Category: Story

‘the PhD experience’

I am thinking of writing a longish post on my experiences as a PhD, perhaps this will spur me on before I forget, and send over the idea to half-baked ventures I promised to do and never did.


Patter is currently on two weeks annual leave. (Faint sounds of cheering.) So thenext four posts are reprints of some otherwriting that might be of interest to Patter readers.This is theforeword I wrote to a new anthology of Australian doctoral researcher stories – Postgraduate study in Australia: surviving and succeeding.It’s edited by Chris McMaster, Caterina McMaster, Ben Whitburn and Inger Mewburn. If you enjoy reading about other people’s experiences of the PhD thenthis bookwill interest you.

The Hungarian social scientist Michael Polanyi wrote a great deal that was relevant to the ways in which learning occurs. Polanyi argued that all knowledge production was an act of creation which was profoundly about the person, their commitments and passions. He proposed that much of what is often understood as systematic, ‘objective’ and the product of logical reasoning, was actually enmeshed in informed hunches, dreams and intuitions based in ‘tacit’ knowledge…

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Dinner at Mama Makan

We had dinner at Mama Makan. Though for Hindi speakers it sounds like Mama’s house, in Indonesian it means Mama’s Food. The concept is that you are at Mama’s kicthen, sitting on the table, with mismatched yet charming plates, old quaint cutlery that is heavy and solid like Mama’s love (I suppose), and Mama brings out her passionately cooked meals, just for you.

Perhaps this is the reason why the service is so indulgent. The food is a mix of continental favorites like herb crusted rack of lamb, roast monkfish, and tournedos rossini, as well as Indonesian delights such as Gado Gado, Nasi Goreng, and Kari Ayam.

We ate the Ikan Masak Lemak, poached fish in rich turmeric sauce, along with Sate Campur, assorted satays, and white wine risotto with grey shrimps, broad beans, asparagus and poached egg. The food was exceptional, perfect portion size, beautifully presented, tasty, and not too spicy or oily.

We drank Indonesian beer called Bintang, which the hostess said was, “better than Heineken,” Apoorva informed us that Bintang was a Heineken product, so no offence was taken in that accord.

For dessert, I had the black glutinous rice with fresh mango and coconut cream, the rice was chewier than I expected. The Sulawesi chocolate ice ceam, I was informed, was the best chocolate ice cream ever. This judgement might have been clouded by the champagne we had earlier in the evening, followed by the copious amounts of Bintang.

We were presented a plate of tropical fruit because we were celebrating and offered (another) glass of champagne, which we turned down, because we are officially middle-aged and at 7:30pm wanted to call it a night, get back home, read our book, listen to some old songs, play some games on the iPad, and sleep.

A meal for three, with drinks, cost us: 85 euros with tip, which for the experience, ambience, and food, I would highly recommend as an excellent deal.

Mama Makan: click here

Day out in Lisse

Spring in Lisse, 2017

When you have a sunny day like today you do not need edits or filters. Apart from the Keukenhof gardens, the fields in Lisse are where you can observe Netherlands’ horticulture in all its glory. Fed on the romantic images of Silsila somehow these fields manage to inspire me year after year. There is something magical when the colors of nature are planted with human precision. I say human because if you look closely there are some rebels, a few red heads in a field of white. Maybe these are planned but these outliers make me feel that things will be okay in their own sweet way. In the meantime I can let this carpet carry me away to a whole new world…

Space, a ghazal in the making

Aged five, an early memory, Rakesh Sharma travelling in space
Mrs. Gandhi, he said, India appears best in the world, unravelling in space

When I go back home, the Mango tree has shrunk
The courtyard looks smaller, what is this diminishing space

My sister pretty like a flower, a gentle soul
She ended her relationship, she is carving her own space

A box is a handy object to put things in
Nick Sousanis says that a door is a barrier or an opening for space

When you step out and away
There is a tendency for romanticising the space

In the Metro, each morning, they push and shove
All these people, getting to somewhere, jostling for space

We are giving away our things, my boyfriend announces
Apparently, I am making space

Tall buildings tend to shroud small shacks
In a big city, they tell me, it is about monetising the space

Are you missing having your own spot, fear not
In Amsterdam, we have Spaces, for those wanting some space

It was not so easy for Kalpana Chawla
A light, she remains, for all of us brown girls claiming some space

On Twitter everyday the mobs outrage about something
140 characters did give the masses a liberating space

The talk in workplaces is about diversity
You can banter all you want but are you creating space

I care little about sand that slides
Those who are rocks, fundamentally stay, holding me in place

So, what are you up to these days Das?
Amongst other things updating my blogging space

Restaurant Jinso for lunch

We had an outstanding lunch at Jinso in Arena Boulevard. We have eaten at Jinso before (and keep passing it when we have an errand to run at Villa Arena or a movie to watch at Pathe) and I always forget to note down (for the blog) how good the food is, how pleasant the atmosphere is, and how friendly the staff are. But, today, here and now I am making it a point to write the fact that this place is really good.

For those of you curious to know the specs: it is very spacious for Amsterdam standards and has natural light flowing through its interiors. It gives the feeling of sitting in a conservatory. Similar to Kokusai in shape but, with much more natural light and better service.

A lunch main course for three people, and four drinks cost us – 47 euros. Admittedly, not cheap but for a special meal on the Easter weekend, why not, a bit of indulgence once in awhile is good for them old bones!  Be forewarned they have generous portion sizes.

Living on the intersection of India and The Netherlands – learning from Erin Meyer’s “The Culture Map”

aaeaaqaaaaaaaarjaaaajdczmzi5mzmzlty4mwqtngfiyy1iyzy3ltgyzgq4yju4odg1oaThis is a post about an article written by Apoorva Mathur that throws light on work place cultural nuances along with disparity between the Dutch and Indians.

I enjoyed the manner in which he places emotions alongside tasks and relationships, without dealing with them as the “other” or the “elephant in the room” or something that is irrelevant, inconsequential, and trivial even.

As an aside: I wholeheartedly accept the blame for “flowery” language use. Mea Culpa!

IMAGE: Sunrise as seen from outside Amstel Park. Picture: Apoorva Mathur

This is the house that Jack built

Twitter informed me that today is World Poetry Day.

Arundhati Roy says, “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”
Thus, I am going to leave this here in case it matters.
The House
Mother says there are locked rooms inside all women; kitchen of lust,
bedroom of grief, bathroom of apathy.
Sometimes the men – they come with keys,
and sometimes, the men – they come with hammers.
 Nin soo joog laga waayo, soo jiifso aa laga helaa,
I said Stop, I said No and he did not listen.
Perhaps she has a plan, perhaps she takes him back to hers
only for him to wake up hours later in a bathtub full of ice,
with a dry mouth, looking down at his new, neat procedure.
I point to my body and say Oh this old thing? No, I just slipped it on.
Are you going to eat that? I say to my mother, pointing to my father who is lying on the dining room table, his mouth stuffed with a red apple.
 The bigger my body is, the more locked rooms there are, the more men come with keys. Anwar didn’t push it all the way in, I still think about what he could have opened up inside of me. Basil came and hesitated at the door for three years. Johnny with the blue eyes came with a bag of tools he had used on other women: one hairpin, a bottle of bleach, a switchblade and a jar of Vaseline. Yusuf called out God’s name through the keyhole and no one answered. Some begged, some climbed the side of my body looking for a window, some said they were on their way and did not come.
 Show us on the doll where you were touched, they said.
I said I don’t look like a doll, I look like a house.
They said Show us on the house.
Like this: two fingers in the jam jar
Like this: an elbow in the bathwater
Like this: a hand in the drawer.
 I should tell you about my first love who found a trapdoor under my left breast nine years ago, fell in and hasn’t been seen since. Every
now and then I feel something crawling up my thigh. He should make himself known, I’d probably let him out. I hope he hasn’t
bumped in to the others, the missing boys from small towns, with pleasant mothers, who did bad things and got lost in the maze of
my hair. I treat them well enough, a slice of bread, if they’re lucky a piece of fruit. Except for Johnny with the blue eyes, who picked my locks and crawled in. Silly boy, chained to the basement of my fears, I play music to drown him out.
 Knock knock.
Who’s there?
No one.
 At parties I point to my body and say This is where love comes to die. Welcome, come in, make yourself at home. Everyone laughs, they think I’m joking.
Warsan Shire, “The House.” Copyright © 2014 by Warsan Shire.