Can human beings be more humble than Sikhs?

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I see many Sikhs in Europe mostly in places like metro stations. And when I see them, I feel pity for them. They are never seen smiling. Always has a serious look on their faces. Add a turban to their bearded face and they completely stand apart from the crowd. Okay, people don’t smile wide on subways but are Sikhs truly happy in western world?

This blog is inspired by this video about a Sikh in New Zealand.

In my childhood, I saw Sikhs as brave men guarding my country. In all the pictures I saw on newspaper and all, most army men were Sikhs. Western world did not exist to most Indian children back then. It was just India, China and Pakistan. Joining Indian army was my dream and Sikhs were our heroes!

sikh warrior

During my college days though that perception started to change. There were ‘sardarji jokes’ (cartoons of a man with a pot-belly wearing turban). Doesn’t matter how bad the joke is, you have to laugh! But I also happened to see some Sikh youngsters during NCC camps(National Cadet Corps, college students youth army). Boy! they were well-built, tall and extremely handsome male species. Guess what? there were female cadets in the camp, Punjabi girls! You have no idea how you feel when you see a Punjabi girl after living your life with south Indian girls! They were so beautiful that I still remember their faces even after 10 years!

Son-of-Sardar-Poster

Somehow I haven’t seen much of those huge handsome Sikhs in Europe(I haven’t been much to the UK though). One reason is that many just remove their turban and blend in. “How come?”, “Aren’t they religious?”, “Isn’t it prohibited?”, you might ask. The quick answer is, unlike western perception, many Indians don’t care about religion. Religion to them is just a way to socialise and have loads of fun. There is nothing more wonderful than a mid-night temple festival in my home town!

However, like the rest of the world assumes, almost all Indians are religious at some point. Yes, during marriage most Indians are reminded of their caste and religion even today. And there are many very religious people throughout the country(any percentage about Indian population could shoot up to millions). But they do not get noticed in the name of religion when they go abroad. Not at least the way the Sikhs do. And I am here to tell you that Sikhs are different from other religious Indians. Sikhs are better than most of us. Sikhs have a more beautiful mind!

Dutch Painting

Their religious concepts are very down-to-earth and embracing humility. They do not go about preaching religion to everyone. They just live in their world enjoying the essence of their religion. And loves everyone regardless of ..anything. Really, they do!

But still, I do not take much initiative to be-friend a Sikh. I like to have western-oriented friends. Friends who could get a nice bar conversation going. But this video about the Sikh made me pause for a while… a pause to reflect upon one of the purest forms of humanity. A pause that made me realise just how beautiful humility is!

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Why are Indian expats scared of slopes?

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Indians are great travelers and expats are the best among them. But one thing scares the hell out of all Indian expats (say 90%). And that is – carving a snow slope! Yes, Snowboarding or Skiing!

Ski Resort

There are Indian expats living in western world for generations and turning into citizens of a western country. But when they see snow, they slowly transform themselves to cows and cuddle inside. Their children are forced to eat Onion Bhajis watching the snow through a glass window, while their school mates go to a ski resort with family to enjoy the powder and nature. Which spoils their future and they remain detached forever. There are exceptions, of course, but very difficult to find.

What comes to your mind when you think of Himalayas? I think of naked sadhus roaming and some pilgrimage tours to see a glacier. And I also think of some western expeditions (not Indian). What comes to your mind when you think of French Alps? I think of hiking in summer and in winter, oh boy! , I am thrilled to get on a ski lift and embrace nature up-close!! When Indians saw spirituality and religion in the Himalayas, the French and Americans made wooden panels and ventured in to the wilderness. Okay, but the ladies sat in the hut making stew? No! Western ladies and their kids  were right in the middle when a great civilization and culture took shape up there below 00 Celsius.

deer_valley_ski-02a Can you believe that 10 highest mountains on earth are found in Indian Himalayas. Alps is nothing but a tiny hill compared to Himalayas! And you would be amazed to know how much the European economy is dependent on this tiny hill called Alps.

As all my blogs are for those expats who wants to excel in integration, here is how and why you should put on your snowboard this year!

What lies on those slopes and why should an Indian expat ‘risk’ going there? On those slopes lie the secret of western civilization. On those slopes lie nature at its glorious best! On those slopes you witness your body and mind reaching the heights of perseverance, boldness & ecstasy!

SkiBunny You go down a mountain in ‘S’ shape, be it carving or boarding. These ‘S’s can collide as there are many people doing the same. You could fall down and break your bone or your scull. Last time I went there, I saw a lady falling forward on her board and her bleeding nose turned some part of the piste(track) into red colour. Let me also remind you about Michael Schumacher. You still want to go there? 🙂

You should! Is what I would say. Here are some consolations :-

  1. The pistes are large enough, during most part of the track, and multiple parallel ‘S’s are possible
  2. We stop when we are about to collide or the experienced one among us deviates the direction
  3. There are different types of pistes/tracks to suit our level (Blue,Red, Black, etc.)
  4. We fall many times but we can have protective gear for butt, wrist, knee, head, etc.
  5. Michael Schumacher was going off-piste. Which means beyond the secured path provided by the ski region. Experienced people do that to explore nature and enjoy the fresh snow. And risk is expected.
  6. Age is never a problem as there will always be a grandma or grandpa trying it for the first time. I am not lying!
  7. If you, or your friends or family members, don’t want to get that physically involved then there are plenty of other things to do, sledging , snow shoeing, Spa-Sauna, photography or just simply sitting in the cable car and enjoying the view.
  8. Small kids can do wonderfully good on the slopes, I think it helps that they are not afraid of falling. I love watching them speeding. Just don’t tell your Indian grandparents what you are doing to your child 😛 .

children Here are some steps to get us started.

  1. Book a ski trip for a week
    1. Don’t go with all Indians gang, instead prefer an international group (experienced + beginners)
    2. Rent all ski or snowboarding equipment’s way in advance. (if you know enough about the equipment ,buy second-hand before your first trip itself)
  2. Book a training course at a school for half of the week (If you go for 6 days book for min 3 days training)
    1. This is not mandatory. You could instead ask tips from fellow riders.
    2. I have seen people with absolutely no experience starting from the mountain slopes and each time I pass them by, they simply become better riders.
    3. We can ask any stranger on the slope and they would be glad to help you out.
    4. Watch videos on YouTube and be prepared. During your stay keep checking those videos again and again.
    5. we could just have one training on the very first day of your trip. And that is all.
    6. Training is the most expensive (snowboarding training per day, 2.5 hours, costs 64 euros).
    7. Better do not try indoor ski place near you. Hit the real slopes!!
    8. Avoid T-Bars/drag lifts (surface lifts). Instead try gondolas or other Aerial Lifts(saves time and effort) lifts
  3. Get yourself prepared health wise and clothing wise.
    1. There are work outs specifically meant for skiers and boarders which you can do at a gym near your home.
    2. Reduce the cost on clothing by checking my blog Winter Dressing Guide for Indian Expats
  4. Take pain killers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.
    1. Second and third day can be really painful. As your whole body will be aching due to the frequent falling and also exercising muscles which you normally do not use.
  5. Do not miss Après Ski(this should be the most important event for you).
    1. Once you retire the day with an aching and tired body, you get together with fellow skiers over a beer.
    2. I always found it so refreshing to have a beer in such a condition.
    3. You talk and talk and dance the night away (well till 01:00 or 02:00 on the first two days and more on the rest of the days: D).
    4. This event is of high importance in what I said before -experiencing and being part of the western culture.
    5. I have seen strangers meeting and having sex more often in Apres Ski-s :P. Especially towards the last few days of the trip.
    6. Try to be there when the piste opens in the morning. Sleep in the noon if you need rest. Put on your board again till it is Après Ski again!!!

Apres Is there an Indian lady out there who can snowboard? If not, we want one of those bold woman reading this to be that great inspiration!

It can be a difficult process altogether and can also be costly financially. We would need to set apart 800-1000 euros per person. To get a real experience like I mentioned above. But when we leave the resort we start missing it. We pay 1000 euros but we get an experience worthy of 10K Euros. In a way, we will be contributing to the culture and also helping change the culture back home. One day we would want to hit Indian slopes too and spread the goodness.

snow 2 In a little bit deviated note, stop sexual rape and religion in India. Religion is a mind-rape done to us by our parents. It might be difficult to stop that now for ourselves but we can stop doing the same to our children. Support PK! Let us embrace the goodness of other cultures and let this trip to those snow-capped mountains be our first step. A step in seeing life from a different perspective. A step that opens us up.

skip

I know it might appear a bit condescending to many Indian expats, especially the culture part. Those were included mainly because I wanted to express myself fully. And of course to get your attention. So let us look at the positive side and I hope the mountains will benefit your social life in the western world. snowboard

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Top 3 Culinary Experience in Netherlands for Indians

Let us try to discover the top 3 culinary experiences which are likely to be a hit among Indians in Netherlands!

painting_Starry_food

The list consists of the following Top 3s

Don’t forget to comment your thoughts!

  • Top 3 Breakfasts  BF

#1 Van der Valk Hotel Break fast: Considered one of the best breakfast buffet in Europe! This hotel chain has around 60 hotels in Netherlands and is easy to locate. Priced at €14-16.

Van Der valk

#2) Freshly baked ‘Roomboter Croissants’ from supermarkets: Especially the Croissants from Albert Heijn and Jumbo. Fresh ones only available in the morning. No accompaniment is needed for this buttery croissant but for added pleasure slice the belly and apply some butter(roomboter) and Fig Confiture.

croissant  Confiture-Figues

#3) Hema Breakfast : Available in selected Hema outlets. There is also Ikea breakfast . But Hema eases past and bags 3rd spot!. It costs just €1!hema1

  • Top 3 Sweet Delicacies   Indian Sweets

#1) Tompouce: This is very difficult to consume.. not joking. Tip: turn side ways and bite 🙂

tompouce2 Tom_Pouce_is_difficult_to_eat

#2) Rijst/Griesmeel Pap, Vla: Pap is similar to gheer. Greismeel pap= Sooji + milk. Rijst pap = rice + milk. Vla is similar to custard available in India. But it is very tasty here :).

Papvla

#3 Apple Taart from Winkel 43 café, Amsterdam: Check out the review. Tip: On a sunny morning, bike around the PrinsenGracht ending up @winke43 just to savour this fresh apple pie! Wash it down with a Koffie Verkeerd or Munt Thee(explained later).

Winkel 43winkel-431

#3) Special jury award!  OlieBollen in winter(New Year sweet). Available at special winter outlets for Oliebollen. Even though freshly served, they get cold as they are kept outside, hence take home with out mixing sugar powder and re-heat in an oven(pre-heated). Never use microwave.

oliebollen

  • Top 3 Savoury Snacks  indian-food-louise-blaize1

#1) Loempia: Similar to spring rolls in India

mini_loempia

#2) Kaas Souffle: Cheese filled croquette. Available at FEBO

Kasssouffle

#3) Bami croquette: Noodles filled croquette. Available at FEBO

bami croqquette

  • Top 3 Lunches  Lunch

#1) Zacht Broodje Kip Sate: Bun sandwich with chicken and peanut sauce filling.

kip salade

#2) Broodje Eiren salad: Pistolet/baguette filled with Egg salad

Broodje%20Eiersaladebroodjes_met_salades_600_x_324

#3) La Place Lunch: A wide variety of warm and cold meals to choose from. Also found inside V&D.

laplace

  • Top 3 Dinners  dinner-family

#1) ‘Kipfilet Alla Romana’ from Bertolli: Many Dutch are addicted to this concept called wereld gerechten(would cuisines). This ready-to-cook packet contains the gravy and pasta.  You need to add yourself chicken, champignons(mushroom), tomato, cream, etc. One packet serves 2-3 people and is available in supermarkets such as Jumbo and AH XL. Addictive taste! + white wine = teasingly lekker!

Bertolli BErtolli2

#2) Pan cakes and Poffertjes from Oudt Leyden restaurant: A unique dining experience which makes you crave for Dutch pan cakes! Pan cakes are priced €7-14.

P1030398 poffertjes

#3) Ikea Dinner: Vis Filet Gratino wins in Ikea menu! Fried fish with chips/mashed potato and boiled vegetables. Champignon(mushroom) soup is recommended. €8-13 per person. Available at all Ikea outlets.

visfilet

  • Top 3 Beverages  Coffee-victoria

#1) Koffie verkeerd: Half coffee half milk. A ‘wrong’ combination!

Koffie verkeerd

#2) 100% vers geperst vruchtensap : 100% fresh pressed fruit juice provided by supermarkets. Since they are pressed and not centrifuged, nutrients stay longer. They come in a not-so-fancy bottles(mostly glass) and have very short expiry dates.

vruchten sap3 vruchten sap

#3) Munt Thee: Mint Tea = hot water + mint leaves + honey. Can’t have a flavourful healthy drink than this!

Munt thee

  • Top 3 Desserts  dessert

#1) ‘Dulche de Leche’ flavour from Häagen-Dazs: This flavour is mostly seen only in Haagen-Dazs outlets. Dulche Leche

haagen-dazs-dulce-de-leche-target

#2) Danio Kwark Bosbes flavour: Available in most super markets

Danone Danio % vet

#3) Tiramisu: This Italian dessert is available in most super markets. AH Excellent Tiramisu is good. Contains egg.

tiramisu  tiramisu1

Eet smakelijk !!!

Since there is religious restrictions in certain states in India this list does not include some delicacies such as bitter ballen, erwten soup, etc. Those souls with out such restriction on food, please comment or message for a complete list.

Dinner Dutch

Comment your thoughts please 🙂