Except I have probably had the actual inspiration but went outrageously short on the time. The last five or so months in the life of anjči have been packed with action (in a positive kind of sense), and, the further it goes, the more difficult I am finding it to settle and write on one specific topic. Life has been inconceivably busy – fine, 90 percent of that was self-inflicted so I refrain from complaints. Where do I start though?
TRAVELS (of course)
I have certainly been working hard on that glamorous image of a jet-setter. Between June and now, the number of countries I visited somehow clocked 13. I know, I know – for some of you, my fellow jet-setters-in-the-making, this is hardly an impressive showing, but for yours truly this is very much above the average annualised travel rate. I apologise for the jargon here – in addition to the jet-setter, I have very much attained an honorary “geek” title at work. See below in “WORK” (doh) for details.
Those of you following my humble developments on Facebook (I am guessing you have simply forgotten to unfriend me yet) will know where exactly my travels have taken me lately. For the lucky ones not exposed to my narcissistic updates, a brief summary follows.
It all began in mid-June when a few colleagues and I visited Cairo for work – days before the removal of Morsi from power, the place was already abuzz. I even managed to get some work done amid chocking in wild traffic and fighting off persistent market vendors at Khan el-Khalili.
I then had a blast on the Greek islands of Milos and Kimolos where I spent a full week conversing in Greek – the language I continue learning despite its widely perceived (and growing by the day, it seems) uselessness. The holiday was so good I have already booked flights to Greece in July 2014. My Greek summer dream lives on.
My second half and I then jetted off to Malta on a mission to visit the local school where the former was born over 40 years ago (geezer, eh). Obviously the school was not a school at the time, but a hospital (babies usually get born there, you know). And no, the love of my life isn’t Maltese.
By mid-July I found myself boarding a plane to Bangalore, India, where one of the best ladies I know was preparing to get married. It was my first ever Indian wedding and the first occasion I wore that gorgeous silk blue saree I brought back from my visit to Kerala last December. Half of my friends thought I looked pregnant in it – but no, sorry to disappoint, I just possibly needed to lose weight.
I visited mum in Riga a total of three times past summer – not good for the waistline, either – before embarking on my biggest adventure this year. I landed in Beijing on the first day of September, to spend a few days there before continuing to my actual destination – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), most commonly known as North Korea. Some of you will have seen my photo set on Flickr – the trip was simply incredible, as, I hope, the photos do convey. I have committed to writing an individual blog post about my visit, so good it was. Watch this space – I have even settled on the format of the article in my mind, which is usually a good sign.
Days after setting my foot back on the British soil, I was again sent abroad on business – nowhere else than my self-proclaimed Promised Land – the beautiful Georgia, a pearl of the Caucasus. I stayed a whole week, visiting the south-western region of Paravani, the mountainous Kazbegi, the wine country of Kakheti and, of course, the wonderful capital city of Tbilisi. All for work. I truly believe I have the best job in the world sometimes.
That brings us to October which has so far brought me two more business trips – to Ljubljana and Budapest – as well as two personal visits, to Guernsey in the Channel Islands and Bordeaux in France. I especially enjoyed Guernsey where my second half (who most remarkably still remembered what his jet-setter girlfriend looked like) and I spent a weekend getting excited about omnipresent German bunkers. I don’t know what most unites you and your other half – but for us climbing into abandoned German watch towers (illegally, of course) quite does it. And no, my boyfriend isn’t German, either – see below for the bit where I refer to him as an “angel in flesh”, thereby ruling out the possibility.
What’s to come? I traditionally cut down on travels in the autumn and have so far failed miserably to do so. My next major trip is not until the end of the year though – when, despite my earlier plans involving India, I will be heading to Cambodia, Laos and a tiny bit of Thailand. I have been to the latter before but forgot to buy a fridge magnet. With a collection as serious as mine, this is clearly a good enough reason. Stay tuned for the updates in that respect.
And oh, somewhere in the midst of all that travel activity, I turned 30. So far no irreversible changes have occurred in my life, so perhaps the whole 30 thing is overrated.
I barely have room left for “WORK”, so much space has already been taken by “TRAVELS” (the story of my life, folks!). The work has been very much present though. I am currently working on projects in Georgia, Egypt, Hungary, Turkey and Mongolia – and additionally doing business development in Slovenia and keeping a corner of one eye on Albania. My biggest dream is that the project in Mongolia goes ahead enough for me to visit there. But, with recent business trips to Egypt, Georgia, Slovenia and Hungary, I can’t be too forceful. I love my job.
I guess it goes without saying that work has been extremely busy lately. My investment banking friends might already be imagining nights in the office but behold! – ours being a development bank, I have been steadily exiting the building before 6:30pm. Fine, I could not recall the last time I had lunch with my colleagues (Lunches are for slackers. Just kidding), but timely departures are sacred. I won’t give lectures on the importance of speeding up during the day and leaving at a reasonable time – I will only repeat, I have a wonderful, unique sort of job.
Life turns a bit sour without hobbies. I think I never mentioned that I started taking Arabic classes a year ago. This continued into the summer (with a consolidation course) and then unfortunately stalled. I hope to restart Arabic next January and, inshallah, get my employer to cough up at least some of the cost. My Greek classes very much live on – I simply could not imagine missing out on my weekly Greek fix – while my (formerly good) Norwegian, Serbian and German leave a lot to be desired. Do please talk to me in those languages to keep them alive! That’s if you know them, of course.
Languages aside, I have recently fulfilled a major dream and started Bollywood dancing classes. These have greatly reduced the number of injuries from my past amateur dancing attempts to Indian films in the (failed) safety of my flat. My downstairs neighbour seems a lot friendlier, too. So far I am one of only two non-Indians taking the course – but, given our teacher is Japanese, at least I will never be the one crazy firangi. Insert a head wobble here.
Another activity with a sizeable chunk of my time is planning future trips. As a little taster, two long-haul places I hope to visit next year are Argentina and Namibia. While the latter is a no-brainer overland trip arranged by a local company, it took me a few hours to settle on the itinerary for Argentina. Finally it was all sealed yesterday – during my lunch break, I booked five domestic flights to take me from Buenos Aires to Patagonia to Northwest to Iguazu, before returning to my legal documents, approval reports, conference calls and financial models in London. It’s a hard life having a responsible banking job and booking all those flights, innit.
What else? I have just posted my application for a provisional driving license, with a vision of beginning some sort of practice lessons in a few weeks. Yes, I cannot drive. And no, my parents never even owned a car so I have absolutely no idea how a car works. In fact, I am scared to death by cars. But what true traveller relies on public transport? And what mother cannot pick her offspring from school? Not the sort I will once become, folks.
That’s about all I do in my spare time. Well, besides swimming, zumba, photography and reading parenting books (somehow I have decided to get into the subject really early). I sometimes wish there were more hours in a day. Given how ridiculously lazy I am, I would probably spend all this extra time sleeping though.
You might be wondering what sort of boyfriend ever puts up with a woman who seems to spend all her time negotiating term sheets, boarding planes, making guttural sounds in Arabic and rehearsing bhangra steps. Well – my much adored boyfriend, besides being an angel in flesh (of course), works rather hard, too. And did I mention he works in another country for the time being? After crying my eyes out at the news at first, a few weeks down the road I am starting to quite like the arrangement. Who wouldn’t like having beautiful reunions every couple of weeks while preserving every aspect of pre-serious-relationship times? Perhaps there is something wrong with me, but I certainly see advantages here.
And yes, he might just be the one. See the bit above on the parenting books (and then run very fast).
Something I have said time and time again is I definitely need to restart regular travel blogging. The places I visit are sometimes too incredible to keep all to myself. Here the problem is twofold: while I seem to have very little free time, I also have a perfectionist attitude to writing.
Some of my past travel posts received wide readership (still quite modest by seasoned travel bloggers’ standards but good enough for an amateur). My Faroe Islands story is on the local tourism office’s website alongside BBC News, the Telegraph and the NY Times (they have forgotten to URL any of them though, silly buggers). My story on Northern Norway (Part I and Part II) was greatly acclaimed in the travel blogging world. While I fear falling short of these sort of expectations, I certainly need to stop competing with my own blog posts – and just write.
And let’s hope Lady Inspiration hangs around for a while, too.