Focal Point

I often am fascinated by the human body – what a marvelous work of engineering! Today am admiring the wonderful sense of sight – the eyes. It’s raining out here and I am just looking out at the scene through the glass window with a cup of coffee. With my eyes, I can see everything so clearly even outside but the camera can focus only on what’s closest to it. 

In this photo, you can see my coffee in focus and the chaos outside, even if it’s blurred. So I am very thankful for the camera because that’s possibly the only way I can capture and share the moments that I like, visually, with everyone, for lack of that kind of artistic talent which also requires time and effort to master. 

Coffee on a rainy day

For more photos about interpreting Focus, you can look here

And here is the photo of the same place after it has stopped raining.

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Serendipity

There were once three princes of Serendip who were asked by their father, the King, to get out of the country. The King was not punishing them although on the face it would appear that way. Instead, his hidden motive was to make his sons learn more about the world before they ascended the throne. So the princes did go out and made interesting experiences and also discovered a lot of things by accident. Well, so is the interpretation of the western authors that those were accidents. My interpretation would be that anything seems like an accident because one doesn’t expect it but aren’t most interesting discoveries like that? And another thing is – accident in my dictionary is a bad thing while discovery is usually good. If you find what you are looking for, then probably the term discovery won’t fit!

Anyway, so back to these princes and their discoveries. An author Horace Warpol coined the term Serendipity from this story which means “making fortunate discoveries by accident”.

I often feel like those princes of Serendip when I make these kind of discoveries with no plan whatsoever. (But I was not asked by my father to leave the country..that happened just as an outcome of some work related thing). So here I am today, on a warm summer day, sitting in the middle of a lovely village, having a sundae surrounded by interesting buildings and chatter of the locals.

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And it was not planned at all. Yesterday, a very close friend of mine C and I sat down for lunch at work. She and I get to meet only every two weeks or so as she has a working schedule that gives her more time to be with her little daughter. So I was filling her in about my adventures from last weeks. Then we came on the topic of what I could do on this long weekend. And out of nowhere, we decided that I come with her to her home  – which is in a region where I had never been before. So after a long journey in which we chatted the whole time, we reached her home. She had told me that she needs to go to a nearby village for some work. I decided to come along instead of sitting at home. And it was a good decision. See for yourself.

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Church

 


I arrived at a place I would have never planned to come on my own but yet ended up at and then getting to enjoy the atmosphere with a nice big bowl of icecream on a warm summer day…

Now shouldn’t I call this Serendipity?

Magical creatures are everywhere!

Every time I see these mice at the bridge, I imagine that that one day they were scuttling away and a magician threw some star dust on them and they froze like this! What could the story be? Was there a lovely but poor maiden who had these mice as friends and one day the evil magician came and took her away or was there a town troubled by the mice and the magician was called to get rid of them? Was there a prince and his loyal friend who were turned to mice by the magician to take over the kingdom or were there two conspirators who wanted to capture the kingdom and the king’s wizard friend came along just in time? The magic is in the possibilities – isn’t it?

Tuxpi photo editor: https://www.tuxpi.com

If you’d like to know about other thoughts on magic, you can take a look here.

Capturing the Ephemeral

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How interesting is it that the wordpress photo-challenge theme for this week is the same as the theme of my blog – reflection – former is literal and latter is metaphorical – but reflection nonetheless! Here is a pool or a well, that is considered to be the origin of the river Danube in a place called Donaueschingen in the Black Forest region of Germany, reflecting the skies and the beautifully constructed wall around it.

Waters of the Danube or the Ganges or a small puddle, water in any case would have been the first mirror that made human beings start understanding how others saw them and hence, to get the desire to start grooming themselves so as to look like they would want others to see them. Must’ve been quite a discovery..isn’t it?

With that thought, I will let you reflect on your own thoughts…

Other great entries for the challenge can be found here.

Schlossbeleuchtung – illumination of the castle, Street Fests and Fireworks

In Germany, or let’s say in the Southern parts as I have no idea what happens in the Northern side, there are street fests which give people the opportunity to drink beer/wine and have schnitzel/wurst with their friends (which come to think of it, they do it even otherwise but this is more in a community way)..

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For me the attraction is the live music – bands play all kinds of music – country, swing, rock and roll, jazz and sometimes even classical.

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There are marching bands too!

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Sometimes there are flea-markets where people can be seen buying and selling, interesting stuff – even bargaining – which you don’t see ever here in normal circumstances.

Yesterday was one of those days that there were two street fests taking place in two suburbs close to one another. I got the wind of it in the morning from a friend A. I wasn’t sure that I would be going but then after a chat with another friend C, I decided to go to one of the fests. But as it would turn out, I had also messaged another friend N in parallel but hadn’t received a response until the evening. So I went with my normal chores and just when I was dumping the grocery at home after a trip to the supermarket, I received the message from N that she was at the fest no. 1 and I could join her. So I started right away. On a side note, I have no idea why does it always happen – I forget about the nicer clothes and jewelry, that I buy like a shopaholic, lying in my cupboard and step out in the same clothes that I would wear at day time at home or for grocery-shopping or for any mundane stuff! Why do I even buy things if they never are destined to see the “tages-licht” as the Germans call their daylight! Was acutely aware of it when I saw people dressed up nicely at the fest.

Anyway, so here I was at the fest no. 1 but couldn’t find N and the band had started playing – so it was difficult to make a call. After some time, I managed to reach N on the phone and she said she was on her way back from the supermarket. Found a place to sit but then a man already sitting there said that he had reserved the spot for his family. I started to get up but understood from the gesture and my broken German that he was saying that I could sit until they came back. So I did. And then as his family came, I was getting up but while looking up in their direction, I didn’t pay attention to my back and upset the cocktail glass of his mom/aunt/mother-in-law in my hurry to make place for them. The lady was shocked for a minute but then when I apologized and offered her some tissue, she took it and laughed it off saying that (in German) that it was a warm day anyway!

Then when N arrived, we found a bench where we could sit and enjoy the band without being too close to the speakers. She had brought some drinks with her which she had while I had some water. We chatted for a while but then I wanted to eat something so I went in search of something I could eat. Came back with some stuff but as it took longer than expected, N was gone to get something – the fellow benchers told that she’ll be coming back. So I sat down and tried to open my bottle of Pepsi and as it was one of those days when I am being a “tollpatschig” (syn.: butter-fingers, clumsy), the Pepsi bubbled out of the bottle like crazy and I got some on my clothes before I held it away from myself. That was a very quick demonstration of the karma theory of what you give is what you receive (remember the cocktail spilling incident from a few minutes back?)! Then N came back and we finally relaxed, chatted, ate something and then she headed towards a bbq and I to the fest no. 2 to meet C.

On reaching the other suburb, I met C and we walked a bit. The fest here didn’t seem to be as big as the first one but this one had trampolines for kids which C was quite tempted to get on to. Sadly, it was only for kids! Find it in the pic below :).


We saw the band playing but went in ahead in search of A and found that she and another friend of hers N, were sitting on children’s swings in a school complex! C got happy seeing the swings and after swinging for a few minutes, her spirits were lifted :-). The best things in life are the simplest – isn’t it?

Ah and there are these sweets stalls that you would find at every fest in Germany, which have all the sinful candies that might have been used by the witch since old times to lure Hansel and Gratel!


Then we went back to the fest area and had something to drink. I had some fries and then while A and N were gone to fetch another friend of theirs E from the tram stop, I thought of trying out another fizzy drink – this time in a glass – and my clumsy day still far from being over, I again spilled some of the drink. Unbelievable – one would think – but what can you do about it?

Fast forward. The day was not over yet. I wanted to go see the fireworks and castle illumination (see heading of the post) which takes place three times every year in summer and I had missed the last two. A, N and E also planned to go there while C wanted to go back home. So the four of us, on finding that the tram was in 3 minutes, started running. Thankfully the first one that came was the one going to another destination. Then ours arrived and it was quite full – owing to the fact that everyone else too was going to see what we were going for! We reached the destination and after some confusion in the tram due to the road being closed for transport as people were already gathered on the bridge for the event, we finally found a place in the crowd to see some fireworks. The castle must have been already illuminated but we missed seeing it. There were some nice fireworks but they only for 15 minutes! But that was enough to give out the thick smoke that engulfed the hills like fog!


Then we started back like everyone else and I waited for my bus while the others decided to spend some more time there. And one last thing for the day was the crowd in the bus that reminded me of the buses in India (my experience is from Bangalore). After about 7 months, the scene from the volvo buses in Bangalore was recreated here in Heidelberg – it was so uncanny! But the difference was that the bus driver didn’t drive like crazy like in Bangalore! And then a funny thing happened. As the driver couldn’t see on one side due to so many people blocking his view, he asked before making a turn if some other vehicle was coming along and several people said in unison “nein, es ist frei” – “no, it is free” :-).

Finally reached home after the exciting day and to not tempt things further from spilling, breaking, falling – I decided to call it a day and went to sleep..

Until the next post..do some “tolpatschiging” of your own and let me know in the comments  :-)!

Looking up

As I was coming to work this morning, these guys caught my attention – soaring up and looking so happy! Seeing them immediately lifted my mood. I think the inventor of the balloons was a genius – he/she knew how to bring a smile to a child’s face with the simplest thing – air :-)!

What is more amazing is – it’s a timeless and boundary-less thing – don’t children across the world love balloons? And  when they are grown-ups, then the balloons bring back the memories of childhood with the birthday parties and fetes and of a time with may be simpler cares.

(Incidentally, today’s Daily Post’s photo challenge is about Looking Up. How apt!)

Hearts of Heidelberg


Hearts of Heidelberg on a sunny afternoon..

After so many years of seeing these lovely hearts, finally yesterday, thanks to my friend Federica, I got to speak with the artist – a really old lady (Federica wanted to buy one as a present for her mom and in the process also acted as my interpreter for the conversation). I had seen an old lady working once, two years back but before that I was always wondering who is creating these. Now that I look back on my pictures from the past visits to Heidelberg, I see that there is another old lady in that pic from two years back. Probably there are two artists – sisters, may be. The one I met yesterday,  is very modest and didn’t want her pic to be taken but was gracious to let me take the pics of her work!

(She was so considerate that she even asked us while we were leaving if we got the picture!).

Looking forward to serendipitous solving some more beautiful mysteries of Germany that have intrigued me over the years with the help of friends old and new!

And here are some pics from the past visits..

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Fall of 2014

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Fall of 2011

 

The Face tells a story

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A few weekends ago, I was on a train on the Schwarzwaldbahn (Black Forest picturesque train route) with two friends of mine. Having read a recommendation on a website earlier, we decided to get down on the way at a town called Donaueschingen (considered to be the birth place of the river Danube). And I am glad that we did so. It was a beautiful city with a palace where the prince and princess of Fürstenberg (famous beer) reside!

So it was in the gardens of that palace (the section open to public) where I met this squirrel. I am not sure what startled it but I got a great snap of it standing like this with ears all perked up and eyes wide open! It surely wanted to enjoy the nut that it had in it’s mouth and probably was afraid that someone else would take it away from it. There could be so many explanations. I guess Walt Disney must have been a curious observer of nature to capture scenes like these and give us the great animations of rats, dogs, squirrels and the other wonderful animals that became beloved cartoon characters which bring a smile to every child’s face even to this day.

Off late, I have been having so much difficulty in writing posts (writer’s block) so I am really glad for The Daily Post’s photo challenge Face, which made share this moment with you all. Looking forward to writing some more posts and getting your responses..

Rain

As I am sitting here in my office room, and it is raining outside, all I am wishing is for the rain to stop so that I can go home and start my weekend.IMG_0590

But it used to be so different in India..where the rains were always welcome on hot days and the drops brought out the scent of the soil parched by the brutal sun. It was like the earth was thanking the rains by giving out that beautiful scent. But now that I am not there, I don’t know if I will ever enjoy the rains in the same way as I did when I was in India with the ubiquitous chai-pakoras with friends and family. For those who don’t know about the Indian street food, chai-pakoras (tea and fritters) is a fare that you will find throughout India with variations – from small make-shift stalls to big restaurants but of course, the best ones are at the homes!

May be need to find new friends and invite them over for a rainy evening and recreate the magic of Indian summer and the rain. In this new place which yet doesn’t feel like home, there will be times like these which will bring back memories from back home and make me want to fly back in time…I know I have to move on and make a new home here but I can be nostalgic from time to time and that’s when I will make chai-pakoras and soothe the yearnings of the heart with the taste on the tongue!

 

Day trip to Ludwigsburg

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Resident Palace at Ludwigsburg

I have found that in Germany, there are a lot of hidden gems which you will get to know about if you talk with the locals and tell them beforehand that you have already been to the bigger cities like Berlin, Munich etc. I have had some really nice recommendations from my colleagues here. These places won’t be found in the itineraries of international tour and travel service providers but probably that’s the best part about them – no bus loads of tourists!

So today I ran my finger on the map and it stopped on a place called Ludwigsburg. Alright it was a google search for the places I was told about but which I could reach in a less time but running a finger on the map sounds better – doesn’t it!

I took the Baden-Wuertemberg ticket for the day, which gives you the flexibility to go anywhere within the state on local transport (trains, buses, trams) from morning till 3 AM of the next day! There is also a Schoenes Wochenende ticket which costs more but allows you the same flexibility across Germany (i.e. not limited to one state).

Now about Ludwigsburg – it is a relatively new city – having founded in 1704 by the Duke of Wuerttemberg – Eberhard Ludwig Louis. It was an important hunting area so there was a hunting lodge also built for the  “Order of the hunters of the Golden Eagle”. Today the palace is one of the largest Baroque style palaces in Europe which are still there in the original condition.

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Hunting Lodge across the palace

You will see a lot of marble walls in the residential palace but surprise surprise – it is fake marble! It’s made out of stucco, could be made into all possible colors and was better at retaining heat than the real one –  and hence it was more expensive than real one!

The palace has 450 rooms and it used to house 2000 people out of which there were 1800 servants to serve 200 members of the royal family!

The height of the ceilings defined the status of the owners (probably spending more on heating which would be needed if you had higher ceilings, was also a sign of affluence). The contrast between rich and poor can be seen inside the palace itself – when you go from the king’s room to the servant’s room! The ceiling is lower, cast iron pillar kind of thing for heating and the information that 15 servants stayed in the room waiting for the ringing of the bell that beckoned them for the chores. For sleeping, they had straw laid out on the floor of a room with no furniture. The payment was only for skilled labor like the scribes and so on, but the others had to be satisfied with a roof above their heads and food that they received three times a day. May be some clothes were also given – but they usually had one set of clothes only.

Back to rich people now. The other status symbols of that period were the mirrors and the oil paintings. The more you had, the more rich you were! In fact, mirrors were more expensive than even Gold! It is as astounding as the fact that Aluminium was once so precious that rich people (Napoleon too) had Aluminium dinner sets! Back to mirrors – they were manufactured in Italy and transported in containers of butter (there was no bubble wrap then), hence the origin of the saying “alles im butter” which means all is fine. As for oil paintings, the subject didn’t matter. You just had to have lots and lots of them to impress your guests and make them know that you were rich!

Frescoes inside the palaces were another important feature. Optical illusions denoted the expertise of the painter. Pietro Scotti was the painter commissioned with the job and he did a good one. Skillfully hidden optical illusions in the ceiling – which come to notice when the guide tells you to observe!

Cabinet rooms were special places and it was an honor to be invited there.

There are also four museums inside the palace – mode (fashion), keramik (ceramic), theater and lodgings of Duke Carl Eugen.

There are two churches also inside the palace, one of which was converted later to meeting place after the hunt. Coat of arms of all members of the hunting order are there. Today you can have a wedding there if you like!

In the end, I wonder if the kings ever thought that their homes would be walked into by the commoners – would have been quite a shocking thought! How times change :)!