A Friendly and almost Real Guide for Indians Living and Traveling to Zürich and perhaps Switzerland – Part I

6 04 2013

Part Eins – <The Swiss>

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The Swiss in general are nice people. They are, as long as you don’t poke them in the eye, or their forehead (Statistically proven). They smile at you even if you don’t smile back. Of course courtesy dictates that when someone smiles at you, you need to smile back at them, whether Swiss or non-Swiss.

The Swiss are always on time. In Switzerland, unlike in India, you do not tell your friends that you will see them sometime in the evening. What you have to tell them is that you’ll see them on Wednesday the 18th at 18:38 hours (at least a week in advance). A wise man once told me, “In Switzerland, on time is late.

The Swiss like to keep everything clean. Now unlike what many of us like to believe, cleanliness is not  a relative concept. Clean, here means absolutely clean. Like the mythical absolute zero k that drives scientists mad. When you look, for example, through a glass window, basically no part of the glass or anything on it should be visible. I think its called spec clean. Cleaning the kitchen doesn’t just mean cleaning what is normally visible to the eye but also those parts that you can’t see even if you tried hard, like the upper rim of the door. Alanis Morissette, I was told, wasn’t allowed to perform her songs from the album, Under Rug Swept when she was in Zürich

The Swiss do have a few quirks which I guess the Auslanders should respect. Some of the things that define a Swiss are:

1) Not talking loudly on the phone or even otherwise.

2) Being sad on the cloudy day.

3) Being extremely fit, physically.

4) Similar capacity as Germans to consume alcohol and not bragging about it.

5) Being rich and believing that the whole world is a happy place to be in.

So the moral of the story is, the Swiss are generally nice people. They are friendly and do’t like to be bothered much.





Poonam Pandey to Strip before the Parliament

28 08 2011

If rumor mills are to be believed, Model Poonam Pandey has declared that she will strip in front of the parliament if the Parliament approves the Lokpal Bill. When asked if this was true, sourcs close to the model said, “Yes! This is absolutely true. PP is absoluetely thrilled with the idea and thinks this is much better way to convince the government than a fasting 74 year old man.” Flauting a bikini clad Kingfsher photo of the actress, the source continued, “After all who wouldn’t like to see this.”

When informed that she did not fulfill her promise after India won the worldcup, the source replied, “She had informed the BCCI that she would do it privately for the players. The BCCI was obviously disappointed as it would have meant them missing out.”

Meanwhile the government sources decided to keep mum. However, despite being told not to say anything on the matter, Congress (bad)mouthpiece Digvijay Singh said, “We are open to all sorts of suggestions and incentives to pass a jan lokpal bill. However, Miss Pandey has to know that she will have to do her act twice: in lok sabha and rajya sabha as most of the members of the ruling government are from Rajya Sabha.”

When forced into saying something congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said, “Who is this Pandey? And what right does “he” have to speak something about stripping when he himself is clad in clothes from head-to-toe?” When informed that it was “she” and not “he”, Mr. Tiwari replied, “Oh! I thought I was talking about Chunkey Pandey. In this scenario, I would like to say that our government is open to all sorts of talks and “provocations”.” and exited with a nasty smile.

The BJP meanwhile treaded on its usual nationalistic lines. “This is an insult to the parliament. This is an insult to women. This is an insult to ..whoever feels insulted.” said Sushama Swaraj. Meanwhile BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar in his typical Marathi accent said that it was a serious issue and asked the PM to launch a CBI inquiry into the whole affair.

However, in an unprecidented act of unity, Young politicians across all olitical lines welcomed the move saying that at least this would ensure young people to enter politics. In a strangely awkward position cousins turned enemies Varun and Rahul Gandhi were seen hand-in-hand and duscussing the whole issue with the excitement of 8 year olds while others like Milind Deora, Jyotiraditya Scindia etc. were seen gazing awe-eyed at both of them.

Meanwhile Indian Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has asked the government to not believe in Miss Pandey. “She had promised that she would strip if we won the worldcup. And although it did encourae us to win, it left the boys pretty sad when she did not keep her word.” In fact blaming her for the current debacle of team India in England, Dhoni said,”Guys like Raina, Zaheer, Harbajan, Yuvraj have been very dissappointed since then and haven’t been able to come out of the deprssion since and that is clearly reflecting on their performance.”





How I failed my Driving Test!!

23 06 2011

..and managed to pass later without paying a bribe.

Finally after a lot of deliberations, I took up driving. Yes I did.

Many people, including my parents were after me to learn driving. But I would refuse. Reasons being:

1) I prefer public transport. And well, Bangalore has awesome bus service.

2) I love my cycle. Four wheelers cause more pollution and I plan to not buy one unless I just have to.

3) It increases your workload when you have to keep going to the railway station and airports to pickup guests.

But anyway, obedient son that I am, I enrolled myself for the driving classes. And awesome as I am, I picked it up really well and really fast. And then came the part that I dread. Official work. A driving test to get my learners license.

I reached RTO on time. Stood in lines like a good citizen. Then I was made to write a test. Simple test really. They asked 15 questions. Passing was 10. And well, good as I am in written tests, I finished the exam in may be 3 minutes. Submitted my answer sheet and waited for the results.

The traffic guy called my name and said I had got 12 out of 15. And then he said, “You pay 20 rs mandatory donation and collect your learners license.” and ironically handed me a “Mera Bharat Mahaan” sticker.  The rest of the conversation went thus:

Me: “mandatory” donation? What does that even mean?

Police: For army welfare.

Me: I am not interested.

Police: you got 9 out of 15, you failed. We managed to give you passing marks.

Me: But that’s cheating.

Police: We did it for you. Don’t waste our time.

Me: So is it a bribe or are you guys begging?

At this, the policeman got really angry. Said something about me failing in Kannada and asked me something in kannada. I said, if I have failed I will write the exam again. And I did. So as far as I can remember, I had flunked for the first time in my life. But I was happy.

Stood in the lines again and blah blah. And well, I passed without having to pay any bribe.

And well, doing this good  deed sort of gives me a right to give some gyan. We often find ourselves in situation where it is “convenient” to bribe someone to avoid “Zanzat”. But hey, take a step and do something right. It might cause you some physical discomfort but then you will be able to sleep happily. Believe me.

Have my permanent Driving License test on 30th. More on that later if something interesting happens.





2010 in review

3 01 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has 296 steps to reach the top. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2010. If those were steps, it would have climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa 4 times

In 2010, there were 2 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 17 posts. There were 6 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 7mb.

The busiest day of the year was September 16th with 147 views. The most popular post that day was A Definitive Guide to PhD (Pt 1).

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were orkut.co.in, facebook.com, iisc.wordpress.com, orkut.com, and ncsi.iisc.ernet.in.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for sudarshan kriya, sri sri ravi shankar, art of war, the art of war, and 100 days of kriya.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

A Definitive Guide to PhD (Pt 1) September 2010
21 comments

2

100 days of Sudarshan Kriya November 2008
5 comments

3

A Small Story of Love March 2010
18 comments

4

About Me October 2008

5

About a Girl October 2008
11 comments





A Definitive Guide to PhD (Pt 1)

16 09 2010

Hello Folks,

Welcome to the first part of “The Definitive Guide to PhD”. As an 8th year PhD student and with the due blessings of my seniors (9th to 11th year PhD students (uncles?)), I feel I am qualified enough to tell you newbs what to expect from your PhD. It’s always good to be prepared. Sun Tzu, as he says in, “The art of war”,

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

Sun Tzu

Not to say of course that PhD is a war. War is something where either of the sides can win. When it’s already decided that you are a loser, it can perhaps be called PhD, for simply lack of words.  But before you get disappointed, let me share my wealth of experience. The wise ones as they say learn from others mistakes. Though people and at times you, yourself would doubt how wise it was to have joined for PhD, be very sure that you have not made a mistake. Mistake is something that can be corrected. When it cannot be, it’s called a blunder.

For the first part, let’s describe the types of advisors or “guides” that you may come across. But before that, what should you know:

  • First and foremost, know that your boss is your God. (And do not forget, Yama, the God of death, too is a God.)

Yama: The Boss

  • The number of years you will take to finish you PhD is give by,

n = 3 (m+1)

where m is the number of years your boss says he will give your PhD in.

  • Your boss will never crush your dreams. The dreams with which you enter the campus like curing cancer or making a time machine or sorry…I forgot what mine was (it was at the beginning of this century, dude!) are simply unrealistic. All your boss does is to let you know that, journals like Science and Nature are out of your scope and you should be satisfied with the IEEE or Elsevier is where you belong.
  • Your boss does not have a big ego. However, it would still be wise if you never ever tell him something like, “But you only said it.”

Once you know these basic axioms, I will come up with the different “Types” of Boss in part two of the series. Until then, ya well… download movies from the repositories.





Earth Hour @ IISc

28 03 2009

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I have come to believe this and I’m sure many of you will agree. Things mostly work if they happen spontaneously; more the planning lesser the chances of things working fine. This one happened just like that.

28th march, 8:30 – 9:31 PM (local time), is celebrated as “Earth Hour” throughout the world. What you (the whole world) do is this – you simply switch off all the lights around you. It starts off from Australia and New Zealand and goes around the earth longitudinally. Imagine watching the earth from space; regions getting blacked-out, one after the other. Must be fun for those damn Martians watching.

Oh, the cause by the way is to make everybody aware of this new mad cow disease, “Global Warming”. It simpler than that actually. It’s just to let people know that they should switch off their lights and other electrical appliances when not in use. So this was the back-ground for an exciting evening ahead.

At lunch, a few of us sat nibbling at the food when somebody just mentioned casually about the earth hour. It was more than enough for the satsangis to spring into action. Within minutes a plan (spontaneous plan) had been unfurled. The mess-authorities had been spoken to. Word was spread in other messes. Posters were made.People went out and got candles…

(Why candles? Switch off lights and burn the carbon emitting candles? Boy that’s stupid.)

OK! Here’s why. Google a bit and you will notice that carbon emission is 31% lesser for candles than tube-lights and that too if we are talking about same light-intensity. Period.

The whole thing is also meant to be more of an awareness. People should know what’s killing the earth. And thirdly, let’s not make it too inconvenient for skeptical people around.

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At 8:15, we (the AoLites in IISc) were armed with candles. They were lit and were arranged in a wonderful ratio of 1candle per table. That done, the lights were turned off and so were the fans.

What followed next was a big round of applause and cheers from almost all the people. It was a success. We then had nice dinner – full of laughter and jokes. It was a nice feeling to have done something rather than just sit and talk about doing something. The dinner seemed extra special and extra tasty.

When it’s IISc, expect lots of people to criticize you. And if they know that you are from Art of Living, expect being ridiculed and laughed at. All that happened. There were attempts by some pseudo-intellectuals to switch on the lights. That was dealt with. However, nobody seemed to have the guts to talk openly or argue with us. Off they went to some remote place, switched on the lights to smoke their coffin nails – the cigarettes. (I wonder though, why one needs light to smoke a cigarette. Perhaps they are scared of putting it in their nose. Whatever, may God bless them.)

At 9:30 the lights went on. We collected the candles and walked back happy. Feels so good. Tomorrow morning – So-Ham time.





Spirituality of the Geniuses

11 11 2008

The Indian Institute of Science or IISc as it is lovingly called is as you know THE Premier Research Institute of the country and by country I of course mean India. Unlike the IITs, which were 7 on the last count, the country has just one IISc which goes to show the “whats-the-word” about it. (Some word which means something like “awesomeness”{if that’s the word}).moto_0037

The students here, including me, the author of this post, are said to be the scientific cream of the country. Now, despite my unlimited modesty, I cannot deny that this place is a place of scientific geniuses. And mark my words, I said “scientific” geniuses. And a constantly analyzing and a questioning mind is sometimes too much when you take up “spirituality”.

This is centenary year for IISc and thanks to Guruji and all the volunteers, IISc suddenly has a big gang of Art-of-living-ians. We are roughly 30-40 people now. That’s excluding the people who have done the course but do not do their regular kriya. Anyway, Guruji has often said that science and spirituality do not clash. And I agree. (Who am I to disagree with him anyway?). But then, in IISc, things are funny. They aren’t normal. Rashmin, who has taught most of us, would testify. And although science and spirituality do not clash, the minds of us IIScians go out of the way to contradict these things. Anyway, so be it.

Before throwing stones on other people’s glass houses, its always better to get stoned and not leave your own glass house unbroken for others to break it. (I know I am making a mistake somewhere, that’s not how this proverb is). How did I get into art of living? I don’t know. Last thing I remember before I heard “So HAM” was that I wanted to go to Andaman Nicobar and stay there alone. Needless to say, AoL has changed my life.

Whereas science wants experience first and then it believes, spirituality demands belief first and then come the experiences. Now that causes the conflict. How can I accept something I don’t know about? Anyway, on a closer look, the patterns reverse. When one does a scientific experiment, he isn’t sure of the results but it’s done nevertheless, while when one hears the benefits of spiritual practices from thousands of people that constitutes as a statistical truth. And well, for me, one day I realized: How come I believe in electrons when I haven’t seen one? Isn’t that faith too? Don’t I just believe in them because I can feel their effect? So shouldn’t I believe in Guruji because of all the happiness He has made me “feel”? I guess that was one hell of an enlightenment for me.

But to think of it, it’s still my logical mind at work.

AoL in IISc is fun. We have mid-night satsangs every Saturday where we read some pages from the Bhagwadgita. We also have regular Sunday long kriya in the campus. That reminds me. So there is this guy. Let’s not take names ok. So I tell him, hey come to Sunday for the long kriya. This is how our conversation went.

Me: Hey come for the long kriya on Sunday

Guy: no, it’s ok. I do the long kriya in the room itself.

Me: what!! Long kriya in the room? How?

GUY: Well, it’s so simple…instead of 20-40-40, I do it 40-80-80.

Talk about using your brains.

The narad bhakti sutra and patanjali yog sutras have been fun and the discussions have been amazingly amazing. Everyone wanting to put in some logic so that just for their own sake, science doesn’t come in the way. It’s funny.

This one happened during the course. Rashmin was taking a guided meditation. At the end of it a tiny little girl (TLG) comes to me and says:

TLG: My eyes were open during the meditation and rashmin kept signaling me to close them. I did not heheh

Me: But why?

TLG: I knew all that already. Attention to feet and awareness about feelings and all.

Man, we are geniuses.

Another one:

Another nice little boy (NLB) who had recently done the course…

NLB: Why do my fingers hurt during the kriya?

Teacher: You are becoming purer, that’s why.

NLB: You mean I am impure now?

Ya, IIscians need logic.

Then a fellow writes in a common email: I will not recommend art of living to anyone because you guys are pseudo-scientific. Mr. Ravi calls himself a God and you believe in him. I cannot accept this hypocrisy.

Talk about being naive and he shocks you further.

It could be because I am not doing my daily kriya but I did not find any use of art of living. I know what meditation is.

Ya well, he is in knowledge alright, albeit a wrong one. God bless him.

Then there are people who believe that we get commissions for registering people and there are these people here who feel that their life got ruined after they did the kriya. Of course, they aren’t people who do their regular kriya. Others are embarrassed to come for the follow-ups because their friends tease them….yup footballs of others opinions exist despite the chunks of grey matter. God bless them too.

Anyway, that’s how things stand at the moment. We have this well-knit family. We eat together, watch movies together, sing together and listen to knowledge together. When we sit in the mess, non-aol people seem to get attracted to our group too. It could be the loud laughters or it could be the glow of happiness on our faces. Then we’ve also done 108 surya namaskars for more than one time. Not just that, our consciousness is so inter-woven that we actually have same thoughts at the same times, although currently these thoughts are restricted to visits to corner-house or bun-world. Still, its one hell of a start. We have learnt our lessons. Different people, different backgrounds are accepted. Not just that, they accept the group too.

It’s all nice. There are times when somebody strays out of knowledge and he is then brought back in. It’s just like a family. In fact it is a family. The scientists and spiritualists together. Isn’t that what guruji wants?

Let me end this with a personal quote:

“You know you are in knowledge when people start running away from you for the fear of an Art of Living intro-talk and you end up laughing about it.”