Tête-à-Tête and Pasta

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The two Italian girls at the hostel

New years Party all night, woke up tired and hungover, had a very long bus ride from Lagos to Lisbon.
Arrived Lisbon at night, checked in the hostel

Being the 1st Jan it was a holiday and stores were closed. I was so hungry, finally found a store open and bought some instant noodles.
Walked back to the hostel straight, to the kitchen.

“Do you want some pasta, I’m cooking some”
-Umm, yeah sure!

“Where are you from?”
-India, and I live in Luxembourg

“India, wow! It’s an exotic country, isn’t it?”
-Haha! Maybe not for Indians but yeah.
And you? Where are you from?

“From Italy, so my pasta is gonna be great”
-Absolutely.
What do you do?

“I was studying Cultural Tourism and graduated early this year or last year now, we’re in 2018 now. I have been traveling for a while, and I will start to work now”
-Nice. Are you traveling alone?

“No my friend is sitting there at the table, she is a bit sick. I’ve made soup for her”
-Oh! and how was the new year party in Lisbon?

“It was great! We went to see to see the fireworks in the central square”
-Was it raining?

“It did, but only for a bit”
-Hm! Which part of Italy are you from?

“Gorizia, its a city close to Venice. It shares the border with Slovenia. You can be in Slovenia in 5 mins”
-And how is the city?

“It’s a nice city but very small….”

*A person walks into the kitchen*

“Do you want some pasta?”

Random person, a bit hesitant…Umm

“I cooked a lot…”

Okay maybe!

“I am going to my friend at the table, do you wanna join us?”
-Sure

We both walk at the table.

Me introducing myself to “The Friend”

Friend(Sick voice): “Hi I am…
Sorry, I am a bit sick. Its a combination of cold and hangover. Usually, I am more cheerful”
-Its okay, which is worse, hangover or cold?

*lame joke, dismissing chuckle*

-What do you do? Do you study cultural tourism too?
F: No, I study Philosophy

-Wow?! In Italy?
F: No, UK

-Where exactly in the UK?
F: Cambridge.

-Cambridge. How is Cambridge?
F: Full of weird people

*Me surprised*

-Why?
F: Because it is full of weird people

-And how is studying Philosophy like? Do you have to read a lot too?
F: Yes, a lot

“And she also has to think a lot XD”
-Haha! That must be hard, no?!

“Do you want some soup?”
-No, Thank you.

-And the weather in the UK?
F: It’s like what you expect, rain!
What I don’t like is, they don’t have a proper summer

-And did you guys meet?
“We went to the same high school”

-I actually watch a show from Italy, its called Gomorra
“Ah! Gomorrah. Yes, its a very good show, isn’t it? Now everybody knows about it”

-Yes, it’s very good. But the things in the series are true and real?
“Well not exactly real. But we have had some incidents and the events in the show are inspired by true events”

-I follow the actors on Facebook XD
“Its based on a book by Roberto Saviano and I really like him. I follow him on FB and I like his views and statements. He has to live with Police protection and he wanders around. If he goes back to Naples, he might get killed too”

-How do you spell his name? I want to follow him too
“R-O-B-E-R-T-O  S-A-V-I-A-N-O
But his statements are in Italian and mostly on Italian politics”

“You sure don’t want some soup”
-Sure, I will have it. The pasta tastes great btw! Always trust the Italian with Pasta

F: When did you arrive in Portugal?
-I have been here for almost a month now. I’ve been around the country a bit. And you guys?

“We came here 4 days ago. But I will come back here again”
-The soup is delicious

“Tell me about India. Which part are you from?”
-I’m from Delhi. And it’s a crazy city. Full of people.

“I can only imagine, I would like to see that someday”
-The population of Portugal is around 10 million and in Delhi, we are 21 million inhabitants

“What?! I cannot live in a city with so many people. I like smaller cities”
-Yes, it’s a demanding city and in the summers, it’s burning.
But Italy is a beautiful place, isn’t it? I haven’t been there yet, but am planning to.

“Yes, it’s a lovely place but it’s a dying country you know”
-What do you mean?

“The population is getting old and the young people don’t want to get married and have children. So the young workforce is less. The average number of children for women in Itlay is 1-1.5”
-And how many should it be to have a consistent growth for a country

“Around 2-3”
-Oh! And is that why a lot of Italians are moving abroad?

“No, No. That’s not why Italians move abroad. The economic condition is also very bad. We were hit deeply by the depression and are still recovering. It’s not like there are no jobs. But the number of jobs are fewer than it should be. And people are also exploited at the jobs, long working hours, unpaid holidays and stuff like that”

“Also, a lot of people evade taxes. The government then raises the taxes and then more people evade”
-That sounds a bit like India

“And how is India?”
-It’s very diverse. The cities are very different from the countryside

“Is it an Indian thing to climb the Mount Everest?”
-What?! No no. XD
Also, it’s not easy to climb the Everest XD

“Yeah, I know that”
-Indian thing is IT and maybe cricket XD

“But are you IT?!”
-No. XD
I may not be the best example of an Indian I guess
But I love cricket though

“I’m going to make tea for my friend and myself. Do you want some?”
-Yeah! I’ll come and give you a hand

-You are like God sent. I walked into the kitchen tired and hungry and you offered me food. And not only me but to everybody in the hostel.

“Its an Italian thing”

-They should put your picture on the Wall of Fame here XD

F: Okay, now I will teach you an important Italian expression

Abbiocco

-Abbiocco, what does it mean?

F: Its like when you have too much food and want to sleep
-Ah! So, if you feel Abbiocco, after a meal, does that mean the food was great

F: It’s more to do with quantity than quality.

*I open my laptop. The girls notice the decal LOTR sticker*

F: I love that. Do you like LOTR too?
-Yeah! But I like Harry Potter more

F: Both of us are big fans of LOTR
Harry Potter was when we were kids

-I guess I never grew up then

-Have you been to the Oldest Bookstore in the world here in Lisbon

“No, we haven’t! Where is it?”
-It’s in Chiado
Look, I have a picture on my Instagram here

“It looks nice, we will go there tomorrow”

*Looks at my other Instagram pictures*

“What is this?”
-It’s a light bulb, like a lamp?!

“Yeah! But these strands hanging?”
-Umm, I don’t know how to explain. They are like the filaments of the bulb

“You have a good eye. Maybe I should follow you on Instagram”
-Good Eye. I wear glasses, I have 2 extra eyes.

*lame joke expressions*

We talked a bit more about things, places, life, museums, work, travel and I bid them good night and retired to bed.

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Solitude by the Sea

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Solitude by the sea

Its almost Christmas, the city is decorated with festive lights. People are merry, singing dancing, drinking, celebrating.

Does Christmas bring joy when celebrated alone?

I think as you grow older, your Christmas list gets shorter as the things you want can’t be bought

Years have passed since she left. The sea and the shore remind him of her. This is the only place he feels closer to her. She loved surfing, these waves took good care of her, brought her back to the shore everytime, with a smile, except for that one time.

Now he comes back every now and then to listen to the sound of the waves hitting the rocks, feel the empty expansive silence of this sea. This is only place he finds himself closer to her. This is his Christmas abode.

He wishes one day, the sea will play the Santa and gift him the only present he wants.

“I think as you grow older, your Christmas list gets shorter as the things you want can’t be bought”, he keeps telling himself.

 

 

The Lady from Lahore – a short story.

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I met a lady from Lahore there. She was visiting her son, he studies in Amsterdam.

I met them at a coffee shop. Coffee shops in Amsterdam are not to be confused with cafe.

A cafe serves coffee and bagel and breakfast and croissant.

A coffee shop is a place you go to get marijuana and other stuff.

The son, Arslan was teaching his mom how to smoke weed XD

I told her that she might be the coolest mom ever. They clicked a picture together and uploaded it with this caption XD

Amsterdam is so full of happy stories, I love the city.

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Being from India, we have a sense that Pakistan is a closed and reserved society. I was pleasantly surprised rather delighted to meet this lady. She mentioned, that she had relatives in Delhi used to visit before the visa norms. I parted by inviting her to Delhi and requested to visit me next time when she’s in town.

 

 

 

 

Raksha Bandhan 2017

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7th August 2017, 9.30 am
Scrolling through my social media feed, seeing pictures and posts from friends and family makes me long for home. Festivals are best celebrated with friends and family.

I’m sitting here in my office, watching the clock ticking, waiting for the post to arrive, waiting for my rakhi. Waiting to click myself and send her a picture, to share my joys, and see her exhilarate with happiness.

13.00ish
My rakhi arrives and I’m elated with joy, like a little kid with a lollipop in Disneyland. I flaunt it and show it to everybody around at work, with a baby like “Yayyyyyy”!!

Living afar for long has made me realize how important family relations are and how I can never forsake family or friends. I feel sometimes it’s a struggle to live abroad.

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For the ones unaware, Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is an annual festival affirming the affection and kinship between brothers and sisters. I have always been fond of my sisters. Growing up together we have so many memories of our mischiefs. Being around them makes me realize I haven’t actually grown up. Hence, Raksha Bandhan has always been special. It used to be an excuse for us to gather together, share laughs, stories, joke around and of course, eat good food. Through the course of time, the geography has changed, the distance has made it difficult to personally meet. But every year no matter wherever I am, whatever part of the world, I receive my rakhis.

Before technology, you know how people exchanged letters and Rakhi always came along with a letter. Even today, my sisters have kept the tradition going, I guess it’s become a habit. My post envelope had a short letter accompanying my Rakhi. All of us a funny “Nick Name” as kids and my letter is always addressed with my funny childhood nick name.

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The Monday of 7th August was a little brighter than most Mondays. 🙂

Diwali ’16

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Diwali, some say gets its name from Sanskrit word “Deepavali”, meaning row of lights. Being arguably the biggest festival in India, it is celebrated for different reasons across the country. The northern part celebrate as a homecoming of Lord Ram, some symbolise it as Goddess Durga defeating Narakasura, others associate not with last harvest before winters. For Jains it marks the nirvana of Lord Mahavira and for Sikhs, Guru Hargobind Ji was freed from imprisonment on this day. So there’s lot to celebrate. It falls on a new moon day and the lighted diyas represents hope of finding light in the darkness or achieving knowledge when there is ignorance.

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I always believed there are 2 parts of every festival- the fun part and the boring part. Chores like cleaning and tidying up the house and praying bored me a bit during the festivals. But as a kid, I used to focus on the fun part, like playing colours in Holi, lighting up divas and candles and bursting crackers for Diwali.

Traditionally, I have been celebrating Diwali by decorating our house with clay lamps and candles and draw a coloured pattern, called Rangoli, at the entrance of the house. As far back as I can remember in the past, I have been putting on something ethnic and we meet friends, relatives, exchange sweets and burst firecrackers. The place looks vibrant, bright and lit up.

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I was celebrating this Diwali at home after a long long time. Festivals are best celebrated with friends and family, and Diwali’16 was a special one for me.

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