but Nice to be on the sunny side, just in time for the winter. Thats my new office..

October 01, 2006

Thai Week

End of a long, exciting 'Thai' week, Started the week in Thai village, with lot of Thai food, music,arts and dance. In fact Thai cuisine have very less options for vegetarians, but we manged to get some delicious veggie stuffs, it remained me a lot of south Tamil Nadu food, with lot of coconut, banana leaves and spices. I have been to Thai restaurants before, but this experience was very different as it was made by Thai people, who just visited Paris on the cultural exchange Stuff,so it was very authentic. Thai week came to an end with Thai movies. Micha is working as a Junior curator in Center Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne in a crazy colourful modern building in the heart of Paris, as part of his project he arranged for screening of movies by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a Thai director, who was also present on the occasion, spoke about his experiences in movie making.

September 27, 2006

Begin Here ...

We keep blaming the society for everything, as I did in my previous blog, we expect the transformation of the society in which we live.. but how? Does our religious and cultural faiths lead us in the right direction? As usual got and answer by reading JK. Its quite convincing for me..

And JK's answer is "Begin Here..."

A religious man does not seek God. The religious man is concerned with the transformation of society, which is himself. The religious man is not the man that does innumerable rituals, follows traditions, lives in a dead, past culture, explaining endlessly the Gita or the Bible, endlessly chanting, or taking sannyasa—that is not a religious man; such a man is escaping from facts. The religious man is concerned totally and completely with the understanding of society, which is himself. He is not separate from society. Bringing about in himself a complete, total mutation means complete cessation of greed, envy, ambition; and therefore he is not dependent on circumstances, though he is the result of circumstance—the food he eats, the books he reads, the cinemas he goes to, the religious dogmas, beliefs, rituals, and all that business. He is responsible, and therefore the religious man must understand himself, who is the product of society that he himself has created. Therefore, to find reality he must begin here, not in a temple, not in an image—whether the image is graven by the hand or by the mind.

September 26, 2006

Believe it or not!

The movie water was released in Paris couple of weeks back, last week me and Micha got a chance to see it, with student offer, buy one student ticket and get the second student ticket was for 1 Euro. I am always hesitant to spend money on movies, but I felt really bad to just spend one Euro for this movie. Its the best movie of Deepa Mehta, unfortunately she faced lots of troubles while shooting the movie and now its banned in India. Seeing the status of women in Indian society, just half a century ago, makes me feel so blessed. The highlight of the movie is little Sarala acting as seven year old widow and the final Gandhi's punch dialogue "I used to think that God is truth, but now I know that the truth is God". This movie is nominated for Oscar from Canada, We Indians should really feel ashamed of our self for always showing the blind eye towards the bitter reality of our country. The best way to show our love to our mother country is not by idolizing her, but to see the reality and listen to her pains and work hard to fix it, thats what all the great leaders of past did to bring up our country to this admirable condition. We just like to talk and feel proud about Gandhi but fail to walk on his path. I wish this movie wins the Oscar.

September 19, 2006


Yeah..We went for mushroom hunting this weekend too, this time to a very beautiful suburb in north-west of Paris called Saint Germain en laye. Its a very cute little town, with a Chateau and a huge garden merging into the forest. The highlight of this place is kilometer long terrace of the Chateau, which have a beautiful view of the both industrial and classical center of Paris, the weather was bit gloomy, but I guess it will more beautiful on a clear sunny day, like to go back there with my bike to discover more.... Thats Ale and Nazanine having a view of Paris from the looong terrace..

September 13, 2006

Today Microsoft lunched a new search engine to compete with Google, which is very obvious from their web interface. What about the performance? Google is doing very well; even it got a ‘verb’ status and started appearing in dictionary. Now me as a big fan of Google, you may think that my comparison of vs. will be biased. But as soon as went live, I did a small and stupid test to know how strongly my name is linked with my thesis subject “Diatom”, well Google says there is almost 120 hits for this combination, and guess how much did hit?? Just 15... !!!Unbelievable!!! But still we can appreciate Microsoft’s new venture, as it can be a small challenge for the monopoly of Google over www searching. Also need to appreciate Google for making Microsoft launch something for ‘free’.

September 10, 2006

Mushroom hunting...

This weekend I went for mushroom picking with Iva and Nazanine to a forest in Meudon a sub-urban region of Paris. . Since its was the hunting season in France, we were advised to dress in bright colors to go into the forest, every year there are some incidents of people being killed by hunters in French forests it seems. The forest was nice and cool, with lots of mushrooms; we had a small book, something like dummy’s guide for mushroom picking. We were able to identify the poisonous or the non-edible ones. Finally we got back home only three different types of mushroom, we just wanted to cross check in the internet before cooking and ended up throwing away all the mushrooms and dialed a mushroom pizza for our dinner, any way there are more forests and more weekends and more mushrooms... Some people in India still consider mushroom as a non-vegetarian food. As a biologist I can say that mushrooms are 100% vegetarian and as a vegetarian we need to more mushrooms, than the non-vegetarians. More over they are sooooo delicious!! Dil Mange More..!!!

September 09, 2006

Painting is just...

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary. -Picasso

Everyone's life is an epic, the memories of struggle, success, smiles, tears and relationships are added to the self image of me and mine to harden our ego, and there is a constant struggle to keep this ego safe from eroding in the tough hands of time. Giving these memories a form of image, color or even words, gives reality of the moment a longer shelf life, I like PB Shelley's Ozymandias for the same reason ( Please correct me if I have understood this poem wrongly). Lucky are the people who can store their memories as a painting, like my friends Priya and V.P.Vasuhan, we frindly call him Vasu) Today I went to the opening of Vasu's Painting exhibition, with my friends, it was a great day for Vasu. I don't understand the much of modern art, but the artists who were present told that his paintings are the reflections Indian subcontinent, and his struggles in a big city. Thats V.P.Vasuhan, with his painting Dances with Rats.

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
- Ozymandias by PB Shelley

September 08, 2006

Priya's Blog

Priya needs no introduction, she was in Paris sometime back with Ullas and we traveled together to Italy. And when I disappeared from the cyber world in August, she started her blog, and I knew that she did sketches and paintings, but never got to see her works before. Yesterday I went through her wonderful collection, posted in her blog. I was really shocked to see that, knowing a person for a long time and never seen their work? Too bad! Thanks to blogs, which exhibits the people’s talents and views. Among all her works this one, touched me lot, as it was based on the photograph, which she took during our trip to Florence, I remember her saying that she is going to make one painting of this place, as she has described in her blog, it was one of the most beautiful spot in Florence. Thanks to Priya, for a adding more colors to those sweet memories!

September 07, 2006

Oxygen Lag...

As soon as reached Gare de l’Est station, one of the most crowded stations in Paris, I was suffocating and I took an underground metro for 30 min to reach home. It was a big shock, living for a month close to open landscapes with lots of fresh air and just with sounds of nature made me suffocate in the small noisy and crowded metro. I fell sick for few days, I know that sick people go to Switzerland to rest and recover . I never knew that leaving Switzerland makes you fall sick… anyways somehow got adapted to this oxygen lag of Paris, and got back to my lab and laptop, that’s why got time to update my blog…now back to work. Among all the sickness and the work burden just sitting over my work desk, I am very happy to work hard for next month because my next trip is waiting just around the corner, as soon as I came back made the bookings for my next trip. This time back to my favorite country Italy, the beauty of Switzerland didn’t manage to steal the first position from Italy. Italy along with its beautiful nature also have wonderful food, great culture and more over lively warm crowd of people, which was greatly missing in Switzerland. Since my next trip is official with a small extension for my personal sight seeing, I have to now happily get back to my work and start working hard for my work presentation in Italy conference.

Basel Zoo..

On my way back to Paris from Mont-Soleil, I went to Basel for taking my connection train. I had 10 hours to roam around the city, I started in the Basel zoo, just because it’s very close the railway station. For the first time I got a chance to see African elephants, Elephants are my favorite animals. They are very strong but they don’t use their strength for violence, unless and until it’s absolutely necessary. I treated myself with a high-calorie lunch in the zoo with having a view of these elephant from my lunch table; I felt these elephants were mocking me as I put every piece of the chocolate cake in my mouth. Sorry my dear African elephants! I feel the Asian elephants in Madurai temple are much cuter than you guys! It all happened in September 2nd, on my mom’s birthday, she loves animals and zoos a lot, and she is still not able to recover from Steve Irwin’s tragic death. I finished my Basel trip and my summer vacation in the city center, as in most of the European cities the old city center was cute and classical in Basel too. Basel photos...

Open Air Festival

I went to Mont-Soleil again, this time to be a volunteer in the meditation center, this vipassana meditation center, all around the world is run by old meditation students. People who are benefited by this meditation can go the center and work for the new meditators, starting from the management committee, managers and the Assistant teachers and the kitchen staff are all the old meditation students working there as volunteers. Depending on how much time you commit to the center, you can take a long term or a short term position, since I was there only for 10days and also because of my love for cooking, I worked as a cook. It was so amazing to cook for 50 people, that too strictly sticking to the time table that too over a top of a mountain where you get farm fresh vegetables and milk, I use to go the farm to get milk, sometimes as I walk through the beautiful landscapes in a silent evening, made me feel that I am walking inside a beautiful painting, the beauty of Switzerland seems to be far away from reality. I was there few days before the course and was lucky to get a free pass for a big and a very expensive open air music festival and for the first time I got a chance to listen to Mozart’s last composition, Requiem, It was amazing to see people frozen in rain, listing to this piece of music. More pictures of the beautiful Mont-Soleil.

September 05, 2006

A day in Geneva..

In my one month summer vacation the only known person I interacted and communicated with, was Micha and my family for couple of time over the phone, rest all were new people, travellers and mediators. I met a bunch of wonderful people. It was nice to see people from different places and background and more over amazed by their passion in life. one such person in Tamae, a swiss girl from Geneva. I met her in the meditation center and she invited me to stay with her as I was travelling through Geneva. I stayed at her place for a night and she took me around Geneva the next day. Since she was born and brought up there, she had friends at every corner of the street. She is studying music and lived in India,Calcutta close the slum people, interacting with them through an organisation to teach them dance. She also collects money by arranging small concerts with her boy friend. They play piano and Tabla together in their concerts. We walked around in geneva, the old town was beautiful, In the evening we came to the lake side, where we met some of her friends and had some nice cuban tea.Then it was time for me to leave back to the meditation center. More Geneva pictures...

Pizza Day at Micha's...

From the day I met Micha, I was wondering what makes him so admirable, he is someone who is always adored and surrounded by people....I stopped wondering about it on the day I met his family, Its a sweet mix of French and German Family, with the best of both. The days when we didn't travel, I played with his cute little nephew, Adrian who taught me lot of French words and games and Micha cooked delicious food big family lunch and dinner. one day was this amazing pizza day,the whole family worked together with Micha to finish the toppings, that was my first ever home made pizza just delecious... more photos of Micha's family taken on the Pizza day are as usual in my flickr... One week went off just like that...and then it was the day when I have to take this 40 min flight back to Geneva. And that was the beginning of a episode three of my summer vacation..

The French Riviera,Côte d'Azur

Me and Micha made some day trips discovering the beautiful cities and countryside of the french riviera. France is divided into many regions, a small region close to Italy and Monaco is called Côte d'Azur. The biggest city in this region.... I guess is Nice and also has the famous town cannes, where the famous Cannes Film Festival takes place is in this region.We went to Nice, Antibes and some small countryside around Grasse .Antibes is my favourite place. Nice is nice too...but in the Nice beach,as I was standing in the waves, a big wave gave a small bath to my digital camera in my packet. So no digital photos from Nice. Later hair dryer treated my wet camera and cured it. Micha is a walking encyclopedia, never seen a such an unbeatable combination of intelligence,good looks and extremely pleasant and humble person....had lots of fun travelling with him, he was telling me the history and geography of every stone in this region and took me to the best places and introduced to the best food of the region. Check out more photos of the beautiful Côte d'Azur....

Flight to Paradise..

Reached the Geneva airport..the trains in Switzerland are so annoyingly punctual,Its very difficult for Indians to get used to such punctuality, I reached the airport almost one and half hours did some window shopping and got into the flight and just had a small nap and the flight landed in Nice(a city in south of France), it was a shortest flight trip I ever had just 40 min on air.Micha was waiting with his mom to receive me in the airport and another 30 mins drive, I reached a absolutely beautiful house(Micha's Parent's) over a top of small mountain in a town called Grasse, between Nice and Cannes.The house had a beautiful view of three towns,Grasse,Cannes and Antibes between the valley and view of the alps dropping off in the Mediterranean. I stayed there in that beautiful house with very lovely Micha's family having excellent Micha's food and with nice trips and strolls in the small towns and villages in that region. Some more of Micha's home are here....more pictures after I get my film scanned. Thats the view from his room at dusk..

Nice Drive...

Next day the weather was still nice and sunny, we decided to start driving...Some friends from the hostel, an Australian girl and Canadian boy joined us in the drive, we went through the beautiful small villages, and mountains of the Switzerland to reach Château de Chillon. A castle next the Lake Geneva (Lake Léman)Beautiful castle, very well planned and built on a rock in the lake, most of the balcony open into the lake, amazed to see almost a small kingdom inside, had jails, royal rooms and even a 15th century toilets. we had small picnic next to the lake and then it was time to say bye to Sandra...They started travelling towards Italy and I took a train to Geneva airport to take a flight to France. was not an end of my trip but a beginning of an all new beautiful episode in south of France.

Day 2: Interlaken

It was happy sunny day! so me and Sandra decided to go up the mountains, we went up a small Green hill called harder kulm, which had a something like a Buddhist temple on the top, and had a a nice view of the town, interlaken as the name suggest its beautifully located between two lake and then it was the time for the summer snow. we had two choices one was to go up Schilthorn peak or to Jungfrau peak, it was very difficult to decide between two, later for financial reasons we ended up in Schilthorn, we hiked a bit and reached the cable car and a very scenic journey to the top of snow covered peak. It was just snow and snow and snow all around with just a small cheesy restaurant, Piz Gloria which revoles 360 degree. It was nice to have a long 3 hours lunch with some American travellers, food, nice chat and a 360 degree view of snow covered peaks...very very cheesy....
Thats Sandra having a view of interlaken from the top of Harder kulm... more snowy..summer

August 21, 2006

Day :1 Interlaken…

We didn’t do much on the first, a messy.. cloudy.. day, just went walking around this small touristy town, which is located between two lakes and beautiful mountains on the other sides, we just had look and feel of the town, I was shocked to see many announcement boards in Hindi, and lot and lot of India tourist. I guess Indians have a special crush on Switzerland, may be influenced by thousands of bollywood movies with dream duet song shot in Switzerland and met hell lot of . Among the few nice veggi dishes of Switzerland, I fell in love with a dish called Rösti, made of potatoes and cheese and absolutely delicious.

Started at Bern...

My travel in Switzerland took some unexpected twists and turns…I was all set to leave the meditation centre and start travelling, Then I met Sandra, a fellow meditator from Austria, she was planning to travel around in Switzerland in car . So we decided to travel together, it was still raining we left the centre and started driving towards Bern. It was nice to drive between mountains and lakes. We stopped at Bern for lunch and a stroll in the old city ,in the banks of beautiful greenish blue river Aare. Also since the city is named after bears, there is a small bear pit, where two poor bears were kept locked, right in the middle of the city. The weather was still bad; we started driving towards Speiz, a small little village again in the banks of greenish blue beautiful lake. We stopped and strolled next to the lake and had a coffee break in the banks of lake Thun. Another 45 min drive took us to the Interlaken, were we booked a hostel and decided to stay for two days or until the weather gets better.

August 17, 2006

Mont Soleil..

After reaching Mont Soleil, and started meditating, I did not see both Mont and Soleil for at least a week, the mountain(Mont) was hidden by fog and the sun(Soleil) was behind the clouds, but it was so wonderful for meditation, one day early in the morning after meditating from 4:30 to 6:00 , came out of the meditation hall into a big balcony, and saw thick fog surrounding the centre, because of the lightness in mind and body had a feeling of living between clouds. In the breaks, it was so nice to walk in the woods in the wet wild grass. And later during the sunny days we had after noon nap in the grass land surrounded by woods, it was so relaxing for the body and mind. That’s the picture of the meditation centre, taken on the 10th day, when mediators started leaving the centre. I was also ready to leave the centre and explore the beautiful nature of swiss.

Good Company…

Finally..I got a small break from Switzerland and got a chance to sit in computer to update my blog. On August 2nd I took 3 trains to reach my meditation centre. I had nice company in my train from Paris to Neuchâtel, I cute little Sri Lankan boy, born and brought up in Zurich, was next to me and talking in very cute Tamil accent. He was telling some nice stories about his life in swiss, his swiss friends and the places he has seen in swiss, that was a sweet introduction of Switzerland, just before me landing in there. We had such a nice time that he wanted me to continue the journey to Zurich, I explained him my condition and his mom invited to stay with them during my swiss trip, after finishing my meditation. Although Zurich is not in my travel plan, I like to stop there to say hai to this my little new friend. That’s the picture taken in the train, when he was showing me around Switzerland with a map. Then stopped and went for a stroll in Neuchâtel, La Chaux-de-Fonds and St.Imier before reaching my meditation center in a small hill called Mont Soleil.

August 01, 2006

Here it Starts...

Finally.. here starts my summer vacation... I am leaving to Switzerland tomorrow morning for a month. I am first going to a meditation center in Mont Soleil,St-Imier. I am practicing vipassana, a Buddhist type of meditation for past 2 years. About this meditation, there are centers all around the world teaching and practicing vipassana, the beginners have to start with a 10days course. It do have some strict code of contact which we need to follow as a mediator, first is Nobel silence, 9days we are not suppose to talk or communicate by any means with others.The people who know me will never believe that I have spent 20days of my life in complete silence, I initially thought its going to be difficult for me, but its very special to spend few days just listening to yourself, listening to your heart beats and feeling your blood flow etc.... I did my first 10days in Chennai, India 2 years back and last year in Canada, with my parents and brother.Now for the next 10days starting from tomorrow. So, I will be away from my beloved computer, no mails I guess I will catch you guys again on 13th of August, when I will come out of the center and start seeing Switzerland, it starts..My Alpine summer...

July 28, 2006

The Tao of Pooh...

Discussing more about I had a lunch time discussion with Andy about honey. Me and Andy are so crazy about honey; we have bottles of different types of honey in the lab for tea, yogurt and salads. Discussing about honey, it was so easy for us, the two animation fans to switch the topic over to Pooh, the honey lover. He started discussing about his favorite book Tao of Pooh, he showed me lots of sites and quotes from this book. Some of them touched me very deeply, specially the description of different characters, which can briefly put as in this above image.They just reflect the people we meet in our everyday life. A very good friend of mine, is more like this ‘pontificate owl’,clever but has some unwritten dogmas of life and try to impose it strongly on people around. Then there was a day, when I got bored of discussing over dogmas,the silly 'dos and donts', which sounds absolutely stupid for me. When its so easy to live ‘just like..’ pooh! Why do we complicate our life like this owl and try to control the whole world with the dogmas, created with our little intelligence.We dont need dogmas and long lectures to know the simple way to live, every one is capable of discovering by themselves...otherwise... in terms of Pooh…

To know the Way,
We go the Way;
We do the Way
The way we do
The things we do.
It's all there in front of you,
But if you try too hard to see it,
You'll only become Confused.

I am me,
And you are you,
As you can see;
But when you do,
The things you can do,
You will find the Way,
And the Way will follow you.

July 27, 2006

I am WOW...!

I guess I am transforming to..WOW!! I was reading the NDTV travel yesterday and got to know about Sumitra, who have a club called WOW! Women on Wanderlust! Anyways I guess I can never be a part of WOW club, as I enjoy traveling alone. I am becoming a fan of NDTV, specially the way the expose the corruption and in their fight for justice..OK..Now back to my travel, my one month trip almost got a shape, the major ticket bookings and accommodation bookings are done. Thanks to Arjun, he introduced me this very nice site for backpackers. Its very nice, I booked hostels for my previous trips in Italy and Belgium through this site and the hostels were pretty impressive. The best part of this web site is that you can compare the locations and also read the review of the people who stayed earlier and choose the one which we prefer, I prefer to go for the hostel, which is more calm..more like bed and breakfast type.. then with bar and party type one. I got some pretty good ones for this trip too... I still didnt tell you guys about the country where I am going to travel...sorry you need to wait for a week to know that...Its very difficult for Uma to keep a secrets..but till now..only two of my friends know about it..of course my family and my lab..and may be the people who read my friends blog..well that's a pretty long list..anyways...

July 26, 2006

I Love Bees!

I am making arrangements and plans for summer trip, one major difference between travelling in India and Europe is the use of maps. In India you have a "Bhaya" (Brother) in every street corner, you can directly walk to them and ask for directions. Unfortunately that's not possible in Europe. so, now a days maps are my bible when I am travelling, even with good road signs and maps I still get lost in Paris, we humans are so dumb, specially more dumb comparing to these cute little Bees! Today, scientists working on bees discussed their work on bees in BBC..they are just amazing, they were able to find their way back home, even if they are left 13kms away from home, no maps road Bhaya...! Also when they finish nectar in a flower, they leave some sort of chemical signal in the flower ( some thing like a post-it note ;-) to tell other bees that the flower is empty...How amazing they are..We human having sixth sense??? but not worried about losing the sensitivity of other 5 senses. More over they produce this miraculous honey, rich in nutrition but cannot be spoiled by Bactria or fungi..with some sort of natural preservative...! sorry but we have to steal it from my cute little honey! Thats the picture of cute queen bee in a famous french comic on bees called Mireille l'abeille.