Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas season coming


Now is a time of much anticipation. Christmas and new year are coming, and along come a lot of holidays. People are busy planning their vacation trips. Germans usually plan their hoidays well ahead of time. They usually spend Chritsmas with parents and then head for popular locations for the new year celebrations. Looks like there will be no snow on Christmas. There was some snowfall last Monday but it didn't stay long. It is, however, getting colder. There are Christmas markets in every city. This is usually a lot of stalls put in the center of the market with a lot of lighting and Christmas trees. Unlike shops, these markets are open late and on Sundays. Big stores are offering attractive discounts on their products to be given as Christmas gifts.

The university is closed for the next week. Even the heaters are shut down so nobody can work there. This is the first time i have heard of a complete shut down. We are also planning to visit our friends across the farthest parts of Germany. We also plan to help the next batch of HEC scholarship holders arriving at the end of this month. We remember what difficulties most of us faced when we first got here in Germany. So we intend to go to the airport and at least help them in getting on the right trains to their respective destination cities. They'll most probably arrive late on new-year night with nobody to guide them. This is what happened to us. Although it is a good experience but some of us had a very painful experience.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A day in France & EU Parliament


On Tuesday we went to Strasbourg, a city in France. It was a university trip arranged by a private NGO aimed at uniting European youth. The city lies exactly on the border of France and Germany and thus is a mixture of both cultures. It is a renowned tourist city, much because of the EU parliament building here. It is a spectacular round building. A very big building, walled from the outside with glass and lying along a river provides a magnificent view. The river flows through the city giving out a branch that later joins it after following a circular path. Within this circular island is the city's heart. But the city spreads across the river as well.


Taking a journey of about 2 hours, we reached the city and inside the EU parliament, one of the three EU administrative building (other two being in Belgiuma and Luxemburg). We were first briefed on the working of the Parliament, then were seated in the observation balconies of the Parliament. A session was in progress. Less than 50 of the nearly 780 members of parliament were present in the 850+ seat round hall. The session and office work is conducted in 20 languages of the 25 member countries. Headphones were available translating speeches of members in those 20 languages. Discussion was related to next EU budget and most were critisizing UK.

After the end of session and our lunch (pizzas), we took a boat trip inside the city showing and informing us about different kinds of buildings. Afterwards we went into the Christmas market. It was beautiful. We had to find our way back. Now we asked the local people if they knew English. Not English but, thank God, they knew some German. So we used our German to communicate with them. This is the first time we felt German to be our language and thankful that we learnt it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

German Tea party & Iqbal house

A German colleague of mine visited an exhibition in Japan and brought different teas with him. He is already very fond of teas. So he invited us to his house to try out different teas. We went there in the evening. He started with a Japanese green tea and then a Chinese green tea. Then some other green teas from Asia. Then he started the black teas. Presenting black teas from different countries, he ended up with Sri Lankan and Indian black teas. Many of my German colleagues were there. To my surprise, none of them put any sugar in any of their teas. Even they put milk only in the last two black teas. I had had it after drinking some teas without sugar, and then i started putting sugar in every tea. They did get surprised by this. :)

This weekend the International Club at the university arranged a trip to Heidelberg (Germany) to see the Christmas market. It is a tourist city located between mountains on two sides of the Rhine river. It has a castle which is pretty much preserved. We all went in the train there. Thank God that the snow had melted since Thursday and temperature was above zero. We first searched for a Pakistani restaurant and found three. Two were big but not so many guests in them. The third one was a small one with self service. It was crowded with Germans, a pleasant surprise for us. We even had to wait for a few minutes to get an empty table. The food was good and extremely cheap. May be thats why it was crowded.

Then we met a friend living there who took us to see Iqbal house. It is located on the river bank. There is a plaque on the boundry wall saying that Iqbal lived here and that he was the visionary of Pakistan. He lived here for about 6 months for German language course, before going to Munich for his Phd. Then we went on a small tram which climbs on a mountain at about 45 degrees angle. Half of the journey is done on a modern metallic tram, but the second half is completed on an old wooden tram pulled by a metallic rope. It went so high up the mountain that the ground was covered with snow there. It became extremely cold with chilling breeze blowing. After taking some pictures we resorted to coming back down to the city. We returned after it got dark. It gets dark these days around 4:35 pm.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Its snowing in Germany


It started snowing on Friday. It was a quick change in weather. Just one week ago it got chilling and now it is snowing. Some say it is not normal. Others say it is normal again, since for the last couple of years, it was not normal since it didn't snow till late December. It has been snowing on and off since Friday. Only yesterday, it converted into raining. I still see snow covering the whole ground outside my window in the university, may be because university is located on hills higher than the city. The city is a little lower, so the snow has melted there.

In the recent International Donor's Conference, the target aid has been raised, amounting to $5.8 billion. Most of it comes from the US. But the UN says that it will take too long for the promised aid to reach the country and internatioal community should take steps to speed up the process. (CNN)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Teaching Germans

Last week i was coming home on the bus, when i saw one of my German colleagues. I sat with him and we chatted on the way. He lives near my place so we walked together after getting off the bus. Near my house i offered him tea which he gladly accepted. It is said that Germans think it rude to reject an invitation or a gift. So be careful not to reject an invitation or a gift from a German, unless there is a good reason for rejection.

Anyways, we went to my place and i found some cooked food (a long story) there. So i changed my invitation to a dinner invitation. The food was potatoes with "phalian" (long green vegetable). We eat it normally with "roti" (bread). So i thought of teaching my German friend how to eat a dish with bread. Germans eat a lot of bread, but they always eat it stand-alone, i.e. they take bites out of it among bites from other dishes, So i explained to him how to use a piece of bread as a spoon to scoop out the curry in the dish and eat it, and all that without any cutlery. He tried and, to my surprise, succeeded in just a couple of attempts. He liked the food very much and was later served with our tea (dudh patti).

US increased its Earthquake aid to more than three times at the International Donor's Conference held Saturday in Islamabad. Kofi Annan is visiting Pakistan for three days urging the nations to do more (only half the needed amount had been pledged). UN is sending two Hollywood stars, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, as goodwill ambassadors to Pakistan's quake hit areas. Pakistan and India have opened the dividing line between the two disputed Kashmirs at five points to allow people to share the grief of their relatives.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

This week

This weekend i finally decided to try making "ghulab jamun", another South-Asian sweet dish. I got the flour mixture from a Bangali shop and started preparing it using milk. Since i have never worked with any flour before, the mixture turned out to be out of my control. It became too thin to make into small balls. Finally a friend took over and mixed wheat flour to it to thicken it. He then made some balls our of it. After frying them, i put them in the sugar syrup and after a few hours, they became tender. They tasted great, just like the ones i ate in Pakistan. But it surely was a lot of effort. So, i think, next time i'll try something easy, say "jalebi".

The president of Pakistan thanked the World for their help in relief efforts in the quake striken areas. Asian Development Bank and World Bank jointly said that $5 billion are needed in the area, of which only half have been pledged so far. There is need for more. The death toll is more than 73,000 in Pakistan with 1,200 deaths in Indian-controlled Kashmir. 2.8 million people were left without shelter. The Pakistanis have distributed 350,000 tents, 3.2 million blankets, and 3,000 tons of medicine, and established tent villages for displaced people. (CNN)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Eid in Europe & Kashmir

Yesterday we had Eid. It is a warmer day. We worn our traditional dress "shalwar kameez" and went to Islamic centers for prayers in the morning. We went to a newly-made islamic center. There were too many people and less space. But it all went well in the end. People from different countries had brought many different types of sweets. Then we Pakistanis sat together and chatted in the afternoon and did Bar-B-Que in the evening at a friend's place. The Bar-B-Q was the difficult part as we were not very experienced. We started it in the afternoon and continued till late night. One of the friends had made a sweet-dish "sheer khurma". It was also very nice. We did eat Bar-B-Q but the real hunger-killer turned out to be the sweet-dish. So, we admired the person a lot who made the sweet dish.

This eid is not celebrated in North Pakistan (Earth quake hit areas) as it was. People have nothing to eat, drink or even shelter them from winter. Even the president had to say that the world is not donating as much as they did in tsunami disaster. It is sad that still dozens of villages are unaccessed so that no aid has reached there. Some politicians are celebrating eid there to show solidarity. But there are no celebrations there. In some areas, all of the families have lost members in the earth quake. The official death toll has risen to 70,000.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The forgotten Earth quake in Pakistan


Although the quake is more devastating than the tsunami last year, it is off the news much faster. The event making headlines for days is not appearing any more even in the sideline news. Death count is increasing by thousands with slower official count at 53,000 (with 75,000 injured) but local death count of at least 78,000. The UN says that 800,000 people are still without shelter with fast approaching winter. A powerful aftershock killed 5 people and destroyed many houses among other buildings in Afghanistan on Sunday. It was just one of the hundreds that have followed the main tremor on 8 Oct. US is sending more choppers. India has been sending tons of aid and now thinking of agreeing to open soft border between the two Kashmirs.


Other individuals and NGOs are also working a lot to send aid. Especially individuals in different countries have flooded Pakistan Airline offices abroad with aid making it difficult for the airline to carry all of this to Pakistan. There is news that may be some other airlines have also offered free air cargo space including Gulf, Emirates and Turkish airlines (still to be verified). But other governments need to do more. The same they did for tsunami - if not more.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Update on Earth quake relief in Pakistan


There are still 500.000 quake victims unreached. More than 49,739 are confirmed dead. 67,000 injured. Local officials estimate more than 79,000 deaths.
The region needs more tents than the whole world has. Govt asks for another 500,000 winterized tents.
two strong aftershocks (5.8 & 5.4 strength) have caused more landslides and panic. Aftershocks continue since the quake.
Relief efforts going on despite a relief helicopter crash killing six army men.
Two weeks from now, it will start snowing across the hilltops.

UN says that this earthquake 'is UN's worst nightmare'. "Here we've got over 15,000 villages spread out through the affected region. The affected areas are much larger in geographical size than the tsunami, and rather than being in flat coastal areas, we are operating in some of the highest mountains and deepest valleys in the world." (UN quoted by BBC)
UN has received only 5% of aid ($13 million) it requested ($272 million) from the world.

Tent type recommended by BBC:

  • Heavy duty tent designed for long-term use by a single family

  • PVC groundsheet sown onto the sides for windproofing and to retain warmth

  • Some types are designed to accomodate cooking stoves

  • ICRC estimates that 30,000 such tents are required in Pakistan

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Need of Earth quake victims in Pakistan and Kashmir


Latest reports say that 41,000 are dead and survivors face extreme weather with torrential rains and sudden drops in temperature. Night temperatures fall as low as 6-7 degrees Celsius (43-46 degrees Fahrenheit).

I have come to know that the greatest need at hand is for tents/camps. 2.6 million people are homeless in the region. About half a million camps are needed. Aid money is reaching Pakistan but there is a great shortage of camps. Manufacturers are trying to keep up with the need but its too slow requiring more than a week for enough production. So people around the world can help by sending camps to Pakistan. The best type may be 4x4m water-proof camps. Refugee camps should be cheaper. PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) is carrying all stuff (only new) free of cost to Pakistan from around the world. Click here to find out the nearest PIA office:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan_International_Airlines#Europe
Click here for a list of PIA's booking offices with Telephone numbers and addresses:
http://www.piac.com.pk/b_offices/A.asp
(Alphabetized by cities, like click F for Frankfurt, L for London, N for New York etc) "

There is also need for other stuff. These include warm clothing, kitchen utensils, canned food and water, medicine, construction tools and everything you can imagine. The United Nations has launched an emergency appeal for $272m to help victims of the South Asian earthquake.



Some lists by friends include Syringes, Drips, Antibiotics (Generation 2 and 3), Candles, Ropes, Tents, Disposable X-ray machines, Small generators, Fuel, least-perishable and ready to eat food, Small sized milk packs, Biscuits, Torches, Coffins, Masks for volunteers, Small bottles of mineral water, etc.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Sending aid from Germany through PIA

In Germany, PIA is not dealing with individual donors. Instead donors are redirected to organizations in Frankfurt who are coordinating this effort in collaboration with PIA. Please drop warm stuff like tents, blankets, sleeping bags, jackets, pullovers and medicine at them. They are only accepting new stuff. Only tents can be second-hand, but in good condition. Please pack the goods in big cartons or fasten them together in big lots with ropes and put labels on them listing the items included.

If you have a lot of stuff, you can contact Pak consulate directly to get a NOC and then deliver it to PIA cargo at Frankfurt airport. Phone no of consulate is +4969421012. NOC can be obtained via fax at: +4969421017.

An organization "Humanity Trust" is sending tents etc to Pakistan via PIA and intends to send the remaining stuff through other transport services. They have collection points in all major cities. Contact Zubair Khalil Khan at 069-50688663 or 069-95095787 to find out a location near you.

One of the collection points in Frankfurt is:
Masjid Dar-us-salam
Mr Arshad Mir
069-235688 (masjid)
069-98401867 (office)
069-844538 (home)
Address of Masjid to drop equipment:
Muünchener str 55 (near Hauptbahnhof), Frankfurt a.M. or
Gewinner str 18, Riederwald, Frankfurt a.M.

Second organization is:
Luftfahrt ohne Grenzen
069-690-23256
info@luftfahrtohnegrenzen.de

Monday, October 10, 2005

Earthquake disaster in Pakistan and Kashmir


It is a big disaster in Pakistan. The number of deaths started from 1,000 and climbed to 19,000 and now to 30,000 (CNN). Please stop counting!!! Most of the destruction was caused in areas of Kashmir offering no access to officials or agencies. 35% of affected area is unreached. Entire towns have been vanished. 2.5 million people need shelter (equals Asian Tsunami victims). 70% of Pakistani Kashmir capital Muzaffarbad is destroyed. The weather is near freezing at night. Even worse are the heavy rains in the area. God help those people.

People around the globe are helping and we as Pakistanis should be ahead of all of them. I initially found the following list of organizations to donate to.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

International NGOs ==>

Islamic Relief
http://www.irw.org/asiaquake/

Unicef
http://www.unicef.org

Kashmir International Relief Fund
http://www.kirf.org

C A R E
http://www.care.org

Red Cross/ Red Crescent
http://www.ifrc.org
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For Germany (without credit card) ==>

Islamic Relief (Germany)
http://www.islamicrelief.de

Muslime Helfen
http://www.muslimehelfen.org

Unicef Germany
http://www.unicef.de/2711.html

Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (German Red Cross)
http://www.drk.de/

Long list of NGOs at ==>
http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/10/09/quake.aid/index.html

My friends are trying to find contact of Edhi trust in Europe (their Bank IBAN number). This will also be trust worthy.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

German Education System and Ramazan in Europe

I passed the exam...and with flying colors. It was an oral exam - my first such. Since there is no course fee, you can attend classes of any courses you like. But you have to register for exams to take them. One also has to give the courses one wants to be examined in each semester. The professor took my exam in English. He had problems understanding terms used in his German course and i had problem understanding the questions. He concentrated on Maths, whereas the course also included computer sciencs, mechanics and electronics. One of his researchers was sitting beside us noting down the exam for resolving of later claims by students. I got the 1.3 points (GPA system here works reversed as in Pakistan). My colleague did better getting 1.0 points.

Today starts Ramzan here in Europe. Last night some of us went to Turkish and others to Arabic mosque. We were told by Turkish that Ramazan starts tomorrow, but we received call from other friends that Arabs are starting Taraveeh. So we rushed there. Turkish are said to follow a scientific calender for Ramzan so know in future all the dates. Arabs on the other hand have a central organization for sighting the moon in Europe and has branches in different countries. The German branch of this orgnanization declared today to be the first of Ramazan. We have Iftaar in the mosque today two hours from now - yum yum...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

laterz...


I have an exam this Thursday. Pray for me.

In the meanwhile, see this photo of Cyclones that i got from the Internet; in the context of recent hurricanes Katrina in New Orleans, Rita in Texas and typhoon Damrey (means Elephant) in South-China and Vietnam. The weather IS changing.

Also enjoy some amazing videos at: http://www.stupidvideos.com

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

German Elections

Germany had elections this weekend, or at least they say they had. It was very peaceful; too peaceful. We forgot on Sunday that today is the election. We remembered only in the evening. What kind of election was it? No police, no army, no shouting, no disorder, no fighting. They should learn from us on how to hold elections. It was a completely tasteless election, no salt or pepper. All i saw was some posters on some roads that are hanging there for weeks. The only hype was in news.

The result wasn't very good either. Nobody won! We had been hearing that CDU (the opposition) will win, but they didn't. They have just about 3 more seats than SPD (Schroder's party). The allies of both parties also couldn't get that much imbalance. So who will rule. They are talking about a coalition between CDU and SPD, what???!!! The current government and opposition forming together the new government!! who will sit in the opposition? Anyways, they have a few weeks to form the government, otherwise there will be a new election.

Monday, September 12, 2005

German Language mistakes

Although i am learning more & more German language, funny mishaps still happen every now and then. This time i took a tool from our research group workshop which had written on it: "Achtung: Größe Zoll". Now it translates to "Caution: big custom duty". I was surprised, but still used it with care thinking it is a very expensive tool for which they have paid a big custom duty. Later i came to know that "Zoll" also means "inches", which made it "Caution: measurement in inches".

Earlier when i arrived in Germany, i often had to use the English verb "to put" in my German sentences. So i was looking for its translation. I found the German verb "putzen" and thought that it meant "to put". So i started using it. In many situations, verbs are placed at the end of a German sentence, so while buying some edible stuff (fish, meat, rice, bread, etc) from shops i used to ask the shopkeeper "should i put this in refrigerator" with a German equivalent "soll ich es in die Kühlschrank putzen" or "where should i put it?" in German "wo soll ich es putzen?" . I noticed that they seemed to understand when i started my sentence but became extremely puzzled when i said the last word "putzen". I was very disturbed and tried to find the problem. It turned out that the verb "putzen" means "to clean". Now imagine the previous sentences with this new meaning.

Similarly, it once took me 15 minutes to explain to a lady in a shop that i needed cooking-oil, although i knew that the German translation of it is "öl". I just wasn't pronouncing it exact enough. That's the problem with all German words having two dots (Umlaut) on one of its spellings.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The city of my heart: Cologne (Köln)


This weekend we decided to visit the twin cities of Cologne (Germany's fourth largest city) and Bonn (West Germany's former capital). A couple of our friends live there. We used the service of "travelling along". People who travel in Germany on their cars with some vacant space advertise this space on Internet to be rented. Which means you can travel with them if your source and destination cities match their's. It costs much less than trains and also saves time (www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de) . So we found a man travelling to Bonn and decided to travel with him. He turned out to be a pilot and indicated that he had to fly a plane half hour after our arrival. We had a nice chat on the way. And we reached Cologne, the city i lived my first three months in. On Saturday we went to a market in Cologne and it was filled with cheers. Lots of people were walking up and down and there with many people demonstrating their skills on the street. Some were playing dramas, some juggling, some doing tricks, some playing music and many with costumes. This is probably unique to Cologne. The people here love to dress up in costumes and have lots of fun. It is a truly all-time living city. It boasts perhaps the biggest church (Dom) in Europe and the biggest river in Germany: Rhine (crossing 4-5 countries and having loads of ships travelling it). Last week it hosted "World Youth Day" with some one million people and the new Pope visiting it.

Bonn is a relatively small city but beautifully carved holding many official builings, just like Islamabad. It is also located on Rhine river. I have observed that major cities in Germany lie on rivers. On Sunday we climbed some 500 stairs of one of the twin towers of the Cologne church, and had a beautiful view of the city. While we were taking pictures along Rhine river in Cologne, we wanted to have a photo of us all. We were discussing who to ask when we heard the voice "should i do it?" in our Urdu language. Surprised, we looked around to see a Pakistani in an ice-cream truck, We had a chat with him and he offered free ice-cream. On return we travelled with the same pilot and he told us that he landed his plane 15 minutes ago. If you ever visit Germany, think about visiting Cologne. You can see the photos of my visit here:
http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/yasirniazkhan/album?.dir=515f

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Furnishing apartments

A couple of weeks ago we picked some things off the street. Here people put things (furniture, electronics, kitchen-ware, etc; that are no longer used by them or are too old) on streets every once a week. The next morning comes an official truck carrying this stuff away to a junkyard or so. While these things lay on streets, passer-bys take a peep and carry along anything that may be of use to them, if it is in good condition. So have we carried some things also to our apartments. This was that day that we picked a sofa and two matresses from a street in the evening. A friend had rented an unfurnished apartment so we thought these things might come in handy for him. A little farther and he realized that he didn't need this stuff. So we left the sofa there. Some other friends had taken the matresses to our building so we rushed to them and asked them to leave these as well. We layed them against the wall of the building next to our's, but an old man shouted something from the top. We picked the matresses again and put them in front of our building so that they could be picked up by official trucks the next morning.

The next day some of us saw these things still lying where we left them. Why weren't they taken away? Later that day, our hostel incharge caught one of us and inquired him about the furniture. He then told him that there are specific days designated for specific areas of the city for this activity. And it was not the day for our area. Our neighbour must have told our hostel manager about the whole incident and our outlook. So we removed the stuff and put it in our apartments, waiting for our turn to throw it out.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Wrong assumptions

Never assume in a foreign country that all the people around you don't know your language. A friend quoted two funny events that happened with his friends in Hamburg:

Once they went to the stadium to watch a hockey match of Pakistan. After the match they entered the field among others. Now to get out, they chose a short-cut that involved jumping over the advertisement boards. They saw a girl trying to jump over the boards and one of them exclaimed "help her guys". At that came the voice of her father from the side "tum log yahan aa kar tou badal jaya karo" (you people should change at least when you live here) :D

Similarly, they were once standing on train station waiting for the train. A woman, seemingly arab, was also standing with her child there. Another european woman was eating a burger near them. The child was crying and speaking to her mother in a foreign language. The woman eating the burger guessed it and gave her burger to the child. At that one of them exlaimed "what a spoiled child it is". His mother turned to them and said "apnay hon gay tou pata chalay ga" (you'll know when you'll have your own).

Friday, August 19, 2005

Plagiarism

Two students and their professor found plagiarising multiple papers from famous authors and publishing them in high profile ACM publications:
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/08/plagiarism_and.html

I was tired of Pakistanis cursing those people from that uni and blaming them for everything. I think we should learn from it. That is what intelligent nations do: learn from their mistakes, never to repeat them. I would just like to add one aspect to this discussion: that is our character. It is not only research culture that is important, but also character is important. I am studying in Europe and as others, i have found their studies no better than those in Pakistan. In fact i have attended here that lecture which i have taught in FAST lahore many times and i am confident that the Dr here didn't teach it any better than us (if not worse). Here they have two semesters per year and lots of holidays. Similarly, their researchers spend far less hours per week in their universities than us. They go back from work at 5 or 6 pm. They rarely work on Saturdays and working on Sunday is a sin here. So it is something else that has developed them.

All of us were very quick to blame to an extreme these people who did palgiarism. Yes they did wrong, but is there anyone among us who can claim he has never done anything similar? or that he has never cheated in exams? or that he has never copied assignments? I have caught copies in assignments in all courses i taught and i had to stop everytime afraid that the whole class will be failed by me due to cheating; so i failed only very serious cases. We had a teacher from abroad who asked us to write a paper. and later he declared in the class that if the papers submitted by us were really written by us, he would send us on the next flight to MIT in USA. How can such people blame others for cheating? Here i can't think of any German cheating in Uni or in his daily life. They just don't think of it. and all the pakistanis here learn nothing from them. They do all their normal cheating here as well. Even people posing to be very pious do it, let alone others. And they feel very happy by fooling the Germans. It is not the Europeans we are fooling my brothers; it is us who are becoming fools. Germans are not harmed by our cheating, only we are.

So after analyzing this situation, we should always try to put up a solution as well. My suggestion is that we all promise to ourselves that none of us will ever cheat again, no matter what the people around us do. We won't lie, cheat, fraud, take/give bribery, use "sifarish", skip our duties, break a traffic signal, throw a rapper on road, abuse each other, etc... Only and only then can the rightful get their rights in our country. Only then, the hardworkers will get their reward here, just like they get in USA or Europe. If we make this promise then we can blame these plagiarisers and any future wrong-doers. Otherwise, we have no right whatsoever to blame anyone for any kind of cheating.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

My lost jacket & rare German attitude

Today we went to Frankfurt. One of my friends was going to receive his wife coming from Pakistan on Frankfurt airport. It was a weekend so we could travel five people with one ticket. So he took three others with him to see the city. The flight was coming at 5 pm so we had plenty of time to roam about. But hard-luck, as it was raining since morning. Nevertheless, we took out our umbrellas and went around the city. First we went to a train station where there was an Indian restaurant offering "daal chawal", but it was close. So we wandered a little more to find food and cam across a street with many Indian, Pakistani and other South Asian food shops. Fearing them to be costy, we finally landed in a Turkish shop to eat roast chicken and went in a nearby mosque. It was a surprise to see a Turkish, a Pakistani and perhaps an Arab mosque side-by-side there. After roaming some more we went to the airport and walked around. Surprisingly there were many Pakistanis and Indians arriving that day there. We helped some of the first-time comers find appropriate trains untill my friend's wife arrived.

On our way back the train was unusually crowded and we had to stand in the train. We searched desparately to find a place for seating at least his wife. In our portion of the train, some luggage was placed against some seats. A man was standing there drinking. I asked him whether we can move the luggage up in the luggage apartments to make room for sitting, but he refused. An extremely rare response here. We got some seats after some time as people got off. When we finally arrived our city after changing one train in the way, i asked my friend for my jacket that i had placed with his luggage but failed to inform me. He was shocked alongwith me. The jacket was left on the previous train when we changed trains. The previous train was going to a city farther than our city near French border. I called my friend in that city to pick my jacket from the train. Then i called the train service telling them the train number and asking to find my jacket. Finally at night, my friend in that city informed me that he had found the jacket and that i should now relax.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Missing a train in Germany


Today we went to a historical city in the far South-West of Germany, called Tübingen. We started our four hour train journey in the morning and landed at the apartments of Pakistanis there. They started their hospitality by a delicious meal and then we went to see the city. Walking through the streets of this extremely hilly city, admiring the looks of old houses etc; we reached the beautiful fort. After inspecting it inside out, we came down to the river Neckar. It is a smaller river that falls into the big Rhine river later on. There were many types of boats there ranging from pedal-boat to rowing-boat and even long boats with a long wooden stick with which one of the sailors pushes the floor of the river to move the boat forward. My friends being afraid of the other options, we took a big pedal-boat into the river and travelled in both directions, stopping occasionaly giving way to other longer boats, amidst great confusions.

Later we got on the train back home. We had to change trains 3 times on the way to get the cheapest journey possible. There are normaly 10-15 min for train change at a station. After our first train change, our second train was reaching the station where we had to do our second train change. Five minutes before that station, we got up and gathered our small luggage and came towards the door; when all of a sudden, the train stopped. It waited there for about 15 minutes with the driver announcing he didn't know why the signals ahead were not clear to go. We were praying that the next train we were supposed to catch also gets late. Finally our train reached the station. We got (jumped) off and ran to the respecitve platform; but the train was gone. We returned to the ticket machine and got a new time table. Now it would take us one hour extra to reach home. We reached home later than expected and slept long after eating the meal our friends had prepared for us back home. See the photos of the trip at:
http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/yasirniazkhan/album?.dir=bf8e&.src=ph

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Pros & cons of a Pakistani community

Yesterday night i attended the farewell dinner of one of our Pakistani colleagues at another colleagu's (apartment). The night before, i arranged a farewell dinner for him at my apartment. At the same time, one of us returned from Pakistan, so he received a couple of welcome dinners. This is the typical tradition here; at least in one bunch of Pakistanis. When Pakistanis arrive or leave from this city, other people arrange dinners for them in which some of us sit together and cherish the last moments or the start of a new companionship. Sometimes, another Muslim joins us (indian or arab). In case of arab, we try to have the conversation in English since many of us are still not comfortable in German language.

The reason this Pakistani is leaving is that he was not able to pass the German language requirement even after four attempts of the university German language test. He is among the three with the same fate. Now they are transferring to other universities. This requirement is not common and so far i have only heard of it in this university. They arrange mostly free language courses for international students and the students have to pass this test in at the most three semesters. It is supposed to be an easily test, but the problem with us is keeping only in our own community. We tend to make friends with Urdu or Hindi speaking people, or at the most with English-speaking. So our German doesn't get improved. Even i felt afraid after some time that i'll forget the German i learnt if i stay like this. So now i tend to make more foreigner or German friends with whom i speak German.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Shahi Tukra - the South Asian sweet dish

Today when a friend of mine came to my room in the morning (Sunday morning = 1 pm), he offered me the long-promised breakfast of a special bread from a local bakery. He left to get it leaving me to get ready for it. He came moments later to tell that the bakery closes at 12 pm. Now was the big problem of what to have as breakfast. We were both bored of usual breakfasts so wanted to try something new. Then he uttered the magic words "shahi tukray", although he said that we cannot make it as its very tough and involving. Just say "impossible" before me and see what happens. At once came the recipes rolling from Internet. After some consideration, I chose one recipe to be good, and the process began.

We collected stuff and I started preparing the thing. The recipe looked very simple and the end product didn't seem to be promising. Nevertheless, i decided to give it a try. It was prepared, i guess, in half hour since it was my first time with it. After putting it on plate and storing iin refrigerator, we two and two others chit-chatted for a few minutes. Hunger made good of my patience and the dish was taken out of the fridge. It looked beautiful. I tried the firt bit and wow; something extremely unexpected and tasty. It was very heavy (oil, milk, sugar); even then we ate the two plates hurridly. I suggest you try it. The recipe I chose was at:
http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/mp/2004/01/05/stories/2004010501700300.htm

Recipe - Shahi Tukra:
Ingredients:
Bread Slices - 8
Milk - 400 ml
Sugar - 150 gms
Crushed cardamom - 1 tsp
Condensed milk - 100 ml
Fried Cashewnuts - 15 gms
Fried Pista - 15 gms
Khoya (sweet) - 50 gms

Method
1. Remove the crust of the bread and cut into triangles. Deep fry.
2. Boil milk, reduce to half and add sugar and cardamom. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from fire.
3. Add condensed milk to the reduced milk and mix well.
4. Arrange the fried bread slices on a tray.
5. Pour the prepared milk over the bread slices and garnish with the chopped, fried nuts.
6. Place in a preheated oven for 3 minutes and serve hot (optional)

Note: This dish can also be served cold. Most use silver paper as garnish. It has been intentionally avoided for better health.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Transport System in Germany


Today i write some about the German transport system, said to be one of the best; and it feels like too. Since the moment i came to Germany. Trains, buses, planes, even cars. The best thing is the train system, which requires a separate post. Buses are not any less. Planes are as cheap as 1 euro (exlcuding airport tax). There are many online services through which you can find out exact routes, timings and stops for trains and buses. There are specific bus stops and the buses don't stop enywhere else. Doors operated only with buttons, ticket punching machine (sometimes the whole ticket-buying machine) located inside and displays showing next stop make the travel very comfortable. Just press one of the many buttons inside to stop the bus at the next bus-stop. Inter city buses are very high with stairs to climb before reaching the seats. Inner city buses usually come in two sizes here. The normal buses and the long-ones.

It was a surprise to see the long buses. It looks like made out of two buses. Remove the rear wall of one bus, remove the front part (including wheels) of the second , join them and walla!! you've got a worm-like bus twisting around on road turnings. Both parts of this bus are joined with flexible spring-alikes in between. So whenever the bus makes a turn, first the front portion turns and when it is half turned only then the second portion starts turning. Like two carriages of a train. People sitting in the front part of the bus disappear from view for a few seconds while turning if we sit in the back portion. Having doubted their stability, i find myself travelling many times on them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Losing Keys

A friend of mine lost his key chain; again. Its nothing simple to lose keys in Germany. Keys are very difficult and costy to get copied; and worst, each copy has to be registered somewhere with the government. So first he paid to get the lock of his room changed (that's mostly the solution). Then he was directed to check regularly an office in the city where people give items they find on road etc. His keys were not found. The key ring also contained the key to his room in university. So may be they changed that lock as well.

The university also gives a special "transponder" to researchers which is used to unlock doors of the building which contains your room. This way, they can enter their labs or rooms at night or on holidays. This is a blue-tooth device which sends signal to the electronic door lock on every building. Each building has a different lock and hence different transponder. They told my friend that changing of these locks of one building costed them hundreds of euros, though they didn't charge him. He was shocked when he lost the keys the second time, but thanked God when he found them. The first keys are still nowhere to be found.

Friday, July 08, 2005

German Bar-B-Que night & a house on hill

Yesterday my advisor invited everyone in our group to his house for Bar-B-Que (Grill). We all went there in the evening from the university in cars and reached his house. It was in the North of the city. The house was located diagonally along the side of a hill. After parking the cars, we went up the stairs to his house. There the professor handed us some things to be taken to the Grill location which was located higher on the hill. So we climbed more stairs uphill and found a magnificent place there. It was a beautiful lawn with a small swimming pool and flowers all around. After some minutes, the professor came and said, "why have you stopped here; i asked you to go up". And at that moment we looked up, hust to find another storey up the hill. So we again climbed the stairs to find another lawn with a wooden cabin, a shed with lots and lots of fire-wood and a tree-house for the kids. This was finally the end of professor's house. It was sorrounded on one side by an iron fence and beyond were the woods.

Admiring the four storey house, we sat and started the Grill. It was a very cold period going on (even in July), so after eating, we sat under a shed and placed the fire near us, throwing wood every once a while into it. It is here that one German commented on my German speaking. He said that foreigners normally speak German in their own accent (close to their mother-tongue), but i speak without any accent and pronounce it very accurately. Anyways, they surprised me by sitting very late, although it was no holiday tomorrow. When they finally got up at 12:30 am, i was sure nobody would reach on time in the morning. But they are Germans after all. Everbody was on time, except of course. . .

I did catch a cold that lasted many days.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Chilling July

This week has been very cold. I can't blieve it is July. The temperature drops to 12 degrees. People are wearing jackets and drinking coffees. The weather changed in just one day. Last week was very hot. It has been raining as well during last half of the week. Weather forecast tells next week to be very hot. hmmmmm

I heard that there has been much raining and flooding in Pakistan as well. Even Multan is flooded. My friend's house's cellar was flooded among others in a nearby village of Germany. They say that this kind of flooding occurs once in a century here. Global warming!!?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

becoming philosophers

This weekend we went to a town called "Zwingenberg" near Frankfurt to meet some Pakistanis. They were really nice and served us with "parathas" and "pa'ay" (feet of an animal). This town was located in the lap of mountains and gave a very spectacular view.

On our return journey, we decided to visit Heidelberg once more. This time we wanted to find "iqbal street". We knew it was located on top of mountains but didn't know where exaclty. We also found out that there was a "Philosophers' Passage" near it. So we climbed the hill and finally reached the Philosophers' Passage. We didn't know where to look for Iqbal Street and there was no resident in sight: only tourists. We figured out that the tourists wouldn't know of Iqbal Street. So, we walked on the beautiful Philosophers' Passage. The Fortress on the hill and the old city were clearly visible from here. These were located on the other side of the river "Neckar". We returned soon as the time was short, hoping to find Iqbal Streest some other day. You can find the photos here:
http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/yasirniazkhan/album?.dir=c91d

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Wapda in Germany

This week something unexpected happened. We were some friends sitting in my room one evening, and at once, the electrcity went out. This was the first time i had experienced it in Germany. Friends told me that this happens very rarely but does happen. Although the power interruption was only for ten minutes or so, it reminded me of our beloved Wapda.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

German Hair cut & Pizza


Today, i decided to finally get a hair-cut. I went to a big German shop. After waiting for one hour, a mid-aged lady started on me. She first washed my hair and then started cutting them. When asked for lenght, i told her to cut the hair very small. Towards the end of cutting, she was asking: ok? ok? Although the hair looked a little shorter than i wanted, i thought it would be a new experience, and said yes to let her do what she did. In this sequence of OKs, she asked me: "gel?" (read "g" as in girl). I realized after saying yes that i don't know this word. She put some lotion on my hair. So when she finished i looked in the mirror and i looked no longer like myself. She had produced spikes on my head, like a steep mountain starting from my forehead and extending backwards. This was too radical a change. Nevertheless, a new experience.

In the evening, my research group watched the movie "I, Robot" together on the projector. We ordered pizzas. I ordered a fish-pizza. Instead, perhaps due to misunderstanding, i had a pizza with sea-shells in it. I hardly ate a little more than half of it. After the movie, everybody worked together to wash the cutlery, dry it and put it back in the cupboards. The movie was really interesting. It had rained in the evening and i took my first journey back home on bicycle at night.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Top of the city


Last Sunday we went to an ancient tower located some kilometers away from the city. It is erected on a hill and probably served for scouting around. The way was beautiful, through the forest; but continuously uphill. So we climbed for about an hour blaming the leader for not taking the bus which would take us half way through, although it was fun. We put most of the luggage on my cycle and dragged it along; but later one of us decided that riding the bike is more fun. So the luggage was back on us and the cycle was under him. Guessing about the directions and making juice-drinking stopovers, we finally reached the tower.

The tower was not so high, but nice. We took some snacks, then started preparing the main dish (chicken karahi). We soon realized that we were running out of water. Anyways, after somehow putting the pot on fire, we climbed the tower, and behold... we could see the whole city, and beyond. We came back to have a very delicious meal and then lied down using each other as pillows. The way back was easier but it had become very warm. All in all, we look forward to making more of these trips. The pictures of the trip are viewable at: http://photos.yahoo.com/yasirniazkhan

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I did it - cycle

Today i went to the uni on my bicycle. It went good, except for the last road crossing. It was a big crossing with trucks crossing it (dont tell my mama) and i was really confused. Luckily, the signal was green and i crossed it hurridly. I hope no one got hurt behind me :) Having said that, i would really like to admire the steps the govt has taken to encourage cycling. They have separate lines and signs for bicycles on roads. They make bicycle stands on footpaths. There is always place for bicycles on trains and buses. There are free bicycle-lending services. etc.

Because of a small city, travelling with a bicycle is very pratical here. Although most of the city is on plain ground, the university is located on the hills beside the main city. So driving a bicycle to the university gives a hefty amount of exercise. But going back is more fun (although i have never travelled back on cycle, as one of the friends always takes the bike from me in Uni). I expected to see more bicycles around, but most people use buses or cars. Strange!!!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Left or Right?

Today was my frist day driving a bicycle on the roads of Germany. German roads are filled with road signs, especially at crossings. This signs are very useful and even control traffic on crossings that have no signal. But so many can be confusing at the start. This is what happened to me. At every crossing i had to think about the road-signs that i saw and manipulate my actions accordingly. They have specific signs on crossings to indicate traffic coming from which direction has the priority to pass first. They also have many one-ways near the heart of the city, so we have to take diversions as well.

But the toughest thing was to keep on the right side. Every time i turned on a crossing, i had the urge to start driving on the left side of the road, but then i would remember that i have to travel on the right side (contrary to Pakistan). Thank God i didn't make any big mistake. I reached safe and sound on my destination and back. But it was a Sunday (low traffic), i have to do this again on a week-day!!!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Lost in my city

Today morning i got on the bus going to my university. There are three Bus-stops in the uni. Three buses go towards uni. Two of them pass through all these 3 stops and the third one only passes through one stop. It is this third bus i got on. During the journey i forgot that i was on this third bus so i when the bus got to the first Uni busstop, i didn't get off and waited for the bus to go to the second Uni stop (since it is closer to my department). But the bus went another way!!!

I was surprised. It was then i remembered that i had to get off on the previous busstop. Now i waited for the bus to stop at next busstop (where-ever it was) and walk back to the Uni. But it showed no sign of stopping. It just went on and on until it got out of the city. It was travelling through the forest on the hills surrounding the city. After some time, it stopped. I got off. . . and there i was with no civilization but forest around.

I saw the time table and fortunately a bus was comming from opposite direction in half hour. I waited; and then got on the cliff and wandered in the forest a little to cut the wait; and took pictures. Finally the bus came, which seemed like the best thing that day.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Cost of living in Germany

Now some information about the living expense in Germany. This might be useful for people planning to come here. I have an average lifestyle (unlike many Pakistanis living here), so my expenses can be a little higher. Below is monthly costs that i pay.

Compulsory Insurance: €58
Uni registration: €26
House rent + bills: €200-250 (many share apartment with someone cutting this price into half)
Phone: €15 - 20 (i don't call Pakistan as i do voice chat. if u call Pakistan for half hour every weekend, add €20 to it)
Uni Cafeteria: €50 (now this is what others don't do)
Food and other: no idea :) but something like €100-150
Recreational travelling: €10-20 (most of us do this)

Keep in mind that i live in a small city. Other cities may have more or less house-rent. Other universities may have more or less registration fee.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Foreigners, Heidelberg and Holiday Inn

This weekend we were invited to a city nearby for a meeting. Invitation came from DAAD, the German organization for scholarships and higher education for foreigners. They iinvited all of their scholarship holders of different nationalities studying in South-West Germany. There were thousands of them. The event lasted for 3 days. We were accomodated at Holiday Inn for these days. We had our meetings and meals in University of Mannheim.

On Saturday, they gave us dinner in a disco, where after eating, people got up to digest it :) We slipped from there and got on the river at night and praised the huge number of Swans there.

On Sunday we were given a trip to one of the most beautiful cities of Germany: Heidelberg. This city has a road named after Allama Iqbal. It is located on lush green mountains and has historical buildings since it was probably the only city that was not bombarded in World War 2, that too because of its beauty and history. All-in-all it was a wonderful experience.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Almost Switzerland

Today we went to see one of the most beautiful sites in Germany: Konstanz. Here lies a big lake which shares its borders with Germany, Switzerland and Austria. This lake is so big that they run 3 or 4 story passenger ships in it. It lies in Southern end of Germany.

We went by train but got off the train as soon as we saw the starting end of lake. It was a really beautiful lake-shore. Then we got into the city. We wanted to go to Switzerland but some of our friends didn't have their passports. So we roamed around in Konstanz only. This is a big tourist attration with ships full of tourists. They even flew a big airship above the city. Later that day we got on a paddle-boat and rode it around in one part of lake with small passenger ships passing around us. Since it was Sunday so all stores were closed; so we went to a friend nearby for lunch.

Later we discovered that we did go in our boat to the part of lake that belongs to Switzerland. So we did visit Switzerland :)

Monday, May 02, 2005

Dr Atta ur Rehman

Today we were invited to a meeting in a city nearby to meet Dr Atta ur Rehman. All scholarship holders of our batch and the previous were invited. The meeting was in the evening but we went in the morning to see the city. We had lunch in this beautiful park in city center. In the evening we went to meeting center and met our batch-fellows from all around South-Germany. Dr Atta came on time to meeting center. They also arranged dinner for us.

Dr Atta said that they are expanding these higher education progams and sending 200 students to Germany alone next time. He said that they are building an engineering university in Pakistan with cooperation of Germany and France. He asked us to give them our preferences in our last year so they can place us in Pakistani universities when we return. We'll be hired as Assistant Professors. He added that in future, all faculty in Pakistani universities will be evaluated evey three years by international evaluation organization and jobs and promotions will be decided on this evaluation. This evaluation will consider the work they have done since last evaluation, so concept of seniority in job promotion will be eliminated. Let's hope that all this works well.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Pakistani Drama and "Pakistani" trains

Today we went to see a Drama performed by Pakistanis in Urdu language. They came from Frankfurt and the drama was organized in Bonn (capital of formal West Germany). We 3 friends started our journey in the morning, visited a friend in Mainz for a few hours and then reached the drama city, only to find out that the tickets were all sold out. We told them that we have come from far away and they permitted us entry (free) advising that we may have to sit on the stairs. The hall was filled with audience and people were now starting to sit on stairs. When the stairs filled, some people had to stand there. Drama was a comedy highlighting problems facing a wife who came from Pakistan but didn't know German language.

We came out before the drama ended since we had to catch the train. But the train got about half an hour late. So we again remembered Pakistan :) Because of this, we couldn't get to our city before morning. In Germany, almost all trains stop for a few hours during late night (about 2-5 am). So if you don't reach your destination before this time, you have to wait a few hours at the train station. So, we went to our friend's house to spend night and came back in the morning.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The First Night

On the first night that i came to this city i had a memorable experience. Well, i bought some necessities for myself and thought that big stuff i'll get later. Big mistake! I had no blanket. So when i laid down on my bed at night, i couldn't sleep for long. After some time i got up and turned on the heater, but they had turned the heaters low as it was not as cold as before. I still couldn't sleep. So, finally (late night) i got up and put my heavy jacket and some other stuff on me. So was i able to sleep the first night.

The next day my friend, who was guiding me around, asked me "I forgot to ask yesterday; do you have a blanket . . . ?"

Monday, April 25, 2005

Arrival in Kaiserslautern (my new city)

I arrived in my new city (Kiaserslautern) at about 3 pm (1st April). I took all my luggage out of train and dragged it out of the station. I got to a taxi and was about to say something when the driver pointed forward and told me to get the first taxi in the row. So i moved to the first taxi and got to the hostel. There, when i got in, i gave a bell on the mobile of Anis (the pakistani who guided me earlier). He was in uni, so he called another guy in the hostel and that guy came to help me. That guy helped me put my luggage in my room. Then he went with me to get my electricity contract, etc. Then he took me to his room and we ate together. He made "chapatis" by hand. He was an Indian Muslim. I later learnt that he was about to eat his meal when he came to me and carried my luggage and walked with me in city.

In the evening another pakistani took me to have dinner in his room. Next morning he took me for breakfast.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Football mania

Today, we went for a usual weekend walk. On our way we saw a bus going on our direction every minute full of people, and they all came back empty. We were curious! we decided to follow these buses. So we went on and on, on the road where the buses were going. After walking for some time, we saw a beautiful hill. After crossing the hill, we saw what we expecting by that time: a football stadium. It was big with construction going on on the outside. There were a lot of people coming from different directions. A huge number of people were inside, who we could hear singing in chorus. We thought it was a special match.

Later, we discovered that it was a usual inter-city match, one of those held every weekend and the same number of people go to watch these matches every weekend. hmmmm...

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Collective (voluntary) Discipline

Today, while i was sitting in my room at university, a girl came in and started speaking about some glass bottle. She became faster and faster so that i couldn't understand a word. Fortunately, my room-mate understood that and went out with her. The i saw her carrying a broom-stick. When my room-mate came back, i asked him what she was saying. He said that she had broken a glass bottle somewhere and wanted to clean it up instead of leaving it there... Does it sound familiar?

Nahi bilkul nahi. Pak mein to aisa sooch bhi nahi sakta tha mein. Compare it with this. Kuch din pehlay mein aik pakistani ke saath tha. Uss ne peanuts khai aur chilkay road per pheink diay. Mein ne kaha ke burri baat hay. Laikin uss ne kaha ke hum inn ko cleaning ke bhi to paisay daitay hain. aur ye incident bhi Germany mein hoa tha. Aur hum apne deen per fakhar karte hain, laikin wo jo safai ka hukam daita hay, uss per amal nahi kartay. Pak mein bhi mere highly educated friends ye kaam kartay thay. Har chees kha kar chilkay road per pheink dena.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

pack & go...

Today i shifted from Cologne to Kaiserslautern, a city in the South-West of Germany, close to France. I called a friend in Aachen (near Cologne) for help and he sent another Pakistani (Saifullah) to me for help in carrying luggage to train station. I was supposed to go in a small train (from local station) near my house to city's central train station. I called that Pakistani and told him the time for the small train that leaves from "local" station and asked him to bring along a taxi. He thought i told him the time of the train from "city" station. So he got to me earlier with the taxi. Naturally, i hadn't finished packing yet, and the meter of the taxi was running while it waited outside my house. So i hurridly packed everything, left the keys on the kitchen table and left in the taxi to the "local" station.

When we reached the "local" station, i remembered that i had forgotten the keys to my suitcases in my house. So i rushed back almost running to my house, only to find that it was locked and i had left the keys to the house inside !!! So i called the house-owner. He came in 10 minutes. I went in with him and found that i had left many things. So i gathered these things and came back to the local station. Then we went to the city station and i began my journey...

Friday, March 25, 2005

Back to English

Today was my last day at German Language School (CDC) :( Now its back to English i guess. Although i'll try to learn more German by speaking. It is very important to live better in Germany.

Our class made a small trip today. We went to a small fortress near our city. Some of the girls cooked some things, boys brought ready-made items. We went by train to this beautiful place. The garden was very beautiful. First we ate and drank (Cola:) and then went inside the fortress. The drawings on walls on ceiling were very beautiful. It was hard to believe that although it was very old, the painter had painted the flat ceiling such that it seemed like the bottom of a bowl. There was still Gold on walls, ceiling, cutlery, furniture, etc.

We came back in afternoon and said a very sad goodbye to each other :(

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Japan, Sushi, and I

Today i went with some Japanese friends to try out Sushui (famouse japanese fish dish). When i earlier asked them about Sushi, they said that it is made with fish and rice, but the fish is not cooked!!! More than that, they told me that Sushi in Germany is not the correct version, because in it, theyput dead fish!!! I can't think of eating this. So i asked them to find me a dish with cooked sea food.

So we went to the Japanese restaurant. A Japanese guy came to them and they ordered their dishes and found a cooked dish for me as well. First came cabbage salat. I ate it with chop-sticks (i am more talented than i thought :) Then came the dish, soup and Soya Sauce. In the dish were large pieces of rice with shrimps (cooked) in middle and around it was wrapped (green) Sea-weed. Tough! I took one piece and ate it in two parts. It tasted good, but the seaweed was hard. Then i took the second piece whole. Then the third... But the seaweed was becoming more problemetic. So with the permission of my friends, I took off the seaweed and ate the inner material; but it got messy. So the next pieces, i ate wholly. There were also two pieces with large prawns with tails. You are supposed to eat the prawn as far as you can. I left a good portion of the tail in the plate. And this all i did with chopsticks (clapping!)

I did provide much laughing stock for my Japanese friends.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Hajamat and Dosti Bus

Today we went to Bonn (my city's twin city) to meet a friend. We got to a barber (Turkish or Arab), whom my friend told cuts hair cheap. He was cheaper but he was very cruel with the hair. He cut many hair from me but my friend, he left him only 1 cm of hair. Cheap things really cost something else.

But more interesting is that we met Indians in the train on our way back. The journey lasted one hour. One of them sang a few songs on demand. Some read poetry. They lived in Brussels (Belgium). One of them was from Bengal. They came here on vacation. We told them about tourist places in the city and gave them information booklet. After one hour we departed. It was a good experience to run a "dosti bus" :)

btw, i guess learning German is ruining my English. I can't imagine how i taught a course at FAST-NU completely in English :)

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Pakistani Family

Today two of our friends (Habib and Iqrar) came from Berlin to visit us. Habib had sent some of his luggage with a Pakistani living in Cologne. That Pakistani came to main train station to receive them and invited us to his house. We went to his house in his car. They treated us very well and served a Pakistani meal. He was living in Germany for 25 years. He had five children (in Germany!!!) and had some taxies which mostly Pakistani workers drove.

We said prayers in a nearby Turkish mosque. It was a very big and very beautfiul mosque. It was decorated like a mosque in Pakistan. Washrooms and wuzzu place were excellently maintained. Then he took us in car to show around the town and meet some Pakistanis. We met with a Pakistani from Karachi. He had setup a small shelter-shop on an empty residential plot. He had all kinds of stuff in it :) He and his bro came some time ago. His bro was settled here, but he is not yet.

At night the person drove us to our house.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Party at foreigner's house

Today, i was invited by a Japanese classmate to a party at home. Alongwith many Japanese people, two Koreanish students also came. I was glad that i am not the only one not knowing Japanese. So we talked in German. We cooked the food together. They didn't put any meat in the main dish (vegetables soup), considering i don't eat meat. Other things contained meat, even pig. They all drank but prepared tea for me and a Korean girl who also didn't drink.

After eating we sat for a few hours and discussed different topics. We asked questions about each other's country. One of the Japanese boys got their typical sticks for eating. I told them that i later want to learn how to eat with those two sticks instead of a spoon. They handed me the sticks and after a few minutes of adjusting the position of sticks in my hand i was able to eat with the sticks. They were surprised; and me too.

Earlier on my way to the party, i discovered a restaurant with Pakistani workers. There were labels "halal food" on the show-cases there. I ate a small pizza.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Country side

Today was Sunday - a good chance to explore and adventure. I saw schedule of a "Flohmarkt" (cheap market) and went there with my colleague. The train dropped us on a station surrounded by beautiful unutilized land. There was no body around; just buildings some distance away from us. We started walking to one side to reach a small market. We asked the location of "Flohmarkt", but they had no idea. One person then told us to go in the opposite direction some 2 kms far to some market. We found a bus stop on the road, but it was some time till the bus would come.

So we started walking. We reached the train station and continued walking; asking people on our way, but nobody knew. After a lot of walking, we felt very cold and there was no sign of such a market, so we turned back, all the way to the train station, got on the train and came back. So ended another happy adventure.

btw, sun was shinning really bright when we left home; and it was snowing heavily when we returned :)

Friday, March 04, 2005

Acceptance by Professor

After checking email today, i decided to call the professor. I called the professor in the evening. He told me that he has settled in somewhere today and just saw my email. That is why he didnt reply me. He said me welcome to the uni. (what a relief). Then we discussed some administrative issues and my residence in that city. Now, the next problem is to find a good place to live. So now i'll concentrate on that. Hope i find something good.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Still no reply!!!

I emailed the professor of my chosen university on Monday. Still no reply. What has happened? i dont wanna think...

I'll definitely call him if he does not reply till tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

University chosen

I decided today that i would go for uni of Kaiserslautern. It is a small group there, so professor can give me more time and i can finish my phd in time hopefully. The uni is in top 5 unis of Germany in Computer Science. I'll have to work with robots, which is good as i should do something new as well in phd, like a little hardware and electronics. I emailed today to the professor telling him that i have selected this uni and asking further processing.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Fahrkarte bitte! (Ticket please!)

Today when we were going to our language institute in the morning, the ticket-checker came. Its a usual thing for them to check tickets. I put my hand in my pocket and received a shock!!! I had no ticket. I had forgotten my ticket at home. Fine for travelling without a ticket is 40 euros, which is very much. Now i was thinking of what to do or say. The ticket-checker was getting nearer to me and my stop was after 5 min.

The ticket-checker came to my seat and asked us for tickets. People started showing their tickets. Fortunately (for me :) the person sitting opposite me had no ticket. So he started explaining his reason for no ticket. The ticket-checker did or didn't believe him (they were speaking in German :) So the gaurd gave him a challan. I prayed to Allah. There were still 2 min till my station.

The gaurd started advising him about different ticket offers that they give. They talked and talked until my station came. I got off the train and thanked Allah. It was unbelievable as it usually doesn't happen. Normally, they just give the challan and move on.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Trip to North Germany (uni Paderborn)

I went to check another univerity in North of Germany. It is uni of Paderborn in the city named Paderborn. A lot happened during this trip, which i'll write later. The university turned out to be very good and people are good as well. Let's see what happens.

btw, on the way back, something funny happened. I puchased the train ticket and saw a train on the plateform ready to leave. I ran and got on it. I tried to check the train number but it was nowhere written. I asked a boy onboard and he said that this is the correct train and that he is going to the same immediate destination (mostly you have to switch trains during a long journey). But after an hour, i came to know that it was going in opposite direction (towards North - Hannover city). Then i came back to Paderborn and restarted my journey to my city (cologne) westwards.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

My first class in language school


My First class in German Language School (CDC). Most of the students are from Gabun (Africa). The girl on the far right is from England. The guy next to him is from Turkey. And the guy next to him (with glasses) is Ramzan, the person who came with me from Pakistan and is to stay with me for 3 months for this language course. The lady near him (with white hair) is our German language teacher. We have a lot of fun in the class, mainly because of the students from Gabun. They always seem to be complaining that why do people think that people in Africa live in jungles and wear no clothes etc.Posted by Hello