Yes!!!! My pictures are finally uploaded! (Chamonix, Paris, Italy)

This past weekend, I ventured out to the French Alps at Chamonix, France. It was an immensely beautiful sight.
In fact, I even said, “Some people say that there’s no God, or don’t believe
in any type of higher power. However, I look at thisand say to myself, there’s no way anything this beautiful cannot have been created by God.”

Chamonix is a valley town, filled with valley people who know how to enjoy life. They are very relaxedand
friendly people that wear all types of sporty clothes. From what we could
tell, they make most of their money off of tourism and skiing. (We visited
during the off season, so there was very little activity.)

Highlights:

Chamonix also had a concrete luge which was a lot of fun, once I learned how to operate my board. And when I finally did learn how to operate it,
I ended up going too fast and falling off, scraping myself and my leather
trenchcoat. After rolling around for a while, I gathered myself up, got
back on and continued luging away.

While Ankur, Nilaksh and I were
walking around at night trying to find out way back to the hotel, a car pulled
over and a guy and girl dressed in preppy uniforms came out and asked for
our ID’s. I looked at their shirt and it said, “Gendarderie”. I figured
they were with the law since noone else would stop us, but I wasn’t quite
sure. So, I asked…Dressed in his turtleneck sweater he said, “No, I just
wanted to play Tennis.” It took us a few seconds to realize that it was
a joke. After telling them that we were looking for our hotel and that we
were on touring while working here in America we asked where our hotel was
he told us that we had to actually climb over Mont Blanc to
get to the hotel. This guy was funny! We finally finished up everything
and after talking to them we thought it was great that we had light and easy
French cops to harass us.

For a very long time, I have been looking for a way to truly express how
much I hate mornings. I have an extremely hard time waking up and getting
ready. Well, on the way back from a night club in Chamonix, I found what
I’ve been looking for. It’s a shirt with Calvin of Calvin and Hobbs yawning
and “Je hais le matin” (I hate mornings) on top. Perfect!

One
thing I realized I left out from yesterday’s log was that on Wednesday, I
went to a Couscous restaurant. Couscous is considered an original French
food that’s almost like rice and soup, but with a French twist. Not knowing
what that French twist really was, I decided to have dinner the only way
that I know that the French have dinner…with wine.

Those that know me well, know that I VERY rarely drink wine. Only on
special occasions. And I had already been in France for about 2 1/2 weeks,
and I had not ordered wine yet. This was going to be my first time.

Guess what. Apparently, I had walked into the ONLY restaurant in all
of France that doesn’t server wine. Very confused, confounded and amazed,
I ordered a coke and enjoyed my couscous.

I finally did get my “wine fix” last night right before I went out “swing
dancing”. That in itself isn’t a great idea, because if you know anything
about partner dancing, you know that you want to be completely sober. Luckily,
I was able to pull off some moves at the “Slow Club” and not tick off any
of the French there.

Reality check: I went swing dancing in Paris! Whoo hoo!

Every now and then, I have to do reality checks with myself, because I
forget where I’m at and how awesome this really is. It’s real easy to take
it for granted.

Adieu.

For those of you that just want the answer to this question without having to read the whole story, here it is: GET LOST!

Now here’s the story:

Wednesday was not a good day for me. I had some Italian food and went “swing dancing
the night before. When I got home, my stomach was not feeling good so I
went to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, I couldn’t go more than
5 feet away from the toilet before having to go back towards it. I then
called into work and said that I wouldn’t be coming in. I then crawled back
into bed hoping for the pain to go away.

At 2PM I was awakened by room service who wanted to come in and clean
the room. Since I was in a dazed mood I said sure and thought that walking
outside might do me some good since my stomach stopped aching.

Figuring it would be a waste to spend a day in Paris and not exploring,
even though I was sick, I decided to go to the Louvre. When I got there,
it was closed because the workers were on strike. Of all the dumb luck.

Since I was feeling weakened by my more unforunate events, I decided to
go back to the hotel in hopes that the french maids were done with my room.
Not knowing where I was, I took random turns knowing that you’re always 5
minutes away from a metro station in Paris. My first turn lead me to a very
interesting Metro station. (picture coming soon) I walked towards it and
thought it was very cool. Behind that station was a historical monument.
Once again, very cool. At this point, my curiosity was starting to overpower
my weakness. Behind that was a lavish garden with kids playing soccer and
perfectly aligned trees. I kept going straight towards what looked like
another shopping district and ended up pretty much a dead end. And at the
dead end was a statue that’s probably older than dirt.

So, the moral of the story is: When you’re in Europe, the best thing
to do is: GET LOST! Why? Because you’ll always find something interesting.
And even if it’s a dead end, there’ll be a 500 year old statue of a naked
woman there. You can’t lose.

I was also approached by a pimp last night. It’s the 2nd time in a week. What gives?

Cheers, love and humanity. Tommy.

It
has taken me a while to get over the homesickness, frustration over how to
handle life and all of it’s issues; however, I think that I’m over the big
hump. Thanks a lot Mary, for the wonderful coaching.

Saturday was the first day for me to go out and fully explore Paris in
all of it’s beauty. And, as luck would have it, it rained. However, I was
not going to let that bring me down. I donned my coat and umbrella and strided
on our of the Hotel Mecure and to the Arc de Triumph via the Metro. Standing
in front of it, gives the impression that the entire city of Paris was built
to accompany the Arc. Outside of the huge circle, where the Arc lives, is
a driving area where the streets which are perfectly symmetrical, aligned
and beam from the middle like a perfectly cut pizza. I did not go up, because
I knew that I would rather wait until I could see it on a sunny day. Strolling
down the Champs d’Ellises, I bought a French shirt, and some CD’s (One from
my favorite French rapper, MC Solaar. Yes, I have picked up even the music
here.) I then trotted over to the Eiffel Tower, where I decided again to
wait until it was a clear day to visit the top of. I then walked around
aimlessly, trying to get lost and find some more beautiful sights until I
grew tired and headed home.

Here is where the loss of being alone really hit me. I walked into my
hotel room, delighted that I had seen all of these amazing sites, but sad
that I had noone to share it with. I had also been contemplating the relationship
with Terri quite a bit during my walk and I realized what I really wanted. I wanted Terri
walking with me, arm in arm, as we toured the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to
kiss the woman I’m tell everyone about in the “Jewel of Europe”. I wanted
to spend time in one of the world’s most romantic city with “My bandcamp
girl”. However, I had hurt her earlier in the relationship, and the wounds
were still fresh, so there was nothing I could do. After getting on the
phones and talking to my mom and Mary (Thanks girls!), I was reinvigorated
and decided to do something I had never done before. Go to a caberet! Moulin
Rouge already had their last show, so I opted for the one in the brochure,
Crazy Horse.

What threw me for a loop was the number of Asian couples and women that
were there. George told me that he went to Moulin Rouge with his family,
so I figured it wasn’t too raunchy. The experience was somewhat erotic,
but I actually enjoyed the magician the most. Overall, if you’re looking
for an interesting experience, check one out, but it’s not meant asa “peep
show” or anything of the such.

Since I took the last show, the Metro was closed so I had to either walk
home or take a taxi. “It’s Paris! Go walk!”, I told myself. So, I popped
in a CD in my player, and trotted down the Parisian roads at 2AM. That’s
when it hit me:

  • I’m in Paris.
  • I’ve got friends and family supporting me here.
  • The hotel and food is paid for!
  • I’m listening to Daft Punk, a great dance band.
  • Life is good.

At that point, life looked different. Rather than trying to rush home
because it was 2AM and I was in a foreign city at night, I took my good ol’
time. First, I walked to the Eiffel Tower and saw it at night. (The lights
were off.) Then I moseyed on home, not caring if I was going the right way
sometimes, and many times I wasn’t.

Along the way, I walked by a homeless person sleeping in the doorstop
of a restaurant. Being that I was feeling like I was on top of the world,
I figured that my heart couldn’t go by ignoring that. And the more I walked
away from him, the louder the thoughts in my head got. So, I turned around
and gave him the change in my pocket. I then walked back home some more
and realized that for as good as life has been treating me, about $2 was
not enough of a gift to “pay it forward”. So, after trying to push those
thoughts for a few minutes that I should just keep on walking, I turned around
again and gave him everything I had. This life has been too generous for
me to not give SOMETHING back everywhere I go. I then walked away with a
clear conscience, knowing that he would use that money more preciously than
I.

I arrived near home around 3AM and since I was hungry, I stopped by the
Hippopatamus, a jive open till 5AM. I definitely wasn’t prepared for what
was inside.

Inside the Hippo, you can tell it’s a busy place. And at 3AM, the line
was long. I waited around, trying to keep myself busy and trying not to
pay too much attention to the punk kids that were occassionally yelling at
each other. However, I couldn’t tell if they were doing so jokingly or not.
(They’re speaking in French.) It wasn’t until an older lady who was behind
me told one of them something and then he went up to her right in her face
and I swear he was cursing her out. The 6′ black bouncer didn’t pay much
mind to them until they started duking it out. At first it was fairly contained
until one of them kicked the other into some of the other tables and shattered
the light fixture. They kept going at it to the point where they threw treys
and glasses at each other. One even tried breaking a glass bottle to hit
another with. Me and the old lady ran to the back of the restaurant, hiding,
but still watching with a curious eye. Well, the bouncer threw them out
and the police came. The manager told us that were waiting in line to leave
because it was closed. Still hungry, but not wanting to completely leave
the action, I went across the street to a windowed area.

Inside, they were playing “Bohemian Rhaposody”. Amused that they were
playing American music, I started mouthing the words, “Scatamoosh! Scatamoosh!
Will you do the Van Damn Go!” I looked around and saw a guy mouthing the
words too. We smiled and I thought it was funny and then sat down. I then
turned around and he made a motion for me to come sit down by him. I figured,
“What the heck.”

I walked over to him and asked, “Tu parle englais?” *shakes his hand*
“A little” So, I sat down and had a really interesting conversation with
him. Apparently, he has been all over the world, Pakistan, US, London, etc
and is a teacher. (A very social one too.) He spoke to me in the English
he knew and I spoke to him in the French I knew. The only thing that bothered
me was that the cautious part of my brain was working overtime. “When will
he stiff me with the bill?” “What if he puts something in my drink?” “How
do I know that he’s not a psycho-killer?” However, I kept giving up those
thoughts so that I could enjoy myself in this new position I found myself
in. After a while, said he was leaving and got up and paid his share of
the bill. I said goodbye and thought to myself, “Wow. That was definitely
interesting.”

So, there you have it folks. Life for me is never boring. Nor will I
allow it to be. It’s too precious. It’s too short. Live it up.

Last
night, I had dinner with some friends who went exploring Rome at the same
time Hemang and I went exploring Siena. On Tuesday morning, we had heard
that they were still stuck in Italy, because they didn’t have their Passports.
To further complicate the matters, one of the guys is Pakistan. (This’ll
give you a small taste of the rest of the story.) On Wednesday morning, we
were really worried about when they were going to come back. And on Thursday
morning, we were releaved that everyone was ok. You can check out the entire
story at: Your Passport, and why you should never leave a country without it. (Especially at these times and if you’re Pakastani.)

This weekend, I plan to explore Paris. I’ve been living here for about
2 weeks and I haven’t been able to explore this place much. I’ll take care
of the big attractions, like the Arc, Tower, Versailles, etc. Also, it might
be the first time I go touring by myself. It will be a new and interesting
adventure.

Even though it’s still October, I keep thinking ahead towards X-mas and how I would so enjoy having Terri and my family come visit me in France. It would truly be a great experience.

A bientot!

This morning, I came back from my trip to Italy.

It was an interesting, frustrating, tiring, majesticly beautiful, and bad luck weekend.

We started off by taking a train to Florence, where Hemang and I talked
to this half French/Italian guy who was very cool; later joined by a group
of female travellers looking to explore Italy. I couldn’t sleep that well,
(surprisingly enough) so I went to the dining car and wrote a letter to Terri, who I began to miss very much. When we left the train, we jumped to a bus to Siena.

Siena was exquisite! The hotel right in front of the bus stop was “The
Jolly Hotel”, where Hemang and I dropped our bags and showered. We then
had lunch in the Piazza while marvelling at the wonderful view. We began
exploring the “Piazza” (an open area in about the size of a city block) and
“Domo” and walked to the top of the Piazza’s Great tower for what is called
the best view of Italy. I started to carve my initials in the bell at the
top, when a German couple asked me if I thought that the bell needed that.
Shocked, amazed and embarrassed, I stopped. (If you see the letter “T” in
the hanging part of the bell in this area, that’s ME!) When we got down,
we decided to join the people lying down in the piazza and took a nap on
the bricks. Rested, we went back to the hotel to prepare ourselves for sundown.

At 7PM in Siena, something amazing happens. Everyone comes out to walk
on the major rode. EVERYONE! And then they come out dressed in their most
fashionable attire. Men dressed in suits. Women dressed as fashion models.
It was like a mile long runway with everyone showing off. Truly amazing!
Hemang and I stuck around till about 1AM chatting and having some of the
best gelato (Ice Cream) in the world!

For the next day, we were going to explore San Gimangino, another small
hill town in Italy. That city was on top of a hill, which offered a truly
majestic site. We did some shopping, eating and exploring. That’s where
it all fell apart. See: “All I want is to go to Paris…is that so hard?

It’s now 1AM, and I’m at Nortel, waiting for Hemang to finish his stuff,
so we can go to bed. We’re waiting for someone else to finish up over here,
so that he can drive us back because the train workers are on strike and
there aren’t that many trains going to Montparnarse.

Ciao!

Yesterday, I discovered my favorite part of this buisness trip so far: The laundry service.

Hemang and I are planning to go to Italy this weekend, so he recommended
getting all my laundry done so that I can pack it. So, I put my dirty laundry
in two bags and brought them downstairs. When I came in from work yesterday,
there they were: Bright, Shiny and New. My underware was neatly folded
with tags, my socks were matched together by pair. My shirts were even ironed
and clipped to a cardboard square! My jeans were on a hanger and my “travel
pants”…the pants that have seen more cities that some people’s luggage,
with all of it’s holes, loose threads and crinkled pockets were ironed and
maybe even starched! The only thing I could say that even came close to
how I was feeling was, “Wow! That’s worth the price of admission!” I would
definitely go on more buisness vacations if it meant having someone else
do my laundry and fold and iron it like that!

Other than that, things are really shaky. My roommate situation is sticky right now and Terri
sent me an email which has got my world in a swirl. I’m beginning to see
how big of a jerk I am to people. Lots of times, I do inconsiderate stuff.
Stuff, I’m sometimes not even aware of. Stuff, where I may have good intentions,
but something else happens. If you’re one of those people I’ve hurt or offended,
I apologize. And finally, the pastor’s son at my church passed away after
fighting a lengthy illness. He was a friend of mine, close to my age, and
the epitomy of dignity, intelligence and acceptance. The world will miss
you, Bill Jemison IV.

Yesterday was definitely and interesting day, worthy of a story. Check out: Indian Incidents for more info.

On the train ride to work today, I realized that one month ago today,
the WTC was attacked. It seems like such a long time ago, yet I can still
remember standing in my living room, watching TV and seeing the second tower
collapse on live TV.

Material possessions come and go. Life is precious. All you have is “Now”. Live it up.

Hemang and I are talking about going to a Depeche Mode concert tonight.
I was hesitent at first, but since I realized that this will be a once-in-a-lifetime
chance, I couldn’t pass it up.

— Later —

Depeche Mode is a no-go. Since Hemang and I are going travelling tomorrow to Italy, we’re going to take it easy tonight.

Hemang
and I bought tickets for this weekend to go to the small villas in Italy.
I can’t wait! This is what I’ve been looking forward to…not the big cities,
monuments and museums, but the beautiful scenery. I’m so jealous of me.
🙂

One mistake I made so far was to leave my Visor
(read: My life) in the restaurant tonight. When I got home (did I say HOME?!)
I realized this and walked back to the restaurant. I couldn’t figure out
how to tell the doormen I forgot something, so I used a line I remembered
from Better Off Dead – “Je
suis tres stupid.” and made the motion of leaving something and walking
away. The got a good laugh and directions to the bartender. I did the same
for her after the waiter from my original table told her that I forgot my
Visor. She laughed. I guess self-depracating humor is universal. 🙂

I’m beginning to learn the RER and metro system. Thankfully, I’m a quick
learner. I’m also grateful for Hemang who’s been a great help to me getting
around and his ideas for travel inspire me. Soon, I will be adventuring
a la Falgout.

I saw the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triumph for the first time last night
while eating dunner at a really expensive restaurant in the Chanz de Lizze
(sp?). They had people salsa dancing in the bottom of the restaurant, and
if I knew the dance any better, I would have grabbed someone and started
dancing. However, when I go swing dancing (I found a swing club) I will
live it up.

So! I finally made it to Paris. This is just a quick note before I head off and do some real work in Nortel. Thank you all for your support and I will keep all of your updated on my adventures. I’ve seen some interesting sites!

Love, sunshine and disco dancing,

-Me

Here are some excerpts from my journal which I started on the flight to France:

Now, for the future. Where will I go in the next 2 1/2 months? What adventures will I experience? How will I grow?

A lot of people are afraid to fly nowadays. I completely understand their
fear; however, I don’t share the same fear as them. As I just learned, I
am most frightened by the sound that the airplane toilets make after those
few seconds of silence after pressing the flush button. *Push Button* …
?? … Is it working? … WWWHHHOOOOSSSHHH!!!!

I realized today that the relationship I have with my pilot is the same
I have with my doctor. I know that I’ll hear from him in the beginning and
in the end. However, I want as little interaction from him in between.

Heh heh. The growth has already started, and I haven’t even touched down
yet. I realize that I’ve chosen to remain or pretend to remain innocent
or ignorant in certain areas of my life. In ‘Paris Inside Out’, one of the
first things I read was: “Wisdom is acquired only through the gradual shedding
of innocence.” So, I’ve been stunting my growth in those areas by deciding
to stay innocent. Interesting.