Monday, April 29, 2013

Drinking Mercury

Following my decision to embark on a journey to sainthood, I stacked my fridge with healthy vegetables, fruits and dairy products, staying away from my usual quota of fried snacks, aerated drinks and alcoholic drinks. But then it was Friday, and the obvious happened. A friend landed up and since she needed company to drink, I simply HAD to postpone my sainthood journey for a couple of days. But rest assured it HAS indeed begun.

I spent a major part of Saturday COOKING. Yes, I repeat, cooking, so much so that my cylinder ran out of gas, leaving me with half-cooked daal and veggies: a clear sign that nature is conspiring against my will to attain nirvana. But of course, I am not someone who gives up easily. So, despite the unexpected turn of events, I stayed away from eating out or ordering home delivery, surviving on sleep. I think life becomes so much easier if you can just sleep through your worries, hunger included.

But I also watched my first IPL match of the season. Dear readers, let me maintain a guilty silence of two seconds while you soak in this information…

So, why would I do something so irrational, so stupid, so downright pathetic? The answer is simple: Rahul Dravid! Ever since he retired from all forms of the game, I had been missing him, and when I ACCIDENTALLY came across his speech during the toss while channel-surfing, I simply didn’t have the heart to ignore him. So yes, I am not ashamed to admit that I watched an ENTIRE IPL match (full 40 overs plus the painstaking extra innings in between) between Rajasthan Royals and some other team (inconsequential).

To add to the-already pointless weekend, I also watched the pointless match between Arsenal and Manchester United. The latter having already won the League seemed to have to the ground straight from the bar after having a really long celebration, but even then managed to hold on to a 1-1 draw.

If purposelessness had to be redefined, this weekend may well be the new yardstick for it

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fifty Shades of Gray

So I have decided to turn over a new leaf. The last few months have been chaotic to say the least: what with too much work, the new mandate and new responsibilities, I had spent a major part of my fast-diminishing youth in the claustrophobic air-conditioned office environment. Add to that, the trips; yes, in the four months in 2013, I have been to three new countries with another four lined up for next month, so travel-wise it’s been a good year so far.
But with all this constant activity, it has taken a toll on my lifestyle: I had been eating out way too much, drinking more than I usually do, having too many chocolates, staying up late and as a result missing out on my early morning jog. In short, my life has taken a turn for the indiscipline, though it has been infinitely more fun.

But then yesterday, I had a public holiday for some reason and I used it to good effect to clean my house, re-organize my kitchen which has been redundant for months now (except the occasional Maggie/coffee/omlette making ritual) and decided to put my life back in order. Going forward, I vowed to give up on junk food, alcohol and other undesirable elements of my life.

Usher in the age of Saint Nefertiti!

Of course, just to celebrate my last day of ‘the good life’, I did order cheese burst pizza, garlic bread with extra cheese and non-diet coke, I did go out and take advantage of the happy hours LIT binge and I did watch the last show of Nautanki Saala, which is frankly the worst movie I have seen since Ra.One.

But then again, when you are choosing a life of gray, might as well soak up the last vignettes of colour while you still can

Monday, April 22, 2013


Two words that can change even the most stable, stagnant and constant factors of your life:
Black Label

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Return of the Swiss Miss

The last couple of weeks have been a blur: I was alone, in a new country, working in a different environment, with people who spoke a different language, came from a different culture, dressed differently and did things differently.

There was work, lots of it. Every morning, I would get up at six in the morning, get ready, run out of the hotel to the tram station right across the road, validate my ticket and take Tram No. 7 to reach office by 7:30. Unlike in India, people started their day devilishly early, and they left early too. As expected, Company C is huge in Zurich: every five hundred metres, there was either an office or a branch. I didn’t have to explain where I worked which was a big relief compared to the blank stares I get here. I would spend most of the day running from one office to another, meeting people for coffee or lunch, and repeating the same jargon like a parrot each time. But at least people heard me out, irrespective of how senior and experienced they were compared to me, irrespective of how they towered over me and irrespective of my apprehensions of being a silly girl trying to take herself too seriously. At the end of the day, despite some goof-ups/missed appointments I managed to hold my own and get some work done. More importantly, I finally managed to meet the people I have spoken multiple times over the phone, put a face to the voice and become more than just a remote entity with a weird name. Finally I also met the people I used to work closely with, but who had become a victim of all the mindless restructuring over the last two years that I have been here. Some of them no longer had a job but yet they were gracious enough to take me out for a lunch.

There was exploring a new place. In the evenings I would either drink it up with the team members or go exploring the city by myself: Zurich, with all its churches, museums, lakes and universities had plenty to offer to a tourist. I admired the glass paintings in the Fraumunster, enjoyed the grey majestic architecture of the Grossmunster, gratefully listened to the explanations of my German colleague in the Landesmuseum, admired the view of the city from the tower on the Uetliberg hill, took a pleasant boatride in Zurich Lake on a rare sunny afternoon with a clear view of the Alps, parked myself on the Polybahn toytrain for a ride through the prestigious Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) and walked around aimlessly through the colourful streets of Bellevue and Bahnhoffstrasse.

There was also the wonderful weekend. On a cold Saturday morning, I took a long train ride to the Italian part of Switzerland, and surprise surprise, I was greeted with warm sunshine and bright blue skies! I walked through the small but hip town of Bellinzona, exploring the huge castles, and helping myself to an experimental Italian breakfast in a chic café where no one spoke English. Neither did they have a menu card in English. Long story short, I had no idea what they served me, but I ate it without a fuss. Then I went down to Lugano, took a toytrain ride to the top of the Monte San Salvatore for a breathtaking view of the city and spent the afternoon walking for miles through the parks and city streets, eating a sandwich by the lake and a Gelato icecream at the Italian border, slightly tempted to cross over to visit Lake Como which I missed out during my Italian holiday last year.
On Sunday, I braved my fears and gathering all the courage I could muster, set off for my first mountain sojourn to Zermatt. At roughly 4500 metres, the Matterhorn peak was even higher than Jungfraujoch which is touted as the Top of Europe and one of the most popular tourist attractions. But Zermatt, with all its connectivity issue, is still untouched, with even localites avoiding the place in favour of more accessible ones. While getting there was a struggle, I was overwhelmed by what could only be described as the experience of a lifetime. For someone who shivers at sub-10 degree temperature, for someone who has never seen snow (except on TV and Facebook) and for someone who is mortified of heights, it was challenging in all aspects. As I sat alone inside the cable car which perilously navigated its way through the glacial palace finally taking me to the Matterhorn, I felt a strange sense of achievement and like a typical Indian tourist, I couldn’t resist from asking a stranger to take my picture as I PLAYED WITH THE SNOW, looking like a tiny Eskimo wrapped in layers and layers of clothing. However, on my way back, as the cable car stopped in between suspended in thin air, with me staring at the white landscape hundreds of feet below me, I felt a chill down my spine. I could have screamed if only there was someone to hear me out! On my way back, I stopped over for a couple of hours in the picture perfect city of Bern, just to restore some sanity.

Then there was my brush with exotic cuisines. From the fine wine and whisky to go with all the fresh cheese and premium chocolates, it was as luxurious as I have ever known it. Add to it a new dish every day, and it was the best food I have ever had: from the Zurich style veal preparation to the Rosti, the Cheese Fondue, the Cordon Bleu and the Raclette, not to mention the Ravioli, I tried it all and loved it all. Having said that, I did resort to the familiar Chinese food at Chopsticks one night after being hit by a sudden pang of homesickness.

There was also the feeling of liberation. On few nights when I was by myself, I would dress up, go out, explore Niederdorf, the Bandra of Zurich, find a bar or a restaurant, sit by myself, enjoying my drink and food: something I would never dream of doing in India. Strange random men would approach me and offer to buy me a drink even though we barely spoke the same language. I would shrug it off, speak to them casually, shake hands and leave for the next one.

And finally, there was my Yash Chopra moment as well. With all its mountain top view, romantic candle-light dinner, train rides, rains and new excitement, it could well have been the DDLJ sequel.

Yes, it was cold, it was lonely, it was unfamiliar and it was scary. But at the same time it was emancipating, it was empowering and it was exhilarating…


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Snow White Fantasy

So my last minute hara-kiri before I leave for Switzerland has reinforced my belief in Murphy’s laws once again. Whatever could have gone wrong, HAS indeed gone wrong. What with all the planning and shopping and anxiously watching out for the volatile weather, I somehow forgot to account for the basic stuff: like checking my ticket or getting my pin for the corporate credit card. It is bad enough that I lost my personal credit card over the weekend, but then I realized that I also don’t have any means of withdrawing cash once I reach there. So after panicking for half the day, I somehow sorted that out, and went out for celebrating what I thought was my special Swiss send-off.

And there we were, getting really drunk, really happy about the really long happy hours, soaking it up till well past midnight until they politely threw us out. High and happy, I collapsed on my bed only to be woken up after fifteen minutes by some distressed airport staff asking me where the hell I was (in politer terms) since the flight was ready for departure! I wouldn’t have been more shocked if someone told me that Salman Khan was getting married!

Shaking and incoherent, I kept repeating, “What? But how? Is this a joke? It’s a business class ticket for over a lakh and it’s my first office trip! You can’t be serious!” They firmly informed me that they were leaving and since I wasn’t there, they were leaving without me. I stumbled across to the hall and pulled out my ticket and yes, there it was, in black and white: April 2, 2013! I had officially become a no-show for my first overseas company trip. What was worse is the fact that they couldn’t reach me all this while apparently since I was too busy getting drunk in a bad network zone. The rest of the night I spent alternating between making ranting phone calls to the travel desk and checking ticket prices for the next day, i.e. today. Even the cheap whisky wasn’t enough to drowse me off to sleep.

I almost ran to office as soon as it was dawn, making phone calls and writing threatening emails even though I knew that it was mostly my fault. But finally, they agreed to reissue my ticket for TONIGHT for a charge of five grand. So now that I AM going, I am all freaked out, scared of every step, afraid that I shall screw things up even more. After all, this IS my first solo trip anywhere. After all, this IS the first time I shall experience freezing weather. And after all, this IS my first chance to meet the who’s who of the company.

But more than anything, this IS my first chance to really let go in a new country and discover a new side to me.

This IS my snow white fantasy