Tuesday, September 27, 2005


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: