Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology of the RWTH Aachen University

Category Archives: Life in Germany

All the little things: Thoughts of someone who came back

Spiritual journey

Since I was a child, I was raised in a rational, non-religious way. Nevertheless, I attended lessons in religion, not only Christianity, and always have been interested in other religions, as they show a part of the culture and history of other people, and gave a lot of thoughts on spirituality. Still, during the last past years, I somehow haven’t given much thoughts to that topic.

Maybe because it is not really part of the everyday life in Germany. In Raipur, or inIndia in general, religion and spirituality was everywhere I looked. It seemed to be part of almost every part of the everyday life. Everywhere you walk you can find big and small temples, sometimes a bit hidden, between the houses and almost near every lake and under a lot of certain trees in the streets you can find small places for worshipping and sacrificing. Of course, there were a lot of young people which haven’t been that spiritual, but still even them believed in goods and in certain tradition. They always wondered how I cannot believe in goods when I told them that I am an atheist.

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Being surrounded by all this spirituality, there was no other choice but to get curious about it and to engage with it. In that way we had a lot of talks about it and learned a lot about the history, their tales and how they still affect the modern life. But talks only get you an idea of what it really about, so we visited many temples and joined some ceremonies to experience this spirituality on our own. It was quite different to the kind of heavy, sad and obedient way of the typical European ceremonies. The music and the songs seem to be happier (as I don’t understand Hindi I can’t really tell but it felt like it) and more natural/elemental. During the ceremonies they use a lot of flowers, water, fire and food, so it felt more like worshipping the elements than directly the goods. This impression is, in my opinion, also reflected in the fact that a lot of rivers, trees and other plants are worshiped as holy things, as parts of the gods.

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But, contradictive as every religions seems to be for me, even they worship it, the Indian people very often don’t treat the nature around them well, filling it with a lot of waste or destroying it with building factories or expanding their cities unplanned and unorganized. So all of these experiences made me think about what I know and about the way I was raised. But like a lot of questions I brought back from the stay in India, this one is also still not answered.


Pani Problem

For people living in Germany, it is quite normal to go to the tab, turn it on, pour a glass of water from it, fill a bottle or simply drink it. If you buy fruits at the market, for example grapes or apples, you should wash them at home, but you also can eat them directly without fearing instant aftermaths. You can order drinks with crushed ice without thinking about it. As common as all of these things sound to people like me, it is not something to take granted in India.

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If you would turn on the tab for example in Raipur and directly drink the water from there, you would most likely end up with health problems. And as the fruits at the market are mostly cleaned with the same water and the crushed ice is made of it as well, you would most likely deal with the same outcome after consuming them. In some parts, like in the poorer areas and slums, you couldn’t even turn on the tab, because there is none, as well as there is no toilette, as the city don’t have any sanitation and waste-water system in these parts, while being not very proper in the rest of the city. Most of the waste water is channeled into an open sewer system along the streets, so called nallahs. But as they are mostly also used to get rid of any waste, polluting the waste water even more, they are quite often filled and clogged, resulting in a really bad smell all over the city and, during strong rainfalls, in floods, spreading the pollutants in the area and let it infiltrate the ground and polluting the water resources. Because of this reasons, especially foreigners like me have to be very patient about what they eat and drink, have to by bottled water for drinking and sometimes even for brushing your teeth. At the first weeks, it was kind of hard to remember that all the time and you really learned to be thankful to have a proper system here in Germany. You really learn to appreciate all those things, especially when seeing people washing their dishes and clothes, themselves and their teeth all at once in a lake behind their houses, as they have no other choice.

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Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

One thing I really miss back here in Germany is going by the rickshaw. Whether for going to the university in the morning, the way back from there or in the evening driving back to the hotel through the night after having a walk around the Telibandha Lake. Whether public and cram-full to the last corner or all by my one in a private one, every time it has been a really immediate and really direct way to get to know the city and the people. Because of its open cut, all the noise, the dirt but also the life hits you directly without the protection of wall, e.g. a window glass in a car, and you fully emerge in the city living around you. The sound of the engine was like a drum machine, producing a beat which seemed to be like a heartbeat of the everyday life around you, mixing up with all the honking and shouting that one felt like in an urban jungle. With the heat, nearly no wind or fresh air and all the vehicles and people around it felt like being a part of a big body, moving here and there.

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During the evening, the city got more quiet and only the sound of the engine was left like a heartbeat in a body that goes to sleep, with the fresh wind being like a calm breath and the city lights like the pictures of the day that come to you mind before falling asleep.

During those rickshaw rides, as well as during a lot more occasions, a lot of people approached us and we started stalking to them. Those talks where often a mixture of a little Hindi here on our side, a little English there on the other side and a lot of smiling and laughing in between, because we did not really understood each other. This is another example where we experienced the kindness all the people commonly showed to us, which made you feel welcome amongst them, being part of this body named Raipur.


Enjoy the silence

The first thing I recognized after coming back to Germany was this big silence around me. It hit me in the same way as the noise and the life hit me when I arrived in Raipur. I was so used to the cacophony from honking, shouting, rattling engines and every other possible sounds, that even a city like Frankfurt on the Main, in which I landed on our journey back to Germany, seems to be a little and quite village.

But what I felt was not only the silence in the surroundings outside, but also in my everyday life. After living together with two other persons in a for me rather small hotel room for two months and spending almost the whole day together, at the first moment it is kind of weird to have again  a room and time for your own and be on your own. Nevertheless, even being three in one room, there were moments when nobody spoke, everybody was absorbed in thoughts or concentrated on their work. But this silence was quite different, not as complete as being entirely on your own.

Also it feels like the streets are more empty and less lively, that less of the life of the city happens in the public space but rather in the buildings. All the small shops selling fruits, street food, clothes and a lot of other stuff which can be found in Raipur and where people gather around, all the small temples and small restaurants, in Germany they are most likely in buildings or fewer but more empty. Of course in the evening a lot of bars and restaurants open too in Germany, but during the day the streets are rather empty and business is done behind walls and windows.

BEYOND INDIAN BOUNDARIES

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The Mountain Park at Louseberg

I am Shweta Kumari  from N.I.T. Patna. I am in the 3rd semester of M.Tech degree course.  I have been awarded  the opportunity to visit Aachen and do my internship there for two months in RWTH Aachen University under the guidance of Dr. Klaus Baier and Prof. Rafiq Azam. I am very  thankful to  Prof. Vivekanand Singh Sir and Prof. Ramakar Jha Sir for  their help and guidance. I was very happy and excited as it was my first visit to a foreign land.

I  boarded my flight from I.G.I. airport , New Delhi at 3 a.m. and reached Frankfurt in morning at 8 a.m. It was a long journey  from India to Franfurt but I  was happy and had been enjoying the outside view and flight facilities

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At I.G.I. Airport New Delhi

during my journey. From Frankfurt I took the connecting flight to Dusseldorf. After half an hour I reached Dusseldorf airport. It was quite big and the aeroplanes were being unloaded there. I received my baggage and  came out of the airport .I met Hemant Sir there. It was really very nice of him that he came to receive me inspite of being busy. I was very happy and we have taken the train from Dusseldorf airport to reach Aachen. After a journey of an hour we reached Aachen.

 

 

AS I stepped down in Aachen I felt like “wow finally I am in Aachen” and now  the journey begins.  “Oh my god!

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A view of Germany from heights

flowers and flowers all around” it was my first reaction. It  looked like they were welcoming me in Aachen. I was mesmerized  by the beauty of Aachen. The historic and beautiful Aachen! I loved it. It is a nice well planned  and modern city . A city with proper traffic and transportation systems, clean streets, lots of students, cathedral,  lots of flowers and greenery . For me it was all new watching maximum number of persons from all age groups bicycling and walking to reach their places. The drainage system of  Aachen is also very good as I have seen that inspite of raining  for hours  there was not a single waterlogged place here. My project is related with urbanization and water management that’s why I had been observing these things very minutely.

 

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Lousberg lying in the centre of Aachen city

In Aachen  there are large apartments  everywhere , in which hundreds of student live and all are provided with separate rooms . They have placed everything of need in a small area including refrigerator in kitchen etc.  After staying almost two weeks in Aachen I realized that the Germans are very helpful , laborious and punctual by nature. In Germany the Sun sets at 10:00 p.m. and the Indian time is three and half hours ahead of German time. This caused a lot  of problems during initial days for me.  According to my body clock I used to sleep at 7 p.m. (G.S.T.). I would wait for the Sun to set  but I used to go to sleep everyday before sunset and used to wake up at 3 a.m.(G.S.T.). But everything is normal now.

 

The food habits of both the countries are very different . In India we have spicy foods but  it  is different here. Their way of cooking is different. I have tasted many dishes here and I love “Falafel” the most.

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A model showing ancient engineering

I have been to many places here in Aachen like Rat hause, Aachen theatre, West park, Aachen Cathederal, Ponttor,Three country point , Puppenbrunnen etc. All these monuments are master pieces of ancient art and looks like telling stories of Aachen’s glorious history.  Ponttor is the place from where  the enemies entered into  Germany at the time of the second world war .The sculptures carved on the walls of Rathause are amazing. Out of all these places I like “THREE COUNTRY POINT “  the most.

 

 

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View from “King Baudouin Tower” at the Three Country Point

It is located on Vaalserberg i.e. Mount of vaals. At the three country point the borders of three countries namely Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands meet .A small stone pillar is constructed at the meeting point. It is  a very interesting  place. There are large number of shops in which varieties of German food and ice-creams can be enjoyed. A huge tower named “King Baudouin Tower” is also located beside the  Three Country Point.  There is a concrete roof on the top of the tower from where you can see the beautiful landscapes of the three countries at the same time. One  can use lift or stairs to reach the top. We reached  the border of Germany by bus from Aachen Bushof and from there we walked to reach  “Three Country Point”.

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Pillar at the Three Country Point

Lots of thanks to the soul of this  journey my father and my family whose support and efforts made it all happen. I am also very thankful to Hemant Sir and Manish Sir for their help and support in Aachen. Lot more to explore ………… I am on my way.

 

Journey over the Sky….. The beginning

skyIt was banal but pleasant morning when I and my roommate Abhay were sipping tea at our terrace when our ears were deafened by the sound of the roaring plane above our apartment which was about to land in the Patna Airport. It was a constant reminder to me that I haven’t travelled abroad. I said “Abhi tak nahi gaya hu yar” (I haven’t travelled abroad yet) and he assured me saying “you will definitely go”. Believe it or not, in the same week my eyes gleamed to see a notice at our college stating an opportunity to go to Germany for a funded research internship. I never wanted to slip this chance so I knuckled down and submitted all the documents the same day, required for screening and selection of the students. A week after, which almost felt like years of waiting, I received a mail from Hemant Wakode. My heart started pounding heavily in joy and ecstasy to see the invitation letter to Aachen. Read more »

A new beginning

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Travelling has always amused me and somehow the opportunity to visit Germany gave me a reason to explore a lot more about myself. 14th June 2014 was my first step in the real world. All the anticipation and the excitement in those 8 hours of flight towards Germany is still prominent somewhere inside of me. From Frankfurt to Aachen and then to my sister’s place, my eyes were amazed with the beauty around. Every little detail of the place made my eyes glitter. I wanted to explore. And as the time passed, things started to become familiar. The roads, the rules, the language, the food, the management system, nothing seemed strange anymore. I made friends and even though i knew i’ll be leaving in 2 months, the familiarity and the way people welcomed me warmly, i got attatched to the details of the city. Read more »

Dream comes true!!!

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Since my childhood days, I have many dreams and paying a visit in any western countries was one of them. I just keep on dreaming but believe in myself that one day before I die I will surely achieve it. After taking admission in NIT Rourkela, India I still keep dreaming; since than I usually used to shear or often talked about my dream with my supervisor (Dr Ramakar Jha) or with my friends; than he advice me that to go abroad you should have a passport; do you have it? Which I don’t have at that time; than I thought at least I should have a passport whether in my life It will be useful or not, than I had start the process of making a passport.     Read more »