Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Easter bunnies and morning sunbeams

Hey everybody!

SOmetimes I wonder how many people actually read my blog, but then again, I am writing first of all for myself. In five years time reading about my life in NZ (and elsewhere) will be an intense and nostalgic experience, but it will leave a smile on my face. These are memories I want to have on “paper”, written somewhere, retrievable.

Wohow it’s so sunny outside! A nice walk and grocery shopping at the market on the waterfront really makes your day. It was very windy though, the windiest day I’ve ever experienced in Welly so far. The ‘tents’ of the stands at the market were shaking so hard that at some point I almost thought they were going to fly away. People were holding on the poles in order to keep them on the ground, and a Japanese tourist was making a video of the whole thing of course.

Anyway, le’s carry on right where I left off: a few days before Easter time.

Friday, April 22 was a wonderful, sunny day (even though some friends of mine told me the opposite…I wonder whether there are two distinctive space/time dimensions in Welly). I went oout for a run along the waterfront, and instead of going back the way I had come from I decided to go all the way around Mt Victoria, running through Hataitai and arriving right behind my house. I brought my phone with me, in order to keep track of where I was and the rout to go (thanks Google maps!). Nonetheless, I managed to get lost in the forest on Mt Vic and what was supposed to be a nice morning run turned out to be a bit of a hike, for a total of 2 hours. My friend Marika is right when she says that I am a blind hamster..all I can do is laugh (both with and at myself), it was a pretty comic situation after all.

Anyway, on Sat morning Sarah and I took a bus to …. (no way I can remember such a complicated name), a little beach town, where some friends of hers had rented a house for Easter. We had brunch together (scrambled eggs, toasted bread, avocado, tomatoes, and bacon) and then took a walk on the seashore. It was cloudy and a bit cold, but nice overall.. a very relaxing day.

At about 4pm we took the bus back to Wellington, finished up packing, then Kris to picked us up and we drove to her parents’ home, in a little town about 30 min from Welly. We stopped at the supermarket and bought all sort of stuff, so much food (60% junkish and 40% healthy) for our week-end away. We had dinner at Kris’s parents and slept there, and on Sunday morning we left for Martinborough, a city in the Wairarapa region, about 2 hours from Wellington. We had rented a little villa close to the city center for one night, and the plan for the two following days was very simple: wine and relax.

The house was the cutest thing on earth, very rustic (see pictures), cozy, and warm. The owner had provided toilet paper, bed sheets, towels, and basic food (seasoning, coffee/tea and milk)..we brought the rest. Once we settled in and made tea, we realized that we were all extremely tired and abandoned the idea of going out that night, replacing it with a match of scrabble (or was it the following day?), reading, chatting, napping and eating lots of chocolate. Kris and I still made it to a winery, where we had some wine tasting, including a chocolate and blue cheese matching one. It was very intersting! I had never done any wine tastign before coming to NZ, and I am really starting to enjoy it (and to appreciate good wine).

On Monday, on our way home, we stopped in another winery for some more tasting, along with some bread with olive olil and seeds dip. So so good and genuine! I also made the acquaintace with one of the furriest and biggest cats I’ve ever met (see pics). It made me miss my fat Raja…prrrrrrr

After Easter break, we enjoyed another short week at work (only four days), which culminated with an office get together on Friday evening. Everybody was quite looking forward to it, because there hadn’t been an official Rugby New Zealand + NZ 2011 Office “drinks after work” get together in a while. I guess we were all also looking forward to an opportunity NOT to talk about work, and get to know one another a bit better outside of the usual working enviroment.

We went to Brujaus for a beer and nibbles (most of us took advantage of a coupon we had bought on one of those ‘one day deal’ websites), then picked up some ouf our colleagues at the Green Man, a sort of Irish pub (I’m saying sort of because it didn’t look soo soo Irish to me), and then, at about 11pm, we finally arrived at D.’s place, where we stayed until late, chatting with people we had never met before and with complete disregard of the Royal Wedding, which happened to be that same night (oh well, I recorded it and watched bits of the ceremony the following day). Andrea, a friend of my dad’s that is travelling throughout NZ, tagged along ad we all had lots of fun.

I have to admit, the following morning my head was hurting a little, but a nice chat with Sarah and some reading at the waterfront made everything alright.

Dinners, dinners, and mo’ dinners.

Last Sunday Andrea and another friend of mine, who lived for 2 and a half months in Busto Arsizio, came over for an Italian dinner. Andrea proved to be an excellent cook and made risotto with pears and gorgonzola cheese. It was EXCELLENT, and I was able to live off leftover salad/veggies and cheese for most of the following week.

Another event I had been looking forward to for weeks is the Flat dinner we had last Friday (two days ago). I made risotto with saffron and my flatmates made pizza. Guests brought booze and cake, and we all had a good time. I was looking forward to it because it was the first real flat dinner, with the 5 of us. In fact, Trelise, the 5th flatmate, had arrived on New Zealand on Monday, after spending 8 months in France.

I’ve been very lucky, both with the flat and with the flatmates. We all get along and, even though we have our separate lives, we all enjoy doing things together every once in a while, whether it is dinners, movies, or going out for a drink.

At the end of the month there will be ANOTHER dinner at a friend’s house. She’s a graphic designer and made beautiful invitations. Again, Italian dinner, but it’s going to be a bit more fancy than the one I had at my house. Well, a bit more organized at least, since there will be about 20-25 of us.

Talking about quality time, I had a couple of very random and pleasant afternoons with a friend of mine. They started off with a coffee in early afternoon and ended way beyond midnight. Nothing planned, just ideas and things coming up as the time went by. Yesterday we went to Te Papa museum for the exhibition of Brian Brake, a Kiwi photographer who traveled around the world in the 50s and 60s, taking pictures for international magazines as LIFE. The pictures he took in India, Japana nd New Zealand were particularly impressing, both for the subjects and for the technique, so detailed, so colorful, especially when taking into consideration that there were no digital cameras or sophisticated editing programs at that time.

I have so many things to say and write, every day is different, and every day deserves a special thought because it IS special, but it’s time to go out and find a coat (the weather is getting pretty cold here).

I want to say a special thank you to Lambton Harbour and to the Cook Strait. Every morning, on my way to work, I walk by the sea and the reflection of sunrays on the water, the breeze, the clean air, they give me put me in sucha  good mood, I feel at peace, and I walk into the office with the sensation of being in Heaven.

Peace

Benny

Living it up in Welly

Hello everybody!!!!

How YOU doing?

Sooo log since my last entry, and so much has happened in these past few weeks! Ohh I’m such a lazy butt…I always end up having to make a list of what’s happening in my life rather than properly describing my experiences with all the emotions and sensations felt while they’re happening. Well, I hope that my entries manage to make you understand or feel even just a little part of my happiness and enthusiasm.

My goal is to live each day at its fullest and at the same time I am trying to find an equilibrium, a sort of “diverse routine” throughout the week, now that I have a job and an actual home.

There’s so much going on in Welly on daily bases! Concerts, exhibitions, movie or music festivals…you can’t get bored.

I have gone to the movies quite a lot. There is the German Film Festival in these days, with a series of documentaries shot by German filmmaker Werner Herzog. I‘ve managed to watch a cuple of them so far, all very interesting.

Wodaabe – Herdsmen of the Sun is about a tribe in Africa whose members believe to be the most beautiful people on Earth. The doco was mainly about an important ritual, a dance performed by men to please women. They dress up in extravagant costumes and put on heavy, bright colored make up. After the dance, women decide who they want to have as husband or just to spend the night with. The dance is quite unique, also because men try to show the white of their bulbs and of their teeth throughout the performance, something quite funny for us but considered very sexy by the members of the tribe.

The second doco, Wheel of Time, was about a Tibetan Buddhist initiation rite, which took place in 2002 in India in the presence of the Dalai Lama. For six weeks, hundreds of thousands of Buddhists flocked there, dedicating themselves to prayer and meditation. Pilgrims travelled on foot for years to take part to the ritual, prostrating to the ground every 2 steps, and showing exceptional perseverance and faith. A mandala is started at the very beginning of it and 9 monks take turns and work on it around the clock. At the end of the rite, a special ritual is performed by the Dalai Lama, who then destroys the Mandala.

I’ve also watched a couple of very interesting movies, as A Streetcar named Desire (con quel figo di Marlon Brando) and The Names of Love, a peculiar French comedy about “love and politics”. I recommend you to watch it if you want to have a good laugh.

Music, Music, and mo’ Music! 

– The concert of The Woolshed Sessions, a band who plays folk music with a variety of instruments, from the ukulele and the mandolin to Maori instruments of unspeakable name. A cold beer, informal environment, quality music, I remember that night as one of the most relaxing and “charged of positive, authentic vibes”.

Concerts around town by Carlos Navae, a Mexican friend of mine. He plays guitar, piano, and is the lead singer of 3 bands. They play Latin American music, and are amazingly good. He sings so well that I offered him lessons on Italian language and Italian cooking in exchange for singing lessons. We had a first meeting, which was very productive. It deserves to be written about, really. On Monday evening, the night before our first singing class, I went to his place with some other friends and we made tiramisu. The evening went on with some jamming, Ale playing bongos, Kris playing the piano, Carlos singing and playing the guitar and Dave playing the trumpet. So much fun, such good vibes, and such good quality music! The following day Carlos taught me how to warm up my voice before singing with a few, simple exercises. He then told me to choose 4 songs I want to learn how to sing WELL and to send them to him. I chose I’m no good by Amy Winehouse, A Dustland Fairytale by the The Killers, Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver and Heartshaped Box, a cover by The Evanescence of one of the best songs by Nirvana. I can’t wait to start working on those songs with Carlos (besides singing them by myself in my room or on the street). The funny thing is that later on in the evening I randomly bumped into him as he was going to a bar to play a gig. I tagged along, had free dinner at the bar and listened to an amazing performance, (Buena Vista Socal Club gave me the shivers). It’s random nights like this that really make your week.

Last Friday I went to a gig of one of my flatmates. He’s the drums player of Candies for Strangers, a Drum & Bass band, and that was their last gig cos one of the members is moving to Auckland. Amazing concert, a “scarica di adrenalina” in every note, in every beat. We danced liked crazy for the whole evening (I had to burn an high-calorie dessert eaten at Strawberry Fare, a restaurant FAMOUS for its desserts), and everyone had an awesome time. I met the sister of one of my flatmates, who has been living in Italy for about one year, and who was eager to have a chat with some italian speaker and practice the language.I’m always very pleased when someone is learning or is willing to learn Italian, cos they’re moved by a true love for the language, for its sounds, and not because they have to. I’m def. keen on meeting up with her and help her out practicing Italian.

It was nice to go out with all my flatmates, both on that occasion and on the previous Friday, for a flat-warming dinner out in an amaaaazing Thai restaurant (and then out for drinks – hearing Carlos playing with one of his bands).

Talking about flats…my room has finally furniture in it! Yaaaay! Well, at least it has a bed, a built-in wardrobe and a drawer with a huge mirror! It took me a while to clean this last piece of furniture, considering that when it first got here it smelt like a haunted mansion (or dead bodies..well not that I know what dead bodies smell like..but you know what I mean), but now it’s all neat and clean and drawers had enough room to allow me to empty my suitcases yaaayyy! It was about time, after 2 months and a half…! The mirror broke on one side when the guys brought the drawer in (no splinters, only a “cut”), but I wasn’t there so I guess the rule of “7 anni di sfiga” doesn’t apply to me (fingers crossed tho!).

Ok what else…ohh so much! May is fully booked: I start an advanced course of French language and a course of Chinese for Tourists (and one of my flatmates is doing it too!), + finally joined a women-only gym!

For Easter I’m going to Wairarapa, famous for its vineyards, with a couple of friends. A roadtrip, and some wine-tasting with two other girls… the perfect Easter vacation for single ladies (actually, one of us is not single, and it’s not me)!

Tomorrow, Italian pasta-based dinner at Holly’s. I bought saffron, cooking cream, pesto sauce, and much more foody goodness to make a delicious meal, can’t wait!!!!

There’s such a nice weather today, I’m off to the park (and maybe to some special exhibition at Te Papa Museum).

I love cheap sushi here.

Love and sunshine to everybody!

Benny

Vineyards, Sting concert, and costume parties!

February 19

I’ve just realized that while I did post pictures of the past two weeks, my blog has stopped to my first 7 days in Wellington and needs major updating.

Well, weekdays are spent pretty much distributing resumes all over the city. I keep creating new contacts, but nothing concrete, as companies are not hiring at the moment and don’t even have enough work load to take an intern for free. As sad as it sounds, I don’t give up and I’ll keep knocking on doors, sending e-mails, and creating new contacts!

Let’s come to the fun part, the experiences that are making my staying in Wellington actually unforgettable.

The past two week-ends have been amazing! On Saturday 5 Sarah and I went downtown for the 7s party! During the whole week-end people walked around dressed up in the craziest ways, day and night, just like Carnival. The occasion is the 7s rugby tournament, which is called that way because teams are made of 7 players instead of 15. A great number of people actually go to the games (which are held on Saturday afternoon), but for most of them the tournament is just a pretext. What really count are the parties held on Friday and Saturday night! On the second night the whole Courtney Place area was fenced and closed to traffic, and all restaurants, clubs, and bars stayed open till late to host a ridiculous amount of people, ranging from 16 y.o. to late 50s, all out to party. Sarah and I hadn’t even thought about dressing up, but inventiveness and 15 minutes in the dollar store proved to be enough to create our costume. The theme was Italian Mafia Girls, and as you can see form pictures, the disguise consisted of black hat (I still use mine!), white shirt/top, black tie, black pants, black/fish-nut tights, and sexy shoes/black boots. Accessories: colorful whig (red for Sarah and hot pink for me), fish-nut gloves (even though I forgot mine at Sarah’s), crazy sunglasses and lots of make-up! I went to Sarah’s with make-up and wine and we got ready together for the big night! We went to The Republican, where we met some friends of mine, and then to Estadio, where they played Latin American music. Walking on the street, I noticed that there were four main types of costumes: the team related ones (people dressed as players, cheerleader, or as something symbolic of the country of a team), the slutty ones (not surprising at all), the men-in-tights ones (I know that deep inside you like it boys, or are in some ways attracted by the idea of wearing tights!), and the I-just-go-crazy ones, with no limit to fantasy. My friends were dressed as olympic runners from Kenya, bodies completely covered with brown painting. It took us a while to find them, especially because I DID not know that they were going to be all black in the first place 🙂 A group of guys dressed up as mimes tried to catch our attention on the dance-floor at Republican, but they were actually acting as mimes, and after 5 minutes of “we-are-trying-to-impress-you-with-mime-like-performance” Sarah and I decided to leave, letting them carry out their silent conversation by themselves. We went to Estadio, where we stayed till 3 am. Here’s the picture: Latin American live band, Latin American guys, including people wearing ponchos and huge sombreros, and some Latino-wannabes (kiwis wearing colorful clothes or t-shirts of the Argentina soccer team). At 3.30, after dancing the danceable, we headed off to our homes, exhausted but very happy. I had a great time and I know Sarah did as well, especially because we hadn’t really planned it, we just wanted to have fun and see people in customs. In the end the evening exceeded expectations.

On Sunday afternoon I met up with the two Sarahs and other girls for brunch. It was a pleasant afternoon: excellent meal, ok weather, and interesting people. The funny thing was that all of us were connected by the same person: Fran. Before leaving for Wellington, she had given me the fb contact of four of her friends, and we all finally got to meet up for brunch. Sarahs already knew each other, but had rarely or never met the other girls, as Fran had known them in different contexts at different stages of her life. A very girly rendez-vous, it was, and after hours of chatting and laughing we all tottered to the respective homes, stuffed with food.

Skipping to last week-end, I spent 3 days in Hawke’s Bay in company of couples in their late 50s, which turned out to be a quite interesting and entertaining experience, especially because we all went to see Sting perform live in a vineyard! At 8.30 am on Friday morning Bruce and I were hitting the road to Hawke’s Bay, an area on the east coast about 4 hours away. Bruce was actually born and raised there, and the concert was an occasion for him to meet up with his old pals, who of course came with their wives. We all met up for lunch in a restaurant in Napier, a city close to H B. You can see pics of the whole party on fb. There were two couples (all men went to Uni with Bruce) and another guy, who is the owner of the beach house where we spent the week-end. His wife is in Bali now, managing their factory of ballerina shoes/wear (scusa se è poco!). The restaurant was furnished and decorated with a very particular taste, a mix of Latin American and Asian style (Maori too? I couldn’t really tell), wood, iron, and bright colors textiles everywhere. I liked both the environment and the food, and was impressed by the service. When they brought my dish, I noticed that the bottom of my quiche was rather cold, so I asked them to warm it up (in a very kind way of course). After a while the waitress came up to me saying that they were going to bring me a new one, as the chef didn’t want to provide “second hand food”, AND she offered me a glass of wine too! I was positively, absolutely astonished. That’s what I call good service and customer care! After lunch we went to the beach house, unpacked, and took a stroll on the seashore. The weather was too cold to go for a swim and too windy/cloudy to lay on the beach, but the view was breathtaking: clear blue sea, surrounded by green hills and mountains, pure air, and a surfer trying to catch some waves, (rather unsuccessful I must say). We made a barbecue for dinner and spent the evening chatting and reading. Bruce’s friends are quite cool: most of the boys are managers of some sort and their wives are..well, one is a doctor, and the other one..I don’t remember really. They’re all quite high class and a bit posh, but in a genuine and very literate kind of way. Anyway, I was pretty exhausted that night and went to bed quite early. On Saturday morning “the girls” and I went out for a walk in the woods behind the house (yes, here in NZ it’s pretty much always like that: sea in front of you, green hills and mountains behind you), then a group of us went to Napier for lunch (and some good window shopping). How did we get there? With a roaring convertible, radio (ipod) playing Frank Sinatra, the wind blowing our hair (but not in a Bridget Jones way), the sun shining, and green hills all around us. We looked like a bunch of dandy pals, but who cares? It was a great ride. The guys stayed around the car, reading, whereas Julie and I went widow shopping. Napier is considered the capital of Art Deco, since most of the city was rebuilt after an earthquake in the 1930s. You can see colorful buildings, with names of shops painted on the wall, and a lot of concept stores, all defining a high class style that mixes modernism with a colonial taste. Most of them sold both clothes and items for the house, or very kitch and expensive jewelry, along with all sorts of lotions and perfumes (sort of like a posh and original Zarah Home). One of the stores even had a café in the back, all in colonial style, which I found very cute. Some stores in Milan are starting to adopt this strategy, let’s see if they’ll have success. Anyway, we didn’t really buy anything, but my friend was very keen to purchase two skulls of goat, with horns and all, to put in clear vases in her living room. I thought she was joking when she asked the saleswoman for their price, and was totally puzzled when my friend started telling me how she could get them at a cheaper price (they were more than $300 each!) just talking to some friends of his husband, who are shepherd or butchers. At a certain point I stopped trying to explain that the idea of having skulls of dead animals in one’s living room was just too far from my ethics and from my concept of beauty, art and furniture, and started nodding instead. Lunch break was amazing though. J. and left the men at an ice-cream shop and went to a café that could be defined “tea time with your dolls”, “love, harmony, and friends”. Imagine a room full of flowers, white, embroidered tablecloths, and u endless number of china teacups and teapots, each one different from the others..and then flowers again, all coming from the garden of the owner/manager of the place. We had a delicious quiche and a little sweet treat, which also came with flowers! The other side of the café was actually a shop, selling very expensive clothes and all sort of accessories. You have to see pics on facebook to have a better idea of the place! When we left, I felt in complete harmony with the world, very happy and a bit giggly (little, soundless and pointless giggles). We went grocery shopping, then back home, where we made some sandwiches and then off again heading to the Mission Estate Winery to see Sting and the NZ Symphony Orchestra performing live! We got there at about 5.30 (quite a walk from the car to the actual place), just in time ti find a decent spot to set our “camping equipment”. The concert was in a green open area, basically a hill surrounded by vineyards, populated by 25000 fans, all sitting on the ground with their blankets and sandwiches. We were quite uphill and the ground was very steep, but Bruce’s ingenuous friend had brought a hoe, which he used to dig holes so that the chairs would be in horizontal position. The whole situation was quite comic actually: after digging our chairs’ graves, we saw quite a few people in the same situation and started passing the hoe around, which came back to us some 2 hours later. After the cover band (not bad at all) played for a couple of hourse, at about 8 Sting appeared on stage, accompanied by some 50 orchestra artists, including an amazing singer, who sang with him in almost all of his songs. I am not a very big fan of him – I mean, I recognize him as a world music celebrity and an icon in the history of music, but apart from a couple of his songs and hits by The Police I really don’t know much about his music and couldn’t train enough with my ipod – but his performance with the orchestra really gave me the shivers. The last song was Message in a Bottle and EVERYBODY was singing, dancing, shaking light-sticks, and at the end of the concert 50000 hands were clapping and waving for this exceptional music event. We all went home tired but happy. We didn’t do much on Sunday: packed, had a light lunch, and headed back home. It was a sunny and relaxed day, a perfect end of the week.

I could write about how much effort I’m putting into the job search, but this is neither entertaining to read nor pleasant to write so I’ll just skip all the CV handing part. Instead, I will write about my new friends here, so that y’all know who I’m talking about when I’ll mention this or that person.

There are Sarah Ag. and Sarah Al., who I have already written about. They are both friends of Fran’s (see explanation above) and some of the very first people I met here. Sarah Ag. has lived in Spain as well and we often speak in Spanish, mostly when we don’t want other people to understand us 🙂 The three of us get along very well and we meet up for coffee or drinks once or twice a week.

Diego is Italian but has lived here for the past two years. He works at WETA Digital, making special effects of movies like The Hobbit, Happy Feet, and Avatar. Cool guy, met at the random Italian Community party a couple of weeks ago. Here I mention also Filippo and Raffaele, met thanks to Giulia (the girl I randomly ran into in front of the Mediterranean restaurant). Filippo and Giulia have lived here for 5 years and are about to get married!

Victor is a French guy I met at Te Papa Museum on my 3rd day here. He is doing an internship (CRUI MAE) at the French Embassy and will stay here for 3 or 4 months.

Isabella is a ballerina with sicilian roots. I’m not sure of how much Italian she speaks, but definitely more than only “Ciao, come va?”. I ran into her twice but we haven’t really had a proper chat yet. She seems funny and enthusiastic, and will be coming to dinner tonight (more about it later on).

Olivia is a friend of Bruce’s who spent three years in Milan. She attended IED school and wants to work in textile design. She’s a really cool girl (and lives in the same building as Diego..Wellington is so small!) but will leave for Sydney at the end of the month. Sob sob.

Finally, there is Corrado, a guy from Como/Milan who works at the Mediterranean restaurant (and NO, I do not work there, not yet at least..misunderstanding btw the managers there). He spent last year in Australia and has come to Wellington with his French girlfriend. They’ll work here until November, when their visas expire, and then will be traveling throughout Asia before heading back to Europe. We are the exact opposites, in terms of character, musical/cinema/fashion, and point of views on many subject matters, but this is why we get along so well!

We are all meeting up at Sarah Al.’s tonight and will cook an international dinner! I love dinners and house parties (and organizing them as well)..it was basically my thing when I was in France (with a proper training in Finland and Spain hehe)! All guests seem pretty excited about it too! We’ll make some tapas and Benny’s pasta with saffron and cooking cream, and it will all come with liters of sangria of course! I’ll post pictures within next week.

I could write long pages about the evening I had a glass of wine with some friends on a meadow under the sun (and how the evening actually ended at like 2am), or about my first time to the beach here (yaaay fially sun-tinned..and sun-burnt too unfortunately), but they are all episodes that need to be lived and have no justice on a few lines on a blog… you just have to see pictures and use your imagination, that’s it!

Benny

AU REVOIR, MONTPELLIER!

It’s 01.02 p.m. and I’m actually pretty tired, but I want to drop a few lines before going to sleep, since the next two days are going to be very intense. I’m graduating on Thursday and I have to finish up the ppt presentation of my research paper and rehearse the oral exposition of it. I hope it will be easier now that I’m back, with actual internet connection at home and no crazy fetes/diners montpellierains to go to…

 

I’ve arrived at home less than 2 hours ago actually, surviving a 12 hour train ride from Montpellier to Milan (4 trains total). Yesterday I had the last beers at Robin Hood with my pals and then slept at J. & D.’s place. The guys were so kind to take me to the train station this morning and be my “footmen”, carrying my luggage all round Mtp. We had breakfast at Paul’s by the gare and then, right when we were about to walk to the platform..we saw that the train was at least 1 hour late! This meant that I had 99% of probability of missing all the other connections (which indeed happened), but after a few “merde, damn it!”, we decided to take a stroll in the city center. At 11.30 my train finally left and, well, the moment of sadness I had feared for a few days finally arrived. Thinking of Montpellier, all the happiest and craziest moments there and of how hard had been to say goodbye to all my friends there..

 

Well, life goes on, gotta do what you gotta do, and I have lots to do, at least until the end of the week (then if I only had money I could totally go back to Mtp cos there’s not much to do here for me in December).

 

Any-who, as I said before all connections were ratées, but I still managed to make it here. The delay sucked also cos today (I mean, yesterday, Monday) it was my dad’s birthday and, supposed to arrive at 9 p.m., we had planned to go out for dinner and to the movies together…oh well we moved it to the next days.

 

 

 

December 14

 

This is my last entry about Montpellier…

 

A significant part of my experience there were the language exchange meetings at The Bookstore. They were held twice a week and were a perfect opportunity to practice foreign  languages with people from different countries. I started going there after my French course ended, desperately looking for people to practice French with. What I found was a nice, laid back atmosphere, a desire to meet, to share, to talk with perfect strangers while eating a muffin or drinking some chocolat chaud. I went there like 10 times and made quite a few friends. I actually wish I had started going there earlier, both for the language and for the people.

 

I have no-one to practice French with now, and I know I’m slowly loosing it. I should start reading stuff in French and watching videos, but I’ve been so busy that I barely have time for myself.

In fact, the week after my graduation I was called by an agency (those who recruit hostess to attend conferences or give away flyers), who needed a girl to wrap presents in a jewelry in a mall. The job lasted till Dec 24 and would start the day after (it was an emergency replacement for a girl that had dropped-out).

I took it of course, and now I’m super-busy, mostly because it takes me 40 minutes to go there and even more to come back (end-of-the-day traffic jam). Oh well.. no problem since it gives me smth to do and some money!

 

Some friends of mine are coming from the US to spend Christmas/New Year’s eve together, and I know wel’ll have a wonderful time!

 

Yesterday I also bought plane tickets to New Zealand! On January 26 another adventure will begin, along with new blog entries.

 

Peace to everyone

 

Benny

 

WEEKS 8 and 9: NEW ENTOURAGE AND NON-STOP PARTY

I was writing about Saturday, Nov 6, the day I went back to Montpellier. Since Robin Hood was on the way home I stopped for a beer. Jack and Max were working that evening and invited me to a house party after closure. How could I possibly refuse such a proposal, after spending infinite hours sitting in trains? So I went back home, showered, changed, bought Red Bull and headed back to the pub. I made acquaintance with Julie, the new manager, and “warned” her that she was going to see me pretty much every day, sitting with my computer while sipping a café allongé.

After closure we went to this famous house party, and even though I had no clue of who the owners were, I knew, at least by sight, about 1/5 of the people there. One of the people who lived there is a barman in Monaco and made fantastic mojitos in a purposefully structured corner of the house. Alcohol reached rather high peaks and we went home at about 05.30 in the morning. This made a good 24 hour day for me and an excellent welcome back to Montpellier.

I have to admit that I can’t really place all events in an exact chronological order, but let’s say during the whole following week, at least Monday to Friday, the key world was PARTY HARD. Whether planned or failing attempts to have a relaxed, glass-of-wine evening with friends, I ended up finding myself in some house party somewhere in the city center. This happened both on Tuesday and Thursday night, when I held two Italian dinners (coz some people could come on one day but not on the other), on Wednesday, where I my friends and I toured 4 different houses, and Friday. That last evening actually deserves a special explication. After 4 awesome but exhausting days, I was firm into having a relaxing, gossip evening with J. As mentioned before, a nice glass of wine at Robin Hood before going back home and finally get a nice night’s sleep. Jack called us up to go to Inglorious Bar, not far from Robin Hood. Not feeling so tired after all, and being J. into party mood, we went there, but the others had already left. Jack said he was going to arrive in 20 minutes, so J. and I explored the neighborhood in search of new, different places to have a drink. We ended up in a bar around the corner. After getting rid of the sensation of being in a gay and lesbian bar and two glasses of wine, we started talking with a group of french people (11 in total, girls and boys), who invited us to tag along and go with them to Cargo (a bar/discotheque). Since Jack sort of ditched us he went straight to a house party instead of picking us up), we went with them. However, I really wanted to join my friends, who had called me to join them to the house party, so after a while I left, while J. stayed with our new French friends. Stopping at an épicerie for beers and some pain au chocolat, I arrived at the house, and MAN, what I found was a huuuge apartment filled with at least 70 pax, known and unknown faces, and, of course, my friends. I met some interesting people there, random chats, and had a great night. I even set some singing classes in exchange of Italian food, but I can’t recall with whom… Anywho, when the house was slowly getting empty, somebody said “let’s go to RockStore”, and there we were, heading to the rock bar! We spent there about an hour, dancing pretty much like zombies and sipping on the last beer. At 6.30 am I crashed on my bed with my contacts on…the evening had begun at 9 pm of the previous evening.

 

The week was nice and calm. I visited my Finnish friend N. in Baillargues, a town some 30 min away from Montpellier, where she is working as a waitress in an hotel (she’s here witht he Leonardo da Vinci program). There was sort of a Festival of CInema going on there,a nd we watched the cartoon Kirikou et les Animaux. It felt a bit strange to be surrounded entirely by children and their parents, but we really enjoyed the cartoon!

I was still worn out from the previous days and almost fell asleep while watching Les Paupetter Russes with N on the computer, after all I NEEDED some sleep. The following morning, after breakfast at the hotel, I headed back to Mtp and…tataaaaaan, went running! And you know what, I actually managed to run for 4 days in a row, something really exceptional for a lazy ass like me. I actually like running, and there’s a perfect park just around the corner, it’s just…I’m freaking laze, that’s all!

 

It’s Thursday, Nov 18. Pretty quiet week so far, with nice evenings with friends and working o the computer during the day. I’m having dinner at some friends’ house tonight, and holding one at my place tomorrow. Francois, a Parisian friend I had met in Sevilla, is coming over for the Battle of the Year, the final match of a global break dancing competition! He bought me a ticket in exchange of logement, and I know that Saturday night is going to be amazing!

 

Before I leave (my eyes are requiring some more sleep), I have to say that, due to discretion (you never know who might come across this blog and I don’t want to end up like Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network), I left out flings or amorous enticements of any sort, even though OF COURSE in all this time there has to be some guy involved! I’ll leave details to some nice gossip evening with my girlfriends back home.

 

HALLOWEEN AND “A TOUCH AND RUN” IN MILAN

Towards the end of October, when internet at McDo started failing, Eddie and I started to look for a new place where we could park ourselves and our computers. Being a Sunday, everything was closed, even the brasseries, but we finally found an English pub called Robin Hood, which is open every day 11.00-01.00 and where customers could access to free wi-fi. It started raining like hell and we ended up spending the whole day there. To make it short, that place has become my new home and I spend there at least 2 hours every day. The people who work there are really cool, all about my age and coming from different countries (England, New Zealand, France). In fact, hanging there doesn’t help me at all with my French, but when it comes to internet it’s definitely better than Mc Donald’s!

 

Eddie stayed chez moi for about 2 weeks, then went back to Mexico. We spent the last days and nights playing darts at Robin Hood, walking around the city and organizing amazing dinners, both italian and mexican. Actually, The Dinners chez moi deserve a few lines. They can be compared to those parties and dinners that used to be held in some rich person’s house, where strangers met and talked about music, poetry, etc etc. The only difference between those meetings and my dinners are that I am not rich at all, but cook great italian food, whereas people bring the boissons. Here you have a great melange of interesting human beings, coming from different contexts (Robin Hood, Language School, friends of friends..) and different countries, and even if many of them are perfect unconnues, in a laid back atmosphere and with a beer or a glass of wine everybody has a good time. I’m not sure these sorts of things could happen in Milan, at least not with everybody. I would feel a bit worried inviting people that don’t know one another and would feel sort of responsible for facilitating conversations..you know what I mean. Here, par contre, I don’t worry at all!

Without an oven and provided with only ONE electric stove the menu for Italian dinner has always been mainly pasta with more or less creative sauces, but believe me: it worked out perfectly every time! Pasta with tomato sauce with zucchini, pesto and cream, ragu/bolognese sauce and cream, saffron and cream, and, of course, risotto allo zafferano! When my dad came to visit me from Italy he brought, under explicit request, lots of saffron, sauces, and Grana, Parmigiano and Pecorino cheese, along with two jars of Nutella, the latter being served as dessert in the last two dinners (both with bread and nature, open with spoons inside). The Mexican dinner had cheese fried quesadillas (I would say sort of empanadas at this point, but I’m not sure the term is correct) and an attempt to make Tacos al Pastor which, according to Eddy, turned into something totally different (but yet again, I have no clue)..anyway it was veery spicy meat with home made tortilllas! Amy, a Canadian girl Au Pair here in Mtp, brought also a dish made with minced meat, crème fraishe and corn..mmmh delicious! At this point I think somebody will be hungry..this is why I’m writing this post at 07.40 am, when my stomach is still closed.

 

Halloween has been pretty sweet (actually it was Saturday 30, to be chronologically correct). As mentioned before, my dad took advantage of holiday on Monday Nov.1 to visit me, along with Serena, his girlfriend, and her mom (ok it might sound weird, but she’s a very cool and active woman, with an amazing culture, and not older than 65 I would say. My relationship with her daughter is friendly and extremely respectful, so no awkward situations at all..just to make this point clear).

Even though it had been a rainy day, we managed to stay dry while I took them for an evening walk around the city center. We started from Place de la Comedie + Esplanade, Antigone till Place de l’Europe, then walked up Rue de la Loge to the heart of the city center. We had dinner in a restaurant on Pl. des Martyrs de la Résistance and then I took them to my flat, which I had been tiding and cleaning all day long until it was spotless. After  a quick tour of the apt, which took like 2 seconds, and taking just time to change into a gipsy costume (which wasn’t a costume at all but just some colorful indian-ish clothes I had in my wardrobe and gipsy-like bandana), we walked back to their hotel and I went to Robin Hood’s. I also somehow convinced J., another very nice Canadian girl, to join me there, and we spent the evening chatting with the crew and drinking. After closure, we all went to Max’s, one of the bartenders, and drank the last beers there. I went home at an indefinite hour completely exhausted, and it means it had been a very nice evening.

 

The following morning I left with my dad and crew for a tour in the Camargue area. First, we visited Agues Mortes, a nice town surrounded by a Middle Age wall, incredibly cute and fascinating (although veeeery small). We had lunch there, and then headed to Saintes Maires de la Mère. We took a walk along the seaside and visited a church famous for having a completely black crypt dedicated to Sainte Sarah, worshipped by the Gitans. In the evening we made it Arles, our final destination before heading back to Milan. We made a quick tour of the town and visited it a bit better the following day, but I have to say that, despite being an aesthetically nice city, with fascinating churches and Amphitheater, it was quite deserted, and everything was closed, from shops to museums. By about 11.00 am we were hitting the road to Milan and made it home at about 05.30 pm.

 

It felt weird being back to the city. As most of my friends know, I don’t like Milan and I’ve never considered it as the place where I want to live. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an amazing city to live in while you’re a student, full of clubs, pubs and art, and there are definitely some endroits that I find profoundly fascinating. Being my hometown, my relationship with the city is deep and controversial, but the values intrinsic to it, as money, career (you really made it in life if you become a manager of any sort) and ostentation are exactly the opposite of mine, so why living as a rebel in such an environment when there are so many different and beautiful places in the world, with a more laid back atmosphere and yet an higher quality of life? Luckily, I adore my family and friends, who made my week in Milan pretty bearable. I actually spent very nice evenings having an aperitivo with the girls from MBC (my Master course) and having beers in random places with Lea, Ichi, and other friends.

I was supposed go back on Thursday, but a Inbox saying that my best friend Marika was graduating that Friday made me change plans. Train to Lugano on Friday morning, Marika’s fantastic dissertation on Carlsberg diffusion in China, then massive grocery shopping and an afternoon in the kitchen with a couple of other girlfriends. We make food for about 50 people, and even though were were about 15, all of our guests greatly appreciated our work. The others went dancing, but I was too exhausted and went to bed. Wise decision, since my train to Milan was at about 06.40 am. As my first trip to Mtp, the cheapest way to get there was to take 4 to 6 trains and being prepared for a looong day of traveling. Luckily, I made friends on the way, who I traveled with until Marseille, their final destination. There, I found out that my train to Mtp had been canceled, but after a little moment of desperation (I was so freaking tired!) I managed to change the ticket with another one that left only one hour later, arriving in Mtp at 09.00 pm.

I thought I was calling it a day..I didn’t know that the best had yet to come…

 

 

Random thoughts of October 23

I’ve been here for almost a month and a half, and for over a half of my staying.

Can’t believe that Halloween is in a week already..time is moving so fast!

It’s 9.14 am of a saturday morning, I can’t sleep but at the same time I don’t have enough strength nor will to go for a run, which is postponed to 11 am. Facebook is still not working and it is so annoying! You know when you can’t sleep because all thoughts about your life and preoccupations come into your mind and you can’t manage to get rid of them? This is exactly what is happening now… I’m spending money over my budget, I’m not done with my paper yet and my French is crap…oh, I’m out of shape too..definitely out of shape. I need a good shower. These last 10 days have been pretty normal: library, dinners with friends (btw Italian dinner chez moi tonight!), and I finally got to go to La Pleine Lune, the pub/bar next to my house, which organizes jam sessions and live shows almost every night. Eddy, Isma and I went there on Wednesday night and assisted to one of the coolest beatboxing jam sessions ever! First there was just one guy (spectacular, btw), who alternated beatbox with dj sessions. He recorded the sounds he made and mixed them all together along with some basic surround. After a while a couple of guys joined him, randomly, and the 3 of them found the perfect chemistry while beatboxing together. Later, a bass player, drums and a rapper (the latter, I have to admit, wasn’t that good) came along and made a freaking good, exciting show. We expected a nice, quiet beer night with some beatboxing but it turned out to be on my top 5 nights here in Montpellier!

 

Other than that…we might go to Beziers this week-end and I’m meeting up with my dad on the next one…I’m so excited!!!

 

OK that’s all for now. Cheers!