The Post Mortem

My vacation has ended. I am back in reality and having a hard time leaving the people, places and the journey behind.

On looking back , I realize that everything happened  as it should. Maybe not the way I planned. It happened better than I planned!

I couldn’t have asked for more.

Week one: Art and Architecture

Places : Paris, Madrid

I loved Paris and Madrid for the fact that I didn’t really have to go the Louvre or the Rene Sofia  to see a work of art. It was all around. Every building had a charm to it.  I loved getting lost , finding new places that guide books haven’t a clue about. I felt clever when I figured out the Metro stops and didn’t have to look at a map to know which train to board. I was all alone in a city bustling with life. I was alone yet fully alive.

Week Two: Natural Beauty

Places: Scotland

What Scotland lacks in people in makes up in Sheep and in Hairy cows! And adorable they were. Week two  was a change from the fast paced city exploring and art admiring days. It was as relaxed as the Scotsman tending his sheep  on the hills at Isle of Skye.

People say Scotland is beautiful in the summer. I have never seen Scotland in the summer. I have seen it only in the winter. Well, it may be beautiful in the summer but that does not mean it is any less beautiful in the winter. Take it from me.

Week Three: Lakes and Friends

Places: The Lake District and Nottingham

Week three started out at the Lake district and I quote my friend GP ,” The lakes are the best England has to offer”. (Enough said).

And  then it took a surprising turn. We headed for Nottingham. If you have been following my posts or if you know me well enough you might have wondered why Nottingham. Truth be told there isn’t much there. If you are looking for art and architecture or for a resplendent sunset Nottingham would not figure in your list.

If you are still asking why I chose Nottingham the answer is a friend.

John and I have been friends for nine years. We hardly ever keep in touch. We speak about once a year when  I call him on his birthday. He still doesn’t know when my birthday is. We don’t know all the important things that have happened/ are happening in each other’s life. We could be poster figures for the worlds worst set of good friends. But all this didn’t matter at all. Because when I told John with sad eyes ” This is the end of my vacation”, he turned my frown to a smile.

The bottom line is :It took me three weeks of vacation to realize that I have been blessed!  Blessed with amazing family and friends. May I never forget that.I have had my share of ups and downs, screw ups and losers but here I am  still alive and kicking. Here I am with my unconquerable spirit!

Friends around corners

When the world views my life they will find I have nothing spectacular to boast of.I have not written a best seller. I have not painted a master piece. I do not have a good ear for music. I cannot sing to a tune without being way off pitch.

I do not care what the world thinks of my life. The world does not know the unexpected turns my journey has taken. I have crossed rivers without bridges and scaled mountains without any gear. All this and more ‘with a little help from my friends’.

My travels have taught me that there are always friends around unexpected  corners. The lady in the red coat who smiles for a split second in a crowded Paris train , the kid who looks at you with wonder while you  gaze cluelessly at the city map, the  waitress who let you sit in her café for 2 hours  with just a cup of coffee, unknowingly they become your friends. The split second you share you life with them makes a lasting difference. You may not have photographs of them, may never talk about them but you will never forget them.

But my favourite friends are the ones just around the corner. Friends who are on the other side of midnight but still keep awake with you. Sharing your agony about screwed up Visa officers, friends who patiently listen when one bad moment in your trip brings you to pour out a year of misfortune. Friends who live your moments with you. Friends who never buy a ticket but travel along with you because they are just a click  or a call away.

So when you  look at my life if you will but  peek around the corner you will find the pillars of my life.

Small places … Big finds…

I found Paris in the small streets. Those streets you would think twice about and then  unceremoniously continue walking along the main street.Its an alien feeling when you realise that you are invading a true Parisian hangout. Chances are you will never blend with the crowd. I didn’t even try.

Here’s my list. Personally I am glad that these are not there in any guide books. No! That would mean desecration!!!

1. La Cuortiserrie:

It’s more than coffee and a snack. It’s hours of gazing at funny animals, tracing them out on napkins.

Three + one little pigs

2. Shakespeare and Co Book company

” …. when I told my mom that I wanted to open a book shop in Paris, she sent me her whole life savings.”  And the result is a life well spent. This is not exactly side street and the truth be told it is found in the Lonely Planet under the book store section. My beef with the Lonley Planet is for dismissing it merely as a book store.

This book store has a lot of history. Silvia Beach published James Joyce ‘Ulysses’. Ironically I am reading that same book while on the trip.

More than a book store
The antiquarian book store
Henry Miller

I walked into the Antiquarian book store without reading the sign over the door. While browsing through the books I found a Hemingway. It was only 7.60  and it was hard bound. What a find!!!

I was thrilled and handed the woman at the desk a ten euro bill. She had the weirdest look . She was kind enough to tell me that the 7.60 was the price when it was first published. I checked the edition and behold it was a first edition. I was beginning to think that this book was a steal. Before I could revel in my find the lady turned to the last page and showed the new price tag 800s Euro and below that was the seal of the Shakespeare Antiquarian book store. What was I even thinking!

3. Au Panetier

This is by far my best find ever. In fact I read about this in blog and searched for two days before I actually found it. When I go back to Paris I know in advance my #1 stop!

Because ‘Life is in session’

I have new-found respect for John Lennon who said “Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans”.

Bang! He hit the nail on the head.

Our Epic Euro trip suffered a pre mature end,thanks to the Visa section, French Embassy. Maria’s Schengen was denied.

We had a lot of options in hand. They being:

1. I could continue on without Maria

If there is something I learnt the week I was in Paris and Madrid it’s got to be this: – ” It’s not so much about the place as it is about the experience.”

I missed having Maria around; for confirmation when I saw a truly splendid work of art, for consolation when I just missed the train and more for the companionship, of knowing that there is someone else who has blisters on their feet.

2. We could cry about it

And we did. Lots of crying. We sulked around for a day. Amma in all her wisdom said that disappointments are good! That did not help one bit, at least not just then.

3. Or when life gave us lemons we could make lemonade

And this is what we are going to be doing. We planned for months for the Euro trip. Now we are going to go on a holiday with no planning. Just going to take one day at a time.

My lesson learnt is that even the best laid plans some times never leave the planning board. But that does not mean you stop planning. That does not mean you have reached the road’s end. No it just means there is a diversion.

You can never stop at any point of time  because’ Life is in session’.