Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hundertwassser version of Alice In Wonderland?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I am not a baseball fan in the least (and the end of this MLB season is not going to change that) but what occurred is statistically mind boggling:

In a nutshell: "you get a combined probability of about one chance in 278 million of all these events coming together"

I was trying to figure out what another 1 in 278 million probable event is, just for comparison (flipping a coing and it landing heads up every time for 556 million attempts? Holy chappati wrapped in a bharotha!) but then again these sort of odds are impossible to get my head around.
The laws that govern Germany are numerous (and some say onerous), be they in the tax filing department or in the getting rid of garden trash department. Though not as litigious as the US, friends have told me about complaints that are nothing more than "You broke a rule. It does not affect me at all but I am going to do something about it simply because I can"

Yesterday I go into a bicycle accident. A car cut right in front of me and I could do nothing other than barrel right into it. Thankfully, the damage to me was not too serious. No broken bones. Only my left shoulder, which took the brunt of the impact, is immobile in certain directions.

What it did introduce me to was the myriad of rules that govern fault and health insurance claims in such situations. The police were called and an ambulance arrived shortly thereafter. I was asked around ten times whether I was wearing a bike helmet (thankfully, I was)

At the moment, the fault lies with the driver (which means points on his license, which can result in the revoking of his kicense if he has too many points, a fine possibly, and higher car insurance rates) but all that could have easily changed
1. I was not wearing a bike helmet: It does not matter if my injuries were head related or not. Not wearing a bike helmet somehow negates a lot of claims.
2. I was not biking on a marked bike path: Especially if there was a marked bike path that I should've been using. In response to the oil crisis in the late 70s, Germany built bike paths all over the country to encourage ridership. I guess regualting the ridership went along with that
3. If I had been listening to music while biking: that is a big non-no
4. If I had had a drink beforehand: a big big no-no-no

In the event the fault would have been mine, there is insurance one can buy to cover such situations (or at least that is how the insurance is sold) I wish I could remember what it was called.

Onto the health insurance side of things
1. In general, people are covered through the government insurance plan, meaning I hand my insurance card over when I go to the doctor/hospital and that's the last I hear about it. However, I am on private insurance meaning that I will be billed for it and then need to claim a reimbursement (which is generally straight forward)
2. Unless I am no my way to or from work in which case the employer is responsible for covering the costs of any accident
3. Plus there is something called Schmerzensgeld (literally pain-money) which one can apply for to cover pain.
4. I am sure there are other things as well that I have yet to hear of.

For all the stereotypes of Germans being cold and reserved (which is not entirely unwarranted), they can be the exact opposite. After the accident, two strangers pulled over to make sure I was ok and offered their phone numbers to give to the police if the police wanted an eyewitness. The accident happened directly in front a bakery and the women who worked there came out to help me. The police and ambulance were called. I was too dazed and confused and the adrenaline was just shooting right through me right after it happened to really register who was helping and what was actually going on.

The accident happened right here:

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If you are in the area, one of the nicest (and totally local) beer gardens right on the lake can be found here:

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Plus the Thai takeway up the road isn't too bad either (go for the daily menu)

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This is not a movie I would've ever gone to see on my own. Not only is my understanding of German politics rudimentary (I regularly get the two main parties, the CDU and the SPD, mixed up) but I would've been daunted by the german langauge skills needed to decipher the movie.

In the end, the movie turned out to be an eye opener. Its the story of a man (the facts are here: finding his way in the world, changing his views when he saw that the world was wholly different to the one he had imagined.

He drags the leftists into the political process. He drags the Green Party into supporting war in Kosovo, a position he eloquently defends at the Greens Party Congress in Bielefeld where the party is ready to make war on Joshka (and tthe Greens wished to make war on Joshka literally, not figuratively) Then there's the famous dressing down of Rumsfeld as Fisher refuses to drink the Kool Aid that he is being fed about the WMDs in Iraq. He in the end refuses to be dragged, looks at the world and sees that he cannot change his views on Iraq, that the world he imagines is the world as it really is.

The film shows a man who is learning right from wrong as he stumbles forward, a man full of humanity. There are lots of things I did not understand (not solely because of the content but because the content was in German) but I came out feeling fully fed with ideas, wanted to drink the night away and chat forever. That's the best I can expect from a movie.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Here's the original kitchen

It took me and Keena like 12 hours a piece to get all the tiles off the wall

Then, the tiler came by and said the blocks under the tiles need to come off too. My neighbor brought over a kind of jackhammer and with that it took me about 15 minutes to remove all the blocks

Here's one of the bedrooms originally

Here it is with all the carpet that I ripped out from the entire apartment stuffed into it (in total, I ripped out 300 kilos of carpet. My hands are still feeling it)

And here's the room with the laminate flooring that I put in

Here're before, and after pictures of part of the dining room (Keena's still working on putting up wallpaper)

Monday, January 19, 2009

When Ike hit Galveston last year, my parents were living there. The entierity of their possesions were in the house that they owned there. My mom's wedding saris. My sisters old toys (which my mom had somehow managed to hold on to through the litany of moves that we'd made) The photographs of a life lived across many decades, a couple of centuries and across several countries. They were all washed away by Ike.

Maybe a slight exagerration as some of the photographs did survive. And when my mom came to visit over Christmas, she brought along all the photos that survived so I could scan them. This was not just the sum total of our family life recorded but also family life before I arrived on the scene, before my parents got married, before my mom hit puberty.

Going through the photos, all the very old ones where my grandparents look vibrant and young and where my parents look vibrant and very young, they're all posed. They don't capture anything except some event, some gathering of people. There isn't a hint of the wider world outside that photo. There isn't a hint of anything beyond those people. No scenery. No house. Only faces and bodies.
Until my cousin sent me the picture above, of his father, my uncle, my mom's brother, wandering through what looks like a field of wheat, the part in his hair obscured by a errant blade of wheat, the forest off in the distance, dark and scary. It looks vaguely like my uncle today  though it could be any one of his brothers. I love this picture, for everything that it is, despite the fact that its badly out of focus. Photographs don't look like this, at least from this period.
My grandfather on my mom's side was a district court judge. A highly respectable position. And he was respected more than the position. The rule was that a district court judge  could only live in one district for two years, before you were transferred, lest you be corrupted by the court clientele. So every two years, the family, ever growing would pack up and move house. They lived all over Kerala, from the backwaters to the urban centers, and my mom still talks about those days longingly.
I suspect that the photograph is from those times, wandering around Kerala, and here is my uncle wandering around where ever they had settled for the two years.
There is something Satyajit Ray-ish about this photo, a view of an India before I was born, that I have never seen or experienced. Its like all the stories I have heard and have never heard. Its the india Satyajit Ray as able to capture but an India which is missing from almost all the photos I've seen. Its the India beyond my family growing up, but the same india that they inhabited. The India of their troubles and tribulations.
The photos reminds me of the India that I am chasing, have been chasing since I started wandering back to India during college. I've seen it in my cousins and in the jumble of city after city, town after town that is India. And every once in a while, I see it in the photos that tumble out of long forgotten photo albums, of the India I wish to know, to illuminate the life I currently inhabit.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bruce Chatwin: A Biography

Complicated man
Lots about his sex life but
his writing......still dark