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The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving.
― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

I love flyingSome of my friends think I am absolutely crazy. Some of them envy me in that friendly way. Some do not even pay attention. And others wait for me to come back… I am not sure who is right of course, but I just know I cannot stop it. I just move around the world and cannot seem to find where to anchor my restless heart…

And every journey is like a new love affair. I am all excited at the beginning, having butterflies in my stomach as the date for my flight comes closer. I am full of excitement at the beginning, all happy and giddy, and every thought of Him makes me all smiles. And then as time passes, troubles come – after a while, the days start blending together and all the excitement changes to habit or boredom. Maybe, I just get tired of his exacting nature, or just maybe what he offers is not enough for me. Or yet again, maybe it was just perfect but there is that return flight hanging above us and we have to separate with broken hearts… In any way, I board that flight back with heavy spirit, all chewed up and spit out from this latest love affair, and all I want to is get home and hide in my bed for a couple of days… until I get my strength and courage back to open my heart again and take on the next journey…

Tsunami_Around_The_World_by_E_Roub

… First was Boston which lasted almost 2 years but after a bad fight i set off for a string of quickies all around the world. Then Boston took me back, but that didn’t last long and in spite I jumped to New York for an eventful summer. Tired of the American love, I thought I would find my happiness with London. He was not ready for something serious though, and after 4 months I ran back to Boston to search for consolation… I know, how stupid, right?! One and a half years and that relationship ended forever with a crash and burn (to specify, I did not burn anything, I just could not get a work visa). Then I got introduced to Paris by a common friend and got lured into his embrace for about 2 years. Now, that was a tumultuous relation! It definitely did not start well, but i thought we will get through it, then there was that sweet patch, and finally I ran away screaming… back to London’s arms. I should cut it short, I guess – after a year in London and a few transgressions across Europe, I realized that this time it was me who is not ready, so I jumped in bed with the 2 beautiful brothers Sydney and Melbourne. That was meant to be short and sweet, as was also my next affair with Los Angeles… a few more one night stands across India, and I am back to London wondering whether we will make it this time… and this knowing that last night I was in bed with Barcelona and tomorrow Marrakech is waiting for me…

London dream

Still, I know that we will end up together some day… London and I are just meant to be. Maybe I just have committment issues, or maybe he does. Maybe in order to be happy together, I need to go through a few more bad decisions… but tonight it doesn’t matter… London is here now, waiting in my bed in the next room and I should just go and enjoy…

Goodnight!

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Where is my adventure?

I jump up, woken by the deafening silence. Looking around, I realize I am home. My London home! The window is open and the crisp air is creeping in my room. It feels so different and so quiet. I close my eyes, searching in my mind, what is missing.

beep-beep-and-honk-honk

And i hear it…

Beeep, beep! Honk! Beep! Honk, honk, honk!

Just last night I was in India. Mumbai. Bandra West to be more specific. I was staying with a good friend from back in Boston that I hadn’t seen in more than 3 years… I so love those meetings with long-lost friends, catching up on life in some random place where we had never thought we would enjoy a beer together… but I digress!

My friend’s new roommate just recently moved to India to work for a local company called  Reality Tours. Reality’s business model is just what I call a social entreprise  – one that creates value for the business, the tourists and the community. And their signature tour of the Dharavi slum was the highlight of my stay in Mumbai. It revealed a completely different face of India and broke all stereotypes about Indian slums – rather than a depressing and sad environment, I saw a place bustling with life, alive with small scale industries and high community spirit.

reality-tours

Aaaaaaand I got distracted again!

So clearly I am somewhat of a groupie now. And not surprisingly when my hosts suggested to spend my last evening in India having drinks with the Reality team, I was quite excited. And the reason for the gathering? (not that we need one) We were all going to paint over a tuk tuk! And that tuk tuk would then make the 600km journey to Goa… or so we hoped!

Blessing of the tuk tuk

This amazing idea was the baby of two guys volunteering with Reality as English teachers in Dharave. So there we were, about 10 people hanging at the parking lot of their fancy-ish apartment building somewhere in Bandra West, with the Reality CEO leading  the blessing ceremony by breaking a coconut in the ground for good luck… that they would definitely need for that journey!

And then started the real fun – the actual tuk tuk customization. Cans of spray paint were lying around after we had finished coloring the fenders in pink, painted the Indian flag on the back, and scribed the guys’ names and hashtags (but of course) on the sides of the tuk tuk #GOAhardorGOAhome 🙂 Oh and don’t forget the pink moustache on the front and all the accessories brought along by supporters – a big horn (absolutely necessary in India) and a pair of dice to hang from the rear mirror.

#GOAhardorGOAhometuk tuk moustache

Finally, Asim (as they named the tuk tuk, don’t ask me why) was ready and had to be moved for the night before the launch of its journey the next morning. That was not as easy as it sounds, but it took only a few engine stalls and a crash barely avoided while backing up. People around were already making bets how far would it actually get when finally the tuk tuk passed through the gates of the parking lot and into the traffic.

Everyone was cheering, laughing and wishing them good luck when I felt this strong emotion rising in my heart. Suddenly, I felt an enormous pang of jealousy. There they were, leaving for this amazing adventure, why I had just finished mine and going back home… and my adventure did not include a road trip to Goa on a tuk tuk! I wanna do it too, I wanna go with them! I do not want to go back to an ordinary life in London.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love London, and I had been looking forward to going back after 8 months away.  I had responsibilities too –  taking classes, then graduation, and a job waiting for me around the corner. But is it really worth it? Do I have to do it now? Where is my next adventure?! Can’t I just get a gap year to travel? And then another one maybe?

….

Well here I am right now, awake in my bed in London in the middle of the night listening to the silence and searching for the honking of that one beautiful colorful tuk tuk with two crazy boys somewhere on the road to Goa.

3da42f689f9311e3ac2912692d1693f0_83bd8cbe49f7f11e3b43e1234561eacd8_8

And then I remembered my own crazy road trip with two good friends along the Croatian coastline – we slept in the car for three days, missed the last ferry off an island, got stopped by trafic cops… And there was that time when a friend and I crammed on a windowless old bus somewhere through the Kerala countryside being poked by a local for 2 hours (in a completely appropriate manner, should innuendos about bananas and cocos be ignored). And that time when my friend and I were hosted somewhere in New Orleans by a crazy girl who randomly disappeared, leaving all our belongings in trashbags on the front porch with which we later on checked in a 5 star hotel. And that time when…

I laugh. Yes, I did have my own adventures too.  And will have more. Soon. Maybe in Israel or Jordan. Or somewhere in Australia… And I fall back into a sweet sweet sleep, thinking about where my next adventure will take me and who would be the lucky adventurists to come along for the journey… and as a friend said, those tend to be a certain type of people who would go bungee jumping or eat street food! 😉

adventure awaits

Update: The guys did make it to Goa!

Безглаголно

Градина, пролет, май, цветя,
скамейка, шепот сладък.
И сред цветята Той и Тя,
любов и тъй нататък.

Поля, природа, красота,
река, гора, нататък,
природа, сбъдната мечта,
възторг и тъй нататък.

Годеж, венчило, поп и брак,
момент безумно кратък,
после проза, скука, мрак,
деца и тъй нататък.

Курорт, море, приятен смях,
простор, вълни оттатък,
възбуда, трепет, сладък грях,
рога и тъй нататък.

Полуда, нежност, сълзи, плач,
плесник и писък кратък,
багаж, билет, дете, носач,
развод и тъй нататък.

Нахалник, пари, кола,
вертеп и той сред мрака,
кафе, билярд, квартира, ключ,
жени и тъй нататък.

Бастун, легло, юрган, приют,
глава с перчем окапъл,
цокало, карти сноп, албум,
легло и тъй нататък.

Наследници, камбанен звън
и яма сред цветята,
лопата, кирка, поп и кръст,
ковчег без тъй нататък.

Радой Ралин

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*Първите четири строфи на „Безглаголно стихотворение“ на Радой Ралин са преписани почти дословно от стихотворението „Обикновена история“, чийто автор е известният поет-сатирик Фома Фомич– псевдоним на Тома Измирлиев (1895 – 1935) , брат на Христо Смирненски.

Autumn in Paris

The Eiffel Tower still lights up the sky, just maybe earlier than before. There are still throngs of tourists in the streets and still the city looks somewhat emptier. The french bureaucracy is still unbelievably slow, yet the queues of people are actually moving. It’s over! Something changed, seemingly overnight. Summer has officially ended, and fall has gracefully unnoticed entered the scene… It’s time…

 

2011. Act Three.

A yellow curtain is covering the ground. Here and there red spots grab your attention as if the Summer has cried bloody tears when leaving. The sound of wind echoes in the tiny Paris streets. Suddenly there is a fresh crispness to the air. The sun is still shining but it is not hot enough for my breezy summer dresses, even though it’s just September and the memories of soft sand, sea waves and sunshine still warm my body. There’s this contagious surge of energy as people roll back into town and get back to their French lives with a baguette, bottle of wine and some cheese under their arm.

And this is what autumn in France is all about… well, to be honest all seasons in France are pretty much about… Wine! Along with the warm pallette of colours, autumn brings the annual wine harvest in the thousands of small and big wineries around France. So its’s time to celebrate and there are all kinds of festivals and events created to praise Dionysus in Paris.

Autumn = Wine

Wine season is officially open in the first days of September with a Wine Festival or Foire des Vins all over France. From discounts in grocery stores to small degustations and full-on fairs, wine is being poured all around me and I just can’t refuse a sip of this elixir of life (it’s good for the heart you know). My favorite from all these events though, was a small town fair near Paris that combined both sins of my palate – wine and cheese. Antony  is a quaint suburb just 10 minutes south of Paris by train and  this year celebrated the 25th anniversary of  La Foire aux Fromages et aux Vins (or simply said cheese and wine festival). In the Saint Santurin quartier reigns excitement every year in early September and local and visiting merchants get ready for a true celebration. Little stalls, embellished their finest with photos and maps of the respective regions they represent welcome visitors all day for a weekend. aAong with the tastebuds, there is delight for the eyes too. Saturday night, the sky of the square town hall is illuminated with thousands of lights and music echoes from the walls of the church to turn the night into a wine ephemereal.

2011 ‘s festival was organized under the Swiss flag and many merchants would gladly allow you to discover and rediscover the 10 Swiss cheeses that have made their trip to Antony. You’ve probably tasted Emmentaler or Gruyere, but have you tasted Vacherin Fribourg or Sbrinz?  Also on the menu: the famous fondue half and half, based on Swiss Gruyère and Vacherin Fribourg, and plates of charcuterie. Then there are all the other specialties of other regions like Aligot – a delicious mix of puree and melted cheese Tome Fraîche… yummmm! And to appreciate them, just take a sip of the estate wines Kursner, considered the best Swiss wines, with a range of white wines, rosés and reds. Swiss or French, wine is all around and a glass is just a hand’s reach away. Loire valley, Burgogne or Bordeaux, I was eager try a sip from all the little wineries and chateaus until my cheeks got a healthy rosy nuance…

And this was just the beginning of September. During the second weekend in October, Fête Des Vendanges de Montmartre celebrates  the harvesting of the grapes from the vineyards in Montmartre, with a parade, long walks trough the vineyards and multiple tastings. Beaujolais Nouveau Festival makes its annual appearance in November and this young wine comes at the strike of midnight on the third Thursday of the month. Throughout France, everyone heads out to their local café, resto or wine store to celebrate the newest wine offerings, leaving behind any wine snobbery about new vintages, and just enjoying the new wines for what they are and well into the night. Then Le Grand Tasting is held end of November at the prestigious Carrousel du Louvre at the Louvre Museum where you can try a tasting from 200 stalls, featuring over 1,500 different wines and champagnes… oh, dear me…

The Single Girl’s To-Do List

Way back when I first started  this blog, I posted a list with adventures and it’s only fair that, now that I start writing again, I keep the trend and introduce a new list. This one, however, is a simple to-do list. A single girl’s to-do list. A set of guidelines that will help me begin my new life.

Being all newly single, something I haven’t been for a while… hmm more like since high school not counting the short weeks in between… Anyway, so all fresh on the market, I realized that I don’t know how to be really single, or in a relationship for that matter;  was always something of an inbetweener! So to teach me some important girl lessons, a friend of mine gave me the book “The Single Girl’s To-Do List” just before she left for the other end of the world. The perfect cure for heartbreak, she said. And it was! I was a bit skeptic at first (I’m not big on the chick flick books) but with bursts of laughter here and there, gettng  many weird looks in the metro or in the street (yes, I walk and read at the same time), I learned one ore two things about starting over… this being a recurring theme this month!

… And here it is. The list as featured in the book. The one that step by step will lead me to total recovery…

1. Have a complete makeover –  hair, makeup, clothes, my transformation has started, and I must admit my new short do attracts quite some looks from les parisiens.

2. Keep a regime – diet, exercise, and all the good stuff; I already have a cute running partner, but hands off until the list is completely ticked off.

3. Do something extreme – as I have already done a bunjee jump, I have to find something else. Does Oktoberfest count?

4. Get a tattoo – been wanting that for ages, so no reason to wait more… it’s on the list after all!

5. Find a date for dad’s wedding – considering my dad’s not getting married again soon as far as I know, I can put New Year’s as a deadline

6. Buy something obsecenely expensive – maybe finally I’ll get that motorcycle I’ve been craving for so long

7. Write a letter to your ex – get closure in a way, but might wait a little considering my utter fear from expressing my feelings

8. Travel – that might be the easiest on the list, got some destinations already lined up

9. Contact your first crush – sort of like coming full circle

10. Break the law – that can double up with “do something your ex wouldn’t approve of”

And no excuses… The list is always right!

PS. Have to credit my inspiration to Lindsey Kelk for writing the book and Marissa Starvaggi for being a great friend and giving it to me 🙂

The Sky Is On Fire

Head slightly bent backwards, the eyes fixed on the bright sky, and shivers covering my whole body. Completely mesmerized, I can’t even produce a single sigh… I feel it all – the colours, the sounds, the power of the moment.

Le Grand Feu de Saint Cloud –  a fairytail in the sky!

And it was not just me, approximately 20 000 more people just could not take their eyes off the burning sky at that very moment.  A truly amazing experience, Le Grand Feu de Saint Cloud is the largest fireworks display in Europe which managed to keep me utterly speechless for two hours… and that’s usually not easy.

The show started with a short lecture and display of the different types of fireworks – there were flames, fountains, burnings, Bengals, gusts, fire rhythms and percussion; in general a wide variety of colours and shapes with their different names in French, which even if I did remember could hardly translate. People all around were getting settled on their picnic blankets with a bottle of wine here and there and a pillow or a significat other for keeping it comfortable.  A small warning was also issued in the form of a little big fire (petit grand feu) to just show us what was coming… and then it was time…

With a blast the real big fire started,  sending an explosion of colours to light the sky. Coming from all around there were pink and green and blue and gold sparkles falling down, while different energizing and patriotic sounding french marches accompanied the continuous multitude of fireworks. Then silence. The music stopped to give way to the real sound of the fireworks and  make the spectators feel the explosion deep inside. Some more lyrical music music followed with the romantic colours  illuminating the sky of Saint-Cloud setting the mood for the perfect kiss. A constant slight breeze cleared the sky from the smoke and made sure that all my thoughts are blown away from my head. My body at the top of its senses, my hairs straight up in the air…  wait, I thought I shaved my legs

My heart stopped for a second when a familiar sound filled the air and sent me back in time with a smile on my face. Prodigy echoed in the sky to completely electrify the atmosphere along with the increasing intensity of the blasts just before… The big bang!… as the Earth did millions years ago (or billions, I’m not clear on the exact timing) the sky exploded in tiny little colourful pieces that were then falling all around me. No photo can be even close to capturing the magic of the moment; no video can transcend the feeling…The grand finale! http://www.vimeo.com/28885320

…and then the sky was all black again and the silence was deafening…

Start Over…

For the last almost 20 years September was the actual time a new year would start for me… it wasn’t really the 1st of January, or the first day of spring; not my birthday either… So many times in early September I would anxiously count down the days to the first day of classes or sadly curse the people who made the summer break so short… I would have impossible fights with my mom over the new clothes she wants to buy me for school or gather the old books to sell them and maybe buy something I would actually wear… I would get together with friends to catch up on our summer adventures and the consequences of them 😉 …or pack my bags to fly to a foreign country and start over with school, work and life…

And somewhat instinctively with the start of another year, I reached back to my old dusty blog and decided it was time to restart it.  Just because September is the beginning of it all… because I feel the need to start my whole life all over, and here on the white pages I can make it the one I really want. Over the last 15 months my life turned upside down and inside out way too many times – I moved, I traveled, I met people and left more, I tried and failed, and then kept trying and failing, having no idea where I’m going and what I’m looking for. I was lost… and still am, so I need a change. But first, I have to restart… It always helps Windows after all, so why not me?!

So here it starts all over again. Explore. Dream. Discover. .. yourself!