Sunday, September 28, 2008

Travelling Fun

I don't mind airline travel. In fact, I quite look forward to it, especially when I'm travelling alone. I don't know why it bores most other people I know. I suppose, it is a bit lonely seeing families travelling for holidays together when you're sitting in a corner all by yourself reading a book, but all in all, its quite a bit of fun. Since I am the laziest person I know, sitting stationary in a moving vehicle has always been a fascinating principle to me, which is why I have always loved plane rides, road trips and train journeys.

I also have mental capacity of a five year old, which means that I am very easy to please. So you just need to give me a book, an ipod and maybe an good inflight movie, and I am the happiest girl in the world. I am also lucky enough to have the skill of sleeping through practically anything, so that also helps me kill the hours. The only thing I need to fall asleep is music playing in the background, and I sleep as well as Fluffy. Ok, bad Harry Potter references apart, this habit of mine does cause me to waste precious ipod battery. However, it is a really great feeling to fall asleep with your ipod on and then wake up hours/minutes later to find it still running. Also, if you're really weird you could just press the back button and see the entire list of songs that played while were asleep and have no memory of hearing any of them (not that I would do anything as silly as this)

The most fulfilling plane journey that I've ever been through is the forty minute journey between Zurich and Milan. It was so beautiful, and if I was any good at taking pictures and if I had a camera on me, I would have taken fancy pictures, and posted them up here, but even those would not have done any justice to that scenery. It just cheered me up so much, and even the prospect of going to lectures the next morning could not have brought me down. What could possibly be better than sitting by the window seat in one of the tiniest commercial planes in the world, on a clear sunny morning, admiring the beauty of the Swiss Alps while sipping watery airline tea, and having the soundtrack of Singh is King blasting into your ears?

That, my dear friends, was true happiness; a kind of happiness that does not come with spending an evening with your friends or buying new shoes or watching a good film; no, it was a kind of happiness that does not have any reason at all, a sort of happiness that makes you feel completely satisfied with the big scheme of things. Just for that tiny, fleeting moment, you are at peace with the world, completely satisfied with what you have, and have no desires of any sort.

I just got back last Tuesday and have been so busy with the start of a new term at uni. Its hard to imagine that I was in Bombay, getting into moving trains and buses, fighting the rain and the crowd, and eating unhealthy, roadside junk food just less than a week ago. But its been good to get back home. I am always complaining about Milan, but whenever I'm away from here for long periods of time, and come back, I always get the feeling of coming back home. OK, I finally admit it after six long years of living here, Milan is home, and I truly love living here regardless of all my complaining.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Life as a n00by b00by

I was so ridiculously nervous on my first day at work. If I hadn't been so terrified, I might have seen the humour in the situation. I am very ashamed to admit that before this internship, I had never worked before in my entire life. Twenty years without doing a decent day's job is something that doesn't go well on a person's CV, and so I decided that to use this summer to do something more useful than lying around on a sunny Mediterranean beach.

I landed in Bombay on a Saturday night and my internship was to start on a Monday morning. I knew that I was going to be in Bombay right in the middle of the monsoons and kind of expected all the rain. However, I wasn't expecting the heavens to start celebrating with my arrival with a deluge of tropical rainfall. I figured that the rain would subside by the time it was Monday because it couldn't possibly rain continuously for more than twenty four hours, could it? Clearly, six years away from the city had taken away my memories of its wild rainfall.

It rained on Sunday morning, on Sunday afternoon, on Sunday evening and on Sunday night. I went to bed hoping that it would subside by the next morning because I didn't particularly relish going to work on my first day under the pouring rain. But luck, as usual, deluded me and it was pouring so much on Monday morning that I couldn't even look at the building in front of my house through the window.

I decided to take a taxi to work instead of trying to brave it out and wait for the bus like I had initially planned on doing. I was also very paranoid about reaching late, so I left extremely early and was wearing formal clothes and flip flops (and carrying my nice sandals in my bag). As a result, I arrived at work at 8.30 instead of 9, which was actually the time I had to report.

The first thing I noticed was that the office was flooded with ankle length deep water and one of the doors to the office was blocked due to the creation of a large muddy pond. Additionally, everything, including the computer CPUs and the wires were swimming around in the water. The office was also practically empty. I mustered up some courage and bashfully introduced myself to the receptionist who had thankfully just arrived. She told me in the nicest possible manner that one could to tell me that she didn't think that anyone would actually come to work today because of the rain, and I could sit wherever I found some space in the office.

Slowly people started trickling into office by around 10.30/11.00 in the morning and I had to undergo a very painful experience of explaining my life story, the circumstances under which I had come to live in Italy, study in Milan, and come back to Bombay. After knowing all they had to know about my life in under ten minutes, people eventually lost interest and went about doing their work as I sat uncomfortably counting the cracks in the ceiling. I was so worried the office was going to blow up any second because of all the wires that were floating in the water and that we were all going to die that I kept thinking of creative ways of quickly exiting the building. However, everyone else seemed relaxed enough as if this was a regular occurrence and continued working on their computers.

I sat on a chair all day, did the sudoku in the newspaper and read a fashion magazine until someone finally noticed that I existed. They were very nice and told me that my boss wasn't going to be in office for the day and that they didn't know what to do with me because there was neither a seat or a computer free for me in the office. There is clearly not much one can say to that. I got back home feeling very lonely and left out.

The next day, the sun was shining brightly; I got the bus on time; the office was no longer immersed in a puddle of muddy water; I took my laptop to work; someone created space for me to sit; people seemed friendlier; I was given my own stationary pile (and we all know that nothing makes your narrator happier than the sight of new stationary); someone invited me to sit with them for lunch; and my boss came and gave me work to do. It was what an ideal first day should have been!

Friday is my last day and work, and I am truly going to miss coming here daily. All these people that initially seemed scary and unapproachable turned out to be really nice and friendly, and I sort of feel silly for being so nervous around them.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ring of Fire

When things like this happen in this country, I really don't know what to think or do apart from sit glued to the television screen watching news channels. Even after I have kind of figured out what exactly has happened, a part of me feels guilty for wanting to switch the television off. So, I keep it on, and keep seeing the same reports and videos again and again.
A few days ago, I was talking with a colleague about how dangerous it has become for people living in Indian cities due to all the bomb blasts that have been happening in the recent years, and yesterday there were blasts in Delhi. When something like this happens, which is pretty often in the world these days, I go through four main stages:
  1. Fear - When the news first hits me, I get very scared; I worry about the people I know who live in that place. I don't know if all my friends/relatives are alright and try to reassure myself before contacting them as soon as possible. I also get frightened thinking about what would happen if something like that happened in an area where I was around. How would my family possibly be able to deal with anything happening to me?
  2. Anger - I then get irritated at the unfairness of it all; I get really mad that things like this keep happening in this country and no one seems to be doing anything about it. All I keep reading in the papers is how investigations are always coming to a dead end. Every months there new blasts happening where hundreds for innocent people are mindlessly killed for no reason at all. Additionally if you notice, its always the poor people end up dying or getting injured; people who were going about doing their work, and minding their own business. You never hear of fat industrialists dying, do you?
  3. Helplessness - Then I am always overcome with a sense of sadness for being unable to do absolutely anything about these things. Sometimes, I get really scared because even if I had the power to do something and save the world, I don't even know if I would bother to save the world. I know myself well, and yet I don't know what I would do if I faced a choice between risking my life and saving the world, or sitting at home, on my bed browsing the internet.
  4. Indifference - And then slowly, all these emotions fade away. I get distracted thinking about other things that are going on in my life. I still feel sorry about what has happened, but I know that it hasn't affected me in any way, so I go on with my life; I change the channel on the telly. If I'm feeling particularly vehement, I might make an angy blog post or two, but apart from this, I don't do anything else and go about minding my own business until something like this happens, and the whole cycle of emotions begins once again.
I feel horrible when I behave in this manner because I know I should be feeling more, or doing more. However, I can't help being hardened by the fact that events such as these have happened so many times before, not only in India, but everywhere in the world. Maybe I'm just too cynical for my own good, but I know that nothing is ever going to be done to stop these things and people are going to keep dying for no reason whatsoever.
How many people have the courage to admit that they have stopped caring/counting the blasts that have happened in Iraq anymore or the number of innocent people that have died there? I'm not even going to ask people about Israel or Palestine because I am pretty sure that people have just stopped following the news on this matter, and there is nothing more left to be said.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Blogshead Revisited

Its been more than a year since my last blog post and I know that I have been missing for a ridiculous amount of time. To tell you the truth, I've been wanting to resume blogging for a very long time now, but have been putting it off at the back of my head. The thought of starting over from the very beginning seems very daunting, doesn't it? I'm pretty sure that the handful of people who might be reading my blog earlier have probably removed it from their sidebars.

I don't have any nice blogger friends any more, apart from one, who I'd like to think is also my friend in real life. But I have bravely decided to start blogging again, at least for a while and see how it goes. I'm sure its going to be as much fun as it was the first time, and I promise to try my best to update as regularly as possible.

A lot of things can change in one year, but nothing much seems to have changed in my life. I'm a year older, and that isn't as fun as it used to be. I still remember how desperate I was to become thirteen and I had made this whole countdown upto my birthday. But once you become twenty, birthdays just remind me of how time is running out. I feel old; everyone else seems to be younger and more accomplished than me. Ok, I admit that this doesn't take much effort, but earlier at least I had my young age as an excuse for my laziness, but now even that seems to have gone away.

However, on a less depressive note, there have been a lot of changes. I've travelled quite a bit in the last whole year, and I'll be surely be talking about that in my future posts. I'm just a year away from getting out of university (but I'm not sure whether I'm supposed to dread it or look forward to it, although presently I'm tilting towards the latter option).

I've been in Bombay for the last three months working an as intern here, which is as lowly as it sounds. I have always heard horror stories about interns being used as slaves in the offices that they are working in, but my experience here has been surprisingly pleasant. Also, living in Bombay after being away for almost six years has been wonderful. I know I always look at Bombay with rose tinted glasses, but I can't help it, I've always been like this. I've been braving the monsoon and taking public transport every day for the last three months and I still don't seem to mind much (even though I shriek like a twelve year old every time my hair gets wet!)

I still have a couple of weeks to go before uni starts and I'll try my best to be prolific before that.