You know it isn’t your day when…

1- You realize at 9:10 that your 11 am meeting is actually at 9:30! You made a mistake with the timings and the client is a SUPER-important client who gives you dagger-looks when you walk in 20 mins late and find you were holding up 10 other people.

2- The laptop that had the presentation you had to give CRASHES (at above-mentioned client’s meeting). Yeah. :-\

Some days it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed.

Update:

I feel it necessary to mention that I managed to salvage the meeting anyway. We had a backup laptop so the presentation was done. I can be quite persuasive and charming, when I need to be, and by the end of the meeting, they were quite happy with us. :)

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What Doesn’t Kill You…

I was possessed. By Pain.

That’s the only way I can describe the past couple of weeks. Stress from various aspects of my life settled around my shoulders and my muscles twisted in protest, and stayed that way. It was debilitating, the pain. I thought I was going to die from it! Never have I experienced something so crippling and relentless! At one point, I swear, I was crying to the Gods to just kill me and end it all (I know I know… sounds melodramatic… but you have not been through what I have, so don’t judge!). My body, like the rest of my life, seems to have a flair for the dramatic. It’s like my chiropractor said “your body… when it goes over to the dark side…. it goes really dark!” 

I was so defeated that one day I burst into tears at my chiropractor’s office, bawling about how tired I was of the damn pain and everything. She patted me on the head and said that I was letting stress get to me.

Dark and twisted… that’s me! *sigh*

I wasn’t even bothered about travel anymoreAnd when *i* don’t care about travel, you know something is terribly wrong!

But the good thing about me is… hope never dies! I’m basically a positive person (though sometimes the positiveness is buried in pretty deep). So though I had given up on life and was waiting for the sweet release of death and all that, I finally got a bit tired of waiting, and gave in. And I guess giving in helped release the stress a little bit… enough to make me get out of bed and do a little yoga… and try and begin to get in touch with the rest of the world that I was ignoring (and did you know, if you ignore the world, the world ignores you right back… very easily? It’s not very good for the ego, but there you go.)

Anyway… I’m a bit better now… not completely alright, but on the road to recovery. My doc’s asked me to take it easy for a while and not stress. I tell the woman that I’m trying, and that’s the best I can do right now.

So in order to make up for all that negativity in my life, I’ve got plans for not one, but two trips! One short, that I’m planning with the gang for the Eid hols, and another one for the end of the year, that I’m planning with a couple of girl-friends, one that I am very excited about (hurrah for excitement!).
Life is painful, quite literally sometimes… and right now, I don’t quite see the point of carrying on… but my damn positiveness has kicked in, so I smile through the  pain, and hope for the best.

Once Upon a Time in the 14th Century…

Bordeaux was warmer than Paris when we first arrived at the train station… but as we drove towards our chateau near Nerac, the storm clouds got bigger and the temperature dropped further down.

On our way back in time

I felt like we were driving backwards into time, to a medieval land where soldiers rode around on horses in suits of armour protecting princesses in castles that had moats and drawbridges! :D

at the entrance

Our castle didn’t have a moat, but it was from the 14th century and had everything else you could possibly ask for from a medieval land, including suits of armour in the hallways and stuffed animal heads placed in different areas of the building (that spooked the hell outta me when I had to walk alone in the shadowy silence, with their glassy eyes staring).

We picked lots to choose rooms, and while everyone else got rooms that were brighter and more modern, I got the room which still retained its old-world decor, with wood-paneling and faded green brocade wallpaper and a fireplace.

my room

It was massive, I could’ve done my morning jog around the place! And it was beautiful, but a bit dark and spooky at night, especially since they only had lamps to light up the room and no other light fixtures! But towards the end… I found it cosy instead of scary and was happy to nestle under the covers in the four-poster bed and read the book I’d taken from the library (of course the chateau has its own library! :P).

View from my room

The chateau is nestled in a 450 hectare estate that has all sorts of animals roaming around free. One day I was woken up by an unfamiliar cry and when I looked out the window, I saw a peacock strutting around the lawn below! We also had wild horses and deer roaming around freely, which added to the magic of the place. I felt like I was living in a fairy-tale.

view from the garden

The sun begins to set only around 9pm there, and it felt strange in the beginning to have dinner when the sun shined on us like it was afternoon. But the long hours of daylight meant we could spend more time enjoying the surroundings.

This one time I walked into the woods to explore a bit. Very soon I came across an old cottage.

creepy place in the distance

…an abandoned glass factory

I knew from what the caretaker had mentioned before that it was an old abandoned glass factory. It looked creepy, so though I took a few pictures from the outside, I didn’t want to venture in alone.

I walked on ahead, and pretty soon the castle itself was far away and all I could hear was the sound of the leaves in the wind. The trees were really tall, so I didn’t want to stray from my path and wind up getting lost, so I stuck to the path and kept going.

a walk in the woods

From the picture below , you can see that it slowly rises on ahead, so it was uphill all the way, and I was hoping to kinda reach the end of the rise and see what lay beyond.

endless

But the path just didn’t seem to end. Then I came across a footprint of some animal, and a little ahead, a bone that’d been stripped clean and lying there so long it was growing weird stuff on it. I looked back and saw that the chateau was just a speck in the horizon. I decided to turn back and head to relative civilization where I wouldn’t be chased by a wild boar or worse!

The other time I explored the area was when a couple of the guys from the group arranged a scavenger hunt around the castle. We were divided into 3 groups, each group was given a set of pictures taken on our cellphones, and we had to seek out the places where those pictures were taken using the riddles they wrote for each picture as clues, and replicate the pictures with us in it, to prove we’d been there. The first team to do that would win. They blew the whistle and we were off, running around in different directions, trying to figure out how far ahead or behind the other teams were, conspiring against each other and whispering and pretending to be lost… it was the most fun I had at the chateau (though my team came in second!).

We were there for 5 days and most our of time was spent eating or drinking. In fact, I think most of our time in France was spent around a dinner table! (You can see evidence of this in my newly expanded waistline! *sigh*). We would go out to the village (about a half an hour drive away) to have those legendary 3 hour long french meals we’d heard so much about.

wine-tasting

We went wine-tasting, and to the local chocolatier where I fell in love with (among other things) a preparation of crystallized orange slices half dipped in dark chocolate! I wish I had pictures, but I was too overwhelmed by the taste to think of capturing it on camera!

We left on the morning of the sixth day at four friggin thirty in the morning! We had a long drive ahead of us and we wanted to get an early start. It was too dark to see the castle we were leaving behind, which I suppose was just as well. It felt like I was driving away to another time altogether, leaving behind an era that was more wild and more dangerous maybe… but infinitely more romantic.