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 🙂

Stick to Indian group or the Internationals?

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“I always kept away from Germans when I was in US”. This is what a German friend on mine told me about her experience in the US. The reason was that having a German friend/room-mate prevents her from integrating well with international community or the natives. Language wise or culinary wise, same country men makes it difficult for us to try out things which are necessary to blend in with other cultures.

Bar%20at%2021

Now, talking about Indians, is a German in US equivalent to Indian in Netherlands/US? That is going to be a difficult comparison. First of all there are lot of similarities between western cultures. For eg: The cuisines they are used to are somewhat similar. A social conversation at a bar comes easily to both as they are used to that from childhood. Hence it will be easier for a German/European to integrate in US/Australia compared to an Indian in US/Europe. Still my German friend is trying her best to integrate.

Provide these options to an Indian student and ask which one they prefer:

  1. Social conversation
  2. Watch a one-day
  3. Prepare for exam

Most Indians I know of, would prefer 2 and 3. So it is natural that there is a bit of a difficulty when going abroad and making lot of friends from other cultures. Of course we are such sociable people. But the question is how much of those skills can be adapted to international audience. We are expats. And expats are smart! 🙂 Aren’t we? And I know many Indians who relishes in meeting people. In most of the expat events happening in Netherlands there are always some Indians. What it all means is that if there is a will there is a way! Do you like to build an India in Netherlands(read as the country you are from) or you like to live the Netherlands as it is. It will be easy for us to create an Indian atmosphere around us. And we may not read articles for that. So let us assume you are here for the second option.

Here are some tips to make international/native friends:

Kayaking

  • Be bold to do it alone (or with your partner).
  • Try joining a sports club such as badminton or a dance class. And do not join with an Indian friend/s. And stay back for the drinks. If it is a cricket club never miss the drinks after a match or practice. Lot of soft drink varieties are there so not a problem if you are non-alcoholic.
  • Join a language class. Most of the close friends I have in Netherlands are from my first Dutch class.
  • If possible, try to have an international/native flat mate.
  • Do volunteer work(seva). You will meet people with golden hearts!
  • Keep in mind that it is easy to make a friend from the international community than a native Swedish(if you live in Sweden). For the simple reason that the initiative is less from a native as he/she already has a social life.
  • Prepare yourself to enter uncomfortable zones. Adapt from first experience and enter the uncomfortable zone again. The return from this for your career and social life is enormous.
  • Work out. You do not go to gym to socialize. But it gives you a 26 hour day!  Work-out helps us achieve other goals mentioned here. If you have to choose between sports/dance club vs gym, then I would say if the sports/dance makes you sweat a lot then you can avoid gym else gym is highly recommended.
  • In summer there will be more events and will be easier for us to travel. Hence start planning for summer events from spring onwards. Strengthen the friendships in winter(when we are likely to look for reasons not to go out 🙂 ).

Hiking

There could be some ‘tension’ with your Indian friends if you live with them and go out with out them. Sometimes it can be dangerous if you live with colleagues as politics might come into play. They might attack you by calling ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) saying you do not belong here or there. Well….”Good luck to you!” :). There is no immediate remedy. You need to manage yourself with all your communication skills. Both parties are important to us. Also it would be a good idea to have a set of Indian friends on one side and the international friends on the other side. It will only enrich our social life. There could be some warmth and genuineness in the friendship with Indians. But on the other hand, with the internationals, sometimes we might need to put up with shallow friendships.  For eg: Meeting someone at a bar does not mean that we get their phone numbers and they get invited to our home, some other time, for a coffee. It can happen of course. But what I mean is that be ready to leave space and let the space disappear gradually or naturally. grand-bar-guido-borelli

I know some Indians who register for social events, pulling out at the last moment. If I am being honest some of them are simply nervous like I was. Many do not like the idea of going alone and making new friends. But the good thing is that they had the willingness to register in the first place. What we are forgetting is the fact that the people who come to such events will take care of each other. They will understand you and help you out. Yes, those strangers will do that! Just trust them and join the fun. It is also very likely that no one knows you are scared. It is a win-win anyways and you won’t be alone for the second event. You can take my word for it!

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