Sunday, 19 October 2008

Concerts: Epica & Kittie

We have an autumn break in The Netherlands for one week in October. Everyone on campus has something planned: some are traveling [Valencia, Spain, etc]; some visiting friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, or family; and some even going back home to visit. However, I am stuck here, with no motivation to travel alone, no girlfriend to visit, and family and home is too far to visit. So my plan was to stay here, catch up with studies, apply for jobs, and go to concerts! I attended two great concerts this weekend.

I had to go to Eindhoven for the first performance on Friday 17th; this band was Epica, a Dutch band newly introduced to me, but whose style and genre of music I appreciate very much: Gothic-symphonic-theater style like Nightwish. They were quite impressive, with the beautiful red-haired vocalist Simone Simons. The 'epic', operatic, medieval melodies, the contrasting screaming of the male singer, and brutal guitar support all blended together just made this band stand out to me, and it goes right up there in my list of favourites!

The second band performed on Saturday 18th, I traveled to Amsterdam to see, I met Marcos there, and we had some pre-fun going to a whiskey bar that had a menu of 1001 whiskeys, and then it was on to the concert! The band was one that I grew up listening to and appreciated ever since they appeared on that morning on MTV with their song "Charlotte"; I still remember that day, and the video, and how impressed I was with this all-girl band growling up the stage! Kittie is the name of this Canadian "female-Korn" band. I must admit, their performance wasn't as impressive or I should say "dramatic" as these bands like Within Temptation and Epica, but then again it's a different style of music. Also, some of the original members that I was obsessed with in my teen-years have left the band. Nevertheless, they impressed me with their intense growls, rough riffs, mosh-pit-inducing-music, and grungy-attractiveness of course. The DJ opened their performance with a song by Lords of Acid.

For more pictures, see:

Friday, 10 October 2008

's-Hertogenbosch [Den Bosch]

I had to visit Den Bosch [or 's-Hertogenbosch] to collect my Dutch Residence Permit, and decided to see the city along the way. It turned out to be quite a beautiful, charming, and possibly even romantic city [at least compared to Tilburg]. Small, with old [Dutch] architecture, and networked with many small channels and canals, with archways that make beautiful reflections on the water beneath.

's-Hertogenbosch (literally meaning "The Duke's Forest"), colloquially known as Den Bosch is a municipality in the Netherlands, and also the capital of the province of North Brabant. It is located in the south of the Netherlands, some 80 km south of Amsterdam.

One thing that I absolutely needed to try there was the Bosschebollen, or Bosch Balls. It is a specialty cake from 's-Hertogenbosch, which is baked on choux herd, then filled with whipped cream and glazed with melted chocolate. Bossche balls have a diameter of about 12 cm and are thus large pastries. These are the most amazing scrumptious pastries I've ever tasted and I recommend anyone to visit Den Bosch just to taste these! I had them at what is supposed to be the original bakery that invented it: Jan de Groot. Have it with a coffee and your day is perfect! Lekker [delicious in Dutch]!

For more pictures, see:

Thursday, 9 October 2008


My entire life's thus far has been devoted to this. Ever since I was growing up, my dream was to have a mini fridge in my room. And now, thanks to Marcos, we found one outside [being thrown away], and took it :), for free! Hey it's not stealing if it's in the garbage. Anyways, we took it in, cleaned it up, and guess what? It works! This is so fun, so accessible, and so cool to say that I have a mini fridge in my room! And better yet, we've made it a dedicated-beer-fridge! What better to stock it with than The Netherlands' finest beer: Heineken. Very cool!

I've also started cooking a lot, as I said before. Now, i can handle two different meals at the same time ;) the one on top is curry-geera [cumin] chicken, and below is Chinese Szechuan Chicken. All from scratch! It's quite enjoyable and now i know why Kris and Waziq like it so much; it's almost therapeutic.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Rotterdam & De Biesbosch

The last trip with ESN [Erasmus Student Network] was quite successful and worthy! So when we heard of this trip to Rotterdam, we couldn't help but sign up for it. At the standard price of 24 euros, we got a transport to/from Rotterdam, a tour of De Biesbosch [wet-/swamp-lands of The Netherlands], a harbour tour of Rotterdam, free time to roam, and entrance to the Euromast! So here we were, a group of IMMIT students once more still struggling to integrate with the international [exchange] students. At least on this trip we had our newly-formed 'Dutch' friend Jeffery [who happens to be a magnificent photographer; check out this excellent picture of Wasiq by him!

Firstly in the morning we stopped off at De Biesbosch, one of the largest national parks in the Netherlands, and one of the last freshwater tide areas in Europe, rich in flora and fauna. It was pleasant stroll through nature, but nothing that I haven't seen before, cows, grass, trees, and geese: the norm. The only thing rather fascinating here was that colonies of beavers inhabit the area. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to see any since beavers are known to be nocturnal animals.

After this it was straight on to Rotterdam, the 2nd-largest city by population in the Netherlands. I’ve always heard about this city but I knew nothing of it, except that it had one of the largest ports in the world [now the largest in Europe]. A total contrast from Biesbosch: I was totally astonished by the modernity of this city; it was definitely the first modern European city that I have seen since I came here. Contributing to this effect was the magnificent skyline and weird-modern architecture and design [like the Kubuswoningen, or cube houses among other buildings]. Even if the buildings don't mean anything, even if they're just apartments, they're built with style and with an expensive/high-tech/futuro-look to them. It was interesting, different, and satisfying. There was an enormous shopping district, and the diversity of people quadrupled over Tilburg.

While there we saw four main sites that we couldn’t have missed. The Port of Rotterdam, ESN gave us this boat tour, and it was nothing less than informative, and as we are currently following a series of courses pertaining to logistics, and supply chain management, it was quite exciting to see this mammoth sized port, and imagine how everything is coordinated and structured. To try to explain how large this port is, imagine 40 kilometers of harbour! Next was the Erasmusbrug, or the Erasmus Bridge, of course this was moving for us since we’re part of this Erasmus Mundus Programme, and I believe most of the Erasmus concepts began in Rotterdam. When one goes to Rotterdam I think it’s fairly necessary to see the Kubuswoningen, or cube houses, even if you don’t appreciate modern art. It’s very strange to see these cube-shaped buildings in the middle of the city, and wonder what the hell the artist was thinking when he created them. What’s even more amazing is that people actually live in them [it must be quite tight inside, and it requires a lot of imagination on what furniture to buy and how to arrange them]. Lastly, we had a rotating elevator ride [and guided tour] on the Euromast, a tower in Rotterdam that is about 185 meters high, and where you can see views as far as the North Pole [they claim].

The day was fun, and the only thing that was a bit harassing was how cold and windy it was, but otherwise, it was well spent.

For more pictures, see: