Friday, January 12, 2007

Poker Night III

Two victories in a row for me! I seriously think I have a Poker face...

This time (like last time) the evening started at 9 00 PM and ended at 2 00 AM in the night. However this time we had 11 people participating!

Overall, Poker nights have become a big hit on AI - the most awaited 'evening of the month' in our team!

Some classy pics from the great evening!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Christmas holidays - Part II - Madrid, Spain and some new year focus areas :)

Dates: 29th Dec - 2nd Jan
Location: Madrid, Spain

Cornelia, Nico , Mairi and I had an absolute blast over New Years! It was very refreshing and re-energizing to laze around and have tons of fun in Madrid - though I must admit the girls made me walk so much - I haven't walked that much EVER in a span of 4 days in my life than I did in Madrid. But I loved it :) I definitely had a great time! Couldnt have been better - thank you all of them for making it so special with your unique personalities :)

Madrid is a beautiful place, really ancient and medieval. The buildings are old and the environment was so perfect - heard a random group of musicians playing on the street, was absolutely melodious!

Some key highlights:

1. To start off, the tricky part was that all of them wanted to buy pairs of shoes, but hey to do that, I visited almost 90% of all shoe shops that exist in Madrid :) I had already refreshed my entire wardrobe as I mentioned in my post about holidays in India, so basically I dint have much shopping to do.

2. Visiting the royal palace and the arts museum.

The palace is fascinating - you can check more pics on the flickr badge. Learnt a lot about arts, definitely. Some of the paintings depict shocking and extremely interesting things which I absolutely had no clue of. About 3 hrs spent in that was absolutely worth it. I was always on the english walkie talkie that I had hired to continuously hear about what different paintings had to reveal, their style - some really interesting stuff!

3. New Year's eve in Puerta del Sol, Madrid

There's a tradition in Madrid that when the clock strikes 12, with every dong you need to eat one piece of grape and wish for 1 thing. So basically with 12 dongs, you need to eat 12 grapes and have 12 wishes ready. Now since its a matter of seconds, you can see almost everyone chomping away the grapes with every dong. We all had some reflection and had a paper with 12 wishes ready, it was really cool to be amongst thousands of people - the square was absolutely packed and the atmosphere was full of frenzy - crazy!!!

4. Staying at the hostel

The hostel which was booked last minute turned out to be pretty cosy and nice - came to know that it was awarded the best hostel in Europe in 2004 and was pretty economical considering the last minute booking. The name was Cat's hostel - though it sounds like its a dodgy place (believe me, I was so sure that its gonna be so dodgy with mysterious people - girls (associating with cats), but well turned out to be a really nice hostel! Met some people randomly - Argentians, Australians - had a good time with them!

5. Having hot chocolate
Chocolate a la taza as people call it - thick hot chocolate! Loved it...

Last but not the least, some good reflections for the New Year resolutions. Few focus areas that I pondered over and identified for 2007:

a. Health - My love for sports and exercising and gym (plus a huge need for pumping in some muscles into my body) led me to take this as a focus area. I would want to continue sports and practice weights (already bought weights here in Rotterdam) to build some muscles. Also making sure I go back to cooking habits like in Sweden (atleast when I am in Rotterdam and not travelling)

b. Consciously give in for all my relationships - love, friends, family etc. I realized after my 1,5 year of visiting India that I want to keep my family happy and I could see them being so happy when they could see me and taking care of them, giving them presents, spending quality time with them etc. Secondly I realized after being with close friends that this is something I cherish and would consciously want to give in to keeping in touch, sending those emails and phone calls to keep that touch point to know how everyone's lives are going and sharing the wonderful experiences we are going through.

c. Learning a Language I realized after being in Spain that I love spanish and I had to be discplined to get this going. The best period I realized to pick up the language would be to get a start in the first 7 months where there are so many Spanish speaking people on our team. Mondays and Thursday lunches are booked for Spanish classes with our office administrator who has been taking Spanish classes.

d. Reading 12 books in 2007 (atleast) I realized how much I learnt and loved reading books. I finished 'Blue Ocean Strategy' and now 'Blink' over flights. Blink is about the power of thinking without thinking. Definitely an interesting way to see how thin slicing and making fast decisions can be made effectively. Any recommendations about good reads - please let me know :)

e. Professionally - I have decided that I want to consciously put more thought into maintaining my networks - since I meet so many cool people through my role on AI and after I finish in 7 months, I dont want to lose this. So I will want to put more conscious thought into structuring my networks.

Overall, a great time - now back in Rotterdam, refreshed and re-energized for the last 7 months of my term!

Wishes from my side to everyone for a year filled with success and happiness!

For pictures - please check the flickr badge on the right!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Christmas holidays - Part I - India

I have never felt so good to be back home than during my last visit.

It was 1,5 years that I was away and then the first sign was the warm air that hit my face as soon as I landed in Delhi and you have the Punjabi accent in full flow. One of the guys (about mid fifties) who had come from Sweden back to Delhi after a long time, started to randomly talk to me in the immigration queue- "Oh Putr kaise ho, kaisa lag raha hai vapas apni dharti mein? (Oh son, how are you, how are you feeling to be back in your homeland) mera bharat mahan. It was hilarious to see their children (about my age) getting embarassed and poking his tummy to stop shouting like this in a loud voice. But he kept on harping about the fact that it was so good to be back home and that it was his land.

Welcome to India :) These things can never happen anywhere...

Few highlights about my trip to India:

Meeting my parents
It was wonderful to eat ghar ki daal, roti and talk to them about my experiences. It was amazing to feel the home environment and spend quality time with my parents.

Meeting relatives
Well, one of the definite highlights was a small party organized where we invited all my close relatives and it was great to see all of them and socializing them. There were a total of about 80 - 90 people :) The biggest question posed to me during that time was when I am getting married and in case I am interested to start looking for girls, they can introduce me to few girls who had inquired about this. This was definitely one of the things that hit me since thats the last thing I will ever think about at this point in my life. But then, well thats what home sweet home has in store for you, something unexpected :)

Meeting special friends
It was indeed very special to meet some of my friends for life. Thanks Shimoni for hosting a wonderful Mexican dinner at her place. It was great to meet Kartik, Shimoni, Bhavik and his wife, Pruthvi, Ketan, Kreta, Kavita for one long evening :) I always feel refreshed talking to them and having conversations of all kind. Thanks everyone for a special evening!

Attending Local AIESEC congress of my LC Baroda
This was another highlight since I havent attended any local AIESEC conference for about 3 years now! It was great talking to young AIESEC members and sharing experiences with them. Also it was extremely interesting to see how things are shaping up at a local level and the reality at a local level. Also there were LCP elections which was special as well! Brought back memories from my memorable association with my LC


I have never found Shopping so cheap. Probably with 200 euros I could have imagine 3 - 4 things if I would have bought them in Europe. But I managed to refresh my entire wardrobe from pairs of shoes, to sleeping bags, to new shirts, t-shirts, formal pants, pair of jeans, boxers, flip flops, food, warm jacket, gifts for people... basically tons of things!

Though it was only 8 days - every day was packed with the above mentioned things! Absolutely loved it...