Thursday, May 13, 2010

Being a Green Courier!

Social Networks have truly revolutionized the web. We do feel lifeless and listless without these social networks where we are virtually networked with many of our friends and family and also networked with virtual friends. Every day we do hear about some or the other new social network. Well, some social networks are unique, yet most of them are just copies of many others.

Off all these, one social network, I would like to highlight which is quite unique, innovative, practical and quite helpful in day-to-day life. It is CHAKKR, a network of travellers, claiming to be a new Green Courier Revolution. Indeed it is. Chakkr concept is not new to many of us. How many times have we not posted in innumerable community forums, asking anyone among us is travelling to India or somewhere else and can carry or bring some letter or a packet which is quite important and urgent for us. How many times have we not asked our friends to who is travelling to India or coming from India to Germany to carry or bring our packets. Well, in India, how many times have we not asked the Bus drivers travelling from Bangalore to Hyderabad to carry an urgent letter. Indeed Chakkr innovatively integrates all these and provide us a common platform.
How to become a Chakkr?
Becoming a Chakkr is quite simple, just logging into and register yourselves and start using it by being a courier or seek a courier.
Why Chakkr?
- SEND/GET A PACKET: If you have a packet or an important letter to send it to India from Germany, you make a “Seeking a Courier” request asking if anybody is travelling to India with a brief description of your courier need. If anyone of other chakkrs is travelling, then they shall contact you directly or you can contact any of the chakkrs who has made “courier available” requests.
- TAKE/BRING  A PACKET: If you are travelling to India from Germany, you can make a “Courier Available” request with the description of your travel. Well, anyone who is seeking courier shall contact you and come to terms with you and you can agree upon taking or bringing their packets.
- SHOPPING USING TRAVELLERS: You love chocolates from Swiss or wine from France, Cuckoo Clocks from Black Forest, just check out Chakkr if anyone from Swiss or France or Germany travelling to your home country and buy your favorites for you and bring it to you so that you can pay them later.
How else can Chakkr Helps?
- Adds some more buddies to your virtual friends’ list.
- Well, Chakkr does help you earn some bucks too, Chakkr allows you to quote a small price for your service, ofcourse totally dependant on individual’s discretion.
- For those who commute daily between cities for work or for business, does really help earn some extra bucks to pay off may be their travelling expenses.
How reliable is Chakkr?
Can we really trust those who wanted to deliver our needs? Chakkr provides a mutual agreement of trust between the two parties who come to terms to deliver each other’s needs and services. I have been using Chakkr for quite a while now, and Indeed it is quite reliable as for example if you want to send some important letter to India, you usually find the potential courier for yourselves and you either meet this person or talk to this person before you hand-over your letter. If you don't have confidence in a certain potential courier, you can always go for other potential couriers.
Definitely Chakkr is quite practical and helpful for everyone. Just give a try and lemme know your experiences.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why Keukenhof is famous among Indians?

Keukenhof, the famous Tulip Garden in Holland are everyone’s favorites. Offlate one of my German colleagues has visited Keukenhof Tulip Gardens and was surprised that every 3rd or 4th visitor is Indian and when he came back and asked me why?
Well, here is the answer:
 Truly speaking, my colleague was absolutely right. The bus we took from Düsseldorf itself was occupied by as many as 35 Indians of 50 seats though. And once we reached there, well, leaps and bounds of Indians. I felt very happy as I felt more like I was in India than in Holland. But I was really wondering, why it is very popular among Indians?
I do feel, we Indians are inherent flower lovers, aren’t we? what say? What do you think?
By the way, I tried some creativity in taking pictures at Keukenhof. Creativity gone wrong or not?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nothing can be so beautiful

Seems like volcanic ash has totally cleared off the skies in Europe as surprisingly we had a very clear and warm weekend. Spring has already set its eye in Germany for a while now after a long chilly winter, yet for all the time it was never a Spring climate thou. Despite, trees have turned green and flowers started blooming. I really love the Summer out here, it is quite colourful not only the nature but also people. Everybody seems to be so colourful, so happy and they all look just different people than to what they are in other seasons in Germany. Truly weather does play a greater role on the personalities of the people.
This weekend was quite warm out here, should say the first warm days of the Summer of this year. We did not miss the chance to hang out thou. We had been to Düsseldorf Benrath, a part of Düsseldorf city famous for its Schloß Benrath (Benrath Palace). Besides Castle, it has the most beautiful Gardens of Düsseldorf. The pink-colored Palace is beautified with a high fountain in the facade and amazingly beautiful Garden surrounding the Palace.

You might have guessed right, the Palace Garden is a heaven for nature lovers. I was totally lost admiring its beauty and trying every bit to capture it on my small camera.
Don’t you see glimpses of a “Photographer” in making? :-). Lovely aren’t they?
More info on Schloß Benrath at:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lost in Translation

Sometimes you think you may know everything, yet you end up in total mess you might have ever imagined. This is what has happened to us offlate. My hubby is a Consultant and he used to work for different clients in different cities. I used “used to” as now he is very choosy with his clients after we got married and started living together in Germany. Now we do live in Düsseldorf, and fortunately enough, he just works for clients in and around here, well, he does not mind traveling an hour or so thou as he is doing as of now.

So, in one of his past assignments, he had to work for a client in Oberhausen while he was living in Bremen. Therefore, he did just register himself in Oberhausen for Second – House (Zweitwohnung Haushalt) and he had a First – House (Hauptwohnung) in Bremen from May 2006 – February 2007.
The reason for keeping the house in Bremen was he used to quite often travel back to Bremen and one of his friends advised him to do so to save some bucks from tax returns. That was a good idea thou. Usually the great and the most German tax system allows you to have two houses one as your First-house and the other as second-house (the place of work, if it is not in the same city as you live). You can claim for the Daily-allowances for the first three months. You can claim for the traveling expenses to and fro from your First – House (Hauptwohnung) to Second-House (Nebenwohnung/Zweitwohnung). You can claim rent and maintenance costs of your Second-House. You can claim for the furnishing costs (Enrichtungkosten) for your Second-House. Well, not everything, yet most of it. Then why to miss it, and that’s what exactly my hubby did too. Ofcourse this all happened before our marriage.

Then in the beginning of 2007, he came to know he will have longer assignments with the same client he was working for. So then he decided to move permanently to Oberhausen and then by the end of February 2007, he gave up his apartment in Bremen and moved permanently to Oberhausen. He then went to Oberhausen Meldebehörde (House registration office) to change his registration status in Oberhausen from Second-House to the only Main-House, which he explained to the “typical Governmental Official”, who denied speaking in English, in the broken German he knew then. The Official has totally misunderstood him or did my husband, the ultimate “Lost in Translation” in making ……
He received a letter from Bremen Finance Office (Finanzamt) last year June, that he is still officially registered for second-house in Bremen. Well, that was a shock to him and then he realized the great misunderstanding and the possible “Lost in Translation”. Then he dropped them a letter that it was a mistake and actually he did not have any residence and address in Bremen during that period.

Well, we thought that was the end of it, as we have not heard anything from them until last week at our Düsseldorf address, when directly got a letter from my hubby’s bank that his account has been blocked by Finance Office, Bremen. Well, then he called his bank’s customer care only to know that Bremen’s Finance Office has suspended my accounts activity and bank has no right to free it until they get further notice from the Finance Office. He was told that only Finance Offices in Germany has the authority to suspend one’s bank accounts and block any further activity. This is called “Account Seizure” (Kontopfändung) in Financial Office. Thankfully the customer care agent was quite friendly which is very unusual thou and provided enough information about whom we should contact.
Thankfully, we have one more account, so things were not so bad thou. We have contacted the Finance Office authorities the next day and explained them the situation. Well, now my hubby manages to speak good German thou. After some 10 – 15  calls here and there to different officials in Bremen, atlast they agreed to free his account without having to pay anything.
The main reason for Account Seizure was there is something much debated “Zweitwohnsitzsteuer” or “ZWS” (Second House Tax). Well, not every City in Germany do have this kind of tax. Please find the list of cities which have ZWS at ZWS Cities. Since my hubby was unknowingly registered in Bremen as Zweitwohnsitz, he was entitled for this ZWS. So Bremen Finance Office waited for my hubby to make the ZWS declaration by himself. Since he was totally unaware that he was registered and he had the least knowledge about something called ZWS existing, he did not make any ZWS declarations. Then Finance Office, Bremen waited for a certain period, then they started sending notices to our address in Oberhausen, which we have vacated last year. But strange and unfortunately, the notices were sent from the beginning of this year. We had a mail forwarding service (Deutsche Post Nachsendeservice) till the beginning of this year. So we missed the mails. Neither the mails were sent back to Finance Office, Bremen, for unknown reasons or sheer irresponsibility of the Deutsche Post. Well, when shits has to happen, it will in all means.

Thankfully everything was sorted out without any penny being shelved out of our pockets, yet lot of stress thou. I advise all of you who are living in Germany to put a thought over this and re-check this ZWS as many of us are totally ignorant towards this.
For more details on ZWS, follow this link:
I appreciate to share your experiences if any in the comments.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cuckoo Clocks of Black Forest

I remember Cuckoo Clocks from my childhood when one of my uncles who works abroad at that time has installed one at his residence in India. As a kid, I never cared, how it works, only thing that enthused me was a wooden bird coming out of it every hour to make the sounds resembling a Cuckoo. Whenever I visit their house, I used to wait for this pleasing Cuckoo Hums.
Cuckoo clocks always have fascinated me a lot, and well, and after living in the country, Germany where the first modern cuckoo clocks have been made, I cannot stop my anxiety to get hold of one. Well, I am waiting to visit the Black Forest region of Germany, to experience myself to the grandiose of Cuckoo clocks and buy one adorable piece.
Offlate, I have been reading some good lot information about the Cuckoo clocks which I would like to share with you all, so that it can be a handy guide for many of you who would like to buy one or ask someone to get one from here or to gift for someone here.

Cuckoo Clocks, What are they?
Cuckoo clocks are traditionally wooden-carved with the wooden case of the clock decorated with carved leaves and animals. They are weight-driven, that strikes the hours, the sound resembling a cuckoo bird. Most clocks have an automated bird that peeks out through a small door while the clock is striking. The weights are made of cast iron in a “pine cone” shape and the cuckoo sound is created by two tiny pipes in the clock, with bellows attached to their tops. The clock movement activates the bellows to send a puff of air into each pipe alternately when the clock strikes.

Clock Movements
The original Cuckoo clocks from Black Forest have a mechanical clock movements usually classified as 1-Day Movement and 8-Day Movement which are regarded to be the standard clock movements. Quartz Movement Clocks are also available. The 1-Day Clock requires winding every 24 hours and an 8-Day clock requires winding every week. The recommended are mechanical as they are highly durable and reliable.

Clock Designs
Usually there are two most popular designs of Cuckoo Clocks. The “Traditionally Carved” usually represent Railway-House (Bahnhäusle) form with carvings of birds, deer, eagles, leaves and owls. The “Chalet” is a house usually a Black Forest House, Swiss House (Brienz and Emmental) and Bavarian House. Chalet clocks shows very fine details of often a scene from everyday life with handmade and hand laid shingles on the roof. Both the styles are amazing and have their own charm.
Nowadays cuckoo clocks are made in in contemporary decorative styles in different geometric shapes and flamboyant colors.

Melody and Music
In addition to Cuckoo sound, some clocks play music. Usually two different melodies are played by the clock alternatively and the most popular melodies are “The Happy Wanderer” and “Edelweiss”. Bavarian Chalets showing happy beer drinkers often play the songs “In München steht ein Hofbrauhaus” (There is a Brewery in Munich) and “Trink, Bruderlein Trink” (Drink Brothers Drink). One of the emphasized criteria here is the number of tones which usually varies between 18 and 36. For a better quality of Sound, the higher number of tones are recommended.

Moving Figurines
Many clocks have dancing figurines as a group of dancers or dancing couples usually below the cuckoo bird which dance when the music plays. Some clocks have children figurines, beer drinker figurines, wood choppers etc, which move when the music plays. Moving figurines are hand-made and hand-painted and they add the German flavor to the clocks, yet increases the price of the clocks too :-)

Night Shut-Off
Not all Cuckoo clocks are Night Shut-Off, therefore prefer to buy an automatic night shut-off cuckoo clocks as per your convenience though.

It is advised to buy a Cuckoo clock from much renowned Original Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks Manufacturers to name a few, Adolf Herr, Rombach und Hass, Robert Herr, Hönes, Hübert Herr, Anton Schneider, Hekas, Harzer, Lötscher, August Schwer.
Just a few tips for your Cuckoo Clock shopping. Definitely, I shall post some pictures of the cuckoo clock I bought once I get a hand on it. I just can’t wait to get one.
If anybody has got more tips and suggestions, please leave in comments.
You can also order online at

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Social Security Agreement between India and Germany

Well, I did already in my one of the previous posts (India Pens Social Security Agreements), specified that India signed Social Security Agreement with Germany on October 8, 2008. This agreement is already in force from 1st October 2009 and EPFO India has already updated with the agreement details which I shall be briefing here.

The Social Security Agreement shall protect the interests of all those employees sent from Indian-based companies to their subsidiaries in Germany or those being sent by the German companies to their Indian subsidiaries on short-term contracts of 48 months with the possibility of extension by securing exemption from social security contribution in their host country. Thus these employees will only be subjected to the social security contributions in their home country.
The features and benefits of the Social Security Agreement:
- Detachment: The current agreement covers only the detachment provision which means the exemption from the social security contributions of the host country for the employees sent on posting provided the employee is making compulsory social contributions in the home country.
Eligibility for Detachment:
Indian National Working in Germany
Nature of Employment
Short-term Posting by an Indian Employer for a period of less than 48 months                  Indian System
Long-term Posting by an Indian Employer for a period of more than 48 months                  German System
Indian Employer hiring an Indian employee in Germany                 German System
Indian Employer hiring a Non-Indian Employee in Germany                German System
German Resident Working in India
Nature of Employment
Short-term Posting by a German Employer for a period of less than 48months                 German System
Long-term Posting by a German Employer for a period of more than 48months                 Indian System
German Employer hiring an Indian Employee in India                Indian System
German Employer hiring a non-Indian Employee in India                Indian System
Detachment Certificate: Detachment Certificate issued by the home country indicating the details of membership and coverage of the social security system needs to be accrued by the employee or employer on behalf of the employee being posted as a proof of exemption from the social security contributions in the host nation.
Period: The maximum period of detachment certificate is 48 months which shall be extended by 12 more months upon the request.
Eligibility for Detachment Certificate:
- employees who shall be posted to Germany on or after 1st October 2009 should apply for Detachment Certificate.
- those employees who are already posted in Germany or already working in Germany shall apply for Detachment Certificate from 1st October 2009 till the end of detachment.
Accruing Detachment Certificate:
EPFO, India:
Employer and Employee who is being posted to Germany needs to make a joint request to obtain the Detachment Certificate from EPFO (Employee Provident Fund Organisation), India. The application form can be downloaded from here.
The Liaison Agencies in Germany are:
Deutsche Verbindungsstelle Krankenversicherung – Ausland (DVKA)) 
The application for obtaining Detachment Certificate in Germany:
Please be noted that the social security agreement signed by India with Germany is limited only for Posting. The complete and elaborate social security agreements (Details at Social Security Agreements with Germany) which are more similar to other Contracting Nations is yet to be finalized between the two nations.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Social Security Agreements with Germany

Every nation has a different social security system, whereby every worker of a nation is subjected to some obligatory or voluntary social contributions to secure retired period of one’s life. The globalizations has increased the mobility of workers in different nations. In-order to dissolve the disadvantages for mobile workers in double payment of social security contributions, different nations have signed social security agreements and so did the Germany.


Contracting nations are those countries where the European Community provisions for the Social Security do not apply and have concluded social security agreements with Germany. According to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Agency the following countries have concluded the agreements with the Germany - Australia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Canada/Quebec, Chile, Croatia, Israel, Japan, Macedonia, Montenegro, Morocco, Serbia, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey and United States. China has also concluded a Posting of Workers Agreement. And recently India has also concluded Social Security Agreement which has already come into force.

What is a Social Security Agreement? The Social Security Agreement’s one important advantage is that if you satisfy the requirements of the minimum insurance period, Germany and your nation’s insurance periods are added together. The agreement specifies to which state you should pay your contributions when working in Germany and your nation.

To whom does the Agreement Apply? Many of the provisions of the agreements are applicable to you and to the nation of your permanent residence. It does provide some special provisions for the citizens of Germany and the agreed nation.

What does Social Security Agreement specify?

- Compulsory Insurance Obligation is defined by the state in which you are working. If you are employed in Germany, then you are subjected to Germany’s mandatory insurances irrespective of your nationality.

- Posting: If you are employed by your state and posted to work in Germany for a limited period not more than 60 months called Posting Period, then you are subjected to the compulsory insurances of your state and you are exempted from Germany’s compulsory Insurance Obligations. The exceptions to the limited posting period and some other exceptions to the agreed terms are subjected to agreement of German authorities upon the request filed by the employer and the employee. The Posting does apply to the self-employed people for a limited period. The same rule of Posting applies to those who are employed in Germany and work in the Contracting nations.

- Count of Posting Period: The Posting period in the contracting nation does count to your compulsory pension insurance i.e, if you are employed in your state and you are subjected to the compulsory insurance of your state and you are posted to Germany, then your posting period in Germany is counted towards your compulsory pension period in your state.

- Refund of Pension Contributions: If you are not a German national and if you were employed in Germany and paid for Pension contributions in Germany and decided to leave Germany forever, you can claim for the refund of Pension Contributions under the following circumstance

- you are no longer registered in the German pension system and you are not interested or not in a position to make voluntary contributions and 24 months have passed since you have terminated the registration.

- Basic Pension Requirements, benefits of Agreement:

Since the pension regulations vary from country to country and so does the pension age ranging from 60-67 in different countries, agreement helps you in benefiting from whatever the pension contributions you made either in your state or in Germany and if you do not fulfil the conditions in one country, the periods in another country shall be considered to make sure you indeed receive Pension.

The minimum insurance periods also known as Qualifying periods can be 5, 15 and 35 years. For all these periods, the insurance periods from your state are also calculated.

The Pension Amount: The agreement just helps in calculating the pension periods and meet the minimum pension requirements. The amounts of Pension you receive in Germany are solely on the basis of your German insurance periods. You need to claim separately for your state insurances and you claim those even thou you live in Germany or vice versa.

The point of contact for all of your queries regarding your insurances and entitlements in Germany are as follows:

Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund:

More detailed info in English at:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My trials with Art

It has been long long time back, well, wen I was very young, I had tried my hands on painting. Infact, it was out of force than to be out of my natural instincts that I learnt painting as it was mandatory lessons. I dont remember, if I did paint or draw anything special, yet offlate suddenly a strange idea of re-inventing those instincts, has prompted me to try my hands on painting again. Well, the outcome was nothing special yet not bad thou.


I am just posting some pics of my trial paintings which after consultation with my hubby who decided to hang them on the wall of our living room. Thou not sure, yet they decorate our white living room wall. May be you guys can let me know are they worth enough to be out on the wall, just I need to buy some :-)


Frens, I just added one more painting to my trials with the art. Would love to hear from you all the feedback. By the way, many thanks for your lovely messages.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Alphabets Museum in Berlin – When Alphabets have History

Well many a times a word speak more than a sentence and many a times an alphabet speaks more than a word. And there are many alphabets which symbolizes and represent many things in our day-2-day life not only this modern world of shortcuts but also from the historic past. Thus some alphabets symbols have loads of stories behind to narrate. There has been many instances where an alphabet has symbolized different things in different sciences and technologies, different regions and as well in different cultures and religions.

I never realized this until recently when I found out about Alphabet Museum (Buchstaben Museum) from Berlin. After browsing thru it over the net, it indeed left me bewildered and amused at the very love for alphabets for the founders of Museum Barbara Dechant and Anja Schulze. Well, their quest to collect objects (alphabets) that carry significant meaning and their belief that modern urbanization is leading to the disappearance of these Alphabetical Semiotics has formed the foundation for the Alphabets Museum in Berlin. Kudos to both of them for their passion towards their letters.

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U-Bahn U (Underground U)                    Einstein E

The museum is housed temporarily more like a storeroom than a showroom drawing a handful of enthusiastic visitors who heard more about this unusual museum from some news article or word of mouth and majority of them foreigners. The interesting facts that amuse the visitors are that these letters are taken out of the original context and every letter has its own emotional historic tale.

Well, I love to visit this during my next visit to Berlin. By the way there is no admission fee for this museum, it is completely free. The museum is run by the donations and memberships from the visitors. You can find more details at

Image Courtesy:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

When Germany planned to buy Tax Dodgers Stolen Data!

It has quite a while I did not publish any post, well I was occupied with my tax declarations for the year 2010. Yes, a year has gone by and the very uninteresting work begins with the filing of tax declarations. And to be honest, the Germany’s tax system is the most complex in the world. So you can imagine how tough it shall be to file tax declaration.

Every year lot new rules and definitely needs to purchase an updated software, start gathering all the relevant documents and then start input the data. You may believe or not, I have not finished it yet despite it has been almost two weeks now. It is a lot of work but I really enjoy it doing myself than depending upon any tax consultant. Well, I could save some bucks too and also it does help me get acquainted with the latest taxation rules.

I am person who believe paying taxes is the right thing to do and just not because the state utterly depends upon on my payment of some thousands euro and not because I don’t have a Swiss Bank account. May be not everyone think the same and lot many has got the notorious Swiss Bank accounts.


Many of you might have already read or heard thou that there has been lot of hue and cry over a last few weeks in Germany over the purchase of about 1500 Tax Dodgers data stolen by an informant. It was initially believed that there might be more than 100 million euro stashed by these around 1500 tax dodgers in Swiss Banks. The informant has already provided some five accounts worth 1 million euro in tax as proof and demanded €2.5 millions for the complete list.

After lot of elaboration and debate, Germany decided to buy the stolen data despite lot of criticism and despite the warnings from the Swiss government. And now Swiss started threatening to disclose the data of the the German politicians. Will the State bend the rules and be a crook to catch the crooks? Still the debate is on.

Whatever it is following the Germany’s decision to buy the stolen tax dodgers data, terrified tax dodgers are turning themselves in to avoid investigations and possible legal actions. It has been estimated the tax revenues from these may reach more than 400 million euro. Well, it has already exceeded Germany’s expectations.

But what do you think, should Germany or any other state in Germany’s position should buy the “stolen” tax dodgers data against the laws of the state?

Image Courtesy:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Inder Wahnsinn! – Since My Name is Indian?

I never wanted to muse over the recent developments over Shahrukh Khan and MNIK issue. Yet, today I have been thru mental anguish for being an Indian. It all started when some of my colleagues in the morning came to me and started adoring Sharukh khan for he is in Berlin these days for Berlinale 2010. They have showed me an article from the very popular local newspaper which showered praise for Sharukh Khan, known as King Khan in Germany.

The newspaper rained accolades for King Khan for being a Messiah and bridging the cultures between the East and the West. The “God of movies” , “the King of Bollywood” whose fans account for more than 3 millions far more than the fans of George Clooney, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt together. He is the dream man of every Indian and being a Muslim and his wife being a Hindu, he lives a dream of Peace.

Well, definitely this article is not a publicity stunt from SRK, it shows how much SRK has influenced minds and hearts of the people in the West. He definitely has taught Germans to be warm-hearted. My colleagues were so overwhelmed and so do I after reading the article. I did feel proud too being an India.

Later in the day, the same set of couples approached me to ask me about the recent developments in India concerning to MNIK as they have read again something regarding it. I did not understand how to explain it to them. I tried to explain them but in brief. I was feeling a little low when I briefed them. My colleagues retorted that why the hell on this earth some people could doubt the integrity of SRK. They asked me what else he needs to do to prove to which extent he has integrated the people of India and allied the nations with his dream of peace.

I was indeed speechless…… My anguish has no words……..


MNIK poster in Berlin

Image Courtesy:

Online Edition of the newspaper article thou not exact, yet some snippets (German):

Berlinale: Berlinale is the most famous film festival of Germany held every year in Berlin. My Name is Khan is also being premiered this year with Sharukh Khan, Kajol and Karan Johar walk the red-carpet. Berlinale 2010 is held from Febrauary 11-21 screening almost 400 films. More info at:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Karneval (Carnival) in Germany – Alaaf! Helau!

When we hear about Carnival, the world famous and the most grand Rio Carnival from Brazil flashes to us, yet Carnival is celebrated in many countries during different period of time and Germany is no exception. Cologne, Mainz and Düsseldorf are most famous and hold the biggest parades for the Carnival. Cologne’s Carnival fest is highly regarded all over Europe with millions thronging to the city from all over the Europe to not only have a glimpse of the most renowned Cologne Cathedral but also to indulge in madness of ridicule and let loose themselves.

The tradition of Karneval or Fasching or Fastnacht or Mardi Gras dates back to medieval Germany which developed downright blasphemy with people dressing up as animals and performing crazy acts like Mass of Asses. After 1820, Karneval was used as an event to make fun of French people, whom they hated and held grudges. Till today, the Karneval satire is kept alive with displaying caricatures of the most hated people during the Karneval parades.

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The Council of Eleven, “Elferrat”, tradition dating back to 1823, wearing fool’s caps as their official headgear meet at 11:11 on November 11 to announce the start of Fifth Season of the year i.e., the Karneval session and plan the events for the Karneval every year. The main festivities of Karneval starts around Thursday before Ash Wednesday and ends with Ash Wednesday, “Asher Mittwoch”. So this year, the main Karneval period of Cologne and Düsseldorf starts on Carnival Thursday called Altweiber (Old Woman Day) in Düsseldorf or Wieverfastelovend (The Women’s Day) in Cologne. The tradition of women cutting men’s ties and shoe laces is still followed in Cologne and Düsseldorf. Parades are organized by different Carnival clubs from Friday and the highlight is the Rose Monday parade. On this day people dressed in costumes gather on the streets in chilly winter weather crying Alaaf Alaaf! in Cologne and Helau! Helau!  in Düsseldorf  and let loose themselves as the most flamboyant parades pass thru.

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Rose Monday Parade of 15.02.2010:

Cologne: starts at 10:30 at Chlodwigplatz of Cologne and moves along a 6.5 kms stretch thru the downtown of Cologne for about 4 hours. For more details check this out:

Düsseldorf: starts at Joseph-Beuys-Ufer and moves onto the Oberkasseler Bridge over Rhine and thru to the downtown of Düsseldorf. The Bilker street is the best place to enjoy the parade. More Info at:

Well, parades are just fun during the day, yet the celebrations continue all thru the night with almost every pub organizing special Carnival parties. Just time to wither out the chilly weather.

Well, I am definitely excited with the Carnival this year, I know it will be icy-weather out there, yet I just want to have bash on these days to get rid of the wintry gloom.

Image Courtesy:

Excerpts From:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Must Have Insurances

Many of us have been living in Germany for quite a while, yet we always fail to get enough information about the mandatory insurances in Germany besides Health Insurance or we just do not know or just we ignore them. If you have not got these mandatory insurances then I just say you definitely are living on the edge in Germany.
I shall list here some mandatory and optional but very effective insurances which I feel everyone should have them to be more secure and at peace in Germany. I shall also not delve delve with compulsory Health Insurance as we all have in all cases thou it is private or public depending upon our income levels and our priorities.

PrivatHaftpflichtversicherung (Personal Liability Insurance):

This one is the most mandatory insurance for everyone so that the insured person shall be protected from the costs of involuntary damages to the public or private properties.
There can be many chances that one may involuntarily damage other’s personal things, for eg., you have visited a friend and you tend to be very helpful to your friend, try to help your friend by adjusting his disoriented carpet by pulling it not realizing that the television table lying on it, where on it there is newly-bought 54.6 inches LED television costing more than 1500 euro, which just was brought down onto the ground because of your sheer pull applied by your own hands on the carpet. Well, you will be left with a black face and your friend with red. If you have a PrivatHaftpflichtversicherung then you can still have a smile, whereby with proper proof of the damage you caused to the private property of your friend, you can claim the total cost of your friend’s television.
You can find the best options from Janitos for PrivatHaftpflichtversicherung around 60-80 euro per year:

Berufsunfähigkeitsversicherung (Disability Insurance):

I wish everyone should be doing better all the time and never be in situations whereby you may be some sort of disability due to unforeseen health hazards in one’s life. “Touch Wood”. Yet we can never expect what may come.
Disability Insurance is mandatory everyone who is working, which shall be benefit the insured incase of an accident and prolonged illness. This insurance is supplement to the accident insurance yet will be quite helpful during prolonged illness. During Prolonged Illness your Health Insurance shall pay almost full-salary for not more than 6 weeks and much reduced salary (50-60%of Net Income) for not more than 6 months. Yet if you have a Berufsunfähigkeitsversicherung, you shall get all the time of your prolonged illness or accident much more than to have a better life.
Alte Leipziger assures you a payment of 2000 euro every month during your prolonged illness and accident recover period if you pay 101 euro every month when you are earning and having a better health. Though it may sound a little expensive paying 101 euro every month, but it definitely will be a boon during the bane period of our lives.

PrivatUnfallversicherung (Accident Insurance):

Usually for those who are working, your employer shall provide you with Accident Insurance. If not then it is mandatory to have a accident insurance in Germany where there is much risk due to Autobahn traffics, unlimited speeds, weather and accidents due to many other unexpected means. An accident insurance shall provide you with complete coverage of your treatment which usually health insurances do not. Therefore you definitely need to have an accident insurance for everyone in your family. I hope no one should be in such ominous situations, yet intelligence lies in having an accident insurance in very costly health services nation.
By the way if your employer does not provide any, you can ask for one. If they cannot, then it is better to get one in any case.
Janitos has the best options costing around 100 euro per year with good coverage.

PrivatRentenversicherung (Pension Insurance) (Optional):

I shall categorize PrivatRentenversicherung as optional, as many of us may not opt to live in Germany forever. For those who desire to retire in Germany can opt for some better Pension insurances whereby you pay additionally some amount towards your pension insurance and once you retire you can reap better amounts every month than the usual social pension pay which may not be sufficient enough to have better retirement life. There are different kinds of Rentenversicherung and I advice you to consult a Financial Consultant who can guide you to a good Pension Insurance to meet your requirements.

Risiko Lebensversicherung (Risk Life Insurance) (Optional):

Risk Life Insurance as the name suggests the insured during the insured period dies, a contractually agreed sum shall be paid to the beneficiary of the insured person. This shall protect the families of the insured person.
Europa provides the best options for Risiko Lebensversicherung:

Hausratversicherung (Household Insurance) (Optional):

Hausratversicherung shall protect the insured from the damages or loss caused to the personal property from theft, fire accidents, climatic hazards etc. The cost of damages or loss of the property shall be paid by your insurance company if you have a House-hold insurance. Usually it is advisable for families with kids to have this insurance.

Rechtsschutzversicherung (Legal Expenses Insurance) (Optional):

Rechtsschutzversicherung or Legal Expenses or more informally Lawyer’s Insurance is an optional which shall pay for your legal issues i.e. towards your lawyer’s fees for his/her services for your legal issues. It does help in Job-Crisis to sue your employer. Usually a Rechtsschutzversicherung costs from 12€ – 30€ per month depending upon the contractual agreements.
You can find the best Financial Consultation without any penny to pay from MLP Financial Consultants spread across Germany. You can find English speaking Consultants in every branch of MLP. Please note MLP Services are free of cost. You really don’t have to spend even a cent from your pocket for their best services.
For those living around Essen especially for Indians, you can contact Mr. Pradeep Tharakan, an Indian who selflessly extends services in English.
Pradeep Tharakan
MLP Essen
Telefon: +49 (0) 2 01 / 72 94 80 -54
Telefax: +49 (0) 62 22 / 90 90 56 11
MLP Finanzdienstleistungen AG
Essen III
45127 Essen
P.S: I shall appreciate if you leave your comments and suggestions if you have better options and if you think there is more to be added to the list.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

India – A Journey to the Land of Mystery and Wonders

Well, might be wondering what’s new in it, thou being a die-hard Indian, I am not going to start admiring about India here. India – A Journey to the Land of Mystery and Wonders is an exotic show currently being overwhelming the cold Germans in chilling winter.

The show is a grandeur display of Indian colors, a treat to the visitors with amazing Indian acrobatic feats like Mallakhamb, yoga contortions, fire-dance, Bollywood dance, alluring and majestic music with aesthetical ambience of a Maharaja’s Palace. Definitely it is an attempt to lead you to journey to India. The well-choreographed performances by the best show-makers in business with also a pre-show culinary treat. It indeed shall provide some respite from the most adverse winters Germany has not faced in the recent past.

India show has already made its premiere in Frankfurt from 17th December and lasted till 24 January 2010. It has already acclaimed great response from the most prominent people from Frankfurt as it did from the everyone who made their presence in the huge tent with majestic Maharaja’s ambience. The show shall continue to make its presence in other major cities of Germany. The details are as follows:

Hamburg: 28.01.2010 – 03.03.2010

Berlin: 05.03.2010 – 11.04.2010

Stuttgart: 01.07.2010 – 01.08.2010

and Austria’s Capital Vienna: 02.11.2010 – 09.11.2010

The tickets start from €29.

Deutschland Frankfurt Circus India Produktion der Prime Time Entertainment AG Deutschland Frankfurt Circus India Produktion der Prime Time Entertainment AG

Spectacle INDIA India-show-dance India-show-acro

The India show, with its modern lights and sounds with the mix of traditional colors, shall definitely appeal to all senses. A definite glimpses of a country trying to combine high-tech with its rich cultural traditions. So don’t give a miss.

Image courtesy:

Fur further details and tickets visit the official site at:



Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chilling Greetings

First of all, I wish you all a very happy new year. It has been long since I did publish any posts. Well, I was on relatively long vacation for Christmas and New Year, travelling lots of places. I shall detail further in forth-coming posts some interesting things which kept me occupied and away from blogging.

Many things have happened in a span of a month – Copenhagen Climate Summit was a total fiasco; Cameron’s Avatar reset new records by drawing lots of parallels with the current socio-political issues around the globe; Bollywood’s 3 Idiots pressing for reformation in the current education system; Snowstorm Daisy creating a havoc in many parts of Europe including Germany; and last but not least the Haiti Earthquake shaking the whole world.

I shall not delve deeper into these topics, yet appeal everyone to bring some or the other way, a little hope to those who have been deeply affected by Earthquake in Haiti.

I hereby post some interesting snowy pictures from Germany.

Snow Blanket:                                      Snow Wave:

11 33

Snow Towel:                                       Snow Table Cloth:

66 44

Snow Roof:


Image Courtesy: