Friday, February 23, 2007

Experiencing extreme climate change in Germany

This winter was unbelievable. It was like there was no winter at all. There was no snow. It just snowed on two occasions, but only for the night. The next day the sun rose high, and the snow was gone. That is pretty strange for a city that used to spend a couple of winter months under the snow. Some regions in north and south were a little more (un)lucky, as they got some heavy snow; but that too didn't live its usual life. It makes life easy but it also takes away the pleasure of walking in the snow. A colleague also told me that snow kills different germs and so it is necessary to have.

Similar was the effect back in Pakistan. We weren't used to seeing negative temperatures in my city Lahore. But this winter we saw -2; and a good number of times. Seems like in a couple of years, the snow that fell in Kaiserslautern would instead start falling in Lahore. Global warming is taking its toll too early than predicted. Good to know that Pakistan Government has waived custom duty on all solar power equipment. Germany is the largest generator of solar power in the world.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Freedom of expression!!!

"A German court on Thursday convicted far-right activist Ernst Zundel of incitement for denying the Holocaust, and sentenced him to the maximum five years in prison..."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Receiving fellows from Pakistan in Germany

Last week we got news that about 52 Pakistanis were coming to Germany on scholarship from HEC. That is the largest we have ever heard of. We decided to welcome them and guide them as usual on Frankfurt airport. They were supposed to reach Frankfurt on Sunday at 5 pm. 4 other persons beside me were also coming from different cities. I took 4 friends from my city (a weekend ticket can be used by upto 5 people to travel around Germany). We first went to Mainz, the capital of our state (Rhineland Palatinate), did some sight-seeing, took lots of photos and went to Frankfurt city. Once off the train, we scavaged the streets for Pakistani restaurants. One of us found one and we entered among greetings from its Pakistani owner. We ordered daal, chicken curry, paey and chicken tikka with fresh roti and naan. After filling ourselves till the top, we took tea, paid 32 euros and took the 20-min train to Frankfurt airport.

We walked through terminal one to the skyline train, which took us to terminal 2 where the PIA flight was scheduled to land. The flight had landed earlier than expected. We were greeted by other hosts and we waited for the arrivals. Soon came two Pakistani guys pushing their luggage carts, with first arrival looks on their face. We asked if they were HEC scholars and asked them to park the cart along one wall. We handed them the contact list to fill and also the small info broshure we had prepared. And then started the long flux of arrivals and the space soon became overwhelmed. We asked hem to group according to destination. They had their studies in different studies but have to do 2 months course divided in 4 cities of Germany. So they formed 4 groups. Biggest was the group for Dortmund (about 20 students) which was sent off first with two guides to the integrated train station. Then was the group for Berlin consisting of 10 students sent also with two guides. The Frankfurt group of 8 students was handed over to a local Pakistani, and then the group of 4 students for Munich was sent with one guide. So in total, we had about 40 people, as some stayed behind for various reasons.

I then escorted the last group (Munich). We saw the Berlin group who were going up the escalators in a seemingly wrong direction. I inquired from the airport staff and before changing direction, saw the Berlin group coming down again. I told them to follow and went towards the train station. The Berlin group got a little behind. I purchased tickets for the Munich group and left them at the station with a guide to return. On my return I saw the Dortmund group going towards the train station, so I went with them again to see them off. Meanwhile i got news that Berlin group was sent off in train. We then gathered and returned to Frankfurt city train station where we again met with some Frankfurt people. From there we five took the train back to our city Kaiserslautern. It was fun when the new arrivals asked us whether we were hired by HEC or DAAD for the purpose. Others who heard about our trip asked if we had someone known among the group. Of course we had; they were all Pakistanis there!