Life Getting in the Way of Living

Let me tell you what my life looks like nowadays.

Take yesterday, for example. I got to work, which has been increasingly stressful for the last 6 months, with a lot of crap going on that I don’t think I should talk about here. Suffice to say I spent 10 mins crying in the loo, it was that bad. (I never cry at work. It’s happened ONCE before, and even then I was much younger, a rookie).

I left office early, at 5:30pm… only because I had a flight to catch to Qatar (for work of course! No one goes to Qatar if they can help it!) at 10pm. I got home. I was hungry, cos I’d only eaten half a sandwich (stress makes me lose my appetite) at noon for lunch, but I’d no time to eat cos the cab would come to pick me up soon. My day had started at 5:30am, and I’d not really been able to sleep well for a week or so, so I was exhausted and decided to take a 5 min nap. I woke up when the cabbie called telling me he’s waiting downstairs.

I jumped out of bed, packed everything in 5 mins and ran out the door. I got to the airport and got to the gate at 9pm, ten mins before boarding was to officially start. I saw that they were boarding people early, but I figured I had time for a quick bite to eat, so went to the nearby cafe and ordered a quiche. I sat down to eat it, and just as I’d put a forkful of food into my mouth, I heard the *final boarding call* for my flight. I was confused… cos my boarding pass said they would start … oh why bother! I discarded the quiche *sob* and ran (literally ran!) to the gate. That’s when I realized I didn’t have my laptop bag on me. I must have left it at the cafe. So I hauled ass back to the cafe, but the woman at the counter said she hadn’t seen any laptop bag.

There was a moment of wild-eyed panic cos I wasn’t sure where the hell else I could have possibly left it. I ran back to the gate and explained my predicament to the officer there. By now, people were starting to notice the crazy woman running to and fro between Gate 10 and Paul’s Patisserie. The guy who works those golf-cart type cars was parked there looking at me going back and forth like a ping-pong ball with a look of pity on his face that made me want to start crying all over again. The officer at the gate gave me 10 mins to retrace my steps and find my bag before he closed the gate.

I turned away from the gate wondering where to start when suddenly, the golf-cart driver beeped his horn, and when I turned around, I saw him driving to me with my laptop bag sitting beside him. Apparently the chef at the cafe found it and gave it to him. I thanked him profusely. But words like “thank you” seems strangely insufficient at times like this. I got to the plane, ate the crummy little egg sandwich and a sorry little cupcake they served and fell asleep watching The Big Bang Theory.

I woke up in Qatar, arriving at the same time I’d left cos of the 1 hour time difference, with only my body clock complaining confusedly. The line at immigration looked like it was inspired by Lucifer himself, serpentine and long enough to make me wonder if I should just kill myself then and be done with it. I finally got to my hotel much after midnight. But no, the night was not over, cos you see.. I still had work left to do before I went to sleep. I managed to send a couple of mails before I finally succumbed to sleep. I’ve been up since 6:30am, working. And I just realized I’ve forgotten my laptop charger.

Help!

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Time Travel

Did you know that long long ago, a Spanish prince ordered almond trees to be planted on the mountains so that his Scandinavian wife, who was pining for the landscape of the snow-covered white mountains she grew up in, would feel less homesick?

Then, the people were left with so many almonds that they didn’t know what to do with them. And that is how turron came to be! Our guide Catherine told me this story as I was tasting turron for the first time in one the shops tucked into a narrow lane in Barcelona. She gave more details, like names and times, but I always forget those very easily. I remember the essence and the romance of the stories, everything else is a little hazy.

Catherine was our guide for this walking tour of old Barcelona we’d signed up for. She’s an Irish art history student and had lived in Spain for 4 years, which I thought was wonderful, cos it’s long enough to know things from a local’s point of view and yet, not that long ago to remember the things that fascinate you about a new place.

 

lanes

exploring the narrow lanes of Barri Gothic

 

She took us around the Barri Gothic and the Roman barracks (what was left of it), down narrow winding lanes and past massive cathedrals, telling us wonderful and sometimes sad stories about it all.

I listened in horrific fascination about 13 year old Eulalia who was tortured in 13 different terrible ways by the Romans who wanted her to stop following Christianity. One of the tortures involved putting her in a barrel filled with knives and broken glass and rolling it down the street. When she told us that story, I was standing on the very same street the barrel rolled down on! It felt odd. Seven centuries separated me from that incident, and yet, I felt bad for that poor kid, and marveled at her strength, of the faith she had at such a young age that helped her endure so much. I wondered if it was  precisely because she was that young that she held such conviction.

We later went to the cathedral that held Eulalia’s crypt.

eulalia

Cathedral of the Holy Cross & Saint Eulalia

It was beautiful and cavernous, sad and mournful, busy yet silent, peaceful if you wanted it to be, bustling if you didn’t.

Usually, when I walk past ancient streets and monuments, I wonder. I wonder at their history, the stories those walls hold. This time, I heard the stories, and it was an uplifting experience. Never had history come alive for me like it had in those ancient streets. Almost like I’d gone back in time. It felt a little strange afterwards to shake hands and part with Catherine, figure out a place for lunch, take pictures, drink sangria, clink our glasses together, be happy, be present.

If you’re in Barcelona, of course you must go to the Sagrada Familia.

The Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia

Marvel at the weird genius of Gaudi, the wonderful play of light and colours that he worked with.

inside the Sagrada Familia

 

Go sit on the longest bench in the world at Park Guell, check out the Hansel & Gretel gingerbread-style houses he built there.But if you’re like me, you’ll love the Barri Gothic the best. I realized I love exploring new places, but I especially like them when they’re old. The Barri Gothic was where the magic is, where you feel like you’ve gone back in time and history is coming alive around you.

step back

An Escape

These past few months have been absolutely nerve-wracking and stressful, and with each passing week, things get worse and I wonder what I was thinking about when I thought the previous week was stressful.

I almost don’t feel like going on holiday, cos I wonder what I’ll come back to when I get back to work. But then I’d planned a trip so in advance that I hadn’t anticipated the amount of work or stress I’d be in at this point in my life. But when I think about it, I have done everything I can do at work, the rest of the decisions that are being made are not in my control… so why not just let it all go and take some time off to unwind, right?

So I’m going. I hope that it will be a good trip, this. I hope that I can forget my worries for a bit and just relax so that that my insides stop feeling like it’s been twisted into knots.

I have never felt more like the jaded adult cliche that so many seem to be so well acquainted with, and I hate it. I’m hoping that travel will cure me of this affliction. Traveling makes me feel young and curious and happy and carefree. Like I can believe in magic again. And I so very badly want to believe!

So I’m going on a break to Spain. To Barcelona and Seville and a bunch of places. By the time you read this, I will hopefully be drinking my weight in sangria and forgetting all about the drudgery of corporate life.

Salud!

Holi Day

I’m feeling inexplicably nostalgic today about Holi. I love this festival of colours and very badly want to celebrate it this year, but it looks like it’s going to be just another regular day for me.

My first holi in a city that actively celebrated it was in Delhi. Winter had just about started to melt away and spring was in the air (of course, this is a given considering Holi is a celebration of Spring!). I’d recently broken up with my first boyfriend and we were in that delusional phase where we thought we could still be friends. Thankfully, we managed to play along and keep peace that day. My friend and I went over to his house, a sprawling villa that he shared with a bunch of his friends, and we started our war of colours with the neighbours! I don’t remember much of it, but I know it involved a lot of running around and a lot of laughing! I also remember that blue was the dominant colour that day, cos someone thought it’d be fun to use ink (ink!!!) instead of gulal.

Afterwards, we took the bikes and rode out to the Delhi-Gurgaon highway to find a place to eat. We stopped at a dhaba and ordered tandoori roti, chicken kadai, and mattar-paneer all topped with a huge dollop of ghee right before serving. By the way, you can’t avoid paneer if you’re in Delhi. There’ll always be at least one vegetarian in the group who’ll order it in some form or the other. But I digress…

It was a warm day full of sunshine and the food, like all dhaba food, was delicious. We had bottles of Limca spiked with vodka with us which we would sneak mouthfuls of from the bottle. Riding back, I noticed that the entire city was awash in colours, like everyone had been through some kind of rainbow explosion. Everywhere I looked, people had the faces smeared in reds, yellows, pinks and every colour imaginable.

Regrettably, I don’t have any photographs of that day. It was before smartphones and instagrams became the norm and if you wanted pictures, you’d need a film camera. I remember going back to work the next day with my fingernails still stained in red and blue and laughing at colleagues who had tinges of colour in their ears and hair. It would take a while for the colours to be washed off, sure. But the memories… they last a lifetime!

Days Like These…

NYE was pretty standard. Party, fireworks, getting home at 5am etc.

It used to be that I was very superstitious about how I spent my NYE. I’m not anymore. But I do like spending the first day of the year in a way that makes me happy. This, for me, is a way to kinda make sure that I don’t forget what’s important for me.

I went to the spa for a massage in the morning. I wasn’t the only one with this brilliant idea though. Seemed like everyone wanted to knead off the stress of partying the night before (I know I know! Then why do it? Good question!) I didn’t get an appointment at my regular branch at the time I wanted cos they were too busy. So I went to the other one they recommended. It was fantastic in all respects except for ONE really weird thing. The loo in in the changing room had a buddha-like statue facing  the toilet! So if you sat down in the loo, you’d be staring straight at this dude! Very disconcerting! I had to take pictures of course! :D Here you go!

See what I mean!

See what I mean!

IMAG1507

no one really wants an audience while they’re in the loo you know!

After the massage (which was excellent and almost made me forget about the weird statue staring at me in the loo), I had to rush home cos I was having friends over for dinner. I made this delicious pasta and a version of Jamie Oilver’s garlic bread.

Dinner and drinks

Dinner and drinks

Thankfully, it turned out well and we spent a lovely evening stuffing ourselves silly and drinking eggnog strong enough to down an elephant! The evening only ended at 1am, which of course meant that I was late to work on my first day back! I’m okay with that though! ;)

Here’s to more days like this!

Cheers and a Happy New Year to all! *clink*

Ouch!

I slipped and fell down on a wet floor, twisting my leg sideways from the knee down. The pain keeps increasing and spreading from my knee to the rest of my leg, so I finally decide to go to the hospital. I’m at the hospital, and the nurse is taking my vitals. I step on the scales and groan out loud.

” Does it hurt?” she asked anxiously.

” No, I’ve gained two kilos!”

And she laughed.

Hmph!

Rocky Road

road ahead

The road ahead

 

This picture was taking on my cellphone when I was hiking up Preikestolen. It is a very good representation of what my life is like at the moment –  the road ahead is rocky and dangerous, I’m struggling to climb it, and I’m exhausted (that part’s not in the picture, but it’s implied).

 

Hope you’re all having a better time than I am.