Sorry, maar ik spreek geen Nederlands zo goed!

“Oh yea, of course, I did learn Dutch”, a friend told me once. I was in awe of him that he learnt it in a short time with no teacher, however, to be disappointed to know it later that he “mastered” till Level 5 on Duo Lingo. This accomplishment includes learning what to call dog, cat, chicken, newspaper, bread, eggs, milk, cheese, cows, and few other daily living and non-living things, in Dutch.

Before I came to the Netherlands, I started practising the basics of Dutch on DuoLingo and Mondley. Both are well-used apps that can give a beginner a necessary push to start with. I made sure that I learnt certain important words and short sentences.

Hoi. Hallo. goede morgen.  bedankt. Dank je well. Alsjublieft. Tot ziens.

Ik ben Vamsi van India.

Ik ben Masterstudent aan de TU Delft.

Ik woon in Den Haag bij the HS station.

Image source: Trip Savvy

Apart from these, the most important sentence, that I learnt was this, “Sorry, maar ik niet spreekt Nederlands!”

Of course you have to tell people that you don’t know their language. While I’m glad I moved past those few short sentences, unfortunately, the progress I made is an addition of some more short sentences only, along with few words and with an accent! Nothing beyond this. This wasn’t the plan, since I intended to learn Dutch at the university where the Dutch language course of 6 credits is disguised as 3 credits and awaits to be read, spoken, written, enjoyed and learnt! (as told to me by almost everyone who took the course as being very heavy for the 3 credits it offers!)

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Every language has its own nuances!

That being spoken, about my progress, to those who are still in a dilemma if they should learn the language or not, I do have some suggestions.

Many international students, apart from other Europeans, come here for an extended stay after their Masters, work, earn some experience and go back to their home country, while some stay back. To these students, I would definitely suggest to learn the language. You may have heard before coming to the Netherlands that the Dutch speak good English and so language isn’t a problem, unlike, say, Germany. While this is almost true, it can only hold good for tourists. If you intend to live here, study and work for some time, learning the local language is quite importance. You not only discover a new social life ahead, but also feel closer to the community you live in, with.

Apart from this, there are many art, music, technology events, professional and social networking activities which happen all the time where you may feel left out if you do not speak the language of the land. Trust me, I speak from experience. Also, there were so many things that I wanted to, that I could’ve done, had I known Nederlands!

While your Dutch colleagues or friends around you, can only be around for a while, you cannot expect them to speak in English all the time even with their other social circles around. Not only are you depriving them of their comfort but you’re missing out on new possibilities that can unlock if you know the language. Many of them are really helpful and may help you begin with a few words and short sentences, you need to move on and take the responsibility of learning.

What do you think this kid is asking her mother?

Another important area where it can be of help is finding a job! Knowing the language well can open up your profile to a lot more recruiters!

The other category of students, the Europeans, learn Nederlands to add to your list of languages known and of course, you do get all the benefits that I mentioned above!

Apart from these reasons, learning a new language is always fun. Sure, it may not be easy to do so, in the beginning, but hey, what is?

Sitting at home and watching Netflix? Ja Tuurlijk.

Waar kan ik Nederlands leren ?

  1. Taught at the Universiteit (WM1115TU)
  2. Basics can be learnt over apps like Duo Lingo, Busuu, Mondley
  3. Michel Thomas method of learning Dutch. (MT Method has almost all the major European languages; very effective method to learn, that I used)
  4. Other online methods . (MOOC, Youtube, LearnDutch (also has a youtube channel with same name), 2B Dutch, and many more!)
    Whatever the method, commitment is important!

Image result for learning dutch meme

Time is a constraint? You don’t have to learn Dutch to the extent of becoming a teacher in it. Well, you may, if you want to. But do learn atleast to the extent of being able to hold brief conversations, understand what’s going around in social and professional situations, read the headlines in the news and gossip around with your Dutch friends.

I cannot think of situations where I wished I didn’t know what’s happening around where people were chatting away and you’re stuck with trying to open google translate!

[PS. Thank you to all those friends and colleagues who helped me out during my tough times dealing with Dutch!]

Image result for learning dutch meme



Internship Opportunities: Part 3 – Finding Inspiration

As I explained in Part 1 and Part 2 earlier, while you can explore your areas of interests in RE, your coursework should also help you understand the challenges that are currently in the landscape of Energy and your reading should enable you to spot the workable solutions to those challenges. For example: bringing the fluctuations between peaks and valleys to a more manageable level, community-based solutions to tackle decentralized energy solutions, integration of RE into the existing grid, barriers around the world for the adoption and scaling up of RE (one of the hot favourites), etc. The list is endless.

My primary areas of interests lie where technology meets society. Its that holy point of intersection for me with an infinitely large radius. The solutions to the problems we face today are already available, (perhaps not the perfect ones, and do not wait for perfection!) along with the means to achieve those ends. However, they are not in one place. That’s the problem and what interests me to study and work on is this challenge. So I work on bringing the holy trinity together: challenges, solutions and means. This is what I’m trying to convey in my post too.


Here, I would like to share a list of websites that I frequently read on the topics of my interest which I suggest you give them a try.

  1. Technology
      1. Power Technology Well written, documented and detailed reports on technology use, problems with governments, socio-economic impacts, and economics
      2. Futurism (I usually read these on my iPad, and I just discovered that the web interface is not that great. But give it a try!)
      3. Raconteur On issues of technology and sustainability.
      4. NREL I’m sure most of you already know this!
      5. Clean technica
  2. Research & Policy
    1. Yale Environment 360
    2. Centre for Policy Research, India (on an incredibly vast range of issues)
  3. Natural Resources
    1. Circular Economy
    2. Another important resource for qualitative information on a global level is the World Economic Forum
    3. World Resources Institute
  4. Others
    1. Institute for New Economic Thinking (for issues that are to be seen from a macroeconomic perspective)
    2. Bill Gates, this man reads books like I read newspapers, 1-2 a week. From the vast readings that he does, he makes videos and writes on certain aspects that he feels deeply about. Another source where you can find plenty of problems => Challenges => Solutions.
  5. Entrepreneurship

I haven’t mentioned a few other websites like IEA or IRENA which you will anyhow refer to, either for your coursework and assignments or your natural interest. ALong with the above, I also read the news from my home country quite regularly with special interest on Solar Energy, Electric mobility, Waste management, Water resource management and economic development. “But what is the point in knowing all this, Zee? I want to know how to search for a damn internship.” Is this what you’re thinking about?

In the spirit of “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, employers are interested in what value you bring to the table than what they are offering you. This is true of the changing global competitive labour markets where companies are constantly on the lookout to spot smart graduates who can think and work on their own. While the group assignment culture at the TU will hone your existing group working skills or teach you if you don’t have them, a lot more is dependent on how you can take it and work; also, on what ideas can you come up with, how you can connect the dots, and understand a big picture. Yes, initially you may be working on a micro level defined project. But you have the power to look at the big picture of the impact of what your technology can do, what problem it can solve and what new business opportunities it can create.

Instead of plainly looking for internships and clicking on apply button, understand what the problem is, what are the skills that you have (and can upgrade as needed) and how can you create a solution.

Make this solution as a pitch deck when you apply to the company or the position that you like. As a recruiter, they want to know what you got and what value can you bring apart from, of course, learning from them.



Internship Opportunities: Part 2 – Hunting

After writing Part 1, I felt incomplete from the point of Newton’s first law.

Okay, not the exact first law, but just get the point?

Not every one of us has the same drive, atleast in the beginning. Despite the competitive market forces at work, some of us still find it hard to take the first step to be pro-active. While some of you leap ahead, others still need time to figure out through other means. I have no problem with any of the two types unless you’re the third type: the sloth. Today I will explain how to prepare to hunt and where to look for.

Under the heading of opportunities, a lot of meanings exist: a part-time job, TA/RA work, internship, projects, and the list will go on and you will keep asking me for more. How do you begin to find your way around? I may not be an expert but I will briefly tell what I did and how it worked for me. This is, probably, the method followed by many of my classmates too. I would recommend you to be realistic especially in the initial phase and do not start dreaming of landing with an internship offer on day one.

Attend the CV/resume check, drafting cover letter, the LinkedIn profile build up and other workshops/events offered by TU Delft Career centre. I’m sure you probably do it already, but for the others who’re still waiting for the red carpet to roll out, Tadaa! Please take the first step, your Highness. For noobs, this is more of a preparatory phase. Learn how to work on your resume, what is expected of you to write in a cover letter, how to change it as required to suit the job you’re applying to, and most importantly, how you can leverage the use of LinkedIn.

Portals like and have offers for part-time, internships and others. The online portal is also well used for searching for internships. is quite popular for on-campus part-time works. These are to just get you started, there are many more to look at if you can spend time. is another online portal to find quality vacancies across the world, where ususally well-paid internships are posted. Also, keep an eye on the notice boards of the EWI faculty building of the 2 associations that post opportunities from time to time.

The website of YES!Delft showcases a number of technologies and companies working on them. There usually are vacancies available in them mostly in Solar Energy. I was also recently told about companies in carbon capture technologies, low emission fuels, and others. Most of them may or may not have offers for paid internships. Also, unless you’re from the EU, the chances of landing with part-time offers are not too high (this is just an observation as seen from my colleagues in the first year).

Apart from them, if you really want to challenge yourself, dreamteams are one of the best places to both learn and contribute. You get to interact with industry experts and sometimes come up with your own solutions that haven’t been probably worked out before elsewhere. You will find an interest drink session from any dreamteam almost once every month. For example Project Talaria, or solar boat, or solar car (Nuon), etc. So watch out for those opportunities. I have already explained about them here.

And then you have one of the largest annual career fairs, EEMCS days and De Delftse Bedrijvendagen (DDB), literally translated as the Delft’s companies day where a number of companies from all engineering fields and various industries participate. This will be highly publicized and for sure, you won’t miss it. Its a great place to network and sell your self and the ideas that you have to a large number of companies. Don’t expect this to be an easy game. But why its worth looking forward to this event is that it gives you a platform to learn and practice your networking skills, where you will understand why and how hunting in wolf packs won’t yield results and playing solo helps. More about it later.

If you’re looking for a TA or RA in your first year, this is how your chances will be: REALITY

One of the most important technical skills that would be useful irrespective of what field you are in: Programming/Coding. While you need not ace at it, sufficient knowledge of MATLAB, Python or R can open many doors of opportunities for you. This is just an observation that I made from looking at industry news and trends, reports, job vacancies description, and my own understanding of the skills every engineer must have. Every field is becoming data-intensive in terms of handling large amounts of data for designing new products or understanding usage and behaviour or statistical study etc. Many of the technologically strong opportunities I saw required good skills in MATLAB or Python. While I wouldn’t go to the extent of calling it necessary, sooner or later it probably will be.

While I have way overshot the word count, I hope that the content is useful to everyone.

To conclude the trilogy of this series on Opportunities, in the last article, I will write about how you can use LinkedIn well to hunt for what you want and also on what sources of reading inspire me. Wait for Part 3.



Internship Opportunities: Part 1 – Generation

Disclaimer: I want to keep this series of write-ups on opportunities brief, pointed, direct and make it sound more like a conversation than a drab to beat around the bush to convey my point in the last line.

It had been a long break after my last article in June. A lot has happened in between. I completed my first year of SET Masters (Woohoo!), went to India for 3 weeks for a splendid vacation and finally started my internship. Today, I want to talk about something that everyone out there had been asking me before they came here and will continue to ask for the coming few months. Truthfully, I wasn’t an exception either. What are the opportunities available for SET students?

  1. Do not worry about the availability of opportunities. You may have just begin your coursework now. So, it is a great chance to explore the possible options out there in various kinds of energy sectors. There are opportunities available in every field of energy (more importantly if you’re confused about which profile cluster to pick). If you are smart, you can even create new opportunities, be it research project or for employment. So, there. I have been reading a lot about the Energy scene in EU and my home country India too. While you may pick your favourite from Solar, Wind, Storage, Hydrogen, Bioenergy, do not stick to it like a loyal Gryffindor. While you specialise your interest area , keep a tab on the others and their trends.
  2. Be an Ideator (Idea Generator)What do I mean by this? I have already met some of you who read a lot of papers, news and technology articles related to RE on various domains. Keep it going. Read. Share. Talk. Discuss. This is one of the nice exercises to discuss and brainstorm. You have the time (don’t say you don’t, you darn well do)! When you initially try it, you may find it hard but keep doing it. You may or may not have an agenda initially, but soon you’ll start making them. Decide a topic, schedule a time, meet once a week and let the games begin! It could be a technology and how it can solve a problem (on the lines of research); or how it can be implemented. Over a period of time, you generate a lot of heat. Keep noting down those thoughts/ideas. Work on them later and see what potential it can hold. Or else, your weekly assignments from coursework should spur interesting discussions. Initiate them in class and slowly take it offline (or online)! I use Evernote app to write down the flow of thoughts and I look them up later.3. Be Pro-Active

    Do not wait for someone to take the initiative. You take it. Initiative to do what? The world of opportunities is right in your hand: internet.  Start scouting for challenges or problems that you want to focus on. There are hackathons, climathons, (let me know of more -athons) happening in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany (and of course rest of Europe too, but they are nearer). Make groups and attend them. Design workable solutions. Collaborate with students from other universities. Attend lectures followed by networking events where its all a game of how well you can sell yourself to the market out there. Even if you think they’re no opportunities hidden in their sleeves, still, sell yourself. It could be a good practice of pitching yourself, or some silent admirer behind you is already noting down points about you mentally. Being pro-active is so much more fun and is an exercise that can open new windows or previously closed ones. If you find it hard to get started, knock on my door or get back to step 2.

Are you upset that I cajoled you into thinking that I would explain you how to find internships and instead asked you to move your lazy bum across Europe? Forget Europe, the TU campus is sufficient for now if you can do it well. I didn’t want to sound too preachy and hope I succeeded in it. I’d like to design and create my own platter instead of waiting to be served. Period.

Click here for Part 2.



A Quarter in the Life of a SETtie: My story of Q3

On multiple occasions, people generally discuss the educational systems in their respective countries and compare and contrast with the one here in the Netherlands. The US, being one of the most favoured destinations for higher education, especially in STEM fields and a favourite topic and many of my friends back from India are in the US currently pursuing their Masters or have graduated already and working. They usually don’t understand it when I tell them, ‘Im really busy with assignments this week.’ They compare the study load to their own and think I might be overrating it. Let me clarify today, the workload we have here in general and explain how (almost) awesome the coursework is.

I will take an example of the last quarter, Q3. I took the following courses:

  1. PV Technologies (4 ECTS)
  2. Intelligent Electrical Power Grids (4 ECTS)
  3. Economic Policy for Sustainable Energy (4 ECTS)
  4. Systems Integration Project (technically 0 ECTS with shitloads of weekly work)
  5. Business Development Lab (5 ECTS)

Be warned, PV Technologies  is an insanely intense course with lots of edX video content to watch, 2 seasons (courses) load of Prof. Arno Smets and Prof. Rene van Swaaij talk about the underlying technology and related concepts of how solar photovoltaic cells work, lots of notes to be made, and a lot more of numericals and instructions to solve. This was the only course which had no mandatory weekly submissions in this quarter, yet packs an awfully strong punch at the end right before exams. 4 x 45min sessions every week in the class in addition to those 2 seasons of edx episodes. (PS. We weren’t given solutions to many of those numericals, even after a quarter long fight in their pursuit!)

Ooo yeah! 2 seasons of edX series! (2 courses of PVx modules)

Intelligent Electrical Power Grids took some time for me to get adjusted to understand the basics of power systems and grids. There is one weekly submission of an assignment report that entails studying the impact of an addition or pulling out of a generator or a load or both in a grid and simulate the results. What happens if you add a wind turbine farm to a grid with 2 coal plants and a large number of households? What if this is an onshore or an off shore wind farm? What happens to grid frequency if a generator is suddenly pulled out? What happens if someone tries to hack the network by feeding wrong data? What happens to a grid with PV if there is a sudden cloud cover? You will find out the answers to these questions and more through the use of MATLAB, Simulink, and OpenModelica softwares in your assignments. Quite an intense but interesting course with an MCQ based exam in the end. (PS. Be prepared to spend 1-2 annoying days every week on working out these assignments.)

A common sight in any weekly report submission: Plotting the simulation result and explaining the Why, what, and the how of it.

Economic Policy for Sustainable Energy was one of the courses that I was most looking forward to, given my area of interest in Energy Policies and Economics. This course requires 2 chapters of reading followed by 2 quizzes based on those chapters every week. In addition, there is a numerical solving based assignment approximately for every 2 weeks. In the end, there was a group task with a unique question to each group followed by its presentation and discussion in class. While this is manageable, the interesting part is doing this in addition to the above-mentioned courses together, minding the unique submission dates and times for every assignment!

Get used to playing with these concepts before they start playing with you!

Systems Integration Project. The first thing that annoyed me the most was lack of credits for the work we did in this quarter. There was an assignment for this every week with certain specific questions to be answered by working out on MATLAB and Simulink. The objective for this quarter in SIP was to design a battery in Simulink for the final SIP in Q4. (which you will end up  changing it by remodelling and resizing in Q4 because it was simply not good enough!). This would take us around 1- 1.5 day to work on every week.

More simulation, more plots and more reports. Yay.

While here end the 12 ECTS planned in this quarter, I took an elective Business Development Lab to feed my entrepreneurial curiosity and develop functional skills. This 5 ECTS course has a 4 hr session every week that has short lectures followed by active work sessions in the classroom. Working on developing an idea and a business plan building around the exact problems and needs of the customer, developing a marketing plan, go to market strategy and a revenue model to capture the value in the market were the final objectives in this course. Of course, our friend, the weekly homework, was to work out on a given task for the week and discuss its results with the profs in the following lecture and take feedback. The final deliverables included a short and interesting Business model, presentation, a group report and an individual report. Phew. (PS. I did come out with flying colors in this course!)

If you have started your journey on this course, be prepared. But I enjoyed this intense, action-filled learning process and wouldn’t mind having more of it! I will talk about life in quarter 4 soon after  I finish my Q4 exams!



Energy & more @TU Delft: Part 2

After Part 1, here comes the list of more possibilities. Apart from technical engineering work involved with student activities, there are others that help you relax and bring out cultural and literary work out of the students.

SET Match









SET Match is a quarterly magazine of Delft SEA, a students’ association for TU Delft student in MSc SET. My friend, Stella, from Greece is one of the team members involved in this. “My role in this magazine is quite multitasking. I am mainly the designer of the whole magazine, photographer of interviews and events organized and also taking interviews and writing articles concerning the energy sector. Interviews are mainly done to professors, scientists and entrepreneurs of the energy field that are of great interest to our readers.”

SET is full of students from varied engineering backgrounds. Stella did her bachelor in Mechanical Engineering in Greece and after working for a while as a research engineer she decided to step out of her comfort zone and move to the Netherlands. “However, besides studies, my creative side wanted something more. My great passions are writing and photography, so SET Match seemed really appealing to me.”

Stella Chatzisakoula

SET Match has changed significantly the last year. It is currently a digital magazine, having always in mind the sustainability and not wasting so much paper every quarter. The team consists of creative members with new and fresh ideas both for the content and the aesthetics of the magazine. Everyone reviews the work of the others and with team spirit try to give to the magazine a more colourful and appealing image.

The last edition of SET Match has been a delightful read and I suggest you read it too, here below.


Moving onto something more international and cultural, we have Delft International Student Society (DISS). It was founded in 2010 to facilitate the international students in Delft with a representative for social and academic needs. DISS is a self-funded organisation and works in favour of promoting 5 Tenets:
Act as a cohesive international organization
Act as the Advocate for International Students at TU Delft
Act as a network for international Student Careers
Act as Facilitator for Social Integration of International Students
Act as the Authority for International Student Integration into Holland

Delft International Student Society

Whoa! That already sounds like a lot. Kritika from SET Masters, who is a member in DISS is the General Secretary. “I support the chair in ensuring effective communication with other committee members and the society as a whole. I am the first point of contact for CIO and my emails with them get more frequent when each IP gets closer or if DISS wants access to administrative data.

Kritika Karthikeyan from DISS

“I was born in Delhi and brought up in Dubai until my mid-teens. Then my dad shipped me to the nerdiest school in Bangalore to complete my high school because my dad thought that nothing could beat Indian education. It didn’t do me any good. Being the only child, my parents began to miss my presence and I had to move back to Dubai to do my Bachelors in Electrical Engineering. On graduating, I worked in an oil and gas firm for 1.5 years and realized how its was only satisfying my bank account but not my soul. I decided to jump to the opposite end of the spectrum and here I am, studying MSc. In Sustainable Energy Technology.”


We are back again, to a dream team! Eco-Runner Team Delft produces a vehicle every year which is potentially the most efficient hydrogen vehicle in the world. Jeroen, from SET Masters, is responsible for the sponsorships and public relations of the team. “Although it consumes quite a lot of time, it is a really valuable experience. Especially next to my master program in Sustainable Energy Technology.” Way to go Jeroen!

Team Ecorunner

The team consists of 38 people (of which 8 are full-time members). Everything is done by the team itself. Acquiring funds, laminating the body, turning and milling components, etc.

“Next to the competitive character of the team, we try to express ourselves socially. Starting this year, we are really trying to become the missing link between companies, governments and the public, to speed up the transition towards increasing hydrogen as a form of energy use.” It is a really important and fun thing to tell all sorts of people about Ecorunner and the advantages of using hydrogen. The winning result of 2 years ago was around 3700 kilometres per litre of petrol! Yes, you read it right!

“When we explain how this can be achieved, it becomes clear that hydrogen energy has a bright future. And that is what it’s all about, spreading the word and making people think about other ways of transportation than burning hydrocarbons.”

There are more dreamteams and student initiatives that I can’t wait to write about. Keep reading and keep commenting. I will get back soon.



Energy & more @TU Delft: Part 1

Here at the TU, we do much more than weekly assignments, reports, and presentations. We work in dreamteams, student run associations & organizations, and other initiatives. I really wanted to bring all those things under one roof for you newbies to be aware of!

Energy club

The Energy Club is a student-led initiative committed to facilitating opportunities for sustainable energy enthusiasts. “We believe that empowered students are essential in the transition to clean energy. Thus we work towards building an extensive network between student bodies, researchers, the industry and government bodies to inspire more students to be active the shift towards sustainable energy,” says Sukanya, the Chairperson of the Energy Club for this year and a good friend of mine from SET. “The club organizes events, coordinates projects, promotes seminars, lectures and masterclasses, facilitates internships and excursions – to make students aware of the advancements in energy research and industry.”

Sukanya Prabhudesai (3rd from right). My SET classmates Syed Mohammed and Carlotta (from left) & Noud (extreme right).

To give you an example, last year the Energy Club took a group of students to France where they built their own fully operational wind turbine from scratch. Last week, we went on a trip to North Sea to see the wind turbines installed up there! Another project launched by the Energy Club- ‘Energy for Refugees’ is all set to fly to Greece this summer to set up a sustainable energy solution for the refugee camp at Lesvos with the local community. My friends Manolis and Karthik are going to be a part of this, which may include designing an off-grid energy system, and personally I’m quite excited for them! 😛

I ask Sukanya, what her role is. “As Chair of the Energy Club, my role involves managing the overall functioning of the board, organizing engaging events centred around sustainable energy for students and representing the Energy Club in public forums. I intend on using this opportunity to inspire more students to embark on their journey towards becoming future energy leaders.”

PS. The work at Energy Club is paid! 😉

Delft Hyperloop

Now, I want to talk about a Dreamteam. One of my favourite and the team I’m most looking forward to this July, Delft Hyperloop! My friend Sachin is a part of it.

Hyperloop is the future of transportation and sometimes also called the fifth mode of transportation. The concept was introduced by Elon Musk himself however he thought that the concept development shall be done by the student teams all across the globe. Delft Hyperloop is working on making a Hyperloop pod for the SpaceX Hyperloop pod competition 2018. “For the competition, we are aiming to break the current world record of 384 km/hr held by Hyperloop one and in the process making the technology more and more feasible for the coming future. Many big companies are supporting us in this effort.”

What is Sachin’s role? “I am currently working in the powertrain department of the team. My main focus area is dealing with high power electronics especially the motor controller which will the used to drive the electric motor of the pod. I am also involved in the testing team for the individual components of the pod such as brakes, suspension, etc.”

Sachin Yadav

In the July of 2018, the final competition will be held in Hawthorne, California, USA. Until now, there are 18 teams in total participating in the competition. The main criteria for winning the competition is only the top speed this year. The tube is almost 1km long and the target is to accelerate to the highest speed possible keeping in mind to brake as well. Sachin is going there along with the team. Delft. Goodluck team!

Part 2 will be soon coming up with more possibilities! Till then, keep reading.




The Why and How: SET Masters – Part 3: Clusters

You would’ve read why I chose SET Masters in Part 1 and Part 2. The program, in its current form, comes with a mix of interesting courses in various profiles. Today I want to talk about why I chose the cluster of Solar-Power-Economics (SPE) and my journey so far purely from a personal view. And of course, my favorite courses in it!

(PS: I don’t want to talk about what courses are there and what chapters and are covered which you can anyhow get from study guide!)

Why SPE?

Okay. I need to clarify a few things first! Truthfully speaking, this was the cluster that I definitely DIDN’T want to consider. I gave a thought about all other clusters, but I was sure that I would not take any cluster with Power profile in it! Oooooo! *Shudders*. Well, drama aside, there were many reasons for that. Firstly, my vast reading in science, history, business, and technology eventually culminated in a profound interest in the economics of energy systems, the kind of policies required, the way new and upcoming RE technologies diffuse and grow, that I wanted to study without any doubt! Hence economics profile was a must.

Having a knowledge of energy economics, policies, regulations, their impact on technology and vice versa, gave me a sense of a wider understanding of the bigger picture!

Solar PV is going to be one of the most promising areas of growth in the future of RE in the energy mix of almost all the countries and more importantly so in India, for me. I didn’t want to miss out on this. So, the solar profile was a must.

Thirdly, I had interest in bioenergy in areas like waste to energy and waste management, plastics reusability, and bio-circular based economy. I felt that bioenergy promised growth in the areas where solar and wind couldn’t, especially in a country like India. So missing out on biomass profile was out of the question!

Finally, with no background in electrical and electronics engineering, I knew I didn’t want to take Power! As simple as that. Voila! The choice of my cluster was clear! Woohoo! Wait, except, such a cluster did not exist! And the program director ruled out creating clusters of our own. What a pity! Hence my only option was to change my cluster which didn’t have power and satisfied all other requirements. One glance at the list of clusters reveals that you cannot choose solar and economics without power, and, biomass came only with storage and economics. Hence, I had to sacrifice either biomass or solar to have economics in the mix. 2 months and a number of useless hours spent thinking later, I chose Solar Power and Economics as my cluster!

The fact of the matter is, quite often, we either underestimate or do not fully comprehend the awesome possibilities that lay ahead of us if only we are trying to push ourselves a little further. While I cursed myself for choosing power, I didn’t quite realise that I had the ability to take the courses and get through them. I got bogged down by the fact that I didn’t choose what I wanted and kept whining about what I don’t. 3 quarters later, I seem to enjoy doing courses in power and even see a chance of working on my thesis in economics and power profiles! I must admit that the journey has not definitely been smooth and rosy, its definitely better than the picture I painted to myself!


To begin with, ‘Economics and Regulations of Sustainable Energy Systems’ from Q1, has been my top favorite course, taught by the maverick Professor Servaas Storm. Another awesome course, that initially felt a little annoying was ‘Energy Systems Optimization’. I personally got to appreciate the awesomeness of this course only after Q1. Phew, typical human, realize the value of something only after it has passed over and left!

Intelligent Electrical Power Grids in Q3 was another interesting course that gave me an overall picture on what happens in the grid, what happens when you turn on that switch in your room and why is it a pain to integrate the uncontrollable RES like Solar and wind. Finally, Economics Policy for Sustainable energy in Q3 was one of the courses I’d been waiting to do. Qualitatively and quantitatively understanding the impact of policies and regulations on externalities like CO2 emissions and economic impacts of curbing them.

In my next write up, I will get back more on my favorites and will give a deeper insight into various other courses and what you can expect from them!



Good Food and Good Company! – Part 1

In my last article, I wrote how much I miss home food. But today, I want to share what we do when we miss home food. Not just that, when so many multi-cultural people gather together, what do we do? Give each a taste of the other’s culture’s!

One such meet was when we all decided at the beginning of the quarter to meet up and get to know each other more casually than in a classroom setting, sometime in September 2017. Two of our classmates, Lukas and Josu, planned it well for us and booked the common room of Professor Schermerhoornstraat building and we had a few drinks and caught up with each other.

SET ’18 parties for the first time together!

After this, we decided to have an International Potluck Dinner in November after the exams of first Quarter. This time, it was a much more inclusive, more engaging and more awesome. People brought a variety of foods made at their homes, of their culture’s speciality and we all feasted on them! Of course, Indians, being the largest group here (after Dutch) made their presence felt with a variety of dishes from South Indian to North Indian and west to east Indian! And then there was Mexican, English, Greek, Indonesian, Spanish, oh, I dont fully remember what else!

I got into the assistant chef mode for Asvin, Ashwin, Adithya, Shruti and Kritika. Since I lived a little far off, I didn’t want to go all the way back to Hague, cook something and bring. So we teamed up and made the awesome dinner at Prof. Schermerhoornstraat(yes, again!). Upma, Aloo tikki chat, Channa masala, Paneer Bhurji, Fish, chicken, jeera rice, Dal, and many more from the Indian side! Please don’t ask what was available from the International contingent, I hardly remember the names! And then there were desserts! Gulab Jamun, Gajar ka Halwa, Beetroot Halwa, and  Apple pie were the only ones that I remember as of now. 😛 But will soon update the post as and when I remember more of them!

The awesome Gulab Jamuns by Priyanka

The awesome team behind Chat, Upma and channa masala!
From left to Right: Asvin, Ashwin, Adithya, Syed, Me, Shruti and Kritika

Upma by Asvin Kumar. I swear it was the best Upma I ever had! Aloo Tikki with Pudina Chutney, Curd and Tamarind sauce by Ashwin and Adithya. The Aloo tikki turned out so well, so did the Pudina chutney! Channa Masala by Shruti and Kritika. *slurrrrp*

Guess who ran the live counter for Aloo Tikki chat? Guess who taught the firangi how to eat (not too spicy) chat the right style? *BANG* That’s me!

Beetroot Halwa (Pudding) and Gajar ka Halwa (Carrot Pudding)!

Good food. Good company. 🙂

Good food. Good music. Good company. We hope to have more of these potluck dinners in the future. 🙂

Woohoo! The SETties International Potluck Dinner 1!
Cheers to more of them in the future! (Lukas at the camera)

Haha, the relationship between good food and good company doesn’t end here. I will be back with more of the smaller social gatherings we have to keep the spirits running and an excuse to get together to have more Indian food!



Missing is Happening: Indian Food – Part 1

WARNING: Reader discretion is advised – The blogger holds no liability whatsoever for anyone reading this,  who get attacked by sudden cravings for food from home.

To those yet to leave the cosy confines of their homes, be informed, make the most of your time and enjoy all your favourite food items that you can get your hands on. Be forewarned: (no prizes for guessing) You will miss a lot of home food. (you dont say!). One of the most important factors for people wherever they go, is food, more so when they are shifting for longer periods. While I come from Southern India, I did stay for long periods away from home while working and have enjoyed a variety of foods not native to mine. Rice, roti, bread,

Yet, for the past few months, I have missed a lot of my favourite foods.

I never imagined that I’d be missing Idly so badly. Along with it, the awesome coconut chutney, podi with ghee, ginger chutney, and sambar. I haven’t really mastered making good sambar here, yet. So, till then, I guess I will continue to miss it real bad. And, if you’ve missed Idly, of course you’re going to miss its friend, Dosa. While there are ready-made dosa mixes available, somehow, Im not able to get the taste that I would get back in India. And it goes without mentioning what else one can miss: Masala Dosa, Rawa Dosa, Ghee Roast Dosa, and so on.

Mirchi Bajji Andhra’s special (Image courtesy: Chitra’s food book)

Miss those bondas and my favourite Mirchi Bajjis, where chillies dipped in gram flour batter are fried in oil and are consumed with lemon squeezed on finely chopped onions and sprinkled corainder!

Oh. My. Gawd. *drooools* (Image courtesy: The Urban List)

How can one forget the street food? Pani puri, samosa chat, ragada, cutlet, bhel puri, pav Bhaji, pakora, dahi vada? The mix of sights, smells and tastes that really make your mouth water: the spiciness, the sourness, the sweetness, the crunchiness, the right temperature and texture of the food, the sprinkled onions, lemon and mint on top, with some additional sev, and a sookha puri in the end. Who doesn’t miss it?

Paranthas and rotis are available as frozen foods along with many other sabzis by MTR, Haldirams or other brands in a ready-to-eat style. But some of them lack a freshness inherently. While going to restaurants is, well, above the budgets of our tiny pockets, we have to make do with the ready-to-eats.

Image courtesy: Sunset Magazine

The Dutch (or Europeans for that matter) mostly eat sweet in their snacks too. Wherever I go, I really get bored of the same sights and tastes too (Do not talk about waffles, pies, cakes!). My tongue has been deprived of spicy biscuits, masala papads, samosas and other spicy snacks.

What else do I miss? Uhm… Coconut water and the soft kernels that are a usual sight back home, maize roasted over coal and a dash of lemon and salt rubbed on it, and SWEETS! Of course, how can I forget sweets? While I do admit that I’m not a ‘sweet-tooth’ type of person, there are specific times when I exclusively miss sweets and suffer from ‘sweet hunger’.

As a Hyderabadi, I have missed Biryani more than anything else. The very thought of the mix of all the spices, masala and dum Paradise and Bawarchi, uh..I need a napkin please…

Finally, the most important one: Homemade food. Each and every curry, dal, or any other preparation for that matter, reminds me of home food. While I have developed sufficient culinary skills and make food frequently, there is a missing ingredient always: Love? Of course, I’m learning to enjoy the diversity of food here, nothing can replace the taste of home. So what’s the next best thing you do? Team up and make food from home and enjoy with a good company here!

In my next write up, I will write about how we meet, make food and organise multi-cultural food parties, and how some people offer ‘services’ in this!




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