Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mauro Mansion

The first impression that one gets is that of a Zebra that is behind bars. Actually its an open cabinet for hanging your clothes.

This is in one of the rooms of Mauro Mansion in Amsterdam. A nice and cosy place next to the canal.

What I found was that there is something unique in each room.  Like who would expect a barber’s chair in one of the rooms, but it is there and the guests like it.

From an angle these look like some ducks perched on the wall of the room. This is actually a painting on one of the walls of a room.

These non plastered wall give it a different look. I noticed the table fan on the cupboard.

From across the road (or rather across the canal) it makes a pretty picture with the Basilica standing tall in the background.

I always wanted to get a profile picture showing only half of the face and the other half being in the dark. I think I accidentally got it when the owner of Mauro Mansion, Mr Berry, was explaining to me the finer details of his place. It also shows you the view of the canal from the room.

 And this is where you get your breakfast. Oh I forgot to mention this is a Bed and Breakfast joint very close to the station. (just three minutes walk from Amsterdam Centraal)

If you take a closer look at the ceiling, you will see that the beams are of two colours.  Mr Berry explained that as per the rules of Holland you can repair the place, but care should be taken that the new wood should not look like antique. I think that is a good rule framed by the authorities so that the tourists are not mislead.  The beam you see on the side is 400 years old and it is Oak.

If you have noticed the hat in every room, it is like a logo for the Mauro’s B&B. Mr Berry said that at times its funny too, like some customers come down and say “I think your previous customer forgot their hat”

Talking of coming down, this spiral staircase may look artistic to some but I had a good grip on the banister rail.

Couldn’t resist a click of this Indian hotel which is on the other side of the canal.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Generate electricity pedaling

The above picture reminds me of what I learned in school “parallel lines meet at infinity” But these are not parallel, one made by the edge of the plane’s wing and the other by a jet. Something that I saw from the plane a little after we took off from Schiphol airport at Amsterdam.

As the sun came up this looked wonderful. Maybe Swiss airlines could use this picture for their advertisement (wishful thinking)
Before take off, I had a lot of time to kill and was exploring the airport.

Like this idea of collecting loose change – for a worthy cause.

Saw this eating place and I feel it was a bit over designed for an eating joint. Looks more like a submarine in the  making.

An eye catching ad for rental cars.

Noticed this Cycle at the airport. It may be a technological innovation but what caught my attention was its stand. A simple contraption attached to the pedal acts as a stand. It is so cost effective and convenient, as compared to the normal bicycle stands.   

As for the cycle, it has been just introduced in the market a week ago and the kick off was at the Schiphol airport.
As per the manufacturer:
“The hybrid drive system brings the power directly to the drive wheel with its high performance dual winding motor, while at the same time also serving as a generator: When you pedal, mechanical energy transforms into electricity and feeds the e-bike battery – to a certain extent self generating. By adding energy the standard range of 30 kilometers can be increased even more. Using a throttle, the motor drive can be controlled and you can ride the Mando Footloose even without pedaling.”

What I like about it is that it can be folded and put in a bag and pushed around like a strolly.

The price may be a little steep but then this could be the answer to the heavy traffic problem that exists in many cities.

By the way all the above pictures were clicked with my mobile as my camera was packed and stashed away in my hand luggage. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Cafe Luxemburg

The ambiance of a place makes a lot of difference. 
I am talking about the Café Luxembourg at Amsterdam. 

On one side they had these huge windows with some good old chairs and tables. (I am told that most of the old furniture is still maintained and in use here) It does take you back by a quarter century and how restaurants were in those days.

On the other side we have a view of the bustling Spui square and the customers sitting out who like to take in the street view while having their food.

I liked the elegant décor of the bar.

I was always curious about the traditional Dutch food. 
As it was noon, I opted for a traditional Dutch lunch, which comprised of fresh Pomodori tomato soup, a slice of bread with Russian salad and another slice with veal croquette. It may not look much on the plate, but less is more as it was really filling. Loved those pickled gherkin.

My friend Martin said that it was too early for him to have lunch and settled for cheese cake and Latte coffee.

The one who served us was quick on his feet and always had a smile on his face. I also noticed that he greeted and chatted with most of the customers, which indicated that most of them were regulars here.    

The good food and the efficient service explains why it is a bustling place. 

Like the collection of papers they have for the customers. Noticed some English papers too (respect for all customers)

While stepping out I saw this pedal bus, a good idea to generate power while you sip beer.

Those who visit the Begijnhof cannot miss this place as it is just four steps away.

More on the Begijnhof convent in the next blog post.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The journey inward

Joined this Yoga class two month ago and I am enjoying it.  The classes are at walking distance from where I live and I chose the early morning batch thinking that there won’t be much rush. But I was wrong. People do get up before sunrise (unlike me)  

On the first day when I saw these contraptions hanging on the wall I asked myself “where have I come to?”

But when you see how these ropes are put to use you realise how it helps in stretching different parts of the body.

In fact, after attending for about two months I realised that this Yoga class is something different and the basic principal on which it works is “stretch your body” Something that we forget to do in our daily lives.
Every student who attends the class is ready with a blanket, a belt, a brick and a bolster (all provided by the class)

The brick is not an actual brick but it’s made of wood.

The belt is put to good use especially when you have to stretch and straighten your lower limbs.

In case you are wondering about those chairs in the above picture, they are also a part of the prop. Notice that they have no back rests.

There are more appendages and props that I have seen and I am sure I will see them in use in due course. It is not right to ask “what is this used for?” 

If you look at the wooden block on which his left leg is resting (picture below) it is smooth and curved, ensuring that his heel does not get hurt.  

The class starts with a small prayer.

There are classes dedicated for all age groups: senior citizens, teenagers, ladies and for children. I shot these pictures while the class was in progress as I did not want to disturb anyone nor did I want them to pose for me.

There is a difference in being in a pose with the eyes bandaged (as compared to having your eyes closed), another appendage that is used to concentrate with your mind. The bandage will help us see better as introspection gives better actions - physical, physiological and emotional intelligence. So the journey takes you inward. The institution is rightly named Shriyog (the journey inward)   

While I took a break in between classes, I saw these birds outside doing the balancing act on a small twig to get to their favourite flower.

And this guy was hanging on his hind legs to get his choice fruit. Maybe he does have a clear view of the classes from the window.

They do have an open library and I found some interesting books in their collection.

I like some of the thoughts of the Guru. Like “Giving does not impoverish, withholding does not enrich”

And this one “Life is immortal, death is mortal”

For that matter, I like the board which is placed at the entrance:

And those small graphic displays at different locations, like the one above indicating where the footwear has to be kept.
At the entrance there is a small idol of Hanuman with a bell hanging

When the class is in progress emphasis is given to explain which muscle in the body benefits by each pose. And to understand where the muscle is, they explain with these visual aids.

One of the best things I noticed in the class was that the instructors/teachers were sincere and made all efforts to see that you did it the right way. They allow you to perform within your limitations.

While in Shavasan, a light instrumental or Carnatic music is played in the background which soothes the mind and helps you to relax.
As I attend the early morning class, I can “sense” the dawn breaking by listening to the different bird calls outside the class. As it gets brighter each bird has its own time slot of tweeting. I was particularly fascinated by the call of the white browed fantail. You can hear it here. (Click here)

Is this bird new to Pune? Or is it that it was always here but I never “listened” to it before?

Maybe, by concentrating and listening with my inner mind, I am slowly being aware of the surroundings and the nature.