Sunday, July 21, 2019

Respecte Ton Lac

I returned to Louvain-la-Neuve after more than 1.5 years for my 1st Ph.D. defense (yes, there will be one more defense - as this is a double degree). My 1st defense is actually in Portugal. But I had a short stay in Belgium as I wanted to meet my supervisor in Belgium to get his feedback before my defense. While waiting for him to turn up in his office, I decided to have some coffee and a croissant in a bakery I used to frequent while I lived in Louvain-la-Neuve in 2017. I sat down in the seats outside the bakery and had a sip of the coffee. A few minutes later, a waitress came to me and politely reminded that the seats belong to the restaurant and not the bakery - and therefore I should leave unless I order something from them. 

There was this beautiful lake full of geese and
Completed constructions in Louvain-la-Neuve
ducks - we used to feed them. It has also become my most favorite lake in the world ;) (thanks 2017 for all those awesome memories by the lake!).  I decided to go to the lakeside and sit on one of those seats facing the lakes while enjoying my croissant and coffee. I started walking and ended up in the lakeside. To my disappointment, the lake had become completely dry! What an anti-climax. A lake that was part of my life for the whole year of 2017. I used to walk by the lake every single day to my lab, and also in the return journey. I was not sure what made the lake go dry. A family (a middle-aged couple and their teenage son) was walking. I decided to ask them about the lake as they looked locals: "There was a nice lake here when I lived here 2 years back. What happened to the lake?" The gentleman smiled and replied, "Oh, they dried it to clean the lake. You are disappointed, aren't you?" I said, "Yes, I came back to see the lake and found it gone. Of course, disappointed" Then I walked around the lake taking some photos. I also saw some guys crossing the lake (which by now is just a patch of grassland) by walking across it.

Later, I found that this is a regular practice in Louvain-la-Neuve. The municipality empties the lake every 5 years in February and keeps it dry until October. Before doing so, they carefully move the fish, birds, and animals to a nearby lake, and in October, bring them back. That means the lake will remain dry when I return to Louvain-la-Neuve in August for the UCL public defense (Update from August: I did visit the lake again in August during my second visit and found it to be drier). It was interesting (and sad) that I was expecting to see the lake and missed it despite visiting it.

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