My favourite old boy Debarshi has just gone off to the Netherlands, to do a master's course in engineering at the University of Delft. He has written the following little essay about his first impressions.
From Durgapur to Delft
In Zuid-Holland, lies a city that is poetry expressed in reality, a municipality that finds its beauty from its canals, and from the breathtaking vistas of Nature bestowed on it so bountifully by the Almighty, and the place that houses one of the finest universities of technology- Delft. I made this journey with one objective in mind- I wanted to learn the way I liked to. It's not every day that the Rector magnificus asks his students to think of themselves as an academic family, where hierarchical power distance is almost non-existent- and invites all of his students to create, innovate and design solutions to real-life problems that affect society as a whole. "If Engineering doesn't change our lives for the better, really address the pressing challenges economically, then that technology is of no use, and just increases theoretical complexity." I attended the Welcome address this very day, and came back with an experience of a lifetime. Care, efficiency, and humanity in every single aspect- this is The Netherlands for me. The Dutch love their tulips, their cheese, their canals, their country- but they love people. Coming from a place that's seen more dog-eat-dog competition than camaraderie, the first days here tasted better than the sweetest chocolate! I found myself thinking- "Maybe it's because they have such a tiny population, in such a beautiful country that seems like a portal to a place back in Time- but, could it be that they had really known the secret to living the good life? It was to co-exist peacefully in harmony, both with their fellow-men and Nature, since all we ultimately are dust in the wind."
Finding luggage too heavy to carry? The Dutch are going to help you out, going out of their way, putting their GPS-enabled phones to real use at the same time while lending a hand with your luggage- and wishing you good luck, when they finally take your leave. Finding yourself in a spot at a busy ticket counter, because you are unable to comprehend their language, that seems to be full of misplaced consonants? The official manning the counter is going to help you out with every single step, and making sure that you understand the concept clearly. Can't seem to find a shop? They will ask you to sit on their bicycles (oh, what a common sight they are all around Delft- there seem to be more bicycles than people!) and get you in the correct direction. The University campus was already strewn with leaves in fall, yet all other alleys and streets and buildings were spotlessly maintained. Love is in the air in The Netherlands- love for beauty, for keeping it so, and comprehending so flawlessly that 72 different nationalities have different cultures, different economic background, diverse religions. TU Delft puts it all in one giant pot, and the concoction tastes sweeter than any other brew! Cooking, cleaning up, washing, studying at the same time- I don't have the warmth of family here, but have found the warmth of fellowship. It has been a long journey- but then the road goes on and on, and whither then? We can only trust that it goes back to the beginning.
I am now waiting for Saikat to fill me in from the University of Rochester, NY, USA. That should be another blogpost.