Sunday, December 27, 2009

What was Europe like? : People

I traveled around Europe in 90 days. Made great friends. Loved some of the places. Hated others. Found my love. Realized it was too unrealistic. Lost my love. Partied hard. Was sad like anything on my way back.
But the big question which everyone asked back home was, "What was Europe like?"
And my answer, "It was great!"

But is it that simple to define the experience? Now, that I have lots of time to think about it back at my hostel room, I think not just about the places, but specially the people that I met. I started my journey not with the purpose of having fun, but experiencing every bit of life in every nook and corner of Europe that I went to. And as every strategist says that the vision defines the actions and the outcomes, so it was in my case :)

Here are some of the people who touched me in some way or the other in no order of preference ;)

Alix: The captain of our boat called KPI (Kot Partenaires Interculturels). Compassionate. Caring. And cool :) She was the one who looked after my room allotment and ran like anything from one corner of university to the other just to get my work done. She is really energetic! Wow girl!

Vincent: The serious guy with a smile :) Always remains on the back with a serious face. But only till someone pokes him, then, he is like smiling and saying something fast and then......serious again. Mano says, "He never gets angry". I agree :) He can't....he is just tooo serious! :D

Florence: Fake American accent :P "annnkussh" :D and I love that! She eats a lot.....and then stumbles a lot. Kicks something here and then pushes something there. Holes in her jeans are awesomely funny! And then she makes a big face, big eyes! OMG.....great.....

Claire: Strange smile ;) to start with......but when she starts laughing.....everyone follows. Her laugh is contagious. And the strange smile looks so beautiful. Pity that my camera could never capture it, but my memory did! :P Oh! I could I???.....She is the one who made me drunk for the first time! "Gold strike" :)

Crok: She comes to me quiet often and....and.....tries to speak in English "Are you alright?". Then she shows her thumbs up. I reply, "I am doing great!". She smiles and heaves a sigh of relief. She is the most caring girl I have even seen. I didn't know french and she was never able to understand my English. My fortune: language barriers are not for friends! I felt her eyes speaking to me.

Manoelle: My techno dance teacher. My french teacher. Top dancer. Energetic! Always on the top of her moods. Always happy. Sarcastic. "Oh p......" and "Excellent" her favourite words out every 2 minutes. And..... she was actually the one who is responsible for something big for me. I met.......let's keep it unsaid!

Cylaine: Mysterious girl. Her smile was a puzzle to be solved. I always felt that there was so much to be understood about her. She always seemed to be close and distant at the same time. But, it all changed while we served together at the bar. She was honest. She had nothing to hide. It was all clear, it was just a mist to be wiped by the hands of time.

Cedric: Naughty! Naughty! Naughty! Always flirting. I have had so much beer with him. "I have some friends at the bar, come let's get some beer." He would hold my hand and off we go towards the bar. There he gives me 4 glasses then 4 more and says, "Drink fast! We need to refill!" He deserved the superman underwear! :D

Sean: One drink and he is OK. 2 drinks and he is dancing. 3 drinks and he is on the table, or on the chair, or anything which can make an Irishman taller ;). He works hard and parties harder. Sincerity is what defines him!

Hubert: Anthropologist from the French speaking province of Canada. Quebec. Interesting. Great guy to speak to. Great haristyle. And surprisingly he was everywhere and knew everyone. interesting.....

Olivier: I met him on the voyage from Greece to Italy. On the first look I took him as a fraud. Then we talked. Ship journeys are long. But, pleasant if the skies are clear and it is sunny. It was exactly that sort of a day when I met this person. From fraud to friendship in just 2 minutes. We talked like age old buddies. He going on 35+, I am going on 26 and we talked like we were 18. He was painter, graphist, poet, singer. I was a globetrotter (in every sense!) Together we were free friends. He defined french people for me. He took me through his experiences as a poet and a photographer. We experienced together his plight as a singer who sings to earn money just so that one could prevent hunger! We explored Paris together. Paris which was far away from romance in every sense and yet made great memories for people. Paris which was a hell made up of rude people and angry stares. He took me through the vineyards and forests on the west coast of France. He gave meaning to my feelings for France.

Christine: Aha.....zoom goes her hand over her forehead and she smiles! She smiles and I smile. She asks, "Why do you laugh at me?". I reply, "I love it when you do that". She smiles even more! She blushes....:) Cute. She told me what China was, what it is and what it will be. She was frank. China was no more the same for me after I met her.

Jamie: Progressive yet traditionally rooted. Appreciative. She asked weird question for which I scrambled for answers, "I have seen Indian women in movies and in pictures of some friends. I have even heard that they really beautiful. But I don't see them in Europe. Where have you guys hidden them? Why don't I see them?". She is truthful in every sense.

Drunkard at the Czech bar: Loud. Friendly. He was falling all over the place when we called him over for beer with us. He spoke only German, we spoke only English. He spoke in German and we spoke hindi! :D And then we had so much fun.....he was a nice guy. He worked in another pub and was there with his friends to party. And then he clung to us like anything. We were leaving the pub and he forced us to sit for just another drink, the drinks being on him... :)

Lady at Fragonard perfumery: The best French girl I think I will ever meet. She was the "french" girl who I always imagined in dreams! She explained every detail with such enthusiasm and interest that 1 hour passed like 1 second. She selected the perfume for me after knowing all about me ;). The glint in her eyes while saying goodbye.......

Prof Semal: ha ha ha. He was the "naughty professor" jumping around the class. His cute screen-savers popping out frequently were a sight. One of them being a bat! And he told, "That bat is in my house for years" :D Teaching while making fun of everyone was his forte. No one felt like sleeping in his class. Apart from that he was a great knowledgeable person with superb personality.

Prof Gaily: If Semal was funny, Gaily was strict. His mails were also funny, although only for him. His subject line for an assignment mail, "Gift from Santa Claus". His first lines in a class, "Some people come to me and ask for deadline extensions. I already told you to take liberty in extending the deadlines. But, please don't submit the assignment late as I am not interested in your freedom. Some people mail me asking this and that. I am not your personal assistant. Hire one!". And then he would politely say, "I have to do all this before saying good morning since this is my job". His looks could easily get him roles of deadly vampires. His terminologies were even more sarcastic than his comments: MBS: Management Bull Shit. BS: no not balance sheets but again Bull Shits. And his favourite line, "An investor is one who marries you to divorce you one day"

Aydan: I did not know what belly dancing "actually" was before meeting!! She grooved to the music like OMG! It was an art which I would have never known if I would not have met her. She has made me add another country in my wishlist "Turkey". Although I always want to go to Istanbul, but, now I want to go around Turkey not just Istanbul. Hope she is there to take me around the maze of belly dancers :)

Liliana: "Grazie"...."Italiano"....No, she is not Italian. She is instead from the country with the largest Christmas tree. And the country known for being laidback. She had to reach the bar at 10:00pm. She reached at ... 10:00pm. Portugese time. Actual time was 11:00pm. Yeah she is from Portugal. She said she was "shy". Ask anyone else and one will laugh. She acted Italians better than Italians themselves. :D...Lili.....

True Berliner: 21....She was studying history in Berlin. She called herself a true Berliner. She ate lots of fats, she loved my pictures, she loved to sit on the stairs of the giant architectures and she loved the warmth of cold Berlin. In just 2 minutes we were talking like chaddi buddies. We smiled, we laughed, we shouted, we kissed and we departed, leaving it to destiny that we meet again......

Vicky: Masti from China. She was all fun to be with. She was one of the best company to be around, be it factory visits or La CASA. And she made good food. Although, Jamie is to be credited for food too when I mention food here, since she did most of the hard work. But Vicky weaved magic on some of the dishes.

Denis: Bacchha from Russia. His smile widened like it would tear his face, he would even blush, when he heard the name of Russia in any conversation. He was partying around on Russian scholarships. And when I threatened to spill the beans...I got beer.....So I also partied on Russian Scholarship :)

Emily from Singapore: :D That is how she introduced herself to everyone. Elegant (if she didn't speak a word) I think she knew it, that is why she "tried" not to speak much. But then she was so talkative that she had to open her mouth. And then she went on and on and on.

Emili: US girl who was highly influenced by India. She accompanied me in most of the Erasmus parties when I was alone. She shooed away the buggers who made even one joke on India. She was the elusive girl who showed up like Spider(wo)man only to rescue me from boredom in big parties.

Mr. Joseph: Kaleti hostel is situated around 100 mts in front of the Budapest railway station. The hostel is in a very bad shape. But being so close to the station makes it good for 1 night stay. But what makes it very special and worthy for staying much longer is Mr. Joseph. He would receive you on the doors, then take you around the hostel explaining everything like you are his grandchildren. He was caring, polite and modest. He spoke with such humility that I can't imagine anything wrong going with him. When he coughed, half the hostel came out to ask him for any help. He held his pipe in his mouth, smiled and said, "No, I feel great. I will have some wine and it will be alright". Great man!

Lady at the souvenir shop in Athens: We go inside the shop and ask the price of a souvenir. She replies, "Where are your from? India? Then why do you buy anything from here? India is great....." And then she goes on for another 2 hours. We talk. We talk about everything from Greece to India. Form the Indian millions of gods to the 3 major Greek gods. The resemblances and the differences. She praises India for left to right. Then she becomes sad, she asks, "Why do you have so many caste systems? Why do you look down upon some of the castes? Why don't you abolish the bad things?".....talking to her was a tremendous experience of what people actually think about us. We took it upon us, the young generation to change India for good. We told her, "We are going back to change India. You will find it as the same heaven but without the filth!"

M____: This was the girl who I was in love with. Her smile took away my breath. Her killer dance moves were amazing. If I still look at her pictures then I can't sleep for hours. She had that innocence in her voice that is only comparable to those sounds of the sea waves. Her eyes resembled galaxies of unimaginable depths with two sparkling stars. The dimples on her face were the most exciting things to look out for when she smiled. I feel lost and confused when I even imagine about her. I could never have the courage enough to go and ask her out. If I think of getting another chance I don't know if I will still make it. I will surely be spellbound.................