I am traveling this week. How I managed to procure a visa in time I don't know. I don't remember how the past month has gone by, ever since we returned from our vacation trip, I am completely disconnected from reality. More so than usual.
Anyway I managed to get all things sorted out for this work trip, and got here. Because I wasn't thinking too much and was copy pasting my colleague's schedule, I found that I had at least a half day of free time here, in Brussels.
So I took off on my little 'adventure'. Which is a laughable word to use, I admit. I was sitting in Chennai airport (or perhaps it was Mumbai, I don't recall now), all over the free internet, and discovered that there is a group that does a cycling tour of the city.
Long story short, I couldn't make it to the tour as my flight was a bit late coming in, plus the web-site didn't accept my credit card and reserving the tour (seemed to) require advance payment. The tour guys did write me a couple of emails so that is something that I guess will work, some other time.
So I got to my room and resisted the temptation to immediately head out for a run. I was positive that I would get hopelessly lost. Or something. Anyway it was 10:30 am. And I had free time. So I strapped on a backpack and sunglasses and walked every where.
The Metro thingie is pretty cool and can take you to tons of places. Except that you need coins (!) to buy the card in some of the stations and that made me have to go to a really disgusting Indian store to get change (and some gum). The couple running the store were so surly. And the store itself, so filthy. Seriously, I was very bummed out.
I got to the station I intended to get to and promptly got lost. I mean, right there, in the middle of the city. Lost. As usual. I was wearing jeans and vibrams, and it was raining gently. Pleasant, almost. So I just walked around pretty much aimlessly. At some point I sat down and drank a beer and read a book on my phone.
I often hear runners insist that getting lost is a good thing. Increases mileage willy nilly. Apparently, I had managed to hit upon the few touristy things that are sort of a 'must do' in the city as well, how impressive! I even bought a few nice souvenirs for the child (and the standard fridge magnet/bottle opener for us). I think she will like my Tintin-themed purchase!! I bought chocolate too, but I have sort of opened it and eaten it. Oops!
Which brings me to the 'food situation' as we vegetarians like to call it. I discovered that each of my colleagues is traveling with his own on-person restaurant. I mean, rajma-chawal, maggi-noodles-in-a-cup, upma, were mentioned in the 'store bought' section. Murukku, sweets, etc. were talked about in the 'home made by wife' section.
I ate a dosa (for Rs. 180) at the Mumbai airport on my way in, at like 1 am or something awful. I was standing on top of the dosa making dude there because I was in a bit of a hurry. And he was so terrible. He threw away two dosas saying that it got broken (by him, with his stupid way of spreading the dough, I must add).
This year's theme for World Environment Day was what? Stopping food wastage right? So much for that. I was really pissed at him. I told him to cease and desist. So he gave me a half cooked doughy dosa. The chutney was super watery as well, like the hostel chutney airspy used to drink from a glass.
So I was telling these murukku colleagues of mine that I don't even bring a single piece of any food when I travel. Never even occurs to me. I like the idea of local food, though I do wish that the menus are in English everywhere, and that ingredients are clearly listed. Anyway the beer is easy to order and always vegetarian so whatever, it works. Am not too bothered. Usually.
This time though, between the dosa and the fact that Jet Airways fed me some of the most disgusting food on the planet of over-nuked airline food, I was thinking. Perhaps I will bring me a dabba of curd rice from next time. Must put it on the list for the next trip!!
Although I haven't managed to do nearly as many fun things as I would like (hello! useful heated discussions and meetings!), I must mention that I have managed to run around the city a few times in the early morning. I enjoyed a run in a nearby park and was as usual very jealous that they have such nice places to run in. Even though there is a tendency to rain.