Saturday, September 30, 2006

'A Loving Couple' - In Amsterdam!

This a Picture that I took of a Rembrandt at the Rijks Museum. The painting is titled 'The Jewish Bride (A Loving Couple) ' .

All of us have our own sense of aesthetics. We look at something and we know if it appeals to our sense(s) or not. But, as I wandered around the Rijks Museum last weekend, it dawned on me that no matter how much I had read of art history, I needed to actually SEE a lot of art before i would be able to tell anything just by looking at a painting.

Art requires a lot of knowledge in order to be appreciated in its mulitude of facets. It isn't like music, which, if you are into, you can feel a stirring. It isn't as emotional. Or perhaps, I'm just not as responsive to a visual stimulus. Or it is something acquired with exposure? I'm not sure as yet.

Of one thing I am certain though, I am in awe. As I went through room after room, I wanted my eyes to dilate ten fold so I could catch minute details, about the paintings, that my eyes would not have otherwise caught. The little ridges in the canvas, uneven blobs of stray paint at the edges, everything.

I could just about distinguish a Rembrandt from a Vermeer. And even that, I think had more to do with the fact that I had looked at loads and loads of prints of many of the famous artists in one of my mad fits of interest in art.
Vermeer's (as made famous by the movie 'A Girl With Pearl Earring' - a painting that I wanted to see but looked for in vain ) works , I found, are a lot easier to understand. They have more colour, I think. And the subject matter is usually a scene from real life. For ex. "A Music Lesson" , "A Soldier And A Girl" etc.

Rembrandt's were very interesting as well. I will not venture to say anything about him. I don't know enough. His paintings seemed a lot more intense to me and they were a lot bigger too. I took a picture of this one because it seemed to me the most beautiful, plus it was one of the larger rembrandts. (If you find the picture a little dark , it's because one isn't allowed to use the flash while taking pictures )

The Rijks museum is a tribute to Dutch art . It was the first museum (of three) that we visited in Amsterdam and boy, at the end of it.. I was just so full of enthusiasm and 'joie de vivre' . It hit me over and over again as I walked up and down those halls that I was living my dream and I felt so grateful. If I didn't say a little prayer of gratitude then. I am now.

The Museum sits on a beautiful square called Museumplein ('Plein' as I realised later mean 'square' in dutch) in the vicinity of the Van Gogh Museum (Which I want to write about separately because he was my first love) . Sharing the spotlight in museumplein is also the famous Amsterdam Diamond Cutting District which I didn't really find that impressive. (But it gets a lot of tourists nonetheless. So maybe it was just me.)

Only about ten percent of the exhibited pieces in the museum are by world reknowned artists - Otherwise there is a lot of dutch art through the ages on showcase which is beautiful ofcourse. The renaissance art, I found very interesting.. Although, to be perfectly honest , I didn't know any of the artists except Rembrandt and Vermeer and one or two others.

If you are in Amsterdam, Rijks museum is worth it if you really enjoy art or rather if are willing to enjoy art. If you aren't.. Give it a miss. There are plenty of other things to see in Amsterdam.

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Castles, Streams, Woods ..

A Couple of days I ago , I went on a long walk in my neighbourhood , which just so happens to contain a castle and a stream and woods.

It's mindblowingly beautiful and I decided that I absolutely had to try my hand at taking a few pictures.

Here's the outcome of the effort.. Tell me what you think..

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sunshine And Grass!

It was 2:30 PM , the sunlight streamed through our classroom windows, I wanted to be outside soaking it up, (there is only so much sun that you can see in a day and my skin screams for its daily dose..) but, instead, I was stuck indoors waiting for a professor who finally didn't turn up. Hmph!! Wasted time..

It was however , pleasantly purposeless! I had managed to strike up a conversation with a couple of nice hungarian chaps and got so engrossed in talking to them that I hadn't noticed the time tick away , and when suddenly, one of dutch guys stood up and anounced that we could leave if we wanted, I noticed it was 3 O'Clock. So after winding up our conversation - and it was an interesting one I might add - our little class trooped down the stairs out into the gloriously sunny garden outside our faculty building .

I was still chatting with the friendly hungarian, ( I would use his name except that I don't know what it is - I was too deep in conversation with him to stop midway and ask what his name was.. Irrelevant details!) his very quiet compatriot who just seemed to tag along and a very engaging, cheerful young greek classmate (from cyprus!! ). It was fun - My first real conversation with someone who wasn't Indian about something that wasn't necessary information.

As we emerged from the building, headed towards our cycles, I noticed the greek guy slip his hand into his pocket and bring out a matchbox. I braced myself , I don't enjoy second hand smoke at all , so I moved slightly away, towards the friendly hungarian and continued listening to him tell a very interesting story about a revolution in hungary in the 1950s. I was hoping greek guy would atleast have the courtesy not to blow the smoke straight into my face.. ( He turned out to be a gentleman alright!) , So, it was not straight into my face, but about ten degrees away.. Charming!!

Just when my nostrils detect the smoke, It strikes me that it has a really funny smell.. I paid no heed initially , but the smell was too funny for me to ignore.. And I looked to see what it was.. I caught a glance at what he's holding between his fingers expecting to see some weird looking cigarette.. Instead, to my absolute amazement , I saw some little brown twigs sticking out of his 'cigarette'. And then it hit me, Wham!! It was a joint!! I noticed that the hungarian guy was also looking intently at his 'cigarette' .. And I was convinced!!

It was broad freaking daylight.. And we were in the middle of the campus! Did the guy not realise that this isn't Amsterdam or Cyprus or whereever the hell smoking pot is legal! I wondered if the hungarian guy was going to ask for a drag.. because he kept staring at the guy smoking up.. maybe he was just as perplexed as I was! Just then a cold gust of wind blew and I shivered - almost shuddered even, it was so cold and so strong. The guys noticed , the delightful little history session had just come to an end anyway, so they urged me to get onto a bus quickly and got on their bikes and headed for home.

I am pretty sure that if we had stuck around longer, the very genial greek might have even been so kind as to offer me a drag..

I wonder if I would have taken it!

(Ash and Gayu, (and most everyone who knows me well) I know you are laughing your heads off by now.. just the picture of ME, smoking pot!! Ok, granted! I guess that is funny! )

Monday, September 25, 2006

Solitude Sucks!!

I've been indoors all day. It's so cold, my fingers are numb and I'm barely able to type. Too cold to go outside. I've been chatting, talking, sending pictures pretty much all day long . Inane activity - just to keep me occupied. I have no books to read. No tv to watch. No distraction from the loneliness staring straight at me.

The weather is depressing dark and chill. And although the morning afforded some social interaction with young stefanie and benjamin , my next door neighbours in the second storey of the two hundred year old house that is now to be my home for the next year, i'm starved for company.

I've been listening to some hindi music. Mostly because it reminds me of home.

I feel terribly alone.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


I'm in Europe. I have waited and waited and dreamed for an oppurtunity like this. And I have been lucky. I got what I wanted. Two days away from the start of the academic year and ten days into arriving here, I want to go right back home. I want to forget all this fuss. I want to go back into my little cocoon and stay there!

I want the familiar back again.
I want to understand the language spoken in the streets.
I want to know my way around (and not have to struggle with a map!)

I want to see autos and even fight with auto drivers.
I want to go to murugan idly kadai and eat steaming hot idlys and chutney and sambar.
I want to saunter through a crowded Spencers.
I want to see the sun at 6 in the morning.
I want to climb the 7 floors to the home i've lived in for the last 15 years.
I want to walk along the shore and sit on the beach and hold hands with my boyfriend.
I want to see my boyfriend.
I want sunshine.
I want to be able to MEET my friends.
I want to talk to my dad in the evenings.
I want to see my mom first thing in the morning.

Sneha has seen europe and thinks its very pretty.

Now she wants to go back home!!