World Pillow Fight Day-Amsterdam

Amsterdam never ceases to amaze me. Not in my wildest dreams had I imagined such an event with this intensity. Thousands of people came together on Dam Square for the year’s most massive pillow fight on April 2nd. We went there with our Cameras to capture the event but soon started picking a fight with Pillows.

Rules:
– Soft pillows only!
– Swing lightly, many people will be swinging at once
– Do not swing at people without pillows or with cameras
– Remove glasses, necklaces, bracelets and other things which can be broken beforehand
– Events are usually free and appropriate for all ages
– Wait until the signal to begin

The event began at 3 PM . When people had bought pillows and started hitting each other politely. Soon it became frantic and there were feathers and cotton in the air. There were torn pillows on the floor and people were refilling them with cotton to hit each other.

What amazed me was that people of different ages be it children or old people were fplaying with the same enthusiasm. Some say the events are to help relieve city stress and get people outside, while others claim it’s just a bit of fun. This is me playing with a child. I got so into the fight

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People were dressed in carnival costumes. It was a joyous event and we has fun. It was choking after a while the cotton and feathers entering your windpipe. I took some breaks and got back into the arena this time with goggles.

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It was the most crowds I had seen in Dam square since I came here- People of Amsterdam fighting and a row of tourists filming the event. In the other side of dam square were artists performing and some dressed up in comic costumes.

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Flash Mob in Amsterdam

It was a cloudy day with chances of rain and we were praying to the clouds not to pour; because it was our big day- The day of the’ First International flash mob 2016’
The same choreographed songs were to be performed in 10 countries- 17 cities on 19th March. 2016, 11- 12:00 Local time in each country participating! Amsterdam was one of the participating cities and out motto was “One Love” in support of refugees.

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It was an amazing concept and it was to be a surprise flash mob with no publicity. The Amsterdam group led by Sneha, were practising it for over 2 months in our ‘Bollywood Amsterdam meetup’. We were fully prepared for the moves of the choreo which will forever be struck to our heads. We met for a practice session at Vondelpark at 10:30 AM. We got a spot under the bridge and switched on our speakers. We had practised indoors but never out in the open when the temperature was 7 degrees. We wore colourful bright clothes to make the atmosphere radiant. We took off our jackets and did a real practice (We were shivering!) .We had audience cheering us for our trail flash mob which was encouraging.
The clock struck 11 and it was time to go to Museumplein. It was the famous spot ‘I Amsterdam sign’ in front of the Rijksmusem, the biggest museum in Amsterdam.

It was buzzing with tourists. We were the intruders who would break in to dance in front of the museum :D. We set up the speakers and switched it on. Martine, our show opening performer, started her ‘Head spinning stunt’ which caught the eye of the audience. We casually started cheering around her and then started dancing. First the girls danced for 2 minutes and then the guys joined us.2a

Soon people were cheerful and started filming us. We danced happily as it was great moment for the people around and for us. It was amazing how people joined us and started following. We had new people on the spot dancing with us 😀

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The sad part for us was there was not a representative videographer filming us from our side. We set up two cameras on the tripod which were blocked by tourists. We did click some after photos which came out cool.It was a thrilling experience performing a dance out the blue and startling people.

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We rejoiced our victory of completing it successfully and then left to Saravana Bhavan. It was delight having south Indian food after a heavy day. Our Dutch collogues enjoyed the food but found it a bit spicy I think :P.

If you happened to be among the audience on march 19th or heard about it in some way,please share your thoughts with us!

Carnival at Maastricht

Maastricht’s carnival is one of the joyous and fun events to visit with friends and family. Dutch sure know how to party!  . The first day of Carnival is six weeks before Easter Sunday. Carnival officially begins on Sunday and lasts three days -Typically February first or second week.Almost everyone dresses in some weird, outlandish, colorful, funky costume that you will feel out of place if you are dressed normally.

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One of friends who was dressed soberly immediately bought a colorful scarf to feel in place when he saw the crowd 😛

 

The carnival is a holiday mainly celebrated in the south of the country. For me the carnival looked like the dutch way of celebrating Holi! Streets painted with Color and  people going crazy. You have to be there to experience it ! People go on parades in streets

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From the time you get on the train you see people sitting in jazzy clothes or smearing glitter and paints on their faces. And when you get down the station of Maastrict  you see a cheerful people dressed animatedly. The crowd will walk acorss the Maas river to the city square and dance there to the live DJs

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Some families actually spend months preparing for this event. There are not only individual costumes but also teams dressed up to a theme for example…

Avatars

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The Blue family

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Dragons

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The pack of cards

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You can see babies and dogs dressed for the carnival.

I did not have a carnival costume so I decided to wear my Indian wear –bright yellow and pink which quite went well with the crowd. That was the only time I could wear colorful Indian wear with the Dutch; Other times I feel they dressed in plain dark colors. And as for my friends we improvised what make up had to be done with just my Kajal and pink lipstick. We ended up looking like this

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I think we looked pretty good! People did ask us for photos 😛

It was like a mini comicon. We met

Darth vader and stroomtroppers

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Princess Leia  and R2D2

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Ghost busters

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Snow white and Seven dwarfsIMG_3166

 

I really loved the concept of dressing as a family. The kids on their cradle are also dressed according to the theme (see pic below- one dressed like a lion and another as a cow)

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It was a nice sight to see fathers and kids dancing in the square! A place where everyone is crazy you have the guilt free pass lose your mind too! we saw people curled up on roads after they hit their limits 😛

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And a man looking like a colourful ostricht. In the same frame you can see a superman kid , green lantern and a minion baby!

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We had a great time and will definitely go the Next time too!

Republic day performance- Amsterdam

Never have I celebrated Republic day so enthusiastically. Here in Netherlands I found a new way to make it special- by performing a patriotic dance on stage:

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The Bollywood Amsterdam group which I am a part of planned on performing to the ‘ABCD Vande mataram song’. We had 17 days at hand and we managed to concoct a partly jazz, hiphop and Bollywood dance show. The costume was plain white shirt and black pant to keep it simple. The venue was Amstelveen –the Indian Hub of Amsterdam. The  organization “Bridging the gap” organizes these Indian events which provides a good get together and means of networking for Indians in Netherlands.

We sensed kindergarten vibes when we entered the building. Much to our dismay there were only kids performing at the show and we happened to be the only adult dance team. We were stocked up as the last and closing performance of the day. The initial performances were of kids singing slokas, cute children dressed in Indian wear dancing for Punjabi songs and even some dutch kids dancing. The room was clamorous with occasional bursts of cry from kids and parents rushing them out. It was time for our performance!!

We got ready for it and entered from backstage. We were in for a surprise- the stage WAS for kids-it was too small to fit us in. We barely managed to stand in it leave along move freely and dance. Our initial few steps were messed up due to our shock but we soon got used to it

You can see the dance here- Youtube video 

On the whole the dance seemed energetic and patriotic. The final show with flags turned out to the killer. It came out just as planned and we got a round of applause.

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Indian bites organized  small canteen with tasty indian snacks. We got around and took some pictures and went to a friends home to party.

 

New Years Dive

It was my first new year outside India.  I wanted  it to be crazy. We decided to do the ‘New year dive’ –the dutch tradition of jumping into the icy cold waters of the north sea at New year Jan 1 noon. We signed up for it and went to Zandvoort for it. It did not disappoint us :D.  The day was sunny and the beach was refreshing. There was a tent and a bunch of people standing with orange caps. We too went, registered and got the orange caps. There were about thousand people gathered for the event. We were stunned by the magnitude of it.

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I had planned of doing the dive with a bunch of friends and they all arrived. We got ready for the dive-changing into our swimsuits! There were people of all ages- yound kids to old people and also dogs who came for the dive. Half an hr before the dive organizing team cheered us to dance, jump and making us form a Mexican wave. The clock struck and it was time!

People ran like crazy into the waters. Just when I went in I realized I had never exposed myself to such cold waters in my life. It was freezing and I could not feel my legs anymore. We ran back to the sands from the water. It was the case with most of the people. We came back to the starting point and  tried regaining consciousness in our legs. It was crazy.

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Just when we were settling down one of us challenged to go in again. We , out of our minds, ran again into the waters. This time, deep and dancing and jumping inside the waters. That was something to remember.

We came back and got dressed. Unox ,the sponsoring company , provided us with free soup. We returned back to the city searching for a cozy café but alas we could not find any. We finally gave up on our search for café and went into a greek restaurant. Ten of us were there and we socialized for sometime. It was a nice beginning to the new year!

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Light Festival Amsterdam- A Photowalk in Rain

Amsterdam has a unique way of keeping the spirit high in the winters.When the sun sets down very quick these days there is something to look forward to-The light festival-The festival of light and water illuminating the canals ( Nov 28 2015 to Jan 17 2016 ! )

The streets of Amsterdam are already decorated with lights for Christmas and adding to the city’s beauty is the Light Festival.This is how streets look like in Amsterdam now!

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Artists come up with innovative ways of using lights to create an exciting art in the canals.This can be viewed using a boat tour or walking along the streets.

Here is the route: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=zLb7VHfTIIu4.kpnMy6aUyTIo

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There is  “Amsterdam photography club ” which is formed by a group of photography enthusiasts.They organise meetups regularly and owing to the light festival they organised  a photowalk. Around  100 people had signed up for the meetup but unfortunately that day it started raining heavily and about 80 people backed out. Twenty  people  finally turned up in the rain at the meeting point with umbrellas, DSLRs, Tripods and polybags to cover the camera. It was very messy clicking photos in the rain but as they say misery loves company, We were glad we were all in vein and wanted to really capture the light festival with people who shared similar interests.

This is where we met -See Below . Facing a canal with the first artwork “Run Beyond

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The next was the  “Talking Heads “

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The next was the Bucky Balls!  A lone football like huge structure floating in water

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This is called the “Band of Friendship”. Series of rings IMG_2827

This was the “Polygonum” .IMG_2808

This is the  “Infinite tunnel of light” , very blurred due to the rain on the glasses

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One of the buildings was lit up with a projector and had some interesting patterns on it

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The “Friendala”  – Intersecting ringsIMG_2841

This is called the “Northern lights” over the Amstel river . Bands of lights that sways for the wind and makes it feel like a real Aurora AustralisIMG_2855

This was called “Paths Crossing”. Artwork made from stretches of lights across the length of the canals.

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I did miss out on a few artworks. 😦 Hoping to cover them up in january after vacations.

Rain is a part of the dutch culture they say.This is my first attempt to ignore rain and go outside to explore. It was quite messy but managed quite fine ! 😀

 

When we went Ice Skating !

My over enthusiastic friends coaxed me to go ice skating on a chilly cold night in Amsterdam. Ice skating – I was somehow not intrigued by it since I knew it would be cold anyways and why would I want the ice under me.

When we left from home it was raining which was not a good sign! We still went to the place. It was a open Ice skating ring outdoor next to the rijsmuseum. There was a pool of water in the ring but it was surrounded by trees covered with Christmas lights. The ring was lit with bright coloured light. I immediately jumped into buying a ticket and renting a skating shoe along with Ambuj, my all time energetic friend.

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The beginners start with holding a chair. So we stepped into the ring with a chair. Boy, it was slippery.  I saw people beside me sway they way past me with grace. I envied them and looked at them with awe. Not only adults but also kids were skating really well. It was raining but seeing the kids skate i got a new energy in me. My hands were hurting because of holding the chair tight.

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I saw Ambuj skate without the chair. I must do something to leave the chair but what.

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When I was busy thinking this i fell into the pool of water on ice- which was at 0 deg. It was horrible. But i still continued with taking short breaks. Ambuj told me to leave the chair and skate – duh , no way. I am not leaving the chair. He urged me to leave it and we both held hands and skated for a while. It was easy because the center of mass had a larger area to distribute upon so chances of falling are less.  I had a nice time without the chair. We both fell down once.

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I stared skating independently without a chair or human support. :DI fell down again but i was no longer afraid of falling down. Ambuj skated too fast and skid in the ice real bad.Vishnu joined us after our friend left. Vishnu was rather skating like on a skater board pushing it with one leg and falling down when it stops. In the end we decided it was time to leave. Our clothes were dripping wet. We caught a tram to marnixstraat. We were shivering when we entered the hotel ‘murugan’. Had a sumptuous meal. The toughest part was to reach home. It was chilly 7 deg outside and windy too. We were all trembling and decided we will never go iceskating when it is raining. But the whole sport was so much fun we decided to make it there more often and aim for playing ice hockey one day 😛

Visit to Muiden Castle

The day started with a rather enthusiastic preparation for a photwalk along the canal roads in Amsterdam. We arrived at the spot just to find out the meet up was the next day and we had seen the date wrong. But this did not stop us from seizing the day 😀 Since we had our DSLRs with us we decided to go to a village in Amsterdam or the nearby city to click some pictures. We decided on Muiden , which has a beautiful castle named “ Muiderslot”

When we arrived at Muiden an unfortunate incident took place. Ambuj hit himself against a ceiling hanging  on his head and there was so much blood shed. The Bar owners came running giving us ice, tissues, bandaid. He fainted and we were in panic; we called the doctor and he finally woke up. We rested for about half an hr before we proceeded to the castle.

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he castle’s entry costed 13 Euros which included a guided tour in Dutch . The castle had  furnished rooms from the prince’s time. A medieval aura filled the castle as we entered different rooms such as the castle kitchen, prince’s chamber, court hall.We even saw creepy paintings and instruments which said a story of a bakery which would cut of people’s head and bake it in an oven and replaced it if they were not satisfied with their original, but this resulted in hot headed people. Fabulous myths 😛

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We also saw the battlements on the castle climbing a flight of narrow steps. We visited the gardens nearby which had a tunnel shaped entrance

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The castle was  a tiny beautiful piece of medieval architecture. We clicked numerous pics inside and outside the castle. Good thing we had a kit lens and a prime lens we had a variety of pics to take. It was a good day trip. We returned around 7 back home. It was an eventful day at muiden.

Light Painting Photography workshop

Recently attended a Photowalk in Amsterdam in which  Long exposure or slow shutter speed photography  was taught by Guston, the event organiser.

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The settings we used are:

Shutter speed: 20 Secs; Aperture: F8; ISO: 100

This kind of setting requires a tripod since the camera captures images over a span of 20 seconds and any shaking in camera will reflect in the image.

We waited for night fall and set our cameras up for the Light painting. It is one of the creative ways to use shutter speed feature of camera. A person holds an LED lights in front of the camera, waves with it in any shape he wants; the camera captures the images and forms a beautiful image in the end painted with light

We had colouful LED lights and also christmas lights and enthusiastic volunteers willing to try out new patterns

Here are some of the images we took using the camera

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The spinning wheel

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The classy girl
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With Love from Amsterdam
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Dragon Ball Z .
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and Unleash the power!
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The Smiley face !
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The Silhouette man

It was my first photowalk and it turned out to be an absolute stunner . Will attend more of such in future 😀

The Sea bespeckled with ships – The SAIL event Amsterdam

The Dutch have a rich historical tradition of sailing and exploring the sea. SAIL is an event that takes place once in five years in Amsterdam to honour this tradition. Thousands of ships sail into the Ij (Pronounced as Eye) Lake and this attracts a million tourist due to its magnificent scale and sheer beauty.The first Sail Amsterdam event took place in 1975, on the occasion of the 700 anniversary of the city and they continued this every five years. An eventful trip it turned out to be in Amsterdam when I got to witness the SAIL event from ashore.

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One of the things that surprised me about this city is the love people having towards cruising and riding boats. Especially the warm summer,mild and sunny weather  made it compelling for people to get on their boats or get out of house to watch the boats.

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I got to see an Indian boat. It was queer joy to see the indian flag ! 😀

There was a Live DJ show  and sheds where beers were sold. We were chilling out at the IJ lake by the Eye museum till night.

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It was a delight seeing ships cross by like this in the middle of the city 😀

SAIL event is one that is not be missed!