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:

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.