Saturday, August 14, 2010

Adventure: Deserted in an Alien Land

With my apparently increased obsession towards Netherlands, of course I was bound to face much criticism. However, that isn’t stopping me from blogging me about the adventures and lessons in the country. Thus from now, expect articles in 2 parts: adventures and differences I spotted between Netherlands and India.


Being the youngest participant of an International Conference is always a delightful feeling, but it isn’t the same when the time for separation arrives. On 17th May, a similar situation dawned on me as the participants left for their countries. Although I must confess, hardly anything was comprehensible to me (I remember the names Ergodicity, Pisot’s Number, Thue- Morse Word) but I enjoyed the Mathematical environment and facilities immensely, and didn’t want it to let go. The Organizers of the Conference were determined as well for a perfect ending, giving a dinner to all the participants.

The venue was Scheltema Restaurant, Leiden. Although in India, I’ve been maintaining a safe distance from alcohol (dislike for taste, its illegal status and being a health spoiler), I wanted to join them with few hours between us and was willing to experiment the drinks (especially because it was free).

The menu was served in 4 rounds- an alcoholic drink to start with, followed by salmons, main course meal of beef, and finally tea/ coffee. I chose Martini to begin, but the urge to experiment pushed me into trying a glass of red wine (half-filled) kept on the table. After the meal, I opted for a 7UP and drank another glass of wine.

Thankfully, the young participants chose to stay back a little longer, and explore the best bars in Leiden. Before leaving, we had a photography session (see pics) and I had another glass of wine. Midway the group unfortunately got divided into 2 parts, and mutually finding each other didn’t help (see Rendezvous Game). Thus, I was left with my French room-mate and the weirdest guy in the Conference- Oleksandr Aksenov (French- Russian) who wasn’t said anything by others, only because courtesy demanded the same.

Despite the knowledge of my dislike for beer, Nicolas paid me for one and forced it in my hand. And then I realized, when you are partially drunk (3 wines and 1 martini) and have a beer in hand, it becomes irresistible. To take a break for smoking, (it is illegal to smoke inside a bar) Nicolas went out for a few minutes, but never returned. Thus I was deserted in a place I didn’t recognize even in my senses, with the strangest guy in the Conference in a drunken state.

Thankfully, strange people are good and although Oleksandr walked awfully fast and I lost him at times, but always ended up finding him, and reaching the hotel safely. (Dutch streets were beautiful in the night, with cool winds and partial senses) Although I still maintain it was a careless prank by my room-mate, but I love remembering the day and can’t help laughing whenever I read this reply from Nicholas later in one of our e-mails:

“If there is no Aksenov, there is no more reason to abandon you”.

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