Learning the first letters from the Cyrillic alphabet – D-O-M-E-V and S-K-A (Domodedovo, Moskva)
Going to Red Square (Krasnaya) in the middle of a blustery winter night, snow piled all over St. Basil’s and seeing Lenin’s mausoleum,
Of course, making “In Soviet Russia,” jokes.
Being rather optimistic about my choice of footwear at Belarouska (you could skate to the office in my flats),
Bonding with the Russians in a local café, complete with Czech beer and German bratwurst (really),
Going into the Moscow metro with trepidation, rather happy about the Ukrainian team-mate,
Getting yelled at by local goons (“You speak English? Fucccckkkkkk youuuuu.”)
Bye Moscow. You scare me, but I will be back for St Petersburg and your train line.
Canada and USA
Pacific Northwest and the West Coast
Partying in Vancouver with the youngest team (median age of 25),
Comparing lengths of skirts (“These are unpaid ones…”),
Checking Gastown and the great Vancouver weather out every weekend,
Going for a Vancouver Giants game,
Flying in a 14 seater to Vancouver Island every week,
Changing the colours in the best SUV in the world to pimp red,
Watching TV in the bathroom of the Fairmont Pacific (It was in the mirror!),
Working next to the prettiest waterfall in Vancouver Island,
Having a rather protracted winter (till May) in the mountains,
Saying howdy to the brown bears back from hibernation, stupid deer jumping on to roads and bald eagles sunning themselves on the curbside,
Testing the limits of the car to find new mining shafts and dams in the middle of the national parks,
Waking up every morning to the prettiest sight – lakes, waterfalls and mountains,
Falling on my dignity in Whistler due to afore-mentioned optimism about footwear, (I am shaking my fist at you, Michael Kors),
Going “whale watching in Tofino” after a rather long drive across the island,
Taking a Ford Mustang road trip to Seattle with the young ‘uns,
Waking up to the glorious Seattle night skyline,
Getting lost and walking 12 miles in Seattle to the Fremont troll,
Going to the fanciest restaurant in town as the only underage threesome (“I think they thought we were some rich kids whose parents had left them with a credit card over the weekend.”, “Speak for yourself”),
Getting just slightly uncomfortable in Sin City, Las Vegas,
Going to a Cirque du Soleil production with Vinay,
Losing money ($1) in slots and shopping (let’s not go there),
Pounding the strip, looking down and seeing the pictures of naked women all over the footpath (Sorry, conservative South Indian family who thought it was a good idea to bring their patti to LV),
Watching the Bellagio fountains from the café 90 minutes before my return flight,
Spending Easter in Maui, Hawaii…
… in a Magnum P.I like Jeep Wrangler,
Finding the pretty waterfalls and mountains in Maui much better than the windy Pacific sea,
Watching a school of dolphins turn somersaults off the coast with undisguised glee, (I think I clapped),
Getting lost in Honolulu airport (Not a good thing, trust me),
Sleeping over the armrests on the Air Canada flight back.
Going to San Francisco with flowers in my hair and falling in love with the quirky city (Hi, Pier 39!),
Walking up and down, side to side with aching feet, (Hoit tower, Golden Gate, crookedest street),
Getting down and groovy with it in Haight-Ashbury (Helllooo, hippies!),
Getting a few free rides on the streetcars because the conductor wanted me to remember him!
Getting pulled into a psychic reading by a halfway demented girl (“Give me $2000 so that you can find true love!”),
Turning up at a Michelin star restaurant wearing flip-flops,
Watching batman flip and flop his way across town,
Flying home with a member of the Canadian national hockey jocks sitting next to me.
Quebec, Ontario and the best of the rest
Going from the French frying pan into the French fire (the Quebecois accent is hilarious),
Hating the commute from Montreal to the working place (1 hour flight, 3.5 hours drive),
Dismissing Montreal with a wave of the imperious hand,
Missing the flight back to the working place because of poutine,
Ending up driving for seven hours,
Living in close quarters with the team (lot of drama and falling roof tiles, cooking and cleaning later),
Walking through Quebec City in search for vegetarian fare,
Finding Europe-ana in the midst of North America vaguely unsettling,
Decamping to the Chateau Frontenac for the best views of St Lawrence and La Ville du Quebec,
Going on the worst walking tour I have ever been in (Sorry, Marie. You were not good),
Meeting a Vietnam war vet who had fond memories of falling into the Quebec City canon,
Almost missing the plane because of maple syrup lollipops (Notice a trend?),
Going to Toronto to eat Indian food (really),
Visiting Niagara Falls (The smoke that thunders)…
… getting stuck in the cave because the elevator stopped working for 2 hours…
… and, of course, missing our Toronto-Montreal flight.
Fighting all the way through our drive back to the apartment after a re-routed flight,
Seeing the Aurora Borealis in the midst of a particularly spirited argument,
And learning the third life lesson, (“Always expect the unexpected”),
Tip-tapping through New York City with friends,
Getting introduced as “the boss” to people and completely not living up to the reputation,
Drinking the best margaritas on Upper West Side and painting the town red,
Redefining shopping till you drop in Century 21 (Oscar de la Renta heels!),
Gossiping through lunch, tea and dinner with old friends,
Checking out the Canadian parliament in Ottawa and the Canadian museum of civilisation in Gatineau,
Drinking cocktails in the W lounge every weekend,
Deciding to eat at the Valley of Gold, and missing our flight (again) to Montreal,
Experiencing the Southern charm of Atlanta, complete with IIMB reunion over reception parties, gossip sessions and Indian tapas.
Bopping my head to Mumford & Sons, Regina Spector, the Editors and Kasabian in Rock Werchter,
Enjoying a great 28th birthday in Berlin with a cake, champagne and a wonderful dinner,
Hanging out with friends (and Mexican border collies) across Brussels,
Drinking the best cocktails at Conrad Brussels, dancing at Havana and Madame Moustache,
Stuffing my face with food at Rue Americaine (home sweet home).
Eating behind closed curtains (Ramadan season) at the IFC in Dubai,
Playing “hide and I will drink water” at the W Doha,
Checking out the dish-dash wearing teenage Qataris joy-riding in their classic Corvette,
Indulging in Emirati luxury… just ‘cos.
Running around Orchard Road and the Australian Embassy,
Sitting on the road to Sentosa Island with family, reading a book.
Flying to Australia (via Singapore) on 10 hours’ notice (Welcome to my world),
Watching South Africa demolish Australia on Day 2 of the Final Test in the WACA, Perth, (I was supporting the Proteas, wearing a Kangaroos’ cowboy hat under duress),
Having lunch at a brewery in Freemont, and taking a wine tasting boat ride back to Perth,
Going back to Sydney to rekindle my love affair with the city, watching the skyline from Taronga zoo,
Taking a 10 hour flight (Perth-Sydney-Ayers Rock) for a single day in the Red Centre of Australia, Uluru,
Feeling overwhelmed by the beauty of the pristine Southern sky…
… with Lesson 4 in my mind, (“Insignificance in the face of Nature is a good thing”),
At sunrise, craning my neck between Uluru and Kata Tjuta, and wondering if the stay could be prolonged.
Flying to Trivandrum via Madras and Singapore.