2019: Two Hundred and Five

I’ve sent a lot of e-mails this week. Mailtrack is really nifty, and provides me with updates on numbers – how many I send out and such. I usually delete them, but I think I’ve sent out more mails this week, than I have in the last month. That probably stems from the fact that I’m away from University at the moment, but it’s still something noticeable that’s out of the ordinary for me.

My free time these days goes in cooking meals and watching TV while doing that. I think that’s the biggest benefit of having a ledge near the kitchen (if you’d like to call the place with my induction top a kitchen), and wireless headphones. You get to enjoy a nice show on your laptop while cooking something you’re happy to eat at the end of the day. It’s good relaxation time.

I have, however, fully realized that lying down on the sofa and working means I will get no work done, and have begun to sit on the sofa & working. Our sofa is far too comfortable for me to get out of before I am done with everything I have to do.

I got to spend time with someone whose academic scholarship I have really admired. As Law School has progressed, the kind of reading I do has changed. I still enjoy my fiction, a lot. But as I think I’ve said before, I’ve begun doing reading in parts – there are things I read for work, during the day, to chill, at night. Day and work reading is largely non-fiction, I find. Academic scholarship has become a large part of that. The more I read, the more I’ve gained the ability to appreciate written arguments and structures, but also the multitude of perspectives on academic topics and debates which derive out of an individuals’ geography and historical background and context.

 

2019: Two Hundred and Four

I find it extremely coincidental that I have exactly two hundred and four unread e-mails in my inbox at this moment of time. Don’t worry, these are largely e-mails from subscriber links and things like that. It’s my now-defunct inbox. My relationship with e-mails has seen me devote one e-mail ID to each phase of my life so far. I wonder if that’ll continue as I move institutions.

I feel very privileged being here. I am aware of how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to spend time in Switzerland and Europe, but the privilege is something I cannot explain – for it is intangible, and presents itself more often in the form of opportunities that I am getting. This afternoon, for example, I spent time in the lunch break with an Ambassador from the Finnish Foreign Ministry, whose work as a member of the International Law Commission I was extremely interested in.

While the opportunity itself made me really happy, it’s really humbling to see that such established people do not mind spending time with young individuals to answer their questions, or to talk to them about their experiences. It makes the community of people seem a lot warmer than you’d otherwise imagine. The diversity here is something I want to cherish and enjoy every single day, and I seem to be learning more from conversations a lot more than actual subject-matter.

I still can’t believe I’m here.

2019: Two Hundred and Three

I learnt from my experience flying in a suit that perhaps it is only a good idea when you want to make a fancy impression or when you’re landing for a meeting. Otherwise you can rock a blazer and still look very cool while flying – and that’s precisely what I did. Fewer things beeped also, given that I wasn’t wearing a belt or my leather shoes (I’ve always wondered why these beeped).

I made it back to Geneva via Zurich – having started my day at 4, and I changed into professional clothes (my formals, basically) at the UN itself. That was quite the experience, given that I only had one hook on which to balance the clothes that weren’t in use. I did succeed, and my flatmate confirmed that I did not look like I had just woken up, which I think is quite good.

I stopped for groceries again.

And being back here meant I got to play with Jaska again.

I’m going to miss this life when I leave.

2019: Two Hundred and Two

Today was my final day in Madrid. It got off to a late start, given how crazy yesterday was, which was a good thing – because I was able to sleep in and get some rest. We had brunch and headed off to spend the day in Madrid. First off was the Royal Palace of Madrid, where we did a tour. It was quite stunning and housed the royal families in Spain for a very long time. They’ve opened it up to the public, but it’s maintained very well. It’s massive. We decided to head to the Plaza Mayor after that, which is just a big square in the middle of Madrid. Prior to that though, we passed through the Mercado de San Miguel – which is a market selling local cuisine items, including lots of quesos (cheese) and alcohol We just bought ice-cream. Which was yum.

Walking through the Plaza Mayor, we got a few photographs, and then went to the Puerta de Sol – another historic sight, after which we moved off down the Sol to La Osa y el Madroña (which is a statue of a bear and a tree – which is the Madrid municipality symbol as well). It was rather pretty.

After finishing all this, we realized how high temperatures were soaring (around 38-39) so we got into the car and drove to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu (the Real Madrid stadium) and then to Wanda Metropolitano (the Atletico Madrid stadium). I decided which team to sign for, and then we went to buy groceries and have dinner at an Asian restaurant, Ni Hao. It rained in the evening, which was uncharacteristic and unexpected!

I’ll be very honest with you. Madrid is a city of two halves, and it’s very visible in the architecture and layout of the entire city. The football club history in the city clearly reflects that – with Atleti starting up through the dissidents from Real, and formed by Basque students living in Madrid.

I’m heading back to Geneva tomorrow morning. A lot has to be said here about how much care and affection has been showered on me in the last two days by everyone I’ve interacted with, and I will miss them dearly over the course of the next 3 weeks I’m spending in Europe.

2019: Two Hundred and One

So we woke up in the morning, Vrinda Aunty had made upma. Ate that, and left in the car to Kulkarni Uncle’s place. Saw a little bit of Madrid en route there (didn’t stop anywhere). Then began driving to Toledo. The drive was about 1.5 hours, and we reached around 11:45 or so. Immediately went to the Toledo Cathedral, where we took an audioguide and visited the various (9) parts of the Cathedral. It was beautiful. Notable parts include the various chapels they have created inside, the fresco paintings on the wall, and the ornate sculptures and carvings in the choir sections. You’ll understand more about it’s beauty when you see photographs. While we did the Cathedral, Kulkarni Uncle & Jayant Uncle did an Army Museum – since they had been to Toledo earlier. It took us about 2 hours to finish the entire audiotour, after which we had a small photoshoot and then went for lunch. We found this vegetarian restaurant called Madre Tierra, which served incredible food – I had a zucchini dish, which was delicious, and some dessert. What I loved most about the place was how accommodating they were. Kulkarni Uncle was not eating much owing to Sankashti something and they got him potato fries and some fruit salad – despite it not being on the menu, and a language barrier. We walked to the car, got more photos, bought magnets, and set off around 4 toward Segovia.

Now Segovia is in the opposite direction to Toledo (in reference to Madrid), but the highway system meant it was only a 1.5 hour drive. We reached by 5:45 or so, and skipped the Cathedral, choosing to go to the Castle (Alcazar de Segovia) which was beautiful and picturesque. It was atop a hill and looked like it was out of a Disney movie. We didn’t take any audioguide or anything, but just walked around admiring the beauty of the place. What I liked the most here was their use of stained glass paintings – they used the light really, really well to get the most out of the stained glass windows.

Since Spain is largely Catholic, a lot of the paintings and artwork here depicts the life of Christ or the Old Testament. It’s very intricate work.

Post the Alcazar, we visited the Roman Aqueduct in Segovia, which was beautiful and historic since it was built by the Romans and still stands erect today. Post another photoshoot, we set off for Madrid, reaching back only around, perhaps 10? We ate dinner at an Indian restaurant, Everest Tandoori, and got back home at 11:45.

Tomorrow will be a day in Madrid.

Spain is beautiful and unlike anything else I’ve seen before.

2019: Two Hundred

Woah. We made it.

We’re in Madrid, Spain. On the two hundredth day of the year. Incredible.

Yup. I’m in Spain. My family friends are here for a while, so when Lyon tanked, and they proposed Madrid, it was just a matter of checking for tickets and booking them and getting onto the flight here after work.

I also got to watch my friends win their moot court competition, get some great photographs, interact with one of the people I have loved reading – and, best of all, fly in a suit.

I’m just here for the weekend, so you can be prepared for some fun little narratives over the next two days.

2019: One Hundred and Ninety Nine

I think I should let you know that my Lyon plans have fully tanked. Substitute plans have been made, and you shall find out where I go over the weekend once I get around to uploading the blogs I have pending. I’m really hoping I actually upload everyday rather than writing summaries and uploading them all on one day. I’d like that to change after I cross the 200 number for the year, perhaps.

Today was remarkable. I have no words to explain how much access being in Geneva can give you. First, my friends got to the finals of their moot court competition, which is reason to celebrate. But second, I got to attend the first edition of the Annual Nelson Mandela Human Rights Lecture, which has been established on Nelson Mandela Day. I got to do that only because I was in Geneva. We were privileged, honestly, to listen to the former Judge, Albie Sachs – who was Mandela’s friend and one of the drafters of South Africa’s Bill of Rights, and the present UN High Commissioner on Human Rights – Michelle Bachelet, who is a two time former President of Chile.

The lecture itself was phenomenal. A couple of takeaways I had were:

  • To always fight for causes and work toward causes you believe are likely to impact communities in positive ways.
  • To always have a sense of humour about you.
  • To be grateful and cognizant of your privilege.

You also realize how small the world actually is when you see people like this speaking to you, and how united all post-colonial countries are in their struggle for freedom from colonial powers and their screw-ups. South Africa and India have far too much in common from the British experience. If nothing, I am certain that this explains the love affair Indians have with A B De Villiers.

After the lecture, we had a lovely Indian dinner in Geneva, before returning back to Cessy only around 11. Given that tomorrow is the end of the week and I am flying to my<undisclosed location>, I had to pack and such as well. Which was quite tiring. But worth it. Fully.

2019: One Hundred and Ninety Eight

Remember how I said we were well-equipped to host a little party in our little establishment? Today turned that wish into reality, in a way that turned my day from regular to extremely joyous. Friends, and their friends came with us after work to Cessy, and we spent the evening eating cookies, drinking juice, and singing songs in the garden as the sun set. It’s honestly as filmy as it sounds, and there are photos of my friends to back it up. I’ve never felt so quickly at ease with people the way I’ve gotten to being myself with these folk. I’m not sure why that is, especially given how much I enjoy being who I am – I guess it’s just something I’m a little conscious about with people for a while before I unleash some truly terrible jokes onto people.

But I quite like these folk.

I also cooked channa masala for dinner, which turned out pretty great. I guess cooking is one of those things that you can get comfortable with really quickly if you want to. It just takes some amount of effort after you have a long day. Showering really helps you feel fresh enough to take on the challenge though. And crying out your fears about bad food while cutting onions and pretending that it’s the onions that are making you cry is also a good past-time, I do believe.

Nonetheless, the food was delicious, we watched more FRIENDS episodes, and I’m a happy camper who has now spent more than 10 days in Europe.

2019: One Hundred and Ninety Seven

I have done more grocery shopping. Which means there is a new vegetable apart from carrot and potato which will enter my system. I also found some really delicious cookies, at a very delicious price-point, and had a hilarious encounter with using my debit card in Europe. On the whole though, I think we’re well-equipped enough to host a few parties in our little household.

Which is quite nifty.

2019: One Hundred and Ninety Six

The start of week two has marked no adventures, which I’m comfortable with.

Mondays start only in the afternoons for us here, by which I mean that the actual Session only begins at 3pm. That doesn’t mean we get to go in late or anything, it just means that your ability to concentrate needs to kick up a gear only in the afternoon. I’d be okay with that, to be honest, given that it means a lesser amount of concentration time in general, except for the fact that it’s after lunch, which makes it a lot less fun and a lot tougher to manage.

My seniors from GNLU, who now study at the University of Oxford are in town for a moot court competition this week. That means Geneva will feel a lot like home for a while, which is a feeling I am more than happy to hold onto. It’s weird, but residential campuses burn people’s faces, routines, and wardrobes into your memory far more than anything else. Seeing these people in a different setting brings all those memories flooding back. I also get to meet new people – given that they’re obviously with other Oxford students. If that isn’t fun, I don’t know what is.

I’m just hoping to get some freebies out of the competition that they’re participating in. It’s one of the several things having seniors is good for.

2019: One Hundred and Ninety Five

After all of yesterday’s adventures, I think I really wanted a chill day at home. I got one. My flatmate (if you were to call my living space a flat) and I spent the day cooking and cleaning up, doing laundry, and generally just relaxing. What I really like about our friendship and our living situation is that we’re trying to give each other as much privacy as possible – through small acts like wearing earphones and chilling, or taking calls outside, just to ensure that we aren’t intrusive. This isn’t to say that we don’t talk – we’re doing that a lot more than we’ve probably spoken in the last four years of college. But honestly, it’s been so easy, I like that.

We made pasta, and she whipped up a really nice Oreo cheesecake which we devoured while watching FRIENDS. Both of us did have work due at the end of the evening, which we managed, just about. It was a late night only – by regular standards, but a regular night by our standards.

I feel ready for the week ahead. I’m really looking forward to going to Lyon at the end of the week, which should be a ton of fun, given that my family friends will be joining me there.

2019: One Hundred and Ninety Four

I did some research last night and found out there was a super famous jazz festival happening in Montreux: the Montreux Jazz Festival. So go there I did.

It’s been a really fun day.

My idea of traveling has sometimes been at odds with my family’s agendas of travels. While I’ve always come out feeling happy – their tours and travels have been meticulously planned and very, very fun, they’ve always been planned. I’ve always longed for some spontaneity, if nothing else, but to learn about where my spontaneity will take me, and what sort of decisions it’ll lead me to. Maybe it’s why I’ve always romanticized solo bagpacking trips, or traveling with smaller crowds and figuring stuff out as I go along. However, I don’t think that’s the life for me either. I think I’m a plan ahead broadly, and figure out minor specifics based on the mood (if need be) kinda person. Going alone today to Montreux, Lausanne and Nyon, gave me exactly that. I managed Nyon only because I just felt like going there after I heard the station being called out – and nothing else.

The Jazz Festival reminded me why I loved jazz, and why I wanted to learn how to play jazz music on the piano so badly.

These cities were all on the lakeside, all built on a slope. So many different perspectives were seen today.

I’m exhausted. But the travel, it was worth it. I want to make these kinds of things a part of my regular life too. I hope the next year allows me to learn how to do that.